This weekend, November 4-6, Austin will play host to Fun Fun Fun Fest, the city's "other" music festival. In only its sixth year, Fun Fun Fun has emerged as one of the most forward-thinking festivals in the country, combining rock, comedy, metal, hip-hop and more into one easy to digest entertainment experience. From the FFF Water Olympics to FFF Nites the festival has proven itself to be all about the fans. And while festival goers from previous years will miss the friendly confines of Waterloo Park the move to Auditorium Shores has given organizers a chance to expand their offerings (which apparently includes more tacos, which is always a good thing). Here is where I'll be all weekend, and if you can't make it to Austin check out the live stream from FFF6 on Pitchfork.
Artist: Jim Ward
When: 1:40 p.m. Friday, November 4 on the Orange Stage
Why: Jim Ward is the former front man for popular bands Sparta, Sleepercar and At The Drive In so there is a wide catalogue of tracks for him to pull from, his recent work being wonderfully relaxing for a Friday afternoon in the Austin sun. Plus there is always the chance Ward will pull some former band mates out of the crowd to perform with him on stage.
Why not: While his recently-released solo effort, Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins, is impressive, it lacks the ethereal gusto that made him famous in the first place. He has written so many songs there is a chance he won't have time to play your favorite.
The alternative: Auto Body - 2 p.m. on the Blue Stage. Get energized for your festival weekend with indie electro fusion and the visual spectacle that is Auto Body.
Artist: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
When: 5:35 p.m. Friday, November 4 on the Orange Stage
Why: It's not often you get to work the phrase "Bitch, I Love You" into a sentence and get away with it. But that's exactly what Black Joe has done with his aptly-named second album, Scandalous, which was released earlier this year and features songs like "Booty City" and "Snatch it Back and Hold It." Black Joe and the Honeybears are my pick for edgiest wedding band of all time.
Why not: Black Joe Lewis used to work at a pawn shop in Austin, which is where he got his first guitar and honed his skills because he didn't like talking to the other person he worked with. We've all heard the story a thousand times and will hear it a million times before we die.
The alternative: Dating Game - 4:10 p.m. on the Yellow Stage. Random, hilarious acts like this are what make FFF6 the most versatile festival in the country.
Artist: Public Enemy
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday, November 4 on the Blue Stage
Why: It might be 23 years since Public Enemy released its iconic single "Don't Believe The Hype," but it is telling that the lyrics are still relevant. Rock the hard jams/treat it like a seminar/teach the bourgeoise/and rock the boulevard. Easily could have been written about #OccupyWallStreet right? Besides, when is the next time you're ever going to have a chance to see these guys again?
Why not: The hip-hop legends haven't done anything relevant since the He Got Game Soundtrack and even that is a stretch. At this point there is a whole generation of music fans that think Flavor Flav is "that weird guy with the necklace clock from VH1."
The alternative: Danzig Legacy - 8:15 p.m. on the Black Stage. A Danzig reunion is rare, but a live show with members of Samhain and former bandmate Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein is downright unheard of.
Artist: Kool Keith
When: 9:05 p.m. Friday, November 4 at Empire Automotive (FFF Nites!)
Why: Because this is really two shows in one. Kool Keith is also Dr. Octagon, or is it the other way around? Either way, Keith keeps his identity a secret onstage before transforming mid set and running through a whole new library of tracks.
Why not: He takes his stage presence so serious that the transformation from Kool Keith to Dr. Octagon can be a little unnerving. Kool Keith once joked that he was institutionalized in a mental hospital and watching him shed one personality for another will make you wonder if he was serious.
The alternative: Passion Pit DJ set - 9:15 p.m. Thursday, November 3 at Empire Automotive. Go throw eggs and rotten vegetables at the stage because DJ sets by established acts are boring, uninspired and should never be passed off as live music.
Artist: Air Sex Competition
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, November 5 on the Yellow Stage
Why: Even if you've never picked up a guitar in your life you're still the best air guitarist on the block. The same can be said of Air Sex, which will crown its 2nd outdoor Air Sex Champion. The best part? You get to participate! The only rule is that all climaxes must be simulated.
Why not: Because the Orange Stage is so jam-packed with awesome shows the entire weekend you will want to get there early and set up a camp site. Seriously, you could arrive at 4 p.m. Saturday and see tune-yArDs, Ra Ra Riot, M83, Girls, Lykke Li and Spoon back-to-back-to-back. You'll want one of these.
The alternative: Dan Deacon - 4:30 p.m. on the Blue Stage. He is a bossy performer, obligating concert goers to make human tunnels and participate in obligatory dance offs, but after the visual spectacle you'll be glad you followed his instructions.
Artist: Yellow Ostrich
When: 10:55 p.m. Saturday, November 5 at The Parish (FFF Nites!)
Why: Yellow Ostrich is an evolving combination of Owen Pallett and Andrew Bird that uses imaginative vocal percussion and incessant loops to create upbeat tracks that are flat-out fun to listen to. And because guitarists Alex Schaaf and Jon Natchez need your support after their baseball teams collapsed in October.
Why not: The band doesn't have a Wikipedia page, despite the existence of The Morgan Freeman EP, which is a re-imagining of Morgan Freeman's Wikipedia page that features tracks like "Early Life" and "Selected Filmography."
The alternative: ANR - 10:30 p.m. at The Mohawk. Because ANR (Awesome New Republic) only had 11 people attend their show at the ND in September. Austinites, you can do better than that. Listen to "Stay Kids" and tell me you wouldn't like to hear it live.
When: 12:15 p.m. Sunday, November 6 on the Orange Stage
Why: I can already hear the groan when people realize Crooks is a country band. Give 'em a chance. These young chaps are akin to Old Texas' country music but they have the soul of East Austin's country music and it is damn good. Think of it as a modern twist on an old favorite. Or a deep V neck and tattoos with a cowboy hat and cowboys boots.
Why not: Despite the intricate guitar strumming, descriptive lyrics that evoke classic western movie emotions and the grand, ballad nature of their songs, this is a country band. So if you're diametrically opposed don't say I didn't warn you.
The alternative: Staying in bed. Festivals were already exhausting enough, and now Fun Fun Fun Fest has gone and added FFF Nites, which kicks off the music Thursday night and continues each night after the festival in some of the most popular bars in Austin. I'm appreciative for all the live music but it's going to be hard to get out of bed before noon on Sunday.
When: 3:35 p.m. Sunday, November 6 on the Blue Stage
Why: Not only does leading lady Amanda Warner have the pipes to belt out the poignant lyrics to hits like "I Go Away" and "Fade To Black" she also has the musical wherewithal to create her own beats and make on-the-fly remixes and adjustments throughout the show. This one-woman show is not to be missed.
Why not: MNDR was once a rising star, appearing in major print publications and on tracks with Mark Ronson, but she has since turned into a bit of an enigma. She released an EP in 2010 and a new single in 2011 but otherwise her solo career seems to have stalled. This show will be a good litmus test.
The alternative: Page & Stephen's Fun Wedding - 3:35 p.m. on the Yellow Stage. Yes, an actual wedding, at a music festival. Swoon. Paint It Black will be providing the wedding music and a special surprise guest will officiate. Dress code is casual.
Artist: Black Lips
When: 7:50 p.m. Sunday, November 6 on the Black Stage
Why: After a disappointing follow-up to 2007's Good Bad Not Evil the Black Lips are back with their most recent full-length album, Arabia Mountain, which combines grungy guitar riffs and shouted vocals with a newfound softness (nobody ever expected to hear a subtle triangle on a Black Lips song). Plus the live show is one of a kind...
Why not: You don't like getting peed on. Black Lips have been known to whip it out on stage, play guitar with their junk and pee in their own mouth. It's all part of the Black Lips experience. Band members have mellowed in recent years but fans have picked up the slack.
The alternative: Brian Posehn - 7:40 p.m. on the Orange Stage. The comedian released the most accurately named album of 2010: Fart and Weiner Jokes. Known for the "Metal by Numbers" music video, Posehn is opening for Slayer and should have a few hilarious things to say about the metal mavens.