The ninth incarnation of Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest starts tomorrow, and the growth of the festival shows no signs of slowing. It's a festival that feels loved, that feels like an awful amount of care and attention has gone into it and that is booked by some sort of all-knowing being. (Well okay, it's just Transmission Events, but whatever.) On a related matter, and more importantly, it's the best music festival in Texas. It's also happening this weekend, from Friday, November 7 to Sunday, November 9.
This is not to diminish the obvious work put into other festivals. A festival is a huge undertaking, it's just none of Texas' myriad other festivals feel quite as lovingly put together as FFFFest. It doesn't feel booked by committee, it doesn't feel geared towards profit, it doesn't feel like it's out to relieve you of your cash at every turn. It's not sponsored by Bud Lite or Miller, but instead by Shiner. There was no price increase for the three years before this year's festival, when the price rose by $15 for a 3-day pass. Every other annual festival would have put $40 or more on the ticket price in this time period.
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The greatest part of FFFFest is the Nites. Reminiscent of 35 Denton and Index Festival's club shows after outdoor sets, FFFFest ends its festival portion relatively early and then puts on a decent percentage of its acts (along with other exclusive bands) at curated line-ups around Austin's myriad venues. They didn't have to do that, but they did, so now when there's a clash you can just go see the band that evening instead, indoors. Or if you saw something you liked but didn't get enough from a 45-minute set, hey, they'll be playing a full set that night anyway. On Friday night this year you can walk between night shows featuring Power Trip and Deafheaven, which brings me to the booking.
I can only speak for myself, obviously, but the FFFFest booking hits the spot like no other, year after year. Last year for instance had M.I.A., Slayer, Sparks and Television. If you try and tell someone about that line-up, they'll have a confused look on their face, and then they'll say, "That's... a wide variety of music." They might think that you are a strange person, going to a weird festival or many genres, but you're not. You found the festival that can book engagingly across all the genres, all the way down the bill, and then divide them onto genre-based stages. That means you can either stand in front of your favorite genre all day, or just fill in your musical scrapbook by hopping from stage to stage. It's amazing.
The only festival booking that came close for me was 35 Denton, and while that featured gem after gem, a lot of it was a bit too far away from the mainstream for this idiot. That didn't mean I didn't love it, just that I wasn't stoked for weeks going in, like I am every year about the FFFFest lineups. I don't claim to be some sort of in-the-know genius for knowing who most of the bands on the FFFFest line-up are, but neither are they ACL-levels of blindingly obvious. There aren't eleven million bands you've never heard of, like SXSW. It's perfectly balanced, for me.
Come meet me at the Black Stage. I'll buy you a reasonably-priced can of Shiner. Okay? Okay. See you in Austin.