There's an old Austin joke: How many Austinites does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: Two. One to screw it in, and the other guy to sit around and talk about how much more badass the old lightbulb used to be... So, in a way, I can't blame the old crowd for talking about 'back in the day' and I was prepared to hear plenty of that at this fest. Even for a fest that's just been around a few years, like FunFunFun, the lineup in the past has been pretty illustrious. It's hard to top past acts like Bad Brains and Mission of Burma, but there was pull, there was plenty worth seeing. Hell, I'm no spring chicken any more. But just like our hometown joke, I catch myself bitching sometimes…about that same old lightbulb. Fixating on the past, just seems stupid, because the truly great bands will always exist…and it's fests like this that make it possible to see bands like Zero Boys, and Negative Approach.
The old lightbulb is out. That shit won't light up again. But if there is still light enough for us to see, then this dirty old festival has still got enough fire shining bright enough to last for many years. It's a fest with promise, and the opportunity for kids to see bands they may never have the chance to see again. For that alone, it's a special kind of show, with its own special kind of crowd…biggest independent music festival of its kind. Right here, on the Auditorium Shores of Austin, Texas.
I was particularly excited about 'Dead Horse,' who were local heroes to those of us who grew up listening to hardcore and lived in Houston. I'd never gotten to see them, I was just a few years younger when they were in their hey-day so I just heard stories…and I listened to their album until it was scratched and ruined…It was a good crowd of dirty, happy, ugly ass punk rock kids and they were enraptured…and so was I. The Dead Horse set was like a swift kick in the nuts to every pussy band i've ever heard. A welcome reminder that there still are bands who have been doing this long enough, and hard enough, that just laying down and quitting isn't an option…no matter how long the hiatus.
On the other hand, Danzig's set was more disappointing than the bunk acid that was going around the show. It took a good forty-five minutes for them to set up--much more than it should have taken, much longer than it took anyone else---before the man himself got on stage and by then we were all pretty ready to just split and listen to Public Enemy. None of the kids were in the mood for his stage show which was less of the cheesy-B horror style that we all had come to know and love, it was more like Spinal Tap without any humor, a bad joke with no punch line.
I am a fervent Misfits fan from way back, so I won't talk any more trash about a legend, but I can say that it was as disappointing as the bunk acid that was circulating the fest. No zing, no flash, nothing that grabbed you by the balls…it just felt sad…like finding out Santa isn't real, or something.
For more info as to what happened with Glenn backstage and why, check out this link: http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2011/11/danzig-ruins-music-festival-with-his-soup-demands#more-54407
The dust was billowing up like some great, biblical storm. Clouds of it swirled around the crowd. During their great set singer Shawn Stern of Youth Brigade said, "You can tell who the locals are, because they brought bandanas!" and they were damn right. Youth Brigade have always, always, been on, every time i've seen them, they get the crowd rabid. When the pit got going for Youth Brigade, more dust got kicked up so it was like someone had set four fog-machines going. The effect was good, it felt fun. No one cared and even if we couldn't see and were dirty as hell at least we were dirty and panting together.
BORIS…what can I say? Tokyo's heaviest, genre-bending, Motorhead-influenced set was fucking thunder. Not much more I can say, other than it was fast, loud, and wild...
The dust made it hard as hell to take good pics, much to the grumbled chagrin of my photographer Evan.
I lit one of my last cigarettes while he fiddled with some knobs on his camera. "Here is what you do," and he explained to me in a few minutes the many secrets this camera machine has to offer. I nervously shoved it in the camera case and ran into the photo pit. I did what I could. The five dollar shot I drank along with those other nine dollar beers (unbelievable) had me feeling warm, and went to work. Evan went to grab us some Falafels.
Spicy. Delicious, Falafels…
Most the time he bobbed and weaved, catching great shots wherever he could. He was an excellent with the camera. He's a veritable Charles Whitman with the lens.
The Black Lips' set was a loud and snotty explosion and, funny in a way that made me think of The Dead Milkmen but not so overt. I once heard Keith Morris with "OFF!" say that: 'The Black Lips' were like his bastard children. Seeing them at the fest made see what he meant. They are kind of the bastard kids of punk rock in general.
Perhaps the most memorable set of the whole fest was The Damned. Not just because they are classic, not just because they are THE-FUCKING-DAMNED!!! But, because they were everything we'd been wishing for all day in the bands we'd heard and then finally we were getting it all at once!!! BOOM, just like that---it was like taking too big a hit of something highly illegal. Instant pleasure…and then that spinning feeling…
Hearing "Born To Kill" with Dave Vanian swinging the mic around like a demon wielding a scythe. It was my 17 year old self's wet dream come true. They kept playing, they needed no onion soup…they were rock n' roll and as good as it gets.
The fest was still there, a marriage of old and new, of greasy kids and hipster chicks and just plain Austin weirdos. There just isn't any fest like it, so let's hope the lightbulb doesn't burn out anytime soon.