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  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Jon Shapley
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jon Shapley

Fun Fun Fun Fest might be the one festival that we don't will away come weekend's end. Something about the whole thing is a bit more manageable and leaves us less rundown than the others, even though it's the scrappiest of the bunch — maybe it's the fall weather, the smaller crowd or the under-the-radar (or reuniting) bands.

We've compiled all CultureMap coverage of the fest, documenting everything inside from circle pits to skate ramps and headlining performances.

Photos & Fashion

Up-close shots of the artists that inspired madness, the crowds that stormed the stages, and the fashion that rocked the Auditorium Shores

Reviews & Previews

An in-depth look at the not-to-be-missed acts of the festival including interviews and set reviews

Navigating the Fest

Your guide to making the most of FFF — food, fashion and aftershows included

  • Japandroids crowd
    Photo by Jon Shapley
  • FFF Fest 7 at Auditorium Shores
    Photo by Jon Shapley
  • Bosnian Rainbows
    Photo by Jon Shapley
  • Santigold
    Photo by Bill Sallans

Fun Fun Fun in Review: The best moments from this year's fest

Festival Frenzy

Fun Fun Fun Fest did it again: another epic weekend of music, comedy, taco cannons and random celebrity sightings (Val Kilmer cutting his hair!).

As you recover from the 7th annual fest, relive the best moments from FFF Fest's takeover of Auditorium Shores, as selected by CultureMap's staff and contributors.

Bob Mould

My favorite four minutes was Bob Mould, late in the set. After 45 minutes of Sugar tunes with very little banter in the hot weather, a beet-red Mould simply said: "I love this song. It's new. 'The Descent.'" He then succinctly proved that his new work was the equal of his past, which was precisely the point. The crowd wasn't massive for that set, but I suspect Mould grabbed a lot of new fans on Friday.

- Tom Thornton, Contributor

Bosnian Rainbows

I was never able to catch At The Drive-in during the band's reunion tour, so I jumped at the chance to see Omar Rodriguez-Lopez play with his newest project, Bosnian Rainbows. Seriously, I could watch him vibe and move with his guitar for hours. Between that and frontwoman Teri Gender Bender's "interpretive" dance (read: often imitating the stance of a gorilla) coupled with her insane attractiveness, I couldn't peel my eyes offstage — and that's not even talking about the music, which was psych-funk infused rock 'n roll that wasn't too far out to grasp.

- Caitlin Ryan, Editor-in-Chief

Santigold

I tend to steer toward the metal/punk side of FFF Fest, but this year I did my due diligence at the Orange Stage, and was rewarded with Santigold's dance-heavy Friday night set. Even with a few early technical bumps and a late start, the Philly beauty's performance had all the ass-shaking components and curious-at-times choreography one could want. Santigold's set warmed me up for a Run DMC reunion show, and seriously got me reconsidering my back-up dancer dreams.

- Arden Ward, Managing Editor

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten's set on Friday afternoon was a perfect intro to the fest, if you didn't get there right when the gates opened to catch the Midgetmen kick off the entire thing with their "Weird Al" Yankovic tribute fest, that is. Van Etten has grown considerably as a songwriter since the days one could catch her in Austin playing living room shows off of Manor Road, but the most impressive thing about her set at Fun Fun Fun Fest has to be the fact that, while she's still writing intimate, "I wrote this in my bedroom" style songs, she and her band play them as big-time rockers.

As an early introduction to a festival that's always a bit unpredictable, one could have done a lot worse than listening to the big, tight rock band that plays under the name Sharon Van Etten right now.

- Dan Solomon, Contributor

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez sightings

Fun Fun Fun is a different kind of festival, where it's not strange to see performers walking around checking out other acts and talking with fans. Seeing Omar Rodriguez-Lopez hanging out a few feet away from me enjoying the fest and then seeing him perform was a huge highlight for me. Santigold was also really fun, and her backup dancers killed it.

- Jessica Pages, Photo Editor

Project Loop skate ramp

Every year at FFF their setup has been getting bigger and better — they really outdid themselves this year. I remember four years ago all they had was a tiny, rickety mini ramp, and to see how far they've come on the art, design and the scale of the ramp echoes what the festival is all about. My favorite part was seeing skaters and BMX-ers ride the Project Loop ramp.

- Bill Sallans, Photographer

Yellow Stage comedy

I geeked out pretty hard at the Yellow Stage (presented by Moontower Comedy Festival) all weekend. I was lucky enough to get an artist badge for hosting an event on the stage on Sunday, and I took advantage of it. On Saturday afternoon, Friday's headliner, Hannibal Buress, and the Sunday night headliners, Eugene Mirman and Doug Benson, came to watch David Cross and Wyatt Cenac perform.

For about half an hour backstage, five of the biggest names in comedy were all hanging out, taking photos and catching up with one another. All of their shows had amazing turnouts, and they all delivered incredible sets. Big ups to the folks who organized this year's lineup.

- Michael Graupmann, Senior Editor

  • Santigold
    Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans

FFF7 in review: Santigold brings a rushed dance party to Auditorium Shores

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Santigold’s Friday night Fun Fun Fun Fest set had the potential to be a show-stealing performance. Give her this: the woman knows how to use the stage to create a spectacle that’s both visually fascinating and sonically exciting.

The costumes (Santi appeared in a dramatically-printed, frilly dress, while her dancers wore what might be best described as tuxedo rompers) and props (those same dancers swung hammers and twirled umbrellas as the song called for it; at one point, members of her three-piece band appeared in a two-man horse costume) were the stuff of a headliner, bold and interesting, and the set list – drawn heavily from her outstanding recent album, Master Of My Own Make-Believe – was on-point, setting up a guitar-heavy dance party.

And while she delivered the dance party, and the visuals, there was also an element of things feeling rushed. That’s because they were, to be certain: Santi and her band emerged just after 8 p.m. for a set scheduled for 7:40 p.m. (Run-DMC were slated to go on at the same stage at 8:35 p.m.). When they did finally appear, some unknown technical glitch meant that the first thirty seconds of the normally-propulsive Master Of My Own Make-Believe opener “GO!” were silent, the song only becoming audible midway through.

Give Santi, the band, and the dancers credit for never flagging in energy despite the difficulties (based on this, and the fact that she had to interrupt the set immediately after the song to address a mic problem, one can assume that the late appearance was tech-related, rather than French-onion soup-based). It all had the effect of making a set built on precision — the timing of the dancers, the flow of the songs, and the setup of the stage — feel imprecise.

But that’s only a shame in the sense that some potential was probably lost. Santigold still brought it, calling for the audience to join her onstage to dance during “Creator” — forty-plus people took her up on the offer — and inspiring even the bros way in the back past the soundboard to sway with the music. Her voice is still perfect, a versatile instrument capable of switching from bubblegum rapping to the full-on belting of “GO!”’s bridge to the hushed tones at the end of “Say Aha.”

For Santi, the power of her music has always been in its ability to shift gears and surprise, and she’s every bit as capable of leading with her voice to do that in a live setting as she is on a record.

Before closing the set, which ran just a shade under 40 minutes, Santi addressed the crowd: “Unfortunately, we’ve only got one more, so we’ve gotta do this one real big,” she said before launching into “Big Mouth.” And she definitely did it big.

The only real disappointment to Santigold’s set, was that if it had gone down the way that it was drawn up — with the perfect fist-pumping opening of “GO!” working precisely and leading to the 50-minute tour of all of the styles that Santi’s comfortable working in that we can assume was scheduled — it would have been one of those unforgettable Fun Fun Fun Fest moments.

Instead, it was just really, really good. And it’s a testament to how much we’ve come to expect from Santigold that “really, really good” is something of a disappointment.

  • Frank Hotdogs
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Strut
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Prototype Vintage
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • Photo by Jessica Pages
  • AMP
    Photo by Jessica Pages
  • The Grams Parsons Foundation
    Photo by Jessica Pages

Inside the Fest: Not to miss food, art and vendors at Fun Fun Fun

FFF7

Fun Fun Fun Fest is back again, taking over Auditorium Shores for the weekend, transforming an outdoor cityscape into a three-day hub for metal, indie and rap reunions.

Aside from music and general oddities (Veggie hot dog eating contest!), Fun Fun Fun Fest is a chance to explore some of Austin's finest offerings in the form of food, art and local organizations.

While you're at the Shores, take a break from the music to dive into the rest of what the fest has to offer.

Fun Fun Fun Food

This year's festival food includes an extended menu with additions like Whole Foods Market and express Indian food trailer, NaanStop. But don't fret: Your FFF foodie favorites have stuck it out. Beloved purveyor of hot dogs (and cold beers), Frank, is back again to meet your artisan dog needs.

Also on this year's menu is barbecue from new(ish) North Lamar haunt, Styles Switch BBQ. Any way you dice it, there's plenty to keep you fueled throughout the fun.

Poster Art and Merch

If you find a lull in your preferred festival lineup (and that will be difficult), take a few minutes to dig into the API poster show. With work from the talented folks who turn music into art, the show features some of Austin's most loved poster artists, as well as exhibits from artists beyond the Texas border.

You can also make any necessary stage-specific wardrobe changes while sifting through retail vendors on site. San Francisco-based Chrome Bags is on hand with their iconic commuter bags, along with local favorites like Buffalo Exchange and Prototype Vintage.

Non-Profits

Fun Fun Fun Fest brings more to the landscape than just hip bands and underground artists. The festival also incorporates the local non-profits that keep Austin's music legacy alive. AMP (Austin Music People), HAAM, the SIMS Foundation and the Gram Parsons Foundation are all on hand at Auditorium Shores to spread the good word of how we can keep Austin's music culture growing.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest takes place at Auditorium Shores through Sunday, Nov. 4.

  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Photo by Bill Sallans
  • Run DMC
    Photo by Bill Sallans

FFF7 in review: RUN D.M.C. bring the hits but leave the crowd wanting more

Who's House? Run's House!

As Fun Fun Fun kicked off Friday afternoon, one couldn't help but notice all the RUN D.M.C. T-shirts around the park. Some looked like they were 80's originals, while others came straight from the merch stand. It was apparent, though, that everyone was ready to witness the reformation of hip-hop's first real crossover act.
RUN D.M.C.'s accomplishments are astounding in retrospect: They had the first gold rap album, and the first platinum one. MTV named them the greatest rap group of all time. Their collaboration cover of "Walk This Way" brought rap music into suburban living rooms — and pop music hasn't been the same since. To this day, they are widely credited for bringing the "new school" of East Coast rap into being, and are of immeasurable influence in their genre.
As the lights dimmed, the classic RUN D.M.C. logo unfurled from a banner behind the stage — and this was pretty much all of the stage production the duo were bringing. Aided by the DJ duo of Jason Mizell Jr. and T.J. Mizell, Jay Master Jay's sons, the group emerged in their trademark all black gear: matching Stetsons, an Adidas jacket for Reverend Run, and a Nirvana T for DMC.
The hits came early and often: "Sucker M.C.'s" and "It's Like That" kicked things off, flowing quickly into "It's Tricky". That pair of songs brought the tremendous crowd (perhaps the largest we've ever seen at FFF) into an arm-waving frenzy that almost never let up.
DMC looked fit and in fighting shape, and braved the stage edges and the monitors to get closer to the crowd. The Reverend stuck closer to the stage, but in spite of his "collar," wasn't afraid of shouting "throw your hands in the goddamn air!" He later explained this by saying he could "be a preacher on Sunday and a rapper on Monday," which drew big laughs from the audience.
After a spirited run through classic "Here We Go," fans finally got a taste of the pop side of RUN D.M.C. when they hauled out "Mary Mary"— and with it, some goofiness. Run adopted a strut and did a move where he threw and caught the mike to the beat, and the crowd roared.
The reaction to the group was warm throughout the night, and it was obvious from the group's body language that they felt the love. Interestingly, while offstage between songs, the duo didn't huddle, but retreated to opposite corners of the stage — making it tougher to tell whether the reunion is a long-term one.
Toward the end of the set, Run talked candidly about the murder of the group's DJ Jam Master Jay essentially shutting down RUN D.M.C. for 13 years, then introduced Jay's sons and allowed them a solo DJ turn. It was a gracious gesture, though not quite what the crowd had come for — meaning that listening stopped and crowd conversation commenced as the two Mizell sons played.
When RUN D.M.C. re-emerged, Run pointed to the sky and gave a shout out to Jay before bringing the set home with a knockout one-two of "My Adidas" and "Walk This Way."
And just like that, in under an hour, they vanished as quickly as they'd appeared. The audience was clearly hoping for an encore — at least half the crowd lingered for 10-15 minutes even as the stage crews were dismantling the band's equipment.
So it wasn't a marathon set — but the little bit we got sure was a good time.
  • Bob Mould
    Photo by Peter Ellenby
  • Bob Mould
    Photo by Peter Ellenby

FFF Preview: Bob Mould gets nostalgic with a performance of Sugar's Copper Blue

Now That's A Good Idea

Fun Fun Fun Fest always likes to throw a couple of unexpected nostalgia pieces into the festival. Whether it's Hum, The Dead Milkmen or The Descendents, FFF is always reliable for fans of noisy guitar rock. This year, in addition to the coup of having X perform Los Angeles, FFF hosts Bob Mould for a rare performance of the classic 1992 Sugar album Copper Blue.

Copper Blue was something of a surprise success upon release: while Mould's previous act Hüsker Dü was wildly influential, it was never a commercial success. The group resided instead in Big Star and Uncle Tupelo territory: not many people bought their records, but everyone that did seemed to start a band.
Many writers point to Mould's work with Hüsker Dü as a major influence on both The Pixies and Nirvana, something you can hear plainly on Mould's Copper Blue track "A Good Idea," a Mould original that incorporates all The Pixies' sonic checkmarks, but sounds like Mould thought the whole thing up. The Nirvana influence was nearly as strong, with Krist Novoselic once calling Nirvana's sound "...nothing new. Hüsker Dü did it before us."
After a decade-plus of obscurity, Copper Blue pulled Mould (however briefly) onto mainstream radio with the hits "Helpless" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind." Even if those are the only tunes you know, Friday's Fun Fun Fun set is well worth your time. Copper Blue is a wall-to-wall marvel of power pop with sharp lyrics, power chords and endless hooks — it hasn't aged a bit.
While Mould has been playing these Copper Blue shows sporadically for the better part of a year, he recently announced that (due to boredom and the desire to promote his new record) the FFF gig would be the last complete performance of the classic album.
If the show inspires you to explore more of the man's catalog, Mould's new Merge album Silver Age is actually a nice place to go next. A companion of sorts to Copper Blue, it finds Mould revisiting Sugar's loud guitars and dark lyrics, but it sounds pretty damned great on your (satellite) radio. For a taste of that album, watch video "The Descent."
"
If you're feeling more nostalgic, Mould's 1994 compilation Poison Years is available on Spotify, which features the instantly recognizable gem "See A Little Light." And as any music nerd will tell you, those Hüsker Dü records aren't so bad, either.
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Bob Mould performs Friday, Nov. 2 on Fun Fun Fun Fest's Orange Stage at 5:05 p.m.
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Austin Pets Alive and Austin Animal Center launch $31 pet adoptions for the holidays

New home for the holidays

Two Austin organizations are looking to get local pets into their "furever" homes this holiday season. In a special December promotion, Austin Pets Alive! (APA) and Austin Animal Center are working to get as many animals out of the shelter as possible, by making all adoption fees a flat $31.

The promotion runs December 1-31. According to a release, APA's director of lifesaving operations, Stephanie Bilbro, sees this as a great opportunity to clear out the shelters and make a great impact heading into 2023.

“The holidays are a great time for the Austin community to come together and add to their families. We have so many precious kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs just waiting for their turn to find a family,” said Bilbro. “We hope this is a chance for any family who’s been looking to add a pet to theirs to do so right in the middle of the holiday season. We know Austin is in the upper echelon when it comes to animal welfare. We hope this promo sets us and AAC up for a successful end to 2022 and a fast start going into 2023.”

Both shelters are also seeking fosters and volunteers throughout the holiday season, for Austinites looking to help the shelters without making a long-term commitment.

APA has two locations, one at 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St., and one in Tarrytown (3118 Windsor Rd.). Both locations operate 12-6 pm daily, except Christmas Eve (12-4 pm), Christmas Day (closed), and New Year’s Eve (12-4 pm). The Austin Animal Center is located at 7201 Levander Loop and is open every day from 11 am-7 pm for adoptions. For holiday hours, AAC will be closing at 5 pm on December 23 and will be closed December 24-26.

'Famous' rooftop igloos return to Austin hot spot for the coolest experience this winter

Stay Cool

There aren’t so many winter wonderlands in Austin during the holiday season, but things get colder at higher elevations. The Hotel Van Zandt fourth-floor rooftop may not be high enough to change the weather, but visitors throughout December are invited to hang out in its self-proclaimed "famous" all-weather igloos, snacking on bites from inside and themed cocktails after the sun goes down.

Each private, six-seat igloo at the “South Pole” contains a Christmas tree, board and card games, festive records, and other cozy holiday decorations. It’s as private as Austin dining gets without completely breaking the bank, but the poolside mini-village of transparent igloos creates a warm feeling of togetherness. And in case it actually does get cold (a Christmas miracle!), the vinyl globes are heated.

It's not just a fun gimmick — as cute as the igloos are, Geraldine's is a great foodie destination. Visitors can expect (strong) drinks like the “Dandy Andes,” a minty chocolate mix of Grey Goose vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and matcha tea. “Santa on a Beach” combines tropical flavors with cinnamon, and other drinks include unusual ingredients like Chartreuse whipped cream, pistachio, and chocolate mole bitters.

Geraldine’s menu focuses on classic Southern cuisine without getting weighed down by tradition; that means a roster of semi-adventurous gourmet comfort foods, like mole birria short ribs, smoked carrots, and salty Brussels sprouts with serranos and mint. Shareables are a good idea, since the igloos are intimate (read: not especially convenient unless you like balancing a dinner plate on the couch).

Two rounds of two-hour seating will be available every night, and reservations will go very fast. As of December 5, there are only a few dates left. Reservations ($100 upfront) entail a $200 minimum on food and beverage, plus a 20 percent service charge. Book on Eventbrite.

Acclaimed Texas chef toasts the Italian liqueur that's perfect for the holidays

The Wine Guy

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day and covers it regularly in a column for CultureMap's Houston site. Here, he talks not about wine, but the perfect after-dinner sip.

All right, team! Listen up! I’m going to give you some very important holiday information to help you get through all of the parties, family gatherings, and large festive dinners. We are not going to talk about wine today. We’re going to talk about another love of mine — the life-saving amaro.

What is amaro, you ask? It’s an Italian herbal liqueur that’s traditionally consumed post-meal as a digestif. Think of it this way: you start your meal with an aperitif — could be a martini, Campari, or Aperol spritz — to get your palate going and your body ready to eat. After dinner, amaro will help you get through the rest of your night. This elixir will magically and quickly break down everything you just consumed.

Most amari are from Italy, but fortunately new producers with similar styles are popping up all over the world. Some are sweeter, some are more bitter. You just have to find the style you like. Producers don’t traditionally tell you what’s in their amaro, because most of them are made up of dozens of herbs and spices. It’s all about trial and error to find the one you love.

I drink it neat, but some people drink it on the rocks. More and more, you’re seeing amari in cocktails, too.

The amari selection at our house is awesome. My wife and I are firm believers in this beverage as a night cap, and it’s even become part of my regiment pre-dinner as a spritz. Kill two birds, you know?

Unfortunately, not a lot of restaurants carry multiple amari, so it’s up to you guys to get this trend moving. The more you ask for it, the more they’ll stock it.

Our No. 1 go to at home? Montenegro. It’s easy to find, and it’s easy drinking. It has flavors of vanilla and orange, but it’s not too sweet and not too bitter. It’s had the same recipe since 1885, and I hope they never change it.

My wife’s favorite is Braulio. This spirit is from the Italian Alps and aged in Slavonian casks. Using more medicinal herbs and fruits means it skews more bitter than Montenegro, but it has a nice sweetness at the end.

A newish player in the amari game is Amaro Nonino. The Nonino family is historically one of the best grappa producers in the world — they’ve been distilling grappa since 1897 — but they didn’t start to produce their namesake amaro until 1992. (By newish, you get what I mean.) It has lots of honey, vanilla, licorice, and orange flavors. It’s a tad less sweet than most, but I think it’s fantastic.

Pasubio is really different from other amari. If you’re a fan of blueberries, this is for you. It literally tastes like crushed blueberries.

The next two are really cool and unusual, because they're made here in the U.S. An all-time favorite is Southern Amaro from High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston. Yaupon is one of the main characteristics, which is found all over Texas.

High Wire built its reputation on using regionally grown and foraged ingredients. If you’re ever in Charleston, you should stop into the distillery and say hi to Scott and Ann! Also, try some of their Jimmy Red Corn whiskey. Actually, everything they make is delightful.

Heirloom Pineapple Amaro is made in Minneapolis. To me, this is fantastically bitter but also tastes like roasted pineapple in a glass. One of my new favorites, for sure.

Now, here’s a helpful tidbit of info. You may have heard of fernet. That’s a general term for an amaro with very little to no sweetness. Branca is a producer that makes fernet, and it’s the most well-known. Search out others as well, because they’re all pretty cool.

Almost everything I listed can be found at most liquor stores. Don’t be afraid to try something. Yes, sometimes it tastes like taking your medicine. But I’ll bet the smell of Jägermeister penetrates your early 20s, and surprise — that’s a style of amaro as well.