After Natalie Portman spottings at ACL, it’s only appropriate that Rooney Mara make an appearance at Fun Fun Fun Fest. She is, after all, the punk rock version of Portman and Fun Fun Fun Fest is the punk rock version of Austin City Limits. While Fun Fun Fun Fest may not reach the same extensive blogosphere as ACL, the festival hits every aspect of a Summer festival (reunions, risings acts, and bands you forgot hadn’t broken up yet) but with less heat and less people wearing newly bought “Keep Austin Weird” shirts.
Other than the size of the fest, the music diversity is what truly separates Fun Fun Fun Fest from ACL. Sure, ACL boasted Iggy and the Stooges and Neil Young and The Shins and Big K.R.I.T. but what tastemaker Williamsburg transplant doesn’t own all those on vinyl? Where Fun Fun Fun excels is bringing one of the most polarizing lineups of any festival this year. Where else can you see The Dwarves play a few football fields away from Sharon Van Etten or X playing downwind of Bun B and Run DMC? What makes FFFF even more appealing is it stacks bands that you’ve always wanted to see with bands you didn’t realize you wanted to see.
With Black Lips performing at ACL, it was a pleasant surprise when they made an appearance on Day 1. It’s no secret that Terrence Malick has been filming a movie in Austin for the past few months, but it was quite unexpected to see Rooney Mara and a seemingly inebriated Val Kilmer, under direction of Malick, appear on stage with Black Lips. Channeling his portrayal of Jim Morrison, Kilmer came on stage bat crazy reciting poems to his mother, pulling out a chainsaw and splitting a prop amp in half, and then grabbing a bowie knife and chopping his hair lock by lock. Mara stood off to the side pretending to play along on guitar. Even though the band only really played a few songs, the energy and overall uniqueness kept the majority of the crowd interested to stay the whole set. Fittingly, they closed out the show with their single “Modern Art.”
This performance is a testament to the kind of anamoly Fun Fun Fun Fest is to the Summer Festivals that precede it. FFFF manages to fit in the weird with the crowd pleasing performances that festivals need to spark interest. Just hours later, Run DMC played their first show in over a decade. This ultimately, and unsurprisingly brought the biggest crowd of the night (and probably the entire weekend), but it also showed what kind of festival FFFF has become.
Just two years ago, it was hosted in the much smaller and more centralized Waterloo Park. They brought marquee names like Public Enemy, Slayer and Devo in years prior, but Run DMC is probably the most non-polarizing main act to play Fun Fun Fun Fest yet. Will this begin a trend of bigger names conteracting with obscure performances from mid-level names? Or is this a turning point in the festival’s history that elevates it steps closer to the tourist fodder of ACL. With ACL expanding to two weeks next year, it will be interesting to see what direction Fun Fun Fun Fest goes from here.