Bitch is at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, Texas, this weekend! Now in its 8th year, FFFFest (Fx4, to abbrev-loving Austinites) is the only genre-based festival in the country, with stages for comedy, hip hop/electronica, punk/metal, and indie rock. We were last at Auditorium Shores two years ago, and it's good to be back. Read on for our discoveries and recommendations for the rest of the weekend! If you're at the Fest, let us know who you're most excited about in the comments.
Friday: Comedy from Natalie Cox and Maggie May; Music from The Tontons and Thee Oh Sees; Dancing with Big Freedia
Friday opened with a couple of comedy sets from local up-and-comers Natalie Cox and Maggie May, . Cox has the automatically-hilarious day job of editing reality TV, and took on LA Ink in particular for material. May focused on language for her set, dissecting "sassy" and "skinny" (both of which she gets called often) as pointless, and dropping Harry Potter in-jokes along the way. I have seen the future, and the future is nerdy lady comics. (HERE'S HOPING.)
Between stops at the comedy tent, we ran over to see festival openers and Houston natives The Tontons, who play like a group with years of tours under their belt, instead of a newer band at their first Fx4. Lead singer Asli Omar (at left) is an incredibly charismatic performer, and her powerful, sexy vocals give soft edges to the crunchy guitars and drums laid down by her bandmates. This show started with 15 people watching from a distance, and ended with 50 people pressed up against the stage. Not bad for the middle of a work day, in a city famous for its nonchalance.
The night closed with San Francisco garage rock darlings Thee Oh Sees, who have apparently exploded in popularity, judging by the massive crowd at their set at the punk/metal stage. John Dwyer, Brigid Dawson, and their rotating bandmembers haven't lost the gritty, noise-y sound that defines them, but they've also never sounded tighter as a group, and their chemistry playing together is palpable. This is what people mean when they say "joyful noise," right? If not, it ought to be.
A highlight of the night was my personal favorite and festival veteran Big Freedia, who kicked off the evening shows. She brings the bounce to the people. She taught the world to twerk. As always, Freedia invited audience members onstage to show the crowd what they're made of, and then took the spotlight herself. Bounce may be for everyone, but there's a reason she's called the Queen Diva. Who else holds the World Record in twerking??
Saturday: Comedy from Jenny Slate, Amber Bixby, and Katie Pengra; Music from True Widow, Melt Banana, Bleached, and MIA
Saturday is a big day for comedy this year, with former SNL regular Jenny Slate (whose arguably most beloved creation Marcel the Shell, is linked below), Amber Bixby, and Katie Pengra all performing throughout the day. All of these comics have their hands in several creative pies (writing! directing! podcasts! short films!), which should make for some excellent storytelling. Plus, obviously, fingers crossed for an appearance from Marcel.
On the music side, we're excited about three wildly different bands, all of which are new to us. Houston shoegazers True Widow are playing, along with Tokyo experimental noise rockers Melt Banana, and LA punk sister act Bleached. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a "frantic and yelping vocal style..."
The headliner tonight is MIA, who needs very little introduction. She's touring in support of her new album Matangi, and promises an electrifying show, no matter how she plays it.
Sunday: Comedy from Sarah Silverman and Bridget Everett; Music from Dessa, The Julie Ruin, and Wild Child
Sunday is actually the biggest day of the festival, in terms of anticipation: comedy superstar Sarah Silverman is here, as will be newcomer Bridget Everett. Bitch favorite Dessa is in town, as is the Austin debut of Kathleen Hanna's new band The Julie Ruin. We've also missed Austin indie pop band Wild Child several years in a row at SXSW, and will finally catch up with them this time around at Fx4. Get pumped with The Julie Ruin's new video for "Oh Come On," below. See you at the shows!