Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013 Day 1: Snoop Pulls Off Old-School Coup, Cut Copy Get Masses Grooving + More – Exclusive Photos
“That’s cool – Chicago looks good,” said Kurt Vile Friday (Nov. 8) at Fun Fun Fun Fest as he looked over his shoulder at Austin’s array of skyscrapers toward the beginning of his evening set.
Vile quickly laughed off the quip. “Just kidding," he said. "We love Austin.” But his observation about the city’s increasingly impressive skyline -- the backdrop to what is arguably the event’s main stage, the Orange Stage -- carried some truth. FFF’s home base is growing faster than it ever has, and parallel to that trend, the fest has recently reached a deserved level of international notoriety.
Along with the various comforts of elite hispterdom -- including an array of delicious local eateries, a live wrestling ring, skate and BMX ramps, a mechanical bull and plenty of micro-brewed beer -- a large part of the three-day event’s appeal is its distinctive, genre-based format, which incorporates buzzing and established artists alike. The Orange Stage hosts indie and popular acts while electronica and hip-hop bumps on the Blue Stage. Punk and hardcore dominate the Black Stage, and comedy reigns on the Yellow Stage.
Day 1 of this year's lineup, one of FFF’s most robust yet, featured standout performances from the Tontons, Active Child, Mac DeMarco, Ceremony, Kurt Vile, Thee Oh Sees, Big Freedia, RJD2, Cut Copy and Snoop Dogg. Many more notable acts – including Little Boots, the Walkmen, Johnny Marr, Patton Oswalt, the Impossibles, Quicksand and Flag – graced the stages, but such a stacked lineup meant a ridiculous amount of schedule conflicts, so seeing everyone became an unmanageable task. Among all that talent, here’s who ruled Friday:
Most infectiously positive attitude -- Mac DeMarco: Not that any artist came off negative -- save for Johnny Marr, who was visibly frustrated by sound issues that caused a trickle-down delay on the Orange Stage and stunted the Walkmen’s set -- but Canadian rocker Mac DeMarco just radiated carefree glee. His song selections -- mostly pulled from last year’s 'Rock and Roll Night Club' and '2' -- were generally upbeat and precise. They often evoked the quirkier stylings of Devendra Banhart, but with a strong vein of power-pop.
Along with some perfect low-70s fest weather, DeMarco’s love for live performance -- evident from his fixed s----eating, gap-toothed grin and constant tongue-wagging -- imbued the afternoon’s start with boyish optimism. After driving home that sentiment with a set-ending covers medley (best of all: a goofy hint of Rammstein’s 'Du Hast' and a hardcore screaming version of the Beatles’ 'Blackbird') he upheld high spirits by spending his day among the fest’s fans, at one point stage-diving and crowd-surfing during Thee Oh Sees.
Most exuberant dance party - Cut Copy: If you got close enough -- a lack of any sort of visual screen at any stage is a valid gripe -- you might’ve assigned this award to king of bounce music (essentially: twerking), Big Freedia. But most people were pushed too far back from the Blue Stage to get invigorated by the onslaught of ass-shaking. Which meant that Australian electro-rock band Cut Copy handily presided over the furthest reaching throng of happily grooving fest-heads. Songs off the band’s new Summer of Love-inspired album, 'Free Your Mind,' balanced the group’s more typically one-dimensional pulse with shades of driving rock and euphoric psychedelia.
“It’s the first day of fest but feels like its last day -- you guys are so amped right now,” said frontman Dan Whitford toward the set’s middle. Aside from that one interlude, the group refrained from talking at all, turning that observation into a hard fact by producing a streamlined live mix with no breaks in its irresistible flow.
Best use of old-school skill - Snoop Dogg: In terms of genre, Snoop Dogg belonged on the Blue Stage, but his day-closing Orange Stage slot was certainly justified. The 42-year-old West Coast rapper threatened to disappoint by introducing himself as his reggae-star alter ego, Snoop Lion (groan). But after performing one song, 'Here Comes the King,' in that mode, he quickly played a string of tasty classics that made for one his most convincing performances in years.
Granted, there were a couple of over-the-top silly moments – his inclusion of his part of Katy Perry’s candied-pop tune 'California Gurls' and his decision to close with the ultra-upbeat Wiz Khalifa callabo 'Young, Wild and Free' -- that were slightly off-putting. But that was only within the context a particularly gangsta-fied set that stacked hit upon hit with fierce flows added by Tha Dogg Pound’s Daz Dillinger and Kurupt. Many rappers Snoop’s age -- take, for example, almost every member of Wu-Tang Clan -- have struggled to make as great an impact as they once did in a live setting. But with his DPGC duo there to keep him on point, he proved he’s still the Doggfather and a true “mothef---ing P.I.M.P.”
Check out more photos from Fun Fun Fun Fest, Day 1