Fun Fun Fun Fest Day 2: Astronautalis, Metallagher, Broadcast, HEALTH, Crystal Castles, GZA, Of Montreal
"Someone said, 'It was sunny yesterday, I'm surprised it's rainy now,'" he said during his band's set. "I'm like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? Danzig is here. He flew in on a black pterodactyl. The crops are dying. It's because fucking Glenn Danzig is here!'"
As for me, I blame myself for taunting the elements with this ridiculous post about the pretty scenery and lack of Zilker Park mud and dust. Whatever the cause, the weather and slick mud thinned the crowds but couldn't dampen some truly great performances.
Without backing musicians, Astronautalis rapped and sang over MacBook accompaniment, climbing and running through the crowd, selling "My Dinner With Andy" from The Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters with even more gravelly vocal dramatics than usual. As usual with his performances, the highlight was his freestyle story spun on the spot from five audience-provided topics. In this case, The Twilight Zone, squirrels, syphilis, Asians and losing one's sack lunch merged into a story about a quest to find the Lunchable, which was stolen by an STD-ridden rodent, that ended with a fortune cookie's prediction that it would rain during his set but he'd have fun anyway. Ending with the anthemic fist-pumping "The Trouble Hunters" from Pomegranate, it certainly looked like the fortune came true.
The band is exactly what the name implies: a comedy-metal tribute to Gallagher and Metallica, a mashup that is surely the most brilliant moment of drunken inspiration in the history of musical comedy. Backed by a surprisingly competent Metallica tribute band, a grimy Gallagher impersonator sings Hetfield's lyrics with occasional "suck my dick" improvisations, then smashes fruit during instrumental parts and tells Gallagher's awful xenophobic, chauvenist and just plain stupid jokes between songs. ("I don't fly TWA. I think it stands for Traveling With Arabs. I prefer Delta: Don't Even Let Them Aboard!") It's completely absurd, sing-along awesome and hilarious. "You guys have some weird fruit down here," "Gallagher" said, holding up some unidentfiable thick-skinned fruit. He smashed it with an overhead blow from the Sledge-o-matic, sending red pulp spraying across an audience of people who appeared glad to be wearing raingear and carrying umbrellas. "Twenty bucks, whatever the fuck that was." It was certainly funnier than the real Gallagher, and almost as great as the real Metallica.
By the time this English electronica duo went on, it was clear that the rain was not going to let up. The hazy, dreamy vocals and heavy synthesized beats seem tailor-made for dark smoky nightclubs, so the music was an odd contrast to the mud, rain and gray skies. But it was completely enrapturing nonetheless.
The band was scheduled for 6:05 p.m., but soundcheck dragged on until nearly 6:30. Absolutely worth the wait. Just watching Charlie Day lookalike Jake Duzsik maul his guitar and lay down tribal beats on a floor tom was worth ruining a pair of shoes. The mishmash of thunderous percussion, electronic beats, distorted bass, noise, interpretive dance and chaotic noise was one nonestop blast of rock. They may have been "mellow" two nights before in Dallas, but this phenomenal performance was anything but. If you haven't seen them live yet, do whatever you must not to miss them next time they come to Texas.
While Crystal Castles' aggressive rock-edged, glitchy, thumping dance music has little in common with Broadcast's chilled-out electro-pop, it is similarly more suited to nightclubs than mud-slicked festivals. But rather than win the audience over on the power of the music alone, as the sedate Broadcast did, singer Alice Glass whipped the audience into a frenzy of glowsticks and whirling muddy limbs as she stalked the stage with a strobing spotlight--as if channelling every ounce of her intimidating coolness into daring her audience not to dance. Any doubts that they could overcome the elements were erased within seconds of the set.
"What up? The rain is making you quiet, you white motherfuckers?" taunted the GZA from the Blue Stage. Maybe it was that or maybe it was cumulative fatigue. But his stock-still, unengaging performance didn't help. His Wu-Tang and solo material, especially from the classic Liquid Swords, is great--certainly strong enough not to need a bullshit hype man or a bunch of "put your hands up!" shouts. But too many factors--particularly the late start and the mud--conspired against him. Of Montreal were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in the showmanship department, with cartoon fireworks, crazed graphics firing off behind them, costumed dancers and furry mascots acting out bizarre skits on an adjacent stage complementing their psychedelic pop songs that had kids and tripping grownups alike dancing and falling in the mud.