Fun Fun Fun ’15 Recap: Day 3 Pt. 1

by Morgan Davis

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Day three of Fun Fun Fun Fest was a celebration in every moment, beginning with the ample sunshine that blessed Auditorium Shores to the historic performance that closed out the night and the festival. I should have known it would be an incredible finale after the beautiful start to my day that was Afrika Bambataa. As much a history of hip hop as a performance, Bambataa’s set had the hip hop pioneer DJing a nonstop party while emcees and hype men flanked him and forced the lackluster FFF crowd onto their feet and eventually onto the stage itself. Bambataa’s set might have been light on original material, but him and his crew were phenomenal party starters, and by the time he wrapped up, the Blue Stage was full of men, women and children shaking their asses off. This was no small feat, as basically every headliner performer at this year’s festival had complained about the lethargy of the crowd and their inability to get that crowd to wake up.

Whether it was because of Bambataa’s excellent warm up of the crowd or exclusively the sheer power of their set, Doomtree was another Blue Stage act that was able to win over the crowd early on. The Minneapolis hip hop collective always puts on an excellent show, combining punk energy and passion with electronic-leaning production that is expertly constructed to show off the best elements of P.O.S.DessaSims, Mike Mictlan  and Cecil Otter’s flows. Papertiger and Lazerbeak’s production seemed to especially seduce the crowd, keeping them on their feet the entire time, climaxing with fan favorite “Bangarang,” which clearly won over the Doomtree newcomers that surrounded me. My only complaint was that Dessa’s mic was ridiculously low in the mix, robbing her backing melodies and verses of their usual impact.

Doomtree POS Fun Fun Fun Fest

Photo by Greg Giannukos (Instagram: @greggiannukos). Provided by Transmission.

I wandered for a bit and thus missed most of Big Freedia’s set, but from what I saw of the last two songs, she had no problems getting the Blue Stage to twerk to their hearts’ content. What was a bit more surprising was how stuffed the Yellow Tent was for Andrew Jackson Jihad, despite them going on at the same time as heavyweights Chromeo and MSTRKRFT. The last time I saw AJJ in Austin was at Red 7 and while it was solid, it didn’t pack the punch of more memorable AJJ shows I had been to. But AJJ were in peak form for their Yellow Stage show, making it a near religious experience, with fans shouting along to every word and the band clearly delighting in the love. I had neglected the Yellow Stage all weekend, which in retrospect is a shame because it easily had the best sound of the festival and AJJ benefited from a crystal clear vocal mix that made it easier for fans to follow along with the group’s clever, playful lyrics.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Photo by Ashley Bradley

L7 was not as fortunate at the Black Stage (surprise!) but the limp sound didn’t stop them from putting on a commanding performance, leaning heavily on the sludgier end of their material (though they did close with their relatively poppy hit “Pretend That We’re Dead”). The iconic rockers also got in some of the best stage banter of the festival, including the declaration that the people of Austin had gotten a lot prettier since the last time they had played here and it must be because of an influx of plastic surgeons and the promotions from Their were some sloppy moments but the band’s cheerfulness made up for it– they were another recently reunited act who seemed genuinely surprised at the positive fan reaction and despite the heaviness of the music, the band themselves were all smiles.

But really, the thing we all need to be talking about when it comes to this year’s FFF is the absolutely phenomenal performance Lauryn Hill put on. Almost the entire Ovrld roster and seemingly the whole population of FFF gathered for Hill’s set, not sure what to expect. There was talk in the press lounge of back-up plans in case Hill didn’t come through or was severely late and that anxious energy carried over to the crowd, especially when Hill had a DJ perform a warm up set for about half an hour before she emerged. But the wait was well worth it, as the show that Hill and her devastating backing band put on was the kind of performance that triumphantly declares “I’M BACK.”

Lauryn Hill Fun Fun Fun Fest

Photo by Jackie Young (Instagram: @jackieleeyoung) Provided by Transmission.

Seated on a couch for the first half of the set, where she played acoustic guitar and controlled her band with waves of her strumming hand, Lauryn Hill had absolute and total control of the stage, the band and the crowd as she powered through not just her hits, but also classic Fugees material and even a suite of Bob Marley covers. Although Hill’s beautiful voice has always been her trademark, her arrangements and the dazzling displays of lyrical dexterity she showcased stole the show. The only sour note was the sudden intrusion of Auditorium Shores’ noise ordinance curfew, which forced Transmission to pull the plug on the main speakers right in the middle of “Doo-wop (That Thing),” but even that morphed into something beautiful as the band carried on and Hill led the crowd in a singalong to the barely audible drum and bass monitors. There was no better way for Transmission to close out Fun Fun Fun Fest’s 10th Anniversary, and Hill’s set already stands out as one of the defining moments of Austin festival history.

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.