FFF Fest day 2 recap: Modest Mouse, King Diamond, Nas, Sick Of It All, Glassjaw, New Pornographers, TPOBPAH, more
words by Andrew Sacher, photos via BV Austin Instagram
Fun Fun Fun Fest continued in Austin's Auditorium Shores on Saturday (11/8) with another amazing and eclectic lineup (and hopefully better lines). I started my day at the Black Stage for Fat White Family. The crazed psych band was a little calmer than they tend to be in a small venue, but even for a festival set so early on in the day, the Fat Whites brought it.
The energy on the Black Stage quickly rose significantly as Glassjaw followed, quenching the same early 2000s post-hardcore thirst that The Blood Brothers did a day earlier (not to mention they had a shared love for tight tees and theatrical stage moves). They leaned heavy on the early material and really put on a classic Glassjaw set, looking and sounding like no time had passed since 2002. The crowd followed suit, with a pit open and endless stage divers the whole time.
I hung around the Black Stage for a bit of METZ's wild-as-always set, and then headed to the Orange Stage where Courtney Barnett was playing. I hadn't seen Courtney in about a year since she played CMJ 2013, and not that I doubted her but after Saturday's set I'm sure of it that her rise to bigger stages is well deserved. One person said of her recent Webster Hall show, "Courtney Barnett's ramshackle gigs are now serious fucking rock shows" and that's exactly how I felt seeing her at FFF.
The Orange Stage continued to be the place to be as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart took the stage followed by their tourmates The New Pornographers. Pains, who have been on the road with their killer new lineup this year, brought it once again with a lot of the new album, a good mix of the first two, and another of the high energy shows this new lineup is becoming known for. Then the New Pornographers, Dan Bejar and Neko Case included, followed with another excellent set that kicked off with the title track from this year's Brill Bruisers and went on to include plenty more from that album. They apparently had some technical difficulties that they didn't mention until after they were fixed, but you wouldn't have known it. New Pornographers sounded flawless.
Over at the Black Stage, NYHC legends Sick of It All were playing a set pulling from Blood, Sweat and No Tears and Scratch the Surface. SOIA definitely partied like it was 1989, started a wall of death ("a game we used to play before all the metal bands and ska bands took the idea"), and though they talked on stage about not getting too sucked into nostalgia (they mentioned they have a new album out but couldn't play anything off of it because of "contractual obligations"), they clearly had a lot of fun with those old songs.
Another nostalgia set then went down on the Blue Stage, where Nas played all of the unfuckwithable Illmatic. His DJ came out, played "The Genesis" over the PA, and then once he dropped that beat to "NY State of Mind," Nas finally took the stage and was on fire the whole time. Not to throw shade at his other albums, but as good as a Nas set usually is, previous times I've seen him don't compare at all to seeing Illmatic in full. It's no secret that it's a timeless album, but he really made it feel like it was on Saturday. Unlike Sick of It All's set, this didn't feel like nostalgia. There's a handful of good rappers on FFF's lineup, but Nas playing his 1994 album still sounded ahead of all of them.
Wrapping up the day on the Black Stage was the face-painted metal legend King Diamond. Like the other shows on his current US tour, he and his band had a haunted house-like stage set up with staircases, a fence in front of them, light-up crosses, a guest dressed up as a spooky old man, and more props. The operatic singer ran through a set of his songs and a few by Mercyful Fate, all while being a character in the stage show himself.
I split the end of my night catching half of King Diamond's set, and then catching half of Modest Mouse over at the Orange Stage. Though it's still been years since Modest Mouse put out anything new (they did just put out a couple reissues though), Modest Mouse have been having an incredible year on tour. They packed the end of their set with favorites -- "Float On," "A Different City," "Out Of Gas," "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" -- and played them with this genuine energy that was a great reminder that they were once one of the most consistently great indie rock bands around. It might seem boring or obvious to say these things about Modest Mouse in 2014, but their recent live shows deserve it.
UPDATE: Day 3 is up.