Sunday's lineup featured several familiar acts, including Cat Power, Mates of State, Ted Leo, and the reunited Murder City Devils. But, for me, it were the instrumental outfits that defined the sound of the second annual Fun Fun Fun Fest.
I started the day with the cool Latin funk of Ocote Soul Sounds, one of the side projects of Antibalas founder Martin Perna, who splits his time between Austin and Brooklyn (kinda like your's truly.) The Austin Chronicle aptly describes their sound as "a beautifully sedated take on afro-beat," and "a peyote pilgrimage through the Mexican desert."
Pittsburgh's Don Caballero was one of the early progenitors of the increasingly-popular sub-genre known as Math Rock, which places an emphasis on changing time signatures, spiky rhythms, and occasionally dissonant riffs. The music often sounded closer to free jazz than rock, spiraling out into seemingly-improvised passages that bordered on the chaotic, only to somehow come together in the end. Founding drummer Damon Che is Don Cab's sole remaining original member, and often seemed on the verge of exhaustion as he whaled away on his kit. Along with him were guitarist Gene Doyle and bassist Jason Jouver, both formerly of another Pittsburgh math rock outfit, Creta Bourzia.
Assuming Don Caballero is like jazz, then Battles, the NYC outfit founded by former Don Cab guitarist Ian Williams in 2005, is as close to experimental/new music as anything I've heard within a rock idiom. Elements of minimalism were prominent throughought the intense noise, especially in the incredibly complex, muti-layered rhythms. (At one point, I swear I heard a Balinese gamelan.) Williams is joined in the endeavor by several other serious players, including bassist Dave Konopka (Lynx), drummer John Stanier (formerly of Helmet) and guitarist/keyboardist Ty Braxton (son of free jazz pioneer Anthony Braxton.) These guys are so good, I wouldn't be surprised seeing them on one of the Carnegie stages someday.
Other acts I saw included 80's mopers I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, dance-pop outfit Clap! Clap!, Florida's Against Me!,and Philly's Diplo. The pictures speak for themselves, but all-in-all, a fun (fun fun) way to spend an end-of-autumn weekend. Already looking forward to my next visit...