It’s been a month since Austin City Limits Music Festival stormed Zilker Park for two weekends and left more than 100,000 residents elated, exhausted and caked in mud and strangers’ sweat. The city has no sooner caught its collective breath, and now Fun Fun Fun Fest makes its triumphant return at Auditorium Shores for the final major installment of fall festival season. Now in its 10th year, the festival is pulling out all the stops with a cross-genre selection of oldies, newbies and must-see reunions. Check out our top picks for the weekend.
Bryan — Cheap Trick
Go see Cheap Trick. Seriously? This shouldn’t even be up for debate. They’re a staple of rock and roll music. They have some of the most iconic smash hits — “Surrender,” “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” — of the last 40 years. You’d be hard-pressed to find a glam band from the ‘80s that didn’t take influence from lead singer Robin Zander, who can still put all those pouty pretty boys to shame at the age of 62. Then there’s guitarist Rick Nielsen’s delightfully tacky five-neck guitar, goofy baseball caps and decidedly un-rock-and-roll knit sweaters — none of which distract from the fact that he’s responsible for some of the most memorable rock riffs of all time. These guys aren’t even headlining, which is a damn shame considering their “Cheap Trick at Budokan” album is a stone-cold classic that launched them to international stardom back in their heyday. But it’s no matter — they’re keeping rock and roll alive, one bubblegum chorus and power chord at a time. When Zander inevitably nails the high note at the end of “The Flame,” you’ll be glad you gave these geezers a chance.
Kristin — Andrew W.K.
What more could you want from Fun Fun Fun fest than the King of Partying? This Michigan-based rocker has been making music for nearly 20 years, and despite not having released an album since 2009, he hasn't stopped performing. Not only will W.K. literally break bones for a good show, he’s also a motivational speaker who loves to help people. He even hosted a show on Cartoon Network where he blew stuff up a lot, the aptly-titled “Destroy Build Destroy.” If you see W.K. live, you're guaranteed to have a good time, and maybe even grab a lollipop and hear some life-changing advice.
Armando — Drive Like Jehu
This year’s FFF lineup is all about reunions, and Drive Like Jehu is definitely one of the best reunited bands to see this year (no offense to Dag Nasty). This California post-hardcore band hit their peak in the ‘90s, but they still kick ass live. If you’re into Fugazi or have ever had a love for “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” games, check these guys out on Friday afternoon. It’ll get you hyped, but you might also die in the pit. You’ve been warned.
Belicia — Milezo
The last time I saw Milezo, I cried. The first day of Utopiafest had just come to a close, and the late-night/early-morning festival-goers didn’t want the magic of the day to end. So we hiked up a lit trail to hear the band play an acoustic set at 4 a.m., the Milky Way watching over us in the country sky. While the setting was beautiful, Milezo packed the emotional punch. They combine shoegaze, psychedelic and folk with Miles Kelley’s lax voice on top to create a sound that’s simultaneously mellow and pulsing with energy. Milezo is one of a handful of local bands on the lineup this year, so once you’re smitten by these lovable people, you can catch them again around town.
Ignacio — American Football
The reunion of American Football, and the fact that they’re playing FFF, makes me inordinately happy. American Football is the one band whose music, though classifiable as emo and post-rock, has never failed to put a smile on my face. In fact, frontman Mike Kinsella’s last name has been adapted to coin the term “Kinsella-core,” to distinguish the subgenre of more twinkly, upbeat emo music. The band only released one studio album in 1999, and the notion that they’ve found an audience 16 years later elevates them to almost mythical status in my mind. I’m well aware of the danger of placing this amount of gravitas in the band’s festival performance. But I’m also refusing to take a wrecking ball to my mental constructs, and I’m confident their show will be an absolute standout amongs this year’s lineup.
Emily Gibson — Gogol Bordello
I started wearing purple, wearing purple (da, da, da, da, da!) when I was in eighth grade. I remember a particularly happy day walking through the streets of my suburban neighborhood, imagining purple paint was falling from the sky like rain and coating all the trees. If you’ve seen “Everything is Illuminated,” you’ve seen the Gogol Bordello’s eccentric lead singer Eugene Hütz play Alexander. In the 2006 film, “Wristcutters: A Love Story,” the character Eugene is based on the singer, and several of the band’s songs are used in the film. Point is: pop culture loves Gogol Bordello. They’re a good soundtrack for pretentious indie films because they are the perfect kind of offbeat. I remember being surprised when I saw them on the festival’s lineup, because I thought I’d never get a chance to see them. So I don’t say lightly that I am going to try to be as close to the stage as I can to hear “Through the Roof N’ Underground” and “Start Wearing Purple” live.