Scroll down to the bottom for the "Too Long; Didn't Read" SparkNotes version.
Auditorium Shores, home to Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest, is currently undergoing renovations. So, that meant an altered festival setup was called for this year that extended to festival in to parts of Butler Park. That didn't mean much to me, as this was my first festival attendance for Fun Fun Fun.
Then there was the will-call wristband situation. Basically, fest organizers didn't send out wristbands and were not prepped logistically to handle the influx of those needing to get processed when they all arrived for their wristbands on Friday. A line stretched from the box office down Riverside, and wrapped down South First back towards downtown. Some waited in line for over 3 hours - missing acts, obviously - and ultimately, festival organizers gave up, and after consulting authorities and getting the all clear, they just started letting people in the gates.
I would think that FFFFest learned their lesson this time around, but the lesson for the rest of us here is: don't chance it next year; come in to town Thursday and head to the box office and get your wristband ahead of time.
Now, I didn't have this problem. Not that I have some hook-up or anything, I just hadn't bought my ticket yet. So, I simply walked past the line, straight to the box office, waited four people deep, paid cash, and received my wristband in all of about 4 minutes. #blessed.
So, when I made my way in just around 3p, I headed to the Orange stage and caught veteran Austin emo band, Mineral, who began a reunion earlier this year after disbanding in 2007.
My next play, after running in to K Phillips at the fest, was to check out the rap collab duo of Killer Mike and El-P, Run the Jewels. That got delayed while grabbing a Shiner when we ran into an aspiring female metal vocalist from LA named CJ. Here's basically how our conversation went down, and an insight to my mind set for the weekend.
CJ: Who are you seeing next?
DG: Run the Jewels.
CJ: You don't want to see Amon Amarth?
DG: I dunno. Do I?
CJ: Yes, you do.
DG: OK, let's go.
So there I was standing knee deep in, well, let's let their Wiki page do the talking -
Amon Amarth is a melodic death metal band from Tumba, Sweden, founded in 1992. It takes its name from the Sindarin name of Mount Doom, a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien′s Middle-earth. Their lyrics mostly deal with the Vikings, their mythology and their history, leading to the band often being labeled as Viking metal.
Yeah, so there I was watching Swedish Viking Metal. It was the most Metal thing I've ever done - And, I loved it! Namely, because I felt like I was in an episode of Metalocalypse
I did however still want to catch some of Run the Jewels, so I did.
Following Run the Jewels, I headed to the Yellow stage to check on Wildcat! Wildcat!, a somewhat indie-dream-dance(ish) band, with a stop by the Orange stage (which was on the way) to check in on the looniness that is Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon. I saw Sun Kil Moon at SXSW at a church, and after his recent (entirely questionable) provocation of a band that I've really been turned on to after their latest release, The War on Drugs, I didn't much care to spend any time on him. (Though, full disclosure: I still absolutely love the 2003 Sun Kil Moon record, Ghosts of the Great Highway, and you should definitely listen to that album at least once before you die.)
Here's a quick rundown of the whole Kozelek/War on Drugs (one-sided) beef:
Wouldn't you know it in the less than 5 minutes I was standing near the Orange Stage, Mark mouths off that "we'll play some beer commercial lead guitar." That was all I needed to move on.
Also, I missed this, but Run the Jewels took a stab at Mark from on stage, as their sets were also simultaneous.
just got an email from mark kozelek. suffice to say he's a cool motherfucker with a sense of humor.— el-p (@therealelp) November 10, 2014
On to Wildcat! Wildcat! Wasn't impressed.
On to Ginuwine! Yes, Ginuwine! As in, "ride it / my pony." This was the most entertaining thing I saw all day. There is literally a climax building through out the "plot" of the whole show that is capped by Ginuwine's shirt /finally/ coming off. Also, he wiped himself with a towel then sang an R&B slow jam I can only imagine was titled "Who Wants My Towel?" Because, well, that was the opening line, and the chorus.
Here's Ginuwine after the shirt climax:
After Ginuwine, I went back to the Orange stage to reluctantly catch City and Colour, who I had seen before at ACL Fest, so I thought I did not need to catch them again. Wrong. Their sunset time slot made for an amazing set.
On the way to the Black stage to see Death From Above 1979, I stopped by to check out French band, Yelle. This stuff really caught my ear, and my eye! So much so, that after I headed to make my way to the Black stage for DFA 1979, and was ultimately disappointed, I went back to watch the rest of Yelle's set.
Then off to see Dinosaur Jr., an act I was super stoked to see, namely to relive the old glory days of the 90s. Sadly, another disappointment - the sound was just atrocious. Honestly, I'm not certain if this was done ironically and bands just sounded like crap in the 90s (not the band talent-wise, I mean the quality of sound actually emitting from the speakers), or if their engineer really couldn't tell that he was solo-ing the rhythm above the rest of the mix. Either way, as an engineer myself, I just couldn't take it. Sorry, Dinosaur Jr. I was, however, around long enough to hear their classic, "Feel the Pain," and their take on The Cure's "Just Like Heaven," which produced one of the best videos of all time (of all time).
This gets us to headliners of Day 1: Judas Priest, 2 Chainz, and Alt-J (all ending at the same time)
I chose to start with Judas Priest. The stage looked incredible as I walked up, and Sabbath's "War Pigs" was getting the crowd ready.
Soon the show took off, and it was everything anyone would expect from Judas Priest. Also, the same reason I then decided it was time to move on. Nothing against it; it was great, and entertaining enough, but I was ready to move on. (Priest fans: This one dude recorded some decent video of the whole set. You can see it here.)
On to Alt-J... boring. And, I even like the new record. It sounded good, I was just... bored. So over to 2 Chainz, who had my head nodding, but after a few songs I found myself bored again.
It was about 9:40 or so, and NITES was about to kick off. This is the part of the festival that moves in to town in the clubs and is only open to festival wristband holders. I checked my FFFF app and saw Theives was playing at Holy Mountain at 10:15. So, one last stop off at Judas Priest, then out the festival to grab the bike off the rack and take the less than 10-minute ride to Red River.
Theives was really good local emo band, and after their set it was time for me to move on to see Metz, a noise rock trio from Toronto Canada I stumbled upon earlier this year. There was a bit of a line at The Parish as it was at capacity, but I made it there with about 30 minutes before their set, and made it inside just a few minutes before they took the stage. I had really been looking forward to seeing this band, and they did not disappoint. Every track was played with 150% intensity, and I loved that I was getting to see this all go down inside a club, instead of at the festival grounds.
After Metz, I headed back down to Red River to see another band I just came across this year, King Tuff, at Red 7. Another show by a straight rock-n-roll trio that, again, did not disappoint.
That would end things for day/night one, and on a high note at that.