by Morgan Davis
Ovrld is going to be covering FFF all weekend but if you’re like us, you’re still deliberating over which acts you absolutely need to see. So here are our nine top picks for the day.
Babes in Toyland
Who: One of the most exhilarating and important alternative bands of the ’90s, Babes in Toyland have somehow missed out on receiving the same critical and fan resurgence their contemporaries Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney have enjoyed. Part of that might be because the Babes’ sound is a whole lot weirder, dodging the usual punk and classic rock influences, instead pursuing a hybrid of stoner rock, garage and even go-go influences. Like fellow FFF act L7, Babes in Toyland also managed to achieve some mainstream success without deviating from their core sound and remains remarkably fresh, unlike so many of their grunge contemporaries.
Where: Black Stage at 4:55 p.m.
Who: It’s not a coincidence that Cheap Trick broke out on the strength of a live album. The world’s most popular power pop band have always known how to put on a show and that hasn’t changed in the decades since their legendary live record Live at Budokan. Although the group has a number of huge hits, from “Dream Police” to “Surrender” to “I Want You to Want Me,” they’re also the rare radio rock band that is beloved by figures like the notoriously cranky Steve Albini. Few bands are capable of surviving in the stressful confines of the festival circuit, but Cheap Trick actually thrive in it.
Where: Orange Stage, 7:15 pm
Drive Like Jehu
Who: One of the heaviest bands in ’90s rock, Drive Like Jehu were a key influence on what would become the post-hardcore scene thanks to their off-kilter approach to arrangements and their sprawling, ferocious guitar sound. The band’s milestone work Yank Crime may have been commercially unloved upon release but it has since built up a significant cult following, while the groups that spun out of the band’s dissolution afterwards– like Hot Snakes and Obits– have further evolved that core sound. Newly reunited, Drive Like Jehu’s FFF set is a must-see, and bound to be one of the most intense performances at the festival.
Where: Black Stage, 7:25 pm
King Khan and BBQ Show
Who: A garage rock-psych pop combo that knows how to put on a live spectacle, King Khan and BBQ Show may be tucked away in the mostly comedy-focused Yellow Tent, but they’re well worth seeing. As stripped down as the music itself is, Khan is known for his chaotic stage presence and taste in outfits (I’ve seen him perform in everything from a James Brown-style cape to just a speedo) and the lo-fi nature of the group’s recordings opens up into something more intense live.
Where: Yellow Stage, 7:40 pm
Who: Along labelmate and collaborator Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q has been at the forefront of a new California hip hop movement that has achieved remarkably mainstream success while remaining technically ambitious and experimental. That fits the overall hip hop booking vibe of FFF this year, which has forgone pop hip hop for legends like Wu-Tang Clan and more adventurous current acts; as the first big hip hop act on this year’s bill, Schoolboy Q is going to be a tough act to follow.
Where: Blue Stage, 8:45 PM
Who: If you’re looking something a little lighter on the opening evening of FFF, UK-act CHVRCHES are a solid bet, especially since the first tour jitters of the band’s SXSW appearances are a distant memory and the group has truly come into their own with this most recent tour. The group’s newest work has taken their bedroom pop into a more maximalized space, working in ’80s R&B influences as Lauren Mayberry has become a more confident and flexible frontwoman.
Where: Orange Stage, 8:45 PM
Who: Self-described as “a sexually infused sewer of unclassifiable musical stylings & vile shamelessness,” Christeene is one of the most riveting entertainers to come out of Austin. FunFunFun has paired Christeene with Peaches on a Nites set at Cheer Up Charlie’s, which makes total sense but also seems slightly unfair to Peaches because how do you even follow Christeene? Nonetheless, this might be the most impressive double billing of the entire festival, and you need to drop everything you’re doing to go see it.
Where: Cheer Up Charlie’s, 10 pm
Who: One of the few remaining electro-clash acts of note, Peaches has had a remarkable career that few could have predicted after the runaway success of “Fuck the Pain Away.” The foul-mouthed art prankster has steadily honed her sound over the past decade and her most recent material has been some of her best to date. It’s Peaches live shows, though, that have always been the best way to experience her, and while she is playing on an actual FFF stage this year, we’re recommending you catch her at Cheer Up Charlie’s for her FFF Nites appearance, where the hurricane that is Christeene will force Peaches to bring her A game.
Where: Cheer Up Charlie’s, 11 PM
Who: XL Recordings’ most exciting signing since MIA, Shamir is a truly unique pop performer with ample personality and style. A mish-mash of futurist club sounds, hip hop dexterity and a distinct visual aesthetic, Shamir is a true 21st Century performer, unwilling to stick to one genre or style, instead twisting and turning second to second in recordings. As Shamir is on the cusp of breaking out on a major level, this is an excellent opportunity to catch Shamir in a smaller venue, so get on it.
Where: Empire Control Room, midnight
Morgan Davis sells bootleg queso on the streets of Austin in order to fund Loser City, the multimedia collective he co-runs. When he isn’t doing that, he gets complimented and/or threatened by Austin’s musical community for stuff he writes at Ovrld, which he is the Managing Editor of.