13 Acts You Need to Catch at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2014
Deafheaven at FYF Fest 2014 by Laura Baker-Finch
Austin, Texas -- At first glance, the Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup is a wonderful mystery. Sure, other festivals will feature artists from multiple genres, but usually niche styles like metal are barely represented or not even part of the conversation. At Fun Fun Fun, however, you can see Judas Priest on the same day as 2 Chainz and Dinosaur Jr. and King Diamond after Nas and First Aid Kit.
To minimize overall conflict among its attendees, Fun Fun Fun conveniently separates their acts by genre into three musical stages and one comedy stage: The Orange Stage is for indie rock; the Blue Stage is for hip-hop, electronic, and pop music; the Black Stage is for metal, punk, and hardcore; and The Yellow Stage is for comedy plus a few sets from up-and-coming musicians.
To get ready for this weekend's return of Fun Fun Fun Fest to Austin, we've assembled a list of the acts we're most excited for this year. We're going stage by stage (and, thus, genre by genre), so scroll down to see who you have to catch at the festival this weekend.
Courtney Barnett at CMJ 2014 by Laura Baker-Finch
Foxygen's 2013 rise to popularity surrounding the critical success of their debut full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic was certainly well-deserved. Although this year's release, ...And Star Power, wasn't quite as impressive as its predecessor, we saw the group expanding their tastes and influences while still reveling in Jagger-swagger and the late '60s psych-rock we came to know and love from their debut. Turns out they also have a propensity for insanity live, so let's hope they bring all of this to Fun Fun Fun.
We were totally floored by Courtney Barnett's gritty set at CMJ this year, so it was a no-brainer for us to include her on this list. She finds a way to blend smart, quirky songwriting with an almost ambivalent vocal style and brazenly distorted guitar riffs. Barnett has been touring the hell out of her first release The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, now peppering new material into her live shows. This rising star is certainly not one to miss at FFF 2014.
Sun Kil Moon
It's true, Mark Kozelek, the man behind folk act Sun Kil Moon, has been kind of a dick lately with this recent trolling of The War on Drugs. Furthermore, his festival track record is equally as disappointing considering he doesn't seem to understand what to expect from a rock 'n roll audience. So why is he on this list? Because the music is freakin' incredible. Kozelek knows just what nerves to pinch to emotionally devastate his listeners and takes full advantage of that knowledge, as evidenced on his remarkable 2014 release Benji. Sure, he's more of a crotchety old man than a rock star, but damn if he doesn't know how to write a beautiful folk song.
Run the Jewels at FYF Fest 2014 by Laura Baker-Finch
This may be one of the best times to catch Flying Lotus, the Los Angeles-based electronic producer. He's just released one of the best and most out-there albums of his career with You're Dead!, drawing upon jazz influences and finding a place somewhere between Aquemini, Bitches Brew, and existential crisis. Plus, the preview for his live show looks to deliver on an elaborate light show and psychedelic imagery.
Although Sky Ferreira has had her touring ups and downs over the last few years, the honesty and catchiness of her brand of modern pop music is undeniable. We may also get some new material from Ferreira at FFF, as she recently announced via Instagram the title first track from her follow-up to Night Time, My Time "Everything is Bullshit." Looks like we can expect more of the self-deprecation we've come to know from Ferreira in her future work.
Run The Jewels
Run the Jewels, the collaboration between El-P and Killer Mike, sealed 2014 as their year with Run the Jewels 2, a hip-hop album so fierce and challenging of the status quo politically and sonically it will take an end-of-year miracle to top it in the rap sphere. These dudes are at the top of their game, which makes it a kind of a sin to miss them at FFF.
SOHN, the moniker of English musician currently based in Austria Christopher Taylor, is one of our personal favorites in the indie-R&B scene. He showed up right around the time fans were discovering the Rhyes and How to Dress Wells of the genre, and fits nicely in the category with interesting production techniques coupled with angelic vocal melodies. Let's hope his FFF set is as captivating as his concert in Brooklyn last weekend.
Deafheaven at FYF Fest 2014 by Laura Baker-Finch
Alright, I know what you're probably thinking. The face-paint, the high-pitched falsetto, and the haunted house stories all come off as incredibly cheesy. But here's the reality of the situation: for better or worse, King Diamond made not one, but two of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time and have immensely influenced the genre since. They're one of the most overlooked metal bands of the '80s, and their fearless, eponymous leader is a literal Satanist, aka the real deal. Watch "Invisible Guests" above and tell me you wouldn't headbang to that shit.
Deafheaven became something of a controversial act in the metal world over the course of the last year, as many metal purists slapped the "hipster" label on their haunting 2013 release Sunbather due to the band's heavy post-rock and shoegaze influences. Even so, the album won the hearts of new fans and critics alike, and was featured on most of the major year-end best album lists. Even if this band isn't your typical metal act, they're everything music is supposed to be: challenging, emotionally moving, and incredibly poetic.
All in all, we're not really sure how Chicago-natives Twin Peaks ended up on the Black Stage this year, as they're closer to a classic rock act than anything else. Even so, the tunes are solid, and their live show at CMJ had us reverting back to the basics of rock 'n roll in the most fun way imaginable. With chops like these, it's not important what stage you play on.
Fred Armisen has been particularly successful over the last few years after parlaying his SNL fame into his amazing collaboration with former Sleater-Kinney-member Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia. His stand up is fairly similar to the series itself - it deals in absurdity, musical references, and hipster jabs plus a little bit of crowdplay thrown in as depicted above.
For those not familiar with the illustrious career of Jello Biafra, he fronted The Dead Kennedys from 1978 to 1986 and was more or less responsible for the band's best work. He's released nine spoken-word albums over the years, and although his current band hasn't met the acclaim of the Kennedys, his tongue is still as sharp as it was when he was taking on Tipper Gore, making this a spoken-word set not to be missed.
The World is a Beautiful Place...
Yes, that is their band name. The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die have established themselves as an important part of the current midwest emo revival, most notably with their debut LP Whenever, If Ever. No, this isn't in the same vein as My Chemical Romance or The Used, but the late '90s form of emo found in fellow revivalists like Joyce Manor, Into It. Over It., and Modern Baseball. This particular group finds a nice balance between post-rock ambience and powerful spoken-word poetry.
If you're still on the fence about going to Fun Fun Fun Fest this year, tickets are still on-sale with three-day and single-day passes available for $195 and $85 respectively. If you plan to attend, make sure you check out our Fun Fun Fun Festival Guide for travel tips and the best spots to eat, sleep, shop, party, and explore around Austin.
Follow @DanMurphy3220 on Twitter