Monday, December 10, 2007

Fun to the Power of 3

I go to Austin, TX for two reasons: 1) To see live music. 2) They have an enormous Whole Foods there. A couple of weekends ago I went to Austin for both these reasons. The live music that I was going to see was courtesy of the second annual Fun, Fun, Fun Fest, which is put on by some local folks, probably because they think that other music festival in Austin is a little too commercial.

Anyway, the festival takes place in Waterloo Park, just north of Ironworks Barbeque (which my girlfriend’s dad can tell you how to get to from Minneapolis, Minnesota). The park is quite small…think of your town’s town park and that is about what it is. For that reason, the festival was incredibly intimate, which I’ll talk more about later. The festival is set up with three stages, and as far as I could gather, the acts on these stages were split up into three categories: Stage 1 was dance/dj/mash-up music; Stage 2 was the indie rock stage (guess where I was); and Stage 3 was the punk stage. And when I say punk stage I don’t mean like the Blink 182 kind of punk, or the Clash’s brand of punk, but instead I mean black t-shirt, multiple piercings in uncomfortable looking places, screaming your head of type of punk. My friend Will ventured over to Stage 3 at one point and was visibly shaken when he came back. The best punk-band name by far was Angry Samoans. A distant second was Viva Hate. (actual band names)

Anyway, here’s who I saw at my nancy-pants indie-rock stage.

3:50-4:30 – White Denim
-First of all, sweet band name. Second of all, really exciting band live. Their lead singer had a permanent smile on his face, their drummer randomly yelped, and their bassist looked like he was 12 and was wearing a shirt that he probably wore when he was 12. Myspace describes their music as visual/grime/fusion, which, although I have no idea what that means, seems to be accurate. At the show they basically played minute and a half spurts of songs, seemingly no beginning or end, just a barrage of drums and guitars, and then once they hit something resembling a song, they would stop, talk to the crowd for a little bit, and then say something like “Okay, here’s crazy-sexy-rainbow.”

4:35-5:20 – Final Fantasy
-The crew I was with was all about Final Fantasy, but I personally thought he was kind of not that sweet. He basically just plays the Andrew Bird game, quite literally. He’s got a piano on stage, a violin, and a looping pedal. And while it was neat to see him thread some tunes together all on his own, I didn’t think the songs themselves were all that strong on the whole. Also, the name of his album is “He Poos Clouds,” which I can’t really respect.

5:25-6:25 – Okkervil River
-Okkervil River is really the whole reason I went to the Fun Cubed Fest. I bought their newest album, Stage Names, a couple of months ago, and I like it a lot. This band brings a lot of intensity with both their up-tempo numbers and their slower tracks. Thumping drum beats, catchy tunes, and they utilize the piano nicely. The intensity only intensifies (?) live, with lead-man Will Sheff flailing about in a suit that was too small for him. It was also the end of their tour, and Sheff looked like he could have keeled over at any moment. One fun fact I just found out about the band is that in their liner notes, the lyrics to their songs are written in paragraph form…take it for what you will. The top track is “Unless It’s Kicks.” Try listening to this song in your car and not punching your steering wheel when the drums finally kick in…honestly, try it.

6:30-7:30 – Of Montreal
-I don’t know much about this band…but I really liked what I heard. Sweet bass-line on almost every song…almost like some sort of alt/disco/pop. Half-way through the lead singer came out in some very revealingly chaps sort of garment…the guitarist was wearing large wings the whole show.

7:35- 8:35 – The New Pornographers
-I thought this band was good, not great, which I think seems to be the general consensus regarding the New Pornos. I think the main thing that I can’t get over with this band is that Neko Case is the CO-lead singer…and that “other guy” she sings with actually gets the bulk of the mic time. The whole time I’m just like, “shut-up and let Neko sing.” And, I don’t know, maybe their songs don’t fit Neko’s vocals as well…but if that’s the case, maybe they should just write folk/alt/country songs that are in Neko’s wheelhouse. I’m quite serious about this. You wouldn’t ask Michael Jordan to share more of his shots with Horace Grant…why is Neko sharing a mic. (author’s note: I realize the Michael Jordan/Neko Case comparison is overstating the case just a bit. And I’ve actually thought about this a great deal, and in the realm of folk/alt/country singers, Neko would be more like a Chris Mullins (still a dream-teamer) with Lucinda Williams being Scottie Pippen, Patty Griffin as Larry Bird, and EmmyLou as MJ. Sheryl Crow would probably be Cristian Laettner.)

8:40 – Girl Talk
-We actually left New Pornos early to get up fairly close for Girl Talk…and for good reason. For those unaware, Girl Talk is a dj that creates “mash-ups,” where he combines bits and pieces of different songs (i.e. Biggie rapping over Tiny Dancer) into some dope dance tracks. Before the show there were a bunch of people on stage connecting various wires and whatnot, and we were trying to guess which one of the guys was Girl Talk. Then this shaggy haired skinny guy with a hooded sweatshirt who we thought was a roadie came out and carefully unwrapped two computers and set them on a table on the stage. Then, he just said, “Hey, my name’s Greg and I’m gonna play some songs for you guys.” Then he went off stage for a little while, before some sort of intro music came on and he re-emerged, this time charged with energy, and he just started mashing up some tracks on his computers. The best part was that he invited as many people as could fit on to the stage and people were just going crazy…you couldn’t even see Greg/Girl Talk. The show was really something; unfortunately I had to leave early to go watch BC lose to Florida State.

On Day 2 I only got to see one show because I had to get back down to the border town I call home, but the show I got to see was The Cave Singers. Just about every review of the Cave Singers I’ve read refers to their music as this type of folky punk-rock, or punk-rock folk music. I would just say that it’s somewhat dark, somber folk-music. It’s a 3-man outfit, consisting of the finger-picking of guitarist Derek Fudesco and the unique voice of lead-man Pete Quirk, and the multi-instrumental percussion laid down by Marty Lund (including a washboard). It was a good show, albeit a little boring. I think there was about 20 people there since it was one of the first of the day. After the show we met Mr. Fudesco, who is quite tall.

We had to head out after that, unfortunately missing Ted Leo and Cat Power (playing separate shows…not together…although that would be neat), but still, the Fun Fun Fun Fest lived up to it’s name.

*Pictures and Links will have to come later because it's late and there is a cloud in the sky so my internet is going very slowly.
*Little D, you're so right on with Cold Roses. I would also like to say that "Now That You're Gone" is one of the most haunting beautiful songs Adams has every written.

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