Fun Fun Fun Fest: 10 Must-See Sets Plus Nite Highlights

Starting sometime today, and growing tomorrow, some 20,000 people will converge on Austin, TX for Fun Fun Fun Fest. If you’re not one of them, you have every right and reason to be very, very jealous. Now in its seventh year, FFF is presenting one of the strongest bills in recent memory: Over three days and four stages, the festival will offer performances from Girl Talk, Fucked Up, A$AP Rocky, Japandroids, Superchunk, Converge, Bob Mould, De La Soul, David Cross, Titus Andronicus … and that’s not even scratching the surface. To try and preview all 150+ acts that will perform at FFF would be a masochistic pursuit that would end in dehydration, exhaustion, and hospitalization. The same result would occur if one tried to see all those acts. So for our mutual health, we’ve picked out some of the artists at FFF that we’re most excited about, some of the ones we insist you see. This does not mean you should sleep on Explosions In The Sky or Napalm Death or Atlas Sound or Real Estate or Dum Dum Girls … of course you have to see them, too. This is just a handful that we’d drag you along to, invariably meaning you’d miss something else of comparable quality. Anyway, FFF is broken up over four stages, which are kind of loosely arranged by genre — Blue (lots of hip-hop and pop), Orange (lots of indie rock), Black (metal and punk), and Yellow (comedy). Our list is organized by set time, starting on Friday afternoon. And assuming you’re not totally exhausted by day’s end, we’ve also run down some of the festival’s best “Nites” events, following our 10 must-see sets. Drink lots of water. It’s going to be a long weekend, and yes, lots and lots and lots of fun.


10 Must-See Sets

Kvelertak (Friday, Black Stage, 1:40 PM to 2:10 PM)

The best show I saw in all of 2011 was Norway’s Kvelertak playing a party cruise on the East River. The band is pure chaos and joy, bringing together black metal, d-beat, and several generations of classic rock into one totally unique, inspired, and insanely catchy sound. They’ve got a sophomore album coming out in 2013 and they’re touring now with Converge and Torche — both of whom are also playing FFF, and both of whom you also absolutely must see. But get there early on Friday and DO NOT miss Kvelertak — you’ll thank me. Well, you’ll thank them. Either way, you’ll be thankful you were there. -Michael

Hannibal Buress (Friday, Yellow Stage, 4:45 PM to 5:30 PM)

For my money, Hannibal Buress is the best comic in America. I know that statement might ruffle the feathers of those following the conventional wisdom of the day (i.e., the paunchy dude with the ginger goatee whom you might have seen on TV). Buress mixes Hedberg-esque stoner insight with a deadpan drawl and a penchant for dark, irreverent takes on mundane subject matter. His new comedy album, Animal Furnace, is a must, and Buress is a known, killer quantity on the fest circuit. -Corban

Bun B (Friday, Blue Stage, 7:55 PM to 8:40 PM)

Last spring, my brother got a job in Houston and drove down to Texas from Kansas City the week before he started. Right after he parked and unloaded some stuff to put into his new apartment, his car was promptly stolen. About a week later, his car was recovered when a cop pulled up on the stolen vehicle and the driver bailed. It was empty of all his belongings, but one thing remained in the CD player: a burned copy of UGK’s Still Pimping. Texas literally rides for Bun B. -Corban

X (Friday, Black Stage, 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM)

The single most heartbreaking choice on the FFF schedule is the one between Texas rap legend Bun B and L.A. punk originators X. It’s not easy. A Bun B show in his homestate is, after all, something of a religious experience. But X are playing their feverish 1980 debut album Los Angeles in full, which rules. And co-leader Exene Cervenka is 56 and suffering from multiple sclerosis; god knows how long she’s going to keep doing this. -Tom

Run DMC (Friday, Orange Stage, 8:35 PM to 9:50 PM)

When Run DMC announced that they were reuniting for Fun Fun Fun Fest, it was such a bullet point that a huge banner proclaiming their return draped the FFF website. Given that the 10-year anniversary of Run DMC DJ Jam Master Jay’s death was 10/30, expect a tribute-heavy, extremely memorable return to form. -Corban

Seaweed (Saturday, Black Stage, 5:30 PM to 6:15 PM)

The best band to come out of the Pacific Northwest in the ’90s was … well, Nirvana. But the second-best band was not fucking Pearl Jam or Soundgarden or even grunge in any way: It was Tacoma’s Seaweed, whose raw, anthemic indie punk bore greater resemblance to Superchunk or Jawbreaker than it did anything made in Seattle. The band put out a handful of albums on Sub Pop (as you do), then got absolutely mangled by Hollywood Records (as you do), who should face criminal charges for their treatment of Seaweed’s magnificent Spanaway, which effectively ended their career (though they did release one late-life album on Merge). Their truncated reunion is absolutely a reason to celebrate; you won’t get many chances to see them, so their set at FFF is genuinely essential. -Michael

Refused (Saturday, Black Stage, 8:50 PM to 9:50 PM)

These Swedish hardcore legends have been drawing frothing, rapturous reviews for their recent reunion shows. People aren’t just freaking out because they finally have a chance to sing along to “New Noise” in person; they’re doing it because the band’s electric live presence remains undiminished. And given the band’s recent announcement that the reunion is coming to an end, this is one of your final chances to behold them in all their glory. -Tom

Cult Of Youth (Sunday, Black Stage, 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM)

These gothed-out Brooklyn strum-stompers are playing the FFF Fest punk stage, which only makes sense. Their songs aren’t atmospheric broods; they’re all-out shout-alongs that share as much with Dropkick Murphys as they do with Christian Death. They’ve released two straight-up great albums in the past couple of years, and their live show should be a real rouser. -Tom

La Dispute (Sunday, Black Stage, 2:50 PM to 3:30 PM)

If I had to bet money on which hardcore scene staples would pull the Fucked Up/Trash Talk indie-kid crossover next, my pick would be these literate Grand Rapids thrashers. La Dispute suffuse their all-out pummel with layered dynamics and post-rock excursions without compromising their sense of passionate abandon. They should be a thing to see. -Tom

Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Daily matches, Yellow Stage)

Hundreds of local indie pro-wrestling associations call our great country home, and Austin’s ACW, which usually holds its shows at rock club the Mohawk, may be the finest one. ACW shows are known for gory bloodletting and areal insanity, and it’s the rare wrestling organization where the female wrestlers are presented as the men’s equals. The roster includes scarily charismatic high-flyer ACH, bombshell face-kicker Rachel Summerlyn, demonic beanpole RD Evans, and grizzled ex-ECW champ Jerry Lynn, and its daily matches serve as one of the great selling points of FFF Fest; god knows you won’t see this stuff at any other indie music festival. -Tom


Nite Highlights

Starting tonight is FFF’s Nites, which go down at various Austin venues, and are accessible with FFF wristbands on a first-come, first-served basis. Every night through Sunday is populated with numerous Nites worth attending, but we’ve selected a handful we’d be waiting in line for. On Thursday at Mohawk – Outdoor, Joyce Manor, Imperial Teen, and Superchunk is a legit can’t-miss bill. Also worthwhile is the Indian Jewelry-headlined set at ND Austin, the Dwarves-led bill at Red 7 – Outdoor, and Cadence Weapon et al. at Beerland. On Friday, post-hardcore legends Braid are headlining a Nite at Elysium. Also worth checking out is a ferocious metal bill at Holy Mountain featuring Enabler, Fight Amp, Power Trip, and Burning Love. And at the Mohawk Outdoor, we’re co-sponsoring a set that features fiery young punks FIDLAR and the aforementioned Seaweed, along with Surfer Blood. On Saturday at Parish, you’ve got another great metal bill with Royal Thunder, Liturgy, and Black Tusk, among others. Also going down on Saturday is A Place To Bury Strangers and Black Moth Super Rainbow at Mohawk – Outdoor, and another Stereogum-sponsored event: David Liebe Hart, Marriage, Daughn Gibson, and Cult Of Youth at Mohawk – Indoor. And assuming you’re still around on Sunday, you’ve got Ceremony headlining a bill at Red 7 – Outdoor, and Class Actress at Mohawk – Indoor. For a full schedule of all FFF’s days and Nites, go here.