Coverage by: Rupal Mehta, Rajiv Radia, Madeline Robicheaux, and Waylon O’Day
Never in a million years would think I would get the chance to see Jane’s Addiction until this festival. I sat through Ride’s performance just so I could be at the front for the performance. By the time Jane’s Addiction came on, I had made it close to the front. They started their set with my favorite song “Stop” and I lost my mind. They then continued the set performing the rest of their album “Ritual De Lo Habitual.” During the last song on the album “Classic Girl,” one of the Go-Go dancers started doing a strip tease for the audience. They then continued the set with hits such as “Mountain Song” and “Jane Says.” They ended the set with “Chip Away,” which is a completely percussion-driven song. As they we’re playing it go-go dancers with hooks connected to their backs (yes their actual flesh) were picked up by wires hanging from the stage and started swing back and forth. It was one of the craziest things I have seen in a long time, and won the best stage show for me.
The singer from Las Vegas celebrated his twenty first birthday with the Fun Fun Fun Fest crowd at the Blue Stage, Saturday afternoon. Prior to his set, he sat on the apron of the stage, smoking a cigarette, with painted nails and conversing with fans near the barrier. The crowd gave their best rendition of Happy Birthday before Shamir finished talking to the rest of his band about the setup of his equipment which included a live drum set, along with a keyboard/synth player who would give the body to Shamir’s characteristically dancey electro-pop.Alongside him was his backup vocalist, who performed with two microphones, one of which was equipped with a vocalizer to give her the sound of some East Coast rapper of yesteryear,which was a very good touch. Before starting to perform, Shamir addressed the crowd in a shockingly falsetto voice, that in hindsight reflects his singing voice Opening with the surprisingly funky “In For the Kill,” he followed that with his hugely popular “On the Regular,” which really got the crowd moving and grooving. Most of the songs he played were off his XL Records debut Ratchet, these included “Youth,””Head in the Clouds,”and “Hot Mess” At one point he took a break to address his song “Make A Scene,” saying that it was about the struggles of being under-twenty one, which he laughingly said he doesn’t have to worry about. He also covered Joyce Manor’s “Christmas Card,” which despite the two acts huge contrasts in style worked very well in the context of Shamir’s set. He closed with the impressive take on disco-pop effort “Call it Off.”Despite knowing only one of his songs, and not very well, his showmanship was something to be admired, and I’m looking forward to seeing him at December’s Day for Night Festival here in Houston.
Walking out to “Paper Trail$” on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, Joey Bada$$ got the crowd super hype and ready for a full hour set of hits and jam from his old mixtapes and debut album B4.DA.$$. The rapper even debuted a new collaboration song with Glass Animals titled “Lose Control,” which vibrated through the ears of all crowd members at the legendary FFF Fest Blue Stage. As an added bonus, Bada$$ spit the verse from his feature on A$AP Rocky’s song “1Train,” which I personally loved. The small, but tight crowd at his set vibed out to his short and sweet set at FFF Fest.
It was pure accident when I stumbled upon Anamanaguchi’s set, an accident that I thought was turning into a super long soundcheck. Not much chemistry between the band members and the crowd was growing restless from the same repeated beeps and boops while having to wait for something exciting to happen with the gloomy weather and now the gloomy performance. Curious minds began to wonder when backstage helpers brought out giant bags of balloons while a young girl danced on side stage. When the lead members of the band announced they had special guest, Meesh, to join the stage the crowd finally showed some enthusiasm. With colorful pastel balloons swarming around the stage, Anamanaguchi and Meesh finalized their show with balloon pops and strobe lights just like in their music video for “Pop It.” I wouldn’t say this was an accident that I would hope that would happen again, but it was a good time killer for the time being.
The German psychedelic pop-funk group was supposed to go on before Shamir, but due to a delayed flight for Gessaffelstein, Roosevelt was then given their time slot. Despite some confusion over exactly who the act was on stage, the crowd enjoyed their set. The weather was perfect for their style of music as the sun was going down, and the natural light complemented their impressive light set up. The band consisted of a bassist, a drummer who did almost all of the percussion, and the lead singer who also played guitar and controlled the sampler occasionally. Among the tracks they played were “Elliot,””Around You,””Sea,” all from their 2013 EP Elliot including my favorite, Montreal. The band closed with the two songs off of their new single,”Night Move,” and the super well textured and funky,”Hold On.” I knew very little about this band when I saw them at the festival but since then, they have really grown on me. All members of the band displayed just the right amount of energy, including the drummer who was constantly slamming out triplets on the snare and cymbals. In my opinion these guys deserved their time slot, and they showed the crowd why.
Saturday was a full day of electronic pop music for me, and I was excited to catch Neon Indian’s set. Reigning from Denton, TX, the band made their presence known as the sun was setting over the blue stage. Alan Palomo’s short stature zipped from stage right to stage left as he helped the roadies set up for their set and soundcheck (I always like to see bands do that. It’s humbling to know that they are in this 100 percent and not just waiting for people to assist them with every need). It was a quick set up with high energies all around as the crowd anticipated what the opening song would be and crossing fingers that Palamo would perform one of his Vega tunes. The crowd went wild with the opening tune “Dear Skorpio Magazine” from their latest album, followed by “Annie” and “The Glitzy Hive”. Closing the show with “Polish” was what everyone was waiting for and it was the perfect way to hype up the crowd for the rest of the night.
Claire Elise Boucher aka Grimes is the cutest and the tiniest perform I have ever seen. I did listen to a few of her songs prior to FFF Fest, but I wanted to leave a little mystery for her set since I was told by other fans that she puts on a spectacular show. Well, those fans were correct. From her stage settings to her contortionist dancers, Grimes knows how to entertain the eyes and the ears. She charmed the crowd with “Genesis” and “Scream” all while dancing and jumping with a boot cast on her right foot. We were in luck to be the first crowd to hear songs from her latest album “Art Angels” which was released the day before. It was a pretty awesome moment to see Grimes smile from ear to ear when the crowd knew all of her brand new songs word for word.
Wu Tang Clan
Honestly, being a huge Wu Tang fan since I first started listening to the genre, I was pretty disappointed. It really should have been called the “RZA and GZA show featuring the B Team.” No, seriously, no Raekwon or Ghostface or Method Man? Other than the fact that some of my favorite Killa B’s were MIA, the remaining members still put on a good show. Opening with “Clan in Da Front” from the 1993 classic Enter the Wu: 36 Chambers which just turned 22 years old as of November 9th. “Bring Da Ruckus,” the group’s very first single was next, and was also the point I began to notice the absence of three of the group’s biggest artists. “Da Mystery of Cheeseboxin’,” a personal favorite was played early in the set, there was a mass exodus after the Clan went through their most commercially successful song “CREAM.” The group then decided to follow up with the aptly titled “Tearz,” as I’m sure it was tough for the most successful rap group ever to see hundreds of people leave the stage. There was a stretch of the set dedicated solely to GZA and his classic solo LP Liquid Swords, which turned twenty here recently. Sadly, he didn’t let the full sample play before dropping the beat, he performed “Liquid Swords,””4th Chamber”, and “Shadowboxin’.” As expected, they also covered some of the late Clan member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s classics, such as “Brooklynn Zoo,””Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and the ODB verse off of the Kelis song “Got Your Money.” The Clan also played crowd favorites such as “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ to F’ Wit,” and “Triumph.” When the beat to “Method Man” came on, I got so hyped, only to be let down when Masta Killa, I think decided to take over in Meth’s absence. The group closed with the funky banger, “Gravel Pit.” Despite the absence of some of the most important members, I’m still glad I spent the whole day at the same stage to see my rap idols, although I hope next time I see them, the Killa B’s will be on full force. Still in awe that I was in the same vicinity of the rap titans that are Wu Tang Clan, especially the RZA and the GZA.
Saturday started off with La Dispute opening on the Black Stage. After seeing their Nite Show, I was interested to see what they would bring to their main stage performance. They played a blend of their most recent tracks off of “Rooms of the House,” such as “Woman (in mirror)” and “HUDSONVILLE MI 1956,” as well as classic tracks like “I See Everything” and “King Park”, which everyone was able to sing to. The only bummer about this performance was the timing. I feel if their performance was later, the crowd would’ve have been more energetic.
Head Wound City
After La Dispute’s set, I was at the wrestling ring watching people pretend to beat the crap out of each other until I heard some crazy high-pitched screaming and fast paced banging drums coming from the black staged. I immediately headed over there to find Head Wound City jamming out. After doing a little bit of Googling, I came to find out that this band is a giant super group, consisting of members of the Blood Brothers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Locust. Their set absolutely caught me off guard and I loved every minute of it. If you haven’t checked them out go do it now.
If there was any band to check out at Fun Fun Fun Fest, it was Fucked Up. The Canadian hardcore band is known for their stage performance and the amount of chaos they bring with them, and I was ready for whatever crazy antics they planned on doing. The set started with vocalist, Damian Abraham, jumping into the crowd and screaming in people’s faces. Abraham made his way all across the crowd, including the USP section and the very back. He then jumped back onstage and proceeded playing their hit “I Hate Summer.” This set was by far the craziest and most unforgettable.
When I heard American Nightmare was reuniting and playing the festival, I immediately added it on my list of bands to see. Their set was one of the coolest to watch. Even though I was at a festival, it felt like they we’re performing at a small DIY venue. Everyone was screaming along with the lyrics, moshing to the fast paced rhythms and stage diving. They brought life back to their old songs, such as “(We Are),” “AM/PM,” and “There is a Black Hole in the Shadow of Peru.”
Wu-Tang Clan member GZA came to the Yellow Stage to grace his audience with words of wisdom about how science and hip-hop intertwine with each other in today’s world. He spit rhymes a cappella throughout his 25-minute set and wowed the audience with his performance at the JASH Yellow Stage. Wu-Tang fans in the audience were very supportive of GZA’s short lecture and appreciated every second of it.
After seeing Fucked Up, I rushed over to the yellow stage to check out Doug Benson’s stand-up. Doug Benson is known as this generation’s “stoner comedian” and is most infamous for his documentary “Super High Me” and the dozens of podcasts he does, such as “Doug Loves Movies” and “Getting Doug with High.” Overall his stand-up was great. A lot of his jokes we unscripted, and involved crowd interaction. As soon as it 4:20 hit and Benson announced it, the tent filled with smoke. He even got someone to throw up their vaporizer pen at 4:20. It was a performance that was worth watching