Welcome back to the saga of Fun Fun Fun Fest 8, dear readers. Despite the threat of sprinkling rain the night before, the weather held up nicely on Saturday; it was a grey, overcast sky but pleasantly cool temperatures and another day of great music and comedy.
Even though there was no luck attending anything in the yellow comedy tent the day before due to overwhelming crowds, my resolve was stronger as I headed over to catch comedian Doug Benson. For those not familiar, he’s been on Comedy Central’s ‘Last Comic Standing,’ and also starred in the marijuana documentary ‘Super High Me.’
Unsurprisingly, the tent was packed again, but from a vantage point outside the tent he was still almost visible and his voice could be heard, which is the most important thing with jokes anyway. His hilarious jokes were mostly about movies, such as Fast and Furious 5 being an allusion to hand jobs and being frustrated nobody said “taken too” in ‘Taken 2,’ as well as telling plenty of jokes about marijuana. He even pretended to smoke at 4:20pm, but admitted afterward it was just an e-cigarette. But ‘Pineapple Express’ and ‘This Is The End’ star Craig Robinson was coming up next, followed by the mighty Tenacious D so people continued to pack in against each other, even outside of the tent so it seemed like a good time to go check out some music.
Over on the black stage Pelican were delivering their mighty brand of riffage. Despite not being extremely famous, the band had quite a sizable crowd all transfixed by their instrumental opuses. Even the band seemed a little surprised by the turnout, continuously thanking everyone and even remarking at the end of their set they didn’t expect to see so many people. But when you’re music is simultaneously bone-crushingly heavy and incredibly beautiful, it should be expected. This band deserves every bit of attention they get.
There was no luck seeing Tenacious D, it was simply too crowded in the tent, so instead it made sense to catch the end of Geographer’s set. What was taking place at the orange stage was a beautiful, picture perfect moment. Behind the festival the sun was setting, casting a golden glow on Geographer as they got the crowd to sway side-to-side with their hands in their air to the mellow but melodic and delightful electronic music. It was the sort of experience you have to just stop and soak in. With only 20 minutes to spare, it seemed like a good idea to just stay put and get a good vantage point for witnessing legendary 1970s rock band Television since they were playing same stage.
To be completely honest, most of their material is unfamiliar to me, though the name has come up in countless music conversations. From the same New York music scene that produced Patti Smith, Ramones and Blondie, their minimalist but technically impressive music has maintained a cult following all these years, and it’s easy to see why. Their set was full of catchy, toe-tapping numbers that also had a little bit of jam to them. When they played arguably their biggest song, “Marquee Moon” the crowd erupted in cheers. Their music isn’t terribly loud or heavy, but it does have substantial groove so many people could be seen with their eyes closed, bobbing their heads furiously, absorbed in the music. Suffice to say this veteran band still has it.
When Ice-T signed on for the fest, he didn’t come alone. He brought his thrash metal band, Body Count, with him. Most well known for their song “Cop Killer,” the band delivered a blistering set of both old school classics and songs from a forthcoming new album which included a song titled, “Talk Shit, Get Shot,” which shows despite his acting career and age, he’s gotten no softer or subtler in his music. But the crowd was completely enthralled, moshing around in a circle pit to the furious music.
It was necessary to cut out early though, because Deerhunter were coming on soon and their live act was something that’s been on my list for quite some time. The band didn’t disappoint as they played their trippy brand of garage-infused indie rock. There’s something about their sound that is reminiscent of The Black Angels if they seemed a little sweeter and had much less menace and tension in the music. Their performance of “Revival” was a particular highlight as was the blissful wall of noise that was set closer “Monomania.”
It would be the nice thing to say it’s okay if you’ve never heard of Sparks. But it just isn’t. They are a band’s band. You can look at them like Velvet Underground: when they came out not everyone knew them, but those who did and loved them went out and started bands themselves. Everyone from Kurt Cobain, Paul McCartney and MGMT has counted themselves as fans. Sparks have been around since the 1970s and their style of music has changed periodically but one thing that hasn’t change is their quirky yet mind-blowing awesomeness.
It may sound superlative but it’s true. It was just two men on stage. One played a keyboard and wore a scowl on a face that was accented by a pencil-thin mustache. The other was in all black striding around the stage thrusting his arms out to the heavens in operatic gestures as he sang in falsetto about all sorts of bizarre topics, such as “Baby Can I Invade Your Country,” and “How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall?” Hands down the highlight was a suite of songs from their concept album ‘The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman.’ Almost as entertaining as the band themselves was watching the expressions of those unfamiliar with the group; nervous laughter could be heard and amazed bafflement washed over their face. Yes, that’s right you did witness this.
After that weird and wonderful interlude it was back to catch Ice-T’s solo set. He opened with a new song that worked as a manifesto, informing people that yes he’s old and no he “doesn’t give a fuck.” Afterward he launched into some older songs, but I didn’t stick around too long—after all, Descendants were playing on the black stage and this infamous punk band had long been on my concert wish list.
Punk may get a wrap for being about furious anger, but despite the fists pumping and lyrics shouted, this performance felt more like a celebration, as the whole band were in great spirits, smiling at each other the whole time, ripping through a set of songs from their entire career, such as “I’m The One,” “Silly Girl,” “Everything Sux,” and “Suburban Home.” The audience thrashed around and crowd-surfed the entire time, with countless people hopping on stage just long enough to smile or high-five lead singer Milo before leaping back into the pit. A defining moment of the concert was when a man in a wheel chair crowd surfed onto the stage and Milo made him sing along and participate in a song as he explained the “All” concept, complete with tablet of hilarious commandments such as “Thou shall not commit adulthood.” This was a fun and rambunctious show that won’t be forgotten by anyone in attendance any time soon. Several concert bucket lists were fulfilled that night.
Trying to beat the crowd in my exit from the grounds I passed by Ice-T on the blue stage again, who was wrapping up his set with a love song to his wife Coco, who came out on stage to dance around for a brief moment. The thumping sound of MIA’s performance could be heard in the background, but it wasn’t enough to make me turn around and check it out. There had been enough amazing music that there was no way catching her act could top it. Look for my review of the final day of the festival and a photo gallery soon!
Photos by Matthew Danser (except photo of Sparks by Jarad Matula)
Written By Jarad Matula
OurVinyl | Senior Writer