FFF Fest day 3 recap: Murder City Devils, Rocket From the Crypt, Gorilla Biscuits, Hot Water Music, Iron Reagan & more
by Andrew Sacher
Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest went out on a high note on Sunday (11/9) after two previous days of fun fun fun. While I spent the first two days hopping from stage to stage, I spent the entire final day on the punk/metal-centric Black Stage, besides taking one brief break from the distortion to catch Angel Olsen's always-mesmerizing folk rock early on at the Orange Stage.
First up for me was Iron Reagan, the crossover thrash "supergroup" with members of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse and Darkest Hour. You couldn't have asked for a better start to the day as Iron Reagan made good on their promise to play more songs than any other band on the festival and still be off stage before they were supposed to. With only minimal breaks for banter, they ripped through songs from both of their albums and various EPs and included a cover of Cannibal Corpse's "A Skull Full of Maggots." These dudes definitely look and act the part, with no lack of '80s thrash hair swings and stage moves. They almost never smiled on stage, but if a song like "Your Kid's An Asshole" doesn't give it away, nobody was taking themselves too seriously.
After catching that Angel Olsen set, the next band on Black Stage was Deafheaven. Though you'd think the they would really be better fit for a dark room, they looked readymade for a festival set under the sun. The band's black metal/post-rock blend was tight as ever, but in daylight frontman George Clarke is even more of a sight to see. He's all about showmanship and crowd interaction and spends so much of the show reaching his hands out Nick Cave-style over the eager fans who can't wait to reach back.
Then came Hot Water Music, as much veterans of the '90s punk/emo scene as Mineral and Knapsack who played two days earlier, just with many more albums and only a two-year breakup period. They sounded awesome as always, with the highlights off their 2012 comeback album Exister sounding as great as their more classic material. Like they did at The Fest the weekend earlier, they brought out Loved Ones frontman Dave Hause to split lead vocals on "Trusty Chords" and you can check out a short clip of that below.
After Hot Water Music, the veteran punk continued on the Black Stage through the end of the festival. The next band up was New York hardcore OGs Gorilla Biscuits. I caught their set at the festival and their FFF Nites show at the very tiny Mohawk Indoor later that night. Both were great but needless to say the late show was the one to be at. It's hard to believe this band formed over 25 years ago because they were still one of the freshest sounding bands of the weekend. Civ said on stage at both shows never to lose yourself, to stand up for and believe in the same things you did when you were 16 at 20, 30, 45. If anyone can preach that at a show he can, he's living it. GB played just about every song you wanted to hear -- "High Hopes," "Big Mouth," "No Reason Why," "Degradation" and so many more favorites. The Mohawk show didn't have a mosh pit so much as the entire room was a constantly-moving swarm of bodies both on and off stage. It was the kind of show where everyone left grinning and covered in each other's sweat. And after midnight on Sunday (or Monday morning by then), it was the best possible way to wrap up the weekend.
After GB on the fest was Rocket From the Crypt, one of the many bands of John Reis (Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, etc), who made it seem like their short reunion was over before this but luckily they had more in them. RFTC were great -- their many-membered lineup, two horn players included, took the stage in their matching outfits and delivered plenty of fan faves. We got "Middle," "On A Rope," "Heart of a Rat," "Im Not Invisible," "Glazed" and plenty more from their initial 10+ year run as a band.
Following them and headlining the Black Stage for the night was Murder City Devils, who were pretty much the perfect match for RFTC given they were around at the same time for a while in the '90s/early '00s and shared an approach to blending rock n' roll and punk. One difference though is Murder City have a new album out and they played some of that but we also got plenty from their prime era like "18 Wheels," "Press Gang," "Idle Hands" and more. Whether it was an old one or a new one though, Murder City were on fire. They were incredibly tight, loud, and full of a serious amount of energy. Catching their set was my personal biggest conflict of the weekend (I had to miss Neutral Milk Hotel), but with a set like the one they played I have no regrets.