Fun Fun Fun Day Three with Black Angels, Givers, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

Despite total weariness weighing down the human body and the utter desire for rest, the final day of an epically awesome festival always feels a little sad. Sunday of Fun Fun Fun Fest felt particularly bittersweet, because the lineup contained the greatest number of artists to which I had been looking forward, but I knew that they would perform in the final hours of what had been a great weekend.

Our list of favorite sets from the third day of FFF offer further evidence of what we’ve said all along–the creators of the festival possess a great degree of credibility for booking such a killer lineup. Moreover, the bands represent a disparate array of genres of music, making for a festival experience that doesn’t feel pigeonholed and stilted. We’ve been bringing you our top five sets of each day, but fuck it, we’re taking it to the next level. That’s right, we’re going to give your our top six. Contain yourselves.

6. Nite Jewel

Nite Jewel’s most recent effort, One Second of Love, received a good degree of acclaim from the music community, but her live set presented better renderings of these songs. The crowd got particularly fired up about the title track from that album. Again, a quality sound system that provided crisp beats and a well-balanced mix acted as an integral part of the performance’s power. Small in stature (read: adorable), lead singer Ramona Gonzalez bounced around the stage, jumping and dancing as she confidently delivered her emotive lyrics. I went to check out this set without expectations and came away a fan.

5. A Place to Bury Strangers

Secretly Canadian is one of our favorite labels at Pop Press International. They, like Fun Fun Fun Fest, diversify their artists, working in myriad genres while delivering consistent quality. All the fans and photographers I talked with for the first two days looked forward to this set, and none of us were disappointed. APTBS rocked through blistering, heavy, semi-psychedelic rock songs as its members slammed guitars into the floor and tweaked pedals to elicit the hugest wall of sound possible. Interestingly, the group wavers between highly energetic and impassive nonchalance, two ends of a spectrum that wall-of-sound music represents in my mind. When all of the fog cleared, literally, APTBS had left the crowd in smoldering ashes from their blazing performance. See this band if you get a chance.

4. Japandroids

Two of the people I most respect in the Austin music scene emphasized that Japandroids was one of only a handful of sets each cared about seeing Sunday. Japandroids’ album Celebration Rock has been hailed nearly unilaterally since its release early this year. Lead singer Brian King’s affectation brightened the stage immediately as he smiled with genuine comfort. His upbeat nature contrasts with the punishing force of Japandroids songs, which were soon to follow. King addressed the crowd briefly before beginning, his voice mellow and even, “Thanks for coming out and being here; we’re not going to talk really after this.” With that, he launched into a series of relentlessly pounding garage punk songs.

3. Black Angels

The year that Black Angels broke, I watched them on a tiny stage at ACL surrounded by a modest crowd who were mostly brand new to their music. I’m impressed by how the band has remained somewhat off the radar of the mainstream, sticking to their heavy, psychedelic roots, and still garnering enough cred that they book huge gigs. Black Angels’ set utlized harmonium and sitar to great effect, as the psych-rockers performed on a dimly lit stage. What lights were employed were not to illuminate the band members, but rather to enhance audience experience. One light comprised of a series of concentric circles cut through the fog and cast rings of green light. Additionally, projectionist had set up in the photo pit washing the entire stage in watery light. The Black Angels put on that kind of all-out performance, merging aural and visual experiences, creating one of the evenings best sets.

2. Givers

I put Givers in my top 10, maybe top 5, bands to see period right now. Their set wasn’t just one of my favorites of the day, but of the entire festival. Tiffany Lamson electrifies the audience from behind her fortress walls of drums and cymbals as her mouth opens to inhuman proportions to belt out harmonies. Taylor Guarisco’s facial expressions are the most unabashedly contorted in indie-rock, as if the music controls not only his body, but each individual nerve in it. They make the crowd smile; they make them dance. Everyone cheered when the band began to play their hit “Up, Up, Up,” closing out their set on a high note. Lamson and Guarisco are literally the only two musicians I pointedly sought out backstage to meet and talk with. Both indicated that they really wanted to blow this set out of the water since it was their last for a while. The group will be lying low before returning to the studio to record new songs in the future. We can’t wait!

1. Deerhoof

Esteemed critic Michael Azerrad referred to Deerhoof as “one of the great rock bands of our time.” And, yes, I know I already told you all that in my review of their outstanding new record, Breakup Song. Since I wrote that review, I have had a growing regret that it should have been more glowing, since the record has grown on me by each day. Here’s my chance. Deerhoof’s set packed an experimental punch of distorted bliss. Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki maintains a deadpan expression during the show, but pantomimes, dances, and poses interpretively in synchronization with the band’s disjointed pop. I have been addicted (and I mean on-repeat-addicted) to album closer “Fête d’Adieu,” and seeing the band perform it live only solidified the power of the song, churning grooves interspersed with melodic spasms. Beautiful. This single song served as the high point of the festival for me.

Other notable sets:

Promise Ring rocked out like it was 1998, Explosions in the Sky mellowed everyone with ornate, orchestral songs perfect for a warm fall night, De la Soul forced everyone to put their hands up and party, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes performed their hit songs to the enjoyment of the last festival-goers left standing.

This was Pop Press International’s first Fun Fun Fun Fest (say that ten times fast) to cover officially, and we found it to be a refreshing festival environment with a killer lineup. Epic fun fun fun. See you next year!

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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