Fun Fun Fun Fest features daytime shows in an outdoor park from noon until 10 p.m. All the major headliners perform a daytime show that allows for tons of people to experience a shortened set in the way festivalgoers are accustomed. With four massive stages, they assigned each stage a color and these colors communicated to attendees what type of music would be featured on that stage. Black was for heavy music; Blue was for electronic, dance, hip-hop; Orange was for indie artists; Yellow was for comedy and primarily acoustic acts. They were far enough apart to mostly not disturb one another, but close enough and staggered enough to straddle stages if two bands you liked performed simultaneously. This organization is something I think Orlando Calling attempted by more crudely dividing types of music by day, but if they had given folks a reason to attend both days by dividing genres by stage, not only could they have sold more full festival passes, but they would have given attendees two days of memories and possibly exposed people to more music.
After 10 p.m., the outdoor shows at Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Auditorium Shores ended, and more shows continued at various clubs in Austin within walkable distance. You could catch longer sets in more intimate settings for major headliners at night, and entry was free with your wristband. They also had a variety of bands only playing what they dub “Fun Fun Fun Nites,” so you could add more bands to the bill without overcrowding the daytime atmosphere with small stages/tents, which would also force attendees to make even more decisions on which bands they want to prioritize and which they will have to skip. With added “Nites,” you can truly see everything you want, and you can even plan to catch your favorite bands more than once. That’s reason alone to justify the cost of the ticket. When you are nervous you can only see a few of the bands billed, your willingness to pay for an expensive ticket diminishes.
Iceage at Fun Fun Fun Fest Perhaps the closest we’ve had to an experience like Fun Fun Fun Fest was Orange You Glad Music Festival. [Full disclosure: I ran press duties on the last OYG.] OYG featured a variety of more current bands in clubs throughout Mills 50 and down into Audubon Park. But it wasn’t as walkable, maybe, as Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest setup, and its lineup was necessarily small due to venue size, so you didn’t have the avalanche of droolworthy bands that Fun Fun Fun Fest boasted (Girl Talk, Modest Mouse, Death From Above 1979, Dinosaur Jr., King Diamond, Angel Olsen, Metz, Iceage, King Tuff, Black Lips, Gary Numan, the New Pornographers, Neutral Milk Hotel, and it goes on). It’s been said before, but after a dreamy weekend of complete music indulgence, I find myself wanting to repeat: Orlando has the potential to create a memorable, major-ticket music festival. But to rival cities like Portland, Austin, Seattle and Chicago, we need to be more organized/creative with how music is staged and more precise and tasteful with the featured artists. My hope is that this inspires our city’s promoters to try to stage something like Orlando Calling again in the future. Obviously, we have the Big Orlando coming up Dec. 7 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, which is a step in the right direction, but just pardon me for now for dreaming of an even bigger Orlando music festival to come.
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