Austin, Texas: the world capitol of live music? Potentially, it’s pretty good contender if nothing else. Texas is general has a great live music scene and there are a lot of great bands coming out of Texas, like Ringo Deathstarr. AlternativeNation was given press access to the Fun Fun Fun Fest music festival and I had the pleasure of representing our dear website. Headliners included Cheap Trick, Jane’s Addiction and Coheed and Cambria. Due to traffic constraints and trip itineraries, we were only in able to attend on Saturday. Jane’s Addiction headlined the Orange Stage, playing their classic 1990 album Ritual de lo Habitual in full. Other highlights our visitors may enjoy from that night were from the sets of Ride, American Football, Fucked Up, Gogol Bordello but also tons of other electronic, rap and hardcore punk groups.
One amusing thing was the dream like growth of the crowd throughout the day. My friend and I got there around 2pm when only about a few hundreds roamed the grounds and with every turn and re-circling around the festival grounds, people were multiplying greatly. By the night’s end, there was probably around 12,000 people in a relatively small park. It became very cramped.
Joanna Gruesome we caught first, straight out of Cardiff, Wales. They are part of the emerging scene in popular yet underground who hold shoegaze roots but just push the music a little harder. The guitar player bore a striking resemblance to Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott. The band, upon meeting them, acted very smart ass in response to my question, “Are you Joanna Gruesome,” with a distinct “no, are you?” After wandering around for awhile, we stumbled upon the aptly named Fucked Up’s set at the Black Stage. With 3 guitarists and one big happy barrel-chested frontman, they packed a friendly punch straight to your ears and hearts. An excellent blend of hardcore punk with indie ideals, you could feel the unity between the fans and band as frontman Father Damien went into the crowd, hugging people every couple of minutes. One of the more memorable moments during the festival.
Gesaffelstein, French electronic artist performed with a full band and displayed their rich mix of house music with rock element, a great pairing with Neon Indian which performed shortly after. My friend Nick and I spent some time waiting for Grimes’ set and met some friendly dudes who bummed us cigarettes but Grimes’ set triggered some weird anxiety for me and we decided to leave. It almost didn’t help I had drank much water that entire day. We got some water and pretty soon it would be time for the big bands: Jane’s Addiction and NOFX, respectively some of our favorite bands ever.
Because they played at the same time, we split up: I went to see Jane’s Addiction and Nick would join me after NOFX’s set ended. I had seen Jane’s Addiction once before at the Sunset Strip Music Festival, where they played Nothing’s Shocking in its entirety.
Ritual de lo Habitual, 25 years old this year, is arguably the most incredible album made by Jane’s Addiction. In fact, after the album was made the band felt that they could not create anything better; they had pushed their music to their limit. My favorite album by them, it was privilege to see it done live. These songs have stuck with me through very hard and very weird times. Hard and weird: a perfect description of Jane’s Addiction’s music indeed. Frontman Perry Farrell came out wearing a small cowboy hat and fine western clothes which he eventually stripped. The guitars were tuned a half step down, so the songs sounded a little different but still a good representation of the songs are they were recorded. Around 8:45pm, the band exploded into “Stop” to wild applause. The Spanish spoken word intro blew through the speakers and the crowd went nuts. “No One’s Leaving”, which the band has not played since 1991 during the album’s initial touring was a sight to hear, a truly rarity which lived up true to its name: no one was leaving Jane’s Addiction set. I saw only a handful of people leave towards th end. When it came to “Ain’t No Right”, a most incredible thing happened: the band brought up a very rare medley of “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan and “Burning from the Inside” by Bauhaus known as “Bobhaus.” “Bobhaus”, more awe-worth thing, mixed the lyrics from the intro of “Ain’t No Right” (which is a tease of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll by Ian Dury) and created a unique composite tribute to Jane’s Addiction’s influences. “Obvious” was a true rendition but would have been a shame without the unnamed touring keyboardist in the back who rounded the album’s auxiliary sounds. The crowd nearly burned into flames as “Been Caught Stealing” was brought in by Farrell saying, “Stephens Perkins and I go way back…we were caught stealing together.” But the album’s true magnum opus was next.
“Three Days” with its dark and melodic bassline drug me back to the hollowed place every time I listen to the song. The live dancers added to the song’s erotic and macabre influence and nothing existed for 11 minutes but that stage. Navarro’s guitar work brought one single salty tear to my eye, it was so glorious. It was the most awe inspiring moment of that day, of nearly that whole week I spent in Texas. “Then She Did” was just as heavy, a song about the deaths of Farrell’s mother and his ex-girlfriend Xiola Blue. The whole crowd by this point was either completely engaged or dead silent. They finished the album with performing “Of Course” and “Classic Girl” and emerged into other hits from their past.
From Nothing’s Shocking, they played hits “Mountain Song” and “Ocean Size”. Of course, no Jane’s set would be complete without a dreamy Caribbean rendition of “Jane Says”, their biggest hit. To my astonishment, they closed the set with the tribal “Chip Away” which featured bassist Chris Chaney, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins on single drums while Perry Farrell chanted and dancers male and female stormed the stage.
Fun Fun Fun Fest was indeed a lot of fun, fun and fun. I would give a lot to see Jane’s Addiction to perform Ritual de lo Habitual and I got it all. Sadly, this was the last stop of their album in support for the album’s anniversary. Farrell is hard at work for his extravagant musical project called Kind Heaven which may see the light of day next year.