I’ve written so many festival-review intros that at this point I’m totally numb. This writing-nose done snurped up too much deviated-septum word-coke over the years to do much for y’all intro-wise. But I will say this: Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 was a hell of a way to spend a Sat-Sun; I can’t emphasize that enough. After a couple of rough fests last year, I feel like I’m full of the spirit again. Hopefully that enthusiasm can be transmitted to you, much like a sexual disease, by way of this rich, informative, over-the-top writing. Voila?
Photo: Joel Baxter
“Do they have any cock? GIMME SOME COCK!”
So began Fun Fun Fun Fest in two-thousand-twizzy, with a conversation about the best barbecue joints in Austin between Mike Patton and audience members. I love and cherish Patton and just about all his bands. Would give my left nut to see Fantômas, and Tomahawk did just fine, as well. I’ve always found T-Hawk to be inconsistent and a bit dippy (less extreme than most Patton projects, not as out-there as his less-extreme projects), and their live show, though saddled by the aforementioned limitations, zoned in skillfully on sprinkling the crowd with quirky heavy-rock songs from their three-or-so records (and a new, boppin’ little baby on the way!). Patton isn’t quite a god, per say, but he’s a good guy to have around the house, nose in his tape-looping machine and mind constantly in the avant-rock gutter. “Mad scientist” doesn’t even begin to describe the chemical reactions gushing from Patton’s performance. A fun-fun-fun-as-fuck way to start out an extremely successful festival experience with an old friend and thousands of strangers who, in way too many cases, are extremely hottt.
“No flash; for medical reasons, goddamn it!” Earth’s Dylan Carson is a crotchety old man at this point, and absorbing Earth can drive you crazy by way of the tense, slow proceedings, and… no one would have it any other way. They are what they are, and it works just fine, so why fret? Post-rock, minus the climaxes, sounds so unappealing, so why does it become so mystical in the hands of this guy? Who cares, I guess, as all we have to do is continue to soak it in. Nothing about the live show of Earth delivers anything you can’t experience listening to his last few records, particularly the Angels/Demons sets, but I recommend it nonetheless. It’s a matter of sacridity.
I never liked X much, but I tried. And I still don’t like X much.
Photo: Joel Baxter
Believe it or not, even as a young white kid in the 1980s, I never liked Run-DMC. I was into Public Enemy; I liked Chuck and Flav just fine, but I also demanded that the radical-sounding production be as powerful as the lyrical delivery, whereas Run Dizzle wallowed in plain beats and rudimentary rhymes. The few songs I saw did nothing to change my mind about them. I even prefer their gangster-rap period (NEVER LET A PUNK GET AWAY WITH MURDER / GUN SHOTS / GUN SHOTS / ALL YA HEARD-A; strange lyrics coming from the Reverend and co.) to that old-school “tricky” shit. Sorry, but no yes-yes-y’all from this Texan.
Everyone knows WHY? sucks… right? I just don’t get it. So many enjoyable little bands were on Anticon (and a lotta bad too), and I liked ‘em for it, but just how did this guy ever break through on any level? The recipe: Take the worst aspects of pop music and… shit, I guess that’s it. What am I missing here? This stuff is so unmemorable I take no pleasure in shoveling shit onto it whatsoever; at least Teddy Bears were shitty-funny or maybe even shitty-shitty-YAY-YAY! WHY? has so much assumed character I feel like maybe this guy was imitating a best friend that annoyed him and decided to make a record… and people liked it! Rad, padre! Spin that Sugar Ray record next, then finger my butthole!
Photo: Joel Baxter
Having recently read a fantastic book about grindcore/death metal (Choosing Death), it was an extremely extreme bit of fortuitousness for me to be able to imbibe a potent batch of Bru-Tru so soon after. And as much as I love the canon scoured by the book (Cannibal Corpse, Death, Napalm Death, the latter of whom also played Fun Fun Fun), Brutal Truth are one of the most appealing — and Gumshoe-friendly — bands to emerge from the misty swamps of the Earache empire by dint of their math-metal chops, death-metal leanings, and unpredictable nature (not to mention the rapacious growling). Their live show might even be better because Richard Hoak (just found out he’s also of Total Fucking Destruction, an underrated band I’ve covered in the past; fuck) is grindcore’s Greg Saunier (don’t worry, Deerhoof played later!), all sinewy and launching forth with the evil-dead snarl of wind, fire, and rushing water. And as much as I love Saunier’s quirky bashing, there’s nothing — NOTHING — more ball-bashing than endless successions of blast-beats and double-bass bludgeon-fucks. The rest of the guys looked like they just got back from stuffing their heads up a drunken wolf’s ass, especially knighted thrash mega-legend Dan Lilker (Do Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, S.O.D., and/or Venemous Concept ring any bells?), and I’ll be damned if it didn’t precipitate an uptick in their intensity. How do they jam like that, in the ball-shriveling heat of Austin, when they obviously haven’t been outdoors in six months? I don’t know, but I hope they keep it up forever and ever. The three veterans kept up with their skinsman just fine, save the technical problems experienced by the weird/wiry/wonderful bassist. It’s typical that Brutal Truth’s timeslot was 2:30 in the afternoon and sparsely attended; all the best music suffers this fate at festivals full of bouncy-boobied yup-a-dups and uninformed, wannabe knobs. And hey, when people crowd the shittier stages, there’s more room for the knowing. Daughters reunion?
I thought it was hilarious when Banksy conjured that Julian Plenti alias then scrapped it a few years later; it echoed the feeling I’d had all along that, much like his lyrics, he doesn’t quite make a lot of sense. But I’ll tell you what, I still play those old Interpol records and I don’t give a flyin’ ice-cream fudge if he’s snail-trailin’ it solo these days; the man knows how to ratchet up the tension, and he’s never stingy with the guitarpeggios (at this, he’s one of the best). This isn’t like that Julian Casablancas solo material, all mechanized and purposely faraway as possible from his day job. As much as Interpol cheered me at Sasquatch nigh on seven years ago, I can live with Banks’ new band and sound. I’m not ecstatic about it, but I can live with it. Don’t worry, once the money runs out, he’ll be back out-front doing what he does best with his boys.
I’ve avoided this band for so long because I somewhat enjoy Sunny Day Real Estate (and fuck you, too), and they turned out to be acceptable, quite so. This is indie rock, and it’s not boring. And that’s all. And what are you looking at?