I've been to every Fun Fun Fun Fest since its inception in 2006, back when it was a one-night event and Spoon played to a small crowd of very cold attendees. Since then, the fest has grown in scope and size, seen legends and up-and-comers grace its stages, and matured out of its original Austin location, Waterloo Park. Last year saw the festival re-planted at Auditorium Shores, and while there were some growing pains with the new set-up (and some wonderfully meme-able diva behavior from Ms. Glenn Danzig), Fun Fun Fun Fest remains one of the best curated parties of the fall.
If you're heading down to Austin this weekend, here are a few suggestions for acts to catch. If you're staying in Dallas, check out The Overserved's column this week for some of the best shows in the D. Audra Schroeder
Sharon Van Etten
Fun Fun Fun Fest
Fun Fun Fun Fest
Friday, November 2-Sunday, November 4, at Auditorium Shores, Austin.
Friday, 3:25 p.m., Orange Stage
Sharon Van Etten's particular brand of folk music has a rough leather edge. That tough quality communicates something haunted about the musician and her live presentation, something both difficult to resist and forget. Her most recent offering, 2012's Tramp, treads the relationship waters with imaginative darkness and isolation, both in melody and lyric. These are the songs of the voice in your head. Deb Doing Dallas
Friday, 6:45 p.m., Yellow Stage
An Earth concert is a test of endurance. Much like Fun Fun Fun Fest alumni Neurosis, the Seattle metal group excels at long stretches of drone, but in the mid-Aughts, their sound changed a bit, and became a bit more accessible. This year's Southern Lord LP, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, swirls around more complex guitar patterns, but is softer in its approach. Audra Schroeder
Friday, 8 p.m., Black Stage
X have been touring on and off in the Aughts, but a chance to see them perform 1980's Los Angeles in its entirety, especially at Fun Fun Fun Fest, should not be missed. That album branded a burgeoning regional punk scene with lovesick riffs and dark lyrical grifts, and 30 years later it still holds up. Audra Schroeder
Friday, 8:35 p.m., Orange Stage
Watching Public Enemy perform in front of a backdrop of shiny new condos at FFF last year was certainly an interesting juxtaposition. Along with Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C. shaped the sound and look of early East Coast hip-hop, and prophesied the lines of "sucker MCs" that would come after. They'll be bringing the Golden Age of hip-hop with them, and their lyrics are still relevant: "Bills rise higher every day/ We receive much lower pay/I'd rather stay young, go out and play/It's like that, and that's the way it is." Audra Schroeder
Saturday, 12:50 p.m., Black Stage
Sure, someone's filthy basement or a dank warehouse is usually the ideal place to see Dallas hardcore bros Power Trip. However, this early afternoon set on the Black Stage should act as a hangover cure, and they'll most likely be playing new songs from their awesomely titled upcoming LP, Manifest Decimation. Audra Schroeder
Saturday, 8:45 p.m., Blue Stage
A$AP Rocky is one pretty motherfucker, and he isn't afraid to tell you. This Harlem-born hustler mixes those East Coast roots with a dash of Southern swagger to create a sound all his own, and still manages to refresh some of the old hip-hop tropes of excess, sex and drugs on his 2011 mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP. His debut album of the same name is currently scheduled for release October 31-ish. Deb Doing Dallas
David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Doug Benson, Wyatt Cenac
Saturday & Sunday, Yellow Stage
The Yellow Stage brings four stars of the alternative comedy scene this year, including Eugene Mirman and David Cross, arguably the forefathers of the subgenre. Cross, of Mr. Show and Arrested Development fame, brings his smirk and sarcasm. You can count on Doug Benson for a smart stoner quip and Dallas native Wyatt Cenac of The Daily Show is no doubt deep in political play. All four bring some fresh fun to the fest, but Eugene Mirman feels like the real treat here. Download his open letter to Time Warner Cable for the ride down to Austin. Deb Doing Dallas
Sunday, 3:05 p.m., Blue Stage
Nite Jewel's 2012 album, One Second of Love, delivers a touch of familiar '80s synth influences filtered through a hazy filter or two, which made her prime blog buzz when catchy lead single "In the Dark" was released. An opening set for Chairlift earlier this year proved it translated live. I can only imagine the chops have improved and Nite Jewel's set will be a place to slow down and wonder why you can't get that song out of your head. Deb Doing Dallas
Sunday, 4:20 p.m., Black Stage
Supported by critical and fan support and a growing reputation for their live performances, Canadian duo Japandroids have managed to keep up a feverish touring schedule. Their addictive new release, Celebration Rock, plays on the themes of their first album, 2009's Post-Nothing. Fans of that album won't be disappointed, though; this is Japandroids turned up to 11, reaching their own legendary potential instead of just writing about it.
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Deb Doing Dallas
De La Soul
Sunday, 7:55 p.m., Blue Stage
De La Soul's Prince Paul produced 1989's 3 Feet High and Rising and established the album as a classic in real time. Its sound was an alternative to the aesthetics of late '80s hip-hop, and set the stage for artists to work outside the established boundaries of the genre. Other releases have not proved as iconic, though esteem for 1991's De La Soul Is Dead grew over time to cultivate a bit of a cult status. It's hip-hop for the fan who doesn't mind a side of brains with their beats. Deb Doing Dallas