@ZackTeibloom Fun Fun Fun 2011 was a visually beautiful weekend. You noticed it as soon as you stepped into the new venue at Auditorium Shores. Sure, it was dusty, but all that did was make everyone look like a bad-ass with a bandana around their mouth. With downtown Austin in the background of the Orange stage, it made it easier to forget some sound issues. It couldn’t have hurt that Ryan Gosling was everywhere. Everything looks a little better with the Gos in frame.
This post is Gos-free, though. These are just my favorite acts of the festival, with pictures by Eric Puslifer. I’ll have an entire other post dedicated to the videos and another post to Gosling. This is just photos and long captions with a grade. The photo on the left is of The Joy Formidable’s drummer hyping up the crowd. We’ll get to them in a minute, but first, my favorite set of the festival.
M83 came in with the pressure of being the band with the most hyped-up show of the weekend. They’ve been getting so much buzz that lately it got to be surprising when I’d see a friend listening to something on Spotify that wasn’t M83. Their double album is in contention for my favorite of the year, and I really didn’t know what to expect from a live show. Eric kept referring to the band as “him,” so I wondered if it was one guy with a lot of knobs and backing tracks. Hardly. It was a full band and they blew me away. The crowd was bunched in tight, but danced freely as it started to get darker and smoke filled the stage. The band was dressed all in black except for one corner of white on their bassist’s t-shirt. He was the most visually exciting of the group, standing up on the drum set to get the crowd clapping and moving all over the stage with tons of energy. The songs off of their latest double album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, dominated the set and got the biggest response from the crowd, but they sounded just as spectacular when they dug into old albums for the final three songs. They’re ready for a headlining slot next time they come through town and powered through early sound issues to put on my favorite show of the fest. I can only imagine seeing them in a club setting. 9.4/10
The Joy Formidable have a gong and inflatable cats on stage, but they don’t use them until the very end of their last song. It’s the kind of thing you can do when you have an explosive track like “Whirring” as your finale. I don’t mean to imply that “Whirring” is all they’ve got, but the nearly 9-minute opus is simply brilliant. Their 3:30 Saturday set was the first one I made sure to get to and they wowed me all set long, from the thumping bass of “Austere” to the fuzzy, anthemic “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade” all the way through to that great finale. Whirring” builds to a breakdown that stretches for over four minutes minutes that you’ll have to see in all its glory in the video post. With their drummer Matt Thomas turned sideways so you could get a good cross-view of his wild percussion and very Welch-sounding lead singer Ritzy Bryan was charming and infectious. 9.2/10
Architecture in Helsinki is fun. Maybe too much fun? Rock poet Thax Douglas spotted me listening to them at an incredibly early hour and commented “What kind of f** listens to Architecture in Helsinki at 7:15 in the morning?!” Well, then. I could listen to these guys any time of day, especially their single “Contact High.” They were bouncy, fun pop that got me dancing maybe a little too much, if that’s possible. The falsettos sounded lovely in person, they had some lush harmonies and they even did a little choreographed line dance together. 9.1
Black Joe Lewis knows Austin has seen him play a million times, so he spices things up by playing behind his head and with his teeth. He’s a showman who knows when to go flashy and when to play those powerful blues rock chords and he sounded dynamic as ever in an afternoon set. With the Honey Bears’ horns blazing and his guitar wailing, Black Joe Lewis is always a consistently fun and entertaining show. 9.0/10
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah is the kind of band that can churn out a strong performance, even if they don’t have their A-game. Lisa called it the seventh best CYHASY band out of seven, but it was my first and I thoroughly enjoyed singing and, well, clapping along to “Is This Love” and “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away.” It was a sweet early evening set, despite them seemingly phoning it in. 8.7/10