Notes from Fun Fun Fun

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Photo by Kory Cook
The Author and Ezrah, at her first rock festival.

The Fun Fun Fun Festival kicked off Friday in cheeky fashion with a “Weird Al” Yankovic headliner. Between costume changes, sarcastic videos and drum solos (often less than 3 seconds long), ol’ Weird Al proved he can still wield his thin whine like a scalpel, both nailing and skewering cultural icons from Nirvana to Eminem. It set the tone for the festival, which aimed at a sweet spot between quirky and poppy. The festival mostly delivered (although next year they should truck in more port-o-potties, and hire more ticket line cashiers!)

 

I’m a huge Slick Rick fan but my six-month old daughter Ezrah begs to differ. I spent The Ruler’s entire set on Saturday bouncing a screaming baby, while that old-old-old school swinging sing-song wafted by. Blessedly, she was fast asleep by the time Brazilian legend Os Mutantes hit the stage. The band was revolutionary in 1966 for their smoking blend of psychedelic rock and Brazilian music, and they sound just as fresh today. If Caetano Veloso and Frank Zappa had a musical love child, Os Mutantes would be it. There were screaming guitar solos, harmonies a la Crosby Stills and Nash, snapping samba drum lines and some Sly Stone funk thrown in for good measure.

 

My wife picked up the baby, and I decided to take one last swing through the festival, which had come through on it’s promise of unconventional programming. There was plenty of flavors to sample. I stopped by the aptly-named Black Stage for a bit of the old punk rock.  When I arrived, 80’s punkers The Dwarves were making a ruckus. Then a better punk band came on, Orange County’s The Vandals, which had a driving almost-rockbilly energy. And they even had guitar solos, which I thought was anathema to punk rock.

Anyhow, I like my punk rock in small portions so went on my way. A band on the main stage caught my ear — Man Man. Firmly in Tom Waits territory, the band kept the music deep and surprising with a jazz-meets-progressive rock flow. The band caged around the stage in the dark, emanating hypnotic circus grooves, clanking and subtle at the same time. Fun Fun Fun once again proved it’s possible to have a music festival without bringing in The Eagles.

Michael May is a former Observer managing editor. He’s now a freelance journalist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.