Fun Fun Fun Fest 2008, Day Two

I am aware of the gap between my Day One post and my Day Two post, and I apologize to anybody who follows this blog for the delay. You see, on the Monday following Fun Fun Fun Fest I got caught up in another big event: Work Work Work Fest. But now that WWWF is over, I have the time to post some more photos and comments about last Sunday's lineup, which included Islands (above), St. Vincent, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and others. Honestly, Day Two was a much weaker lineup than Day One in my opinion. But here come some more photos (with commentary!) anyway â?? hope you enjoy.

THE ANNUALS

Never heard The Annuals before this, and I kinda showed up toward the end of their set (mistaking them for Spinto Band, at first). But I liked what little I saw, and they definitely were playing to my interests with their multiple percussionists (two drumsets, with other members on tom-tom duty) and a cute, red-headed hipster-girl keyboardist. All they need to be my favorite band would be some really amazing songwriting.

ISLANDS

I really liked Islands' newest disc, Arm's Way, and was looking forward to their mid-day slot. Honestly, I've got to say I was underwhelmed by the group in person, and I can't quite figure out why. Musically, they were fine â?? although "fine" isn't really much of an endorsement â?? but it's almost like Islands had no idea what to do in a festival setting, and some of the more esoteric stuff just came off as timid and unsure. Even the "rock" portions were a little blah, with the exception of "Creeper" and "Jaime Vous Voire Quitter" (although they really started dragging during the latter song's calypso section â?? it was teeth-gritting).

I guess I needed more from their live act then a bunch of barely-tolerable affectations and sounding more or less like their record. This is the second show were singer Nicholas Thorburn hasn't impressed â?? the first time involved The Unicorns, a club in London, and Karen O. But that's a story for another blog ...

ST. VINCENT

Well, we can safely add Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, to my Indie-Rock Crush Hall of Fame* and we have none other than John Lennon to thank for it. Clark, a former member of both The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens's group, produces some ornate, pretty, and pleasingly vague pop music, but it was her cover of "Dig a Pony" that won me over. Lennon dismissed the tune as "garbage," and while I won't go that far, I will say that "Dig a Pony," as well as much of Let it Be, isn't the best stuff The Beatles put out. But Clark had fun with the weird, non-sequitur lyrics and really nailed the "all I want is you" chorus â?? displaying some pretty solid guitar chops as well. I also give points for not covering an obvious Fab Four tune. And, as if that wasn't enough, her album Marry Me is a reference to Arrested Development. (Swoons.)

MINUS THE BEAR

Here's another group that I have a gap in knowledge about. Minus the Bear just never made it onto my radar in a significant way, and "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse" is the only song of their that I can ever remember hearing. Whether you want to chalk that up to a bad memory or the fact that their songs aren't very memorable is up to you. To me they sound a little too much like Incubus, with less DJ-ing. I know they're well-respected, and they're pretty tight onstage, but they just don't do much for me. Although, frontman Jake Snider looks just like Alan Moore. So they can't be all bad.

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was the festival closer (on Stage 1, anyway), but by the end of the weekend it was hard to get that excited about them. I was never a huge fan, although I like some of their songs, particularly "Is This Love," "Satan Said Dance," and "Some Loud Thunder." Singer Alec Ounsworth is indeed as nasal-sounding as he is on record, but it didn't grate as much as I thought it might. If this portion of the report sounds rather dull, I have to chalk it up to me having to recall the emotions I felt at the show; in this case, it was mild indifference. Fun Fun Fun Fest was pretty fun, overall â?? despite the dust (and there ended being a lot, not unlike ACL's dastardly dust plague), crowds, and an OK, occasionally brilliant lineup. They've got the market cornered on smallish, cool-weather festivals, and they should keep it from getting to ACL-level proportions, if only so music-loving photographers like myself can stay in the photo pit even after the band's third song.

*IRCHoF includes Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor, Leslie Feist, Jenny Lewis, Emily Haines ... um, the violinist from Arcade Fire ... I should probably stop now. Oh, wait â?? and Beck's guitarist!

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