Fun Fun Fun Fest, known for their eclectic lineup of bucket list acts, is one of those festivals that has stayed true to their roots since it’s inception. Even on it’s ten year anniversary, FFF is still a mid-sized, multi-staged festival that draws a crowd mixed with hipsters, punks, indie kids, rockers, young folks, old folks, and just about everywhere in between. We can really respect the vibe that this festival maintains, especially in an ocean of cookie cutter festivals across the US these days. In addition to their progressive lineup, the festival offers comedy acts, food, extreme sports, and art.
This year’s lineup actually had us more excited than in previous years, kudos to the FFF booking crew for balancing the lineup with a range of amazing lesser known acts, as well as nostalgic headliners. Stacked full of musicians that are rarely seen at festivals, the lineup included many bands we’d never seen before (and we’ve been to a LOT of festivals). Never before seen headliners included Wu-Tang Clan, Grimes, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Future Islands, NOFX, Coheed and Cambria, CHVRCHES, Jane’s Addiction and so many more. Other festival staples such as ODESZA, Gogol Bordello, Chromeo, and Neon Indian rounded out the stellar bill.
Early on in the week of the fest the forecast looked like rain. Having experienced rain at a record number of festivals this year, and hearing about the long lines to get in on the first day of the fest in 2014, we were less than excited about the inevitable shit show that is the will call line. Enter Fun Fun Fun Fest’s genius solution to this problem, the Funderdome. Held at 908 E 5th St every night for a couple weeks leading up to the fest, the Funderdome allowed ticketholders to pick up their wristbands early in an attempt to avoid lines. People could also purchase their wristbands on site here, as well as hang out, and win free tickets! The space was designed by the Bunkhouse Group (Hotel San Jose, Jo’s Coffee, El Cosmico, and more) and the theme for USP was Days of Future Past. We have to say, it worked like a charm.
Friday was chilly, drizzly and rather dreary, which must have deterred some attendees from showing up that day. Much to our surprise there were absolutely no lines at will call or to get into the fest, despite security checking everyone’s bags and handing out pat downs at the door. Their loss was our gain, as we arrived just in time to see Peaches walking out onto the crowd. “If Jesus can walk on water, I can walk on this crowd,” she shouted as she stepped out into a sea of fans. After that, we had to catch ANTEMASQUE, the newest brainchild of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedrick Bixler-Zavala (formerly of At the Drive In and Mars Volta). Being huge Mars Volta fans, this was probably our favorite show of the evening. The sparce crowds allowed us to get close to the stage with minimal effort and enjoy Cedrick’s amazing vocal range and quirky commentary. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez obviously slayed it on the guitar, and Travis Barker killed it on the drums (a special treat – as this was one of the few shows he’s scheduled to play with them). Other favorites that night included CHVRCHES, Hudson Mohawke and Coheed and Cambria. Aftershow highlights included GZA at the Parish and Peaches at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Overall a very impressive first day, and we headed home to rest up for day two!
After the rain on Saturday morning, the weather turned crisp and cool (but thankfully not wet)! The crowds had about doubled from the day before, making for a much more crowded festival. However, it still wasn’t the mass of humanity that we experience at many other festivals (*cough*, ACL, we’re looking at you). We started off the day with GZA, who drew a large crowd of loyal fans. Neon Indian and Grimes both treated us to high-energy sets, prepping the crowd for the long night ahead. A personal favorite for me, and possible favorite show of the entire weekend was Gogol Bordello. His large band of gypsy-punks amped up the crowd, playing favorites like “Gypsy Part of Town” and “Start Wearing Purple”. Jane’s Addiction, Wu-Tang Clan and NOFX were scheduled at the exact same time, so the hard choice of where to spend our last hours had to be made wisely. Starting off the time slot with Jane’s, we got to see Dave Navarro rip some guitar solos before heading off to Wu-Tang, where the crew played popular hip-hop anthems like ‘Shame on a Nigga’ and ‘C.R.E.A.M’. Finishing off at NOFX, we all wished we had spent a little more time there. I had never seen them live before, and they were wrecking much more shop than expected. Aftershows included another Gogol Bordello show at Empire Control Room, which was even more amazing than their set on the festival grounds.
Sunday’s vibe was noticeably chiller, with the crowd dying down about 25%. Everyone seemed pretty tired from the previous days, and many people were lounging on the (surprisingly not muddy and trampled) grass. We started off the day with psych-rock band the Growlers, who pumped out (self proclaimed) Beach Goth to their loyal followers. Other favorites of the day included Future Islands, Lauryn Hill, and ODESZA. Chromeo stole the Sunday show, drawing a reasonable crowd and playing their hits to a jumping audience. How they got such tired people jumping is a mystery to me, but we really enjoyed ourselves. Many of the lineup’s electronic bands played on this day, obviously in an attempt to keep the crowd pumped. However, we think some of the more lively acts like MSTRKRFT and Future Islands would have been better suited for Friday or Saturday’s level of energy.
Overall, the festival exceeded expectations. The stages were laid out in such a way that none of them polluted the others with sound. The food offerings were diverse and tasty. The weather held up better than expected, and the festival grounds didn’t turn into a muddy mess. We commend the team on their successful execution of will call ticketing, as well as their crowd management inside the festival. The 10th anniversary of Fun Fun Fun Fest was one we won’t be soon forgetting!