The Science of FUN was put to the test this weekend and using evidence based practices, thousands of us defined and proved FUN. With the best music and people around, skate boards, hilarious comedy, good food and more, this 3 day weekend festival was overflowing with more FUN than can be consumed by any one person. We had a small crew out there and even then, it was impossible to take it all in 100%. With so much awesomeness, it's hard not to itemize or generalize but the weekend was full of an eclectic mix of everything: people of all kinds wearing Slayer t-shirts or Rainbow Bright rave boots, the smell of weed and Brussels sprouts in the air, the weather changing, a festival worthy of ten solid years.
Electronic music may have stole the stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Hudson Mohawke’s set stood out the most and took Sobre Sound by surprise. The producer and DJ is known for his remixing skills including a track with Pusha T, Travis Scott, and Future, Hudson Mohawke's trap & hip hop heavy set had an enormous sound. Sobre staff wasn’t too familiar with Hudson Mohawke beyond a solo SXSW DJ set appearance in March, but his Friday evening Blue Stage performance blew our minds. The stage set up was tight and his live rendition of “Chimes” set the place on fire. The horn sounds were huge and dog bark sample he kept queuing like those air horn sounds was hilarious.
The Norwegian producer and songwriter Lido was awesome live. He’s a brilliant piano player and has a gorgeous voice that he showed off a few times. Lido performed a remix of Disclosure’s “Latch” and could sing the song as beautifully as Sam Smith. Neon Indian’s set was a complete dance party and MSTRKFRT brought some ravers to the fest. While not entirely electronic music, Afrika Bambaataa’s DJ set was a hell of a lot of fun and ODESZA on the closing night had live horns and full drum kit complete with incredible visuals that were interesting and colorful, there was never a lull in their performance.
The day after she released her new album Art Angels, Claire Boucher aka Grimes hit FFFFest with a stage production that included her singing in different languages, dancing synchronically with back up dancers and rockin' a pair of 808’s. She performed “Venus Fly” off her new album and she also performed hits from Visions and some earlier work. She is indeed the celestial pixie princess that people perceive her to be. Her performance was so flawless though it seemed suspicious, it was hard to discern what was live and what was back tracked. Both Grimes' and Peaches’ appearances were very theatrical with intricate costuming like a huge vagina during Peaches’ set, both a stark contrast with Ms. Lauryn Hill's performance which was raw, gritty and funky.
Lauryn Hill began the night with an acoustic guitar on a couch surrounded by candles. She was backed by a horn section, singers, drummer, DJ spinning vinyl: the whole shebang. You could hear the imperfections and feeling in Hills' voice and it was beautiful. She played 3 Bob Marley songs in succession and versions of "Ready or Not" and "Killing Me Softy" that were funky and jam bandesque. A performance worthy of closing out an historic weekend.
Hip-hop had a big weekend at Auditorium Shores besides one third of The Fugees. The selection spanned generations and styles with Afrika Bambaataa, Wu-Tang Clan , Joey BadA$$, School Boy Q and Rae Sremmurd. The crowd was predictably crazy for "No Flex Zone" but there was a lack of booty bouncing from the audience during Big Freedia.
NITES this year had some of the most incredible performances ever. Watching the rapport between lead singer of La Dispute, Jordan Dreyer, and the audience was captivating. You could see the different ranges of emotions affecting the audience throughout La Dispute's set. The passion the crowd had while singing the lyrics right back at Dreyer demonstrated the fundamentals of what music does and how it touches people. The wholehearted bridge of pain echoed through lyrics sang by the room looked extremely therapeutic.
Pure Bathing Culture at Empire Control Room was cathartic. They opened up with “Dream to Dare” and Sarah Versprille’s gorgeous voice and intense stage presence was alarming. This was not captured in their recordings, but then again how could you package and bottle such exceptional transcendence. The summery, breezy feel of their oft shoe-gaze does not communicate the laser sharp stare of Versprille looking into your soul.
Fun Fun Fun Fest provided an opportunity to see bands like Babes In Toyland, Venom, Fucked Up and L7 live. Travis Barker joined Antemasque for a complex, high energy explosion of noise. It also provided an opportunity to see how far musicians have come. For example, the Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays. They had a very intimate set at 502 Bar recently and to see them in front of a crowd many times that size was a good feeling. They also performed at NITES before Future Islands at Sidewinder (which was probably packed beyond fire code) and sounded pretty damn good despite a lengthy sound check. Seeing Future Islands in such a small venue was priceless, Sam Herring even hung out with fans and took pictures with them before they played.
The layout of the festival grounds felt a little cramped having to be funneled into hallways between sections and there was also somewhat a lack of open space, especially on Saturday. Saturday was noticeably more crowded and with no rows of beanbag chairs like last year and an overall lack of places to sit wouldn’t have been an issue had it not rained. The grass is plenty cozy but Friday and Saturday it got pretty wet.
One thing about FunFest: it isn't saturated with advertisements or anything too in your face. Sure there were the typical booths by big companies, but the stage names were colors and weren't draped with banners from lame corporations. The lines for beer, food and restrooms weren't long at all and there were only few set backs like the gates being delayed. On Saturday, Parks and Recreation had to check for safety concerns before opening which caused set times to be adjusted. Gesaffelstein’s flight was delayed so his set was moved to the Vulcan that night but it was reportedly still pretty dope.
The overall best performances throughout the weekend were:
Pure Bathing Culture
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Fun Fun Fun Fest wasn't built on flavor-of-the-week viral acts and commercialism but with curated lineups that never miss the target, and for 10 years has been more about legend than legacy.
all the photos in the gallery above were taken by Miles Terracina (@punksoda)