The gentle hum of an infomercial stirs me from my slumber. 8 AM might not be sleeping in for some, especially after a night of drinks, but it’s more than enough for me. I text my colleague, Lauren Sands, who was driving in from Houston to join me for the festivities, but received no response. So much for getting there early. Best laid plans, I suppose, but as far as line-ups go, day 2 of Fun Fun Fun Fest 9 really didn’t wow me.
Starting the day right with a large coffee, and Krispy Kream donuts, I was more than ready mix it up on yet another cool Autumn day in Texas. Lauren finally arrived around 1 PM, and after a few beverages, we ordered a Lyft to the fest. This was my first time using the car-turned-taxi service, as I’m not too keen on the idea of some stranger picking me up in their car. Cab companies can loosely keep tabs on their drivers, but with a Lyft, who knows what’s in store? Murder? Rape? Murder rape? It ended up working out, though, and we got to the front gates of FFF in record time.Glassjaw
First band of the day was Long Island rockers, Glassjaw. If you heard any screamo, or emo, or post-hardcore acts back in the early 2000’s, chances are the singers of those bands were trying to imitate Daryl Palumbo’s signature whine. Hell, Glassjaw’s album “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence” was aped so much, they practically created a subgenre of post-hardcore. While I’m not the biggest fan of their work, every person I know is, and swears by their live shows, so I had to see it for myself.
Total letdown. I’m not sure if the sound engineers for the early part of the fest were just randomly sliding faders, or haphazardly turning knobs on the mixer, but Glassjaw sounded like complete trash. All that could be discerned from their set was the bass, and Palumbo’s off-tune vocals. Could have just been a bad performance, though, as the rest of the band didn’t really look like they wanted to be there at all.
We made our way to the drink tent to grab a few beers before Iceage took over on the black stage. The Danish natives impressed the crowd with a solid set of down tempo punk. Dan Nielsen’s tight drumming provided a solid backbone for Jakob Pless and Johan Wieth’s assault of washed out reverb, like guitars with a heroin problem, while Elias Ronnenfelt carelessly careened around the stage, moaning his baritone rasp into the microphone with precision. Iceage made a new fan, and I highly suggest catching them if you ever get the chance.Iceage
With no other acts really striking our fancy at the time, Lauren and I decided to focus our efforts on alcohol. The day before, she had foolishly threatened to drink me under the table. Staring danger in the face, we opt for the hard stuff; she goes for a vodka Red Bull, while I chose the always delicious Jameson. Finding a nice spot to sit by the wrestling/freak show stage, we share inappropriate stories while METZ played. Every song METZ pumped out sounded exactly like the last, but what can you really expect from a throwback punk band other than distorted 3 chord noise?
Making the smart choice, it was time to visit the food trucks at the north end of the concert. While I wrestled with the decision of Korean chicken tacos, or kimchi fries, Sands rounded up two more Shiners, and waltzed back over to the line. As per the usual, tacos won out, and we headed to the blue stage while I shoveled food into my mouth. Being the gentleman I am, I offer her a taco, but was met with the smug response, “I don’t need food.” More tacos for me is never a bad thing.
80’s new wave staple, Gary Numan, was busy performing by the time we made it over. Wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, but Numan puts on an impressive show. The band was on point, pumping out a mesmerizing drone of synthesizers, and electric guitars. Gary provided his nasally vocals with style, as if never aging since his time on top of the charts 3 decades ago. I couldn’t help but think of how much it reminded me of Nine Inch Nails.
There were mysterious tents all over the festival grounds that were sponsored by tobacco companies. Lines formed around each of them, while the “bouncer” at the door checked ID’s before letting people behind the velvet rope. Intrigued by what lay behind the closed doors, we decided to check out the Camel Experience. Once past the threshold, we’re harassed by a denizen of the tent who demanded our ID’s, handed us headphones, and explained that we’d be making music at one of three stages (rock, rap, electro) in the tent. While we were handed a free pack of cigarettes, the wide eyed employee asked if we were musicians, and assured us both that he couldn’t wait to hear our music. It was at this point that I decided to get out of the experience as quickly as possible, leaving Lauren to fend for herself in the clutches of the Camel cult.
I still don’t know if she recorded anything, or if anyone did, for that matter, but she emerged from the tent, horrified, minutes later. We catch the Presets for about 20 minutes, but that’s about as long as I could handle them. I really don’t understand how this new age, Enya inspired, soft electronic music is so big with the kids right now. Maybe I’m finally on the cusp of no longer being hip. Then again, I’m not sure I ever was.
Searching for anything to entertain ourselves during the dull lull in the line-up, we spend the next hour wandering around, and slamming beers. Might as well be bored and drunk, after all, and I still had to teach my associate a lesson in humility.Nas
As the sun set, people flocked to the blue stage for hip hop giant, Nas. This was the biggest turn out at the concert so far, and it was actually difficult maneuvering through the crowds without stepping on toes, or spilling drinks. We got about half way up by the time Nas took the stage. The crowd erupted into a sea of dancing bodies as the samples, and beats flowed through the PA. However, despite the crowd’s energy, Nas ended up phoning in his performance with a monotone inflection as if forced to recite his own lyrics. It was a huge disappointment considering his reputation for stellar live shows.
A day of boozing with the champ caught up to Lauren, as she grabbed by arm urgently, and yelled, “I THINK I NEED TO EAT SOMETHING.” We fight our way back out of the crowd in an attempt to correct Sands’ rookie mistake. While we were at the food trucks, King Diamond hit the black stage. “Is that Dracula?”, Lauren asked me. I was inclined to say “yes”, because that was the most spot on description I’ve ever heard for King Diamond. Despite our jokes, they made for an epic soundtrack for our impending feast.
Half way through the bratwurst, frito pie, and poutine, things got too real for little Ms. Drink You Under the Table. With one movement, she collapsed in the fetal position, and set her beer, and half eaten brat down beside her. I briefly considered charging people $5 to take pictures with the amazing sleeping woman, but instead, took the high road, and finished the poutine while watching over her vigilantly, enjoying the rest of King Diamond’s set.Girl Talk
For fear of police intervention due to Lauren’s bush league shenannigans, I decide it’s time to get her back on her feet so we can leave. As we’re heading out, the same giant crowd for Nas is getting down to Girl Talk’s clubby mish-mash of hit songs. There was a full scale party happening right in front of us, but the time for fun had passed. We made it back to the hotel, and decided to order the frito pie pizza we just saw on the TV.
Two important things were learned on day 2 of Fun Fun Fun: don’t drink all day without eating, and don’t order frito pie pizza because it is as terrible as it sounds.