FUN FUN FUN Fest 2011. Heroes and Villain.

Ted Leo: true professional.

“I guess they’ve never heard of a thing called a riot before,” the unholy master, Glenn Danzig, belted out after the prompt enforcement of a city noise curfew, hoping to incite a riot at Austin’s one festival that lives up to its name, Fun Fun Fun Fest. Thankfully, the fans, who waited nearly an hour for Danzig to take the stage well after his 8:15 start time, saw through the Danzig’s malintent and did nothing more than toss beer cans. Whether the $9 cans of Tecate were meant for Danzig or the festival was unclear. This could have set the tone for a festival tinged with the disappointment of Misfits fans, but ended happily and safely. Danzig’s selfish and, hopefully, retirement-inducing meltdown on opening night helped me find heroes throughout the festival.

To me, the big hero of the weekend was most definitely New Jersey’s Ted Leo. Performing alongside his trusted Pharmacists on the last day of the festival, Ted Leo demonstrated complete professionalism despite having a bad case of dust-lung. With about ten minutes left in his set, Leo took off his guitar and declared “It’s too fucking cold,” a clear jab at Danzig’s Friday night whining. After a quick wardrobe change, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists became TV Casualty, and ended the set with four killer Misfits tunes, including my personal favorites “Bullet” and “Skulls.” Ted Leo brought it, and hundreds of people finally got to see what so many of them came to see: a punk-as-fuck Misfits performance.

Thee Oh Sees

True heroism in the context of this festival didn’t require much. Danzig set the bar pretty low. Basically, if a band started on time and played their asses off, they were doing their part to repair the morale of the paying public. Thee Oh Sees, a band I’ve seen at least three hundred times (or ten), were consistently epic — in fact, I hurt my neck on the first day of the festival because their set was so brutally on. Thee Oh Sees established a solid standard, and though Danzig could have wrecked that, it seemed everyone who performed after Friday night played to those high standards. As a musician, I believe 110% should always be the performance minimum, diva-like behavior should never be tolerated, and performers should be mindful of the fact that of the attendees at any show, they are the few lucky enough to be on the stage, under the spotlights, with exclusive access to the public address system.

The last two acts I saw on Sunday night, The Black Lips and Slayer, truly embodied the positivity of the Fun Fun Fun Fest. The Black Lips bring a party to any show, complete with firecrackers and free beer. Sure, they only gave away one can of Heineken Light, but free beer is free beer, and doesn’t that always spell “party?” Their set was total anarchy; fun (fun fun), wholesome, vomitous (party, remember) anarchy. Slayer facilitated a more controlled chaos, and compared to Danzig, they did everything the absolute right way — even their guitar, bass, and drum tones were stellar. If there’s a book on metal, and I’m sure there are hundreds, Slayer wrote every single one with a smile.

The Black Lips know how to party.

Being a hero is also about the little things, and what’s a story about FFF6 without mentioning Ryan Gosling? The unsung hero of the festival must have been Hollywood’s most in-demand leading man. Gosling was Austin’s man of myth for the weekend, and everyone had a story about an interaction with him, myself included. My brush with brooding, masculine perfection happened during Dan Deacon’s set. Gosling, who was being filmed by Austin’s own Terrence Malick, agreed to watch a teenager’s backpack while he went out into the madness that is a Dan Deacon audience. I was standing right beside them, and witnessed the whole thing. The kid, who didn’t seem to recognize Gosling, was gone for maybe five minutes. Malick pulled Gosling away, “Ryan, let’s go shoot over here now.” Confused, Gosling looked down and asked, “What about this guy’s stuff?” pointing to the backpack. I stepped in, gave a thumbs up and, in the coolest possible way, responded, “It’s cool. I got it.” Relieved, Gosling tapped my shoulder, “Thanks, buddy,” and disappeared into the dust storm.

Gosling is known for his heroic interactions with the everyday fella, and this encounter illustrates the spirit of this weekend’s festival perfectly. Danzig could have easily set the tone for a bummer of a fun festival, but everyone — rockstars, movie stars, and Austinites — came together and showed the world why this festival deserves, no, requires more than one “fun” in its name.

Image Credits:
1. Ted Leo
2. Thee Oh Sees
3. The Black Lips

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One Response to “FUN FUN FUN Fest 2011. Heroes and Villain.”

  1. Fmc Ampers Says:

    <3

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