There was much fun to be had–three times as much–in Austin this weekend. Fans at Fun Fun Fun Fest enjoyed gorgeous sunny weather for three days of music, comedy, skating, even wrestling. The festival, which pairs its stages with different genres, boasted a wide-ranging lineup with something for everyone, including nostalgic nineties punk bands, heavy metal mainstays, up-and-coming producers, indie rock favorites and a Mercury Prize winner. In a city that prides itself on being weird, there was plenty of it at FFF Fest: a life-sized Twinkie, a taco cannon, dudes crowdsurfing on air mattresses, even a “shitty photo booth.”
Within all the madness was good music, and lots of it. Check out our highlights below, and head here for a rather special Instax gallery.
I had been meaning to see the only girl on Top Dawg Entertainment (home to Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q) since hearing her S EP, with its mesmerising lyrics and soft vocals swirling over R&B beats. I missed her when she stopped in Austin for SXSW, and despite the anticipation she did not disappoint. She kicked off Friday with an early afternoon set, but her bright smile and positive energy held the crowd’s attention throughout. Her impeccable vocals soared on tracks from her debut album Z, out earlier this year. One of the highlights of her crowd-pleasing set was when she rapped part of Chance the Rapper’s verse in the xxyyxx-produced track ‘Child’s Play’. Girl’s got pipes, sass, creativity; the whole package. (Can’t say we didn’t call it though.)
The witty Australian rocker set herself apart from most acts at FFF Fest this year. She allowed herself to get lost in her music, something increasingly rare as artists try to please large, hard-to-please festival crowds. But Courtney Barnett, making waves for her deadpan singing style and songs that are both catchy and smart, is clearly having fun. Her unassuming stage presence shows great potential, and with a striking debut album and heavy touring schedule through the end of the year, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from her here on out.
Yes, the king of ’90s R&B booty jams was of the more oddball bookings of the festival to be sure, but also arguably the most entertaining. Dressed in all white, he gyrated above fans’ heads, dropped to do push-ups and even took a selfie video with an amused crowd before promising to follow everyone back on Twitter. Although relying on a backing track to do the vocal heavy lifting, and a medley of hip-hop and Michael Jackson songs, Ginuwine was able to keep the crowd dazed until he ended with his hit–or at least most memorable track — ‘Pony’. Yeah, that one.
One thing that Fun Fun Fun Fest seemed to be lacking this year (minus Friday headliner Girl Talk) was a good old-fashioned dance party. And once the sun went down and temperatures started to drop, it was not only desired, but also necessary. You can’t ask for a greater dance party than Yelle. If the crowd doesn’t understand a word of the French pop band’s lyrics, then there’s nothing left to do but let your feet do the talking. Lead singer Julie Budet did just that, taking us back to the ’80s with her Molly Ringwald footwork and oversized sweater. The band’s latest album is ridiculously catchy, drawing on French house, ’80s synths, funk and club jams to appeal to an international audience, even if tu ne parles Français.
With each day of a music festival, it gets harder and harder to get there early. Granted, 2:30pm may not be that early, but more ‘Nites’ after shows are seen and more beers are had, and before you know it, it is. Well, I got to the fest early on Sunday to see Angel Olsen and I’m glad I did. There’s been a lot of buzz around the singer-songwriter’s sophomore effort released earlier this year, and Olsen proved that she’s more than just hype. Although generally played in more intimate indoor venues, her music translated well in a sunny festival setting. It was early enough that a crazy stage presence wasn’t necessary, and her folky yet robust vocals and fuzzy indie rock were enough to satiate both spellbound fans and unsuspecting festival-goers alike.
The multi-talented artist masterfully showcased all of his skills at FFF Fest. Standing between two screens, on which graphics swirled and pulsated to create a 3D effect, FlyLo remained in the background for most of his set. All you could see was a faint figure and glowing glasses. Just when it was on the verge of being too elusive or haughty, the producer would address the audience, eliciting a cheer from enthusiastic fans. His electronic-focused set flowed well, but he switched gears a little more than halfway through; and we saw Flying Lotus the rapper emerge from behind the booth. The whole set was natural, visually stimulating, and exactly what the crowd wanted.
Originally published on The 405.