Ah, Fun Fun Fun Fest. You were, well… fun. Aside from the dust and multiple sound problems (Santigold was pissed, just in case you did not notice), you put on another enjoyable music festival.
However, you definitely had your fair share of good and bad acts this year. It’s inevitable; no music festival is perfect. Here are some of the festival’s best and worst performers, along with a couple honorable mentions.
Run-D.M.C.—It pains me to put the legendary hip-hop collective under this category, but it is what it is. As the headliners for this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, I found Run-D.M.C.’s set lackluster and abrupt. Granted, their 45 minute set (excluding the DJ tribute session from Jam-Master Jay’s two children) was absolutely enthralling. I pulled a D.J. Qualls (Road Trip anyone?) when the group went into “It’s Tricky,” and did my best Steven Tyler impersonation on “Walk This Way.”
But it just did not feel right. The moment went away too quickly, our hopes of having an encore crushed by a combination of FFF’s house music, and Dillon Francis’ dubstep wub-wubs. In being their first performance in over a decade, I feel as if Run-D.M.C. took advantage of that hype, catering to fans by playing all of the hits in rapid succession. You could argue that Run-D.M.C.’s set was a nostalgic reminder of the minimal and straightforward aesthetic a part of classic hip-hop performances. A preserver for hip-hop’s integrity and humble beginnings, if you will.
However, I feel that that was not the case. To use one of Run-D.M.C.’s classics to conclude my argument: “You Be Illin’.”
AraabMuzik—Earlier this year I had the privilege of witnessing MPC king AraabMuzik perform live at Texas-based electronic dance music festival Nocturnal Wonderland. He was barely getting into the live EDM scene, utilizing a combination of trance and dubstep remixes that kept audience members attentive and flabbergasted. And when those fingers of Araab’s began to move with lightning-fast precision, we knew we were in for a treat.
Present-day Araab is nothing like his former self. He’s become complacent with dubstep. As a guy raised off hip-hop you would think he would at least balance his set out, with a few trap-rave 808s and ear-stabbing hi-hats. But Araab’s set was nothing more than a heaping pile of bro-hard dubstep, and off-time electronic drum solos.
Do not get me wrong, Araab is still the undisputed king of the MPC. But if he continues to center his performances around nothing but dubstep (crappy dubstep at that), redundancy will inevitably become a problem.
Santigold—My friends will think I’m a hypocritical asshole for this one, considering I was one of Santigold’s many onstage crowd participants, during her song “Creator.” That was the only part I truly enjoyed. Other than that Santigold’s set was pretty predictable. Similar to my review of Childish Gambino’s Austin City Limits Fest performance, Santigold came under the same type of criticism. Her FFF set was nothing different from her Warner Bros. performance during this year’s SXSW.
Deerhoof—It’s difficult to accurately describe Deerhoof’s appeal. Most would probably say its their musicianship (the ensemble weaves in and out of odd time signatures with the utmost ease). After seeing the group live, I would have to agree. Just about every song they went through involved some mind-fuck bridge where nothing was in time, and each member looked as if they were independent from the band.
And just when it seemed the song was about to crash and burn, drummer Greg Saunier would immediately go back to keeping the beat, with the remaining members following in suit. A proper analogy to the chaotic, musical genius that is Deerhoof would be that of a skateboarder that does really extreme shit.
Like the latter Deerhoof grabs your attention because it’s obvious that they know what they’re doing. But when they go into those catastrophic noise-rock moments, you can’t help but be nervous for them. Nervous that, like a skateboarder doing a 720 flip mid-air, you hope they’ll land and most importantly, they’ll recover.
Deerhoof recovered time and time again. Plus they have an adorable lead singer, which is an added bonus.
Bosnian Rainbows—Anything Omar Rodriguez-Lopez related, I will listen to. I once listened to a hip-hop album (Handsome Boy Modeling School’s White People. Not El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead) just to hear the guitarist shred on a chorus that featured longtime friend Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and Wu-Tang legend RZA.
However, I was skeptical about Bosnian Rainbows. Prior to their performance a friend had sent me a video of them, and I wasn’t impressed. I’m not a Rodriguez-Lopez purist that likes to constantly have his face melted by long guitar solos. But this dark new wave-y sound that Rodriguez-Lopez was experimenting with, just sounded wrong.
But on that Sunday night under a dark sky, with bright lights piercing through the audience, Bosnian Rainbows felt so right. Rodriguez-Lopez proved me wrong, and I am more than happy to say that. If you ever wanted Rodriguez-Lopez to create a band with the straightforwardness of At the Drive-In, with the psychedelic, dark atmosphere of The Mars Volta, Bosnian Rainbows will suffice.
The dark synths, Deantoni Parks’ mechanically smooth drumming, Teri Gender Bender’s soulful croon to a deadly screech and Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar all blended together to create something absolutely new and rejuvenating.
Plus, it’s just nice to see Rodriguez-Lopez smiling and moving around again. While onstage shredding through riffs that only he could ever fathom creating, the guitarist seemed without a care in the world. His afro was moving, body shaking in multiple directions—this was the Rodriguez-Lopez we all hoped to see. And that’s who we got.
A$AP Rocky—Of course A$AP Rocky is going to be on my best list. The rapper’s set was wild in the best ways. From jumping into the crowd to encouraging fans to crowd-surf (which I obliged to, willingly), Rocky and his cohorts put on a energetic live show.
The high point of his performance? A back-to-back performance of “Brand New Guy” and “Hands on the Wheel,” with collaborator and tour-mate Schoolboy Q. “Weed and brew, weed and brew / Life for me is just weed and brew.” It was a mantra we all shared as fans puffed on pre-rolled joints, and sipped on overly-priced beer.
Franki Chan—DJ Franki Chan ended up replacing performer Charli XCX, during FFF. But none of the audience seemed to care once the guy started playing. His set was seriously nothing but bangers. Trap-rave hit after trap-rave hit, immersed in bubbly synths.
He was also the first DJ of the entire festival to drop TNGHT, which was great. He was also the ONLY DJ to drop a remix of Grimes’ “Oblivion,” which somehow made sense when placed in between Future’s “Same Damn Time,” and some song by Rick Ross.
Kreayshawn—Kreayshawn is the rap game Jigglypuff. Adorable and sweet but a mischief-maker when given the opportunity. Kreayshawn’s music works in a live setting. Drizzled in 808 bass and melodic, “even-when-I’m-drunk-I-can-still-sing-a-long” choruses, the rapper’s set was nothing but a party.
I called myself a “bad bitch” during “Gucci Gucci,” and we all went as hard as we possibly could during “Go Hard.” So what if the rapper did not push too many record sales? The fact that she’s still performing to large, mostly sold-out crowds, definitely proves that she’s doing something right.
Check out some of the miscellaneous fun we came across at the festival below.