FFF Nites Brings Future Islands, Alvvays + More to an Intimate Austin Venue
Music festivals are a great time, but for tried-and-true fans of live music, it’s all about the afterparty concerts. Austin’s annual Fun Fun Fun Fest is no exception: A gang of beer-y partiers may have chatted their way through your favorite band’s festival set, but those people won’t wait in line to see the band in a more intimate space afterward. Let them fill one of the many cavernous watering holes lining Red River street— you’ve got a show to see. And on Saturday night, the FFF Nites showcase at the Sidewinder was the place to be.
The show, free to anyone with a Saturday Fun Fun Fun wristband, was packed just minutes after Jane’s Addiction wrapped their headlining set back at Auditorium Shores. With good reason, as the top acts on the bill outgrew venues this small many months — or in Future Islands’ case, years — ago. Attendees moved between two stages, one inside and one in the backyard, and they were treated to a diverse array of indie rock sounds presented by Grammy Amplifier, a Hyundai Music initiative.
Moving Panoramas kicked things off outside, with dreamy shoegaze tunes from their freshly-released One album. The day’s rain and unseasonable chill had disappeared by nightfall, and this turn of events only boosted the mood at the backyard party. The hometown trio covered a lot of sonic territory in their short set, evoking ‘90s alt duo Mazzy Star during slower moments, and were vocally appreciative of the crowd’s warmth. Meanwhile, imaginatively-named Austin indie rockers Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes performed inside.
By informal eavesdropping poll, Alvvays —pronounced “always”— seemed to be the most-buzzed about act of the night. The five piece hails from Canada but sound like they’re from a California beach town, and they commandeered the outdoor stage with harmony-heavy indie pop driven in tandem by Molly Rankin’s vocals and buoyant drums. After Austin’s own Future Death gave the crowd a sweaty and energizing set inside the Sidewinder, Viet Cong took the stage. The band played a post-punk set that was intense but never self-serious (as evidenced by the fact that their guitarist warmed up with some bars from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”).
Future Islands delivered an excellent set ahead of their Sunday Fun Fun Fun slot — and no conversation about the band’s live show is complete without mentioning frontman Sam Herring’s dancing, which is enthusiastic, interpretative and an all-around joy to behold.
The GRAMMY Amplifier program, which presented the showcase, is an online music initiative that aims to help promising music artists realize their dreams. The 2016 program's curators — Big Sean, Halestorm's Lzzy Hale and country singer Sam Hunt— will listen to submissions and select three winners. Those winners will each receive one of three prize packages: a studio recording session with a GRAMMY- winning producer; an opening slot for a noted artist and/or a series of festival shows; or the filming of a music video with a celebrated director.
Submissions for the 2016 GRAMMY Amplifier are now open, and you can upload your songs for consideration at www.grammyamplifier.com until January 4, 2016.