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valient himself

We couldn’t attend this year’s annual Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX. But “The Most Fun Live Band In The World” Valient Thorr had an appearance at the 3-day event, so frontman Valient Himself decided to make a vacation of it by hanging out at the entire 3-day festival as a regular old fan and soaking in the fun (fun fun). Burgertime at the arcade, a Queen cover band, Weird Al, The Dwarves, a Sarah Palin decapitation by Gwar, High on Fire, getting in the pit for Suicidal Tendencies, tons and tons of beer… all in a weekend’s worth of fun (fun fun) for Valient Himself. Check out his recap of the weekend below.

by Valient Himself

Alahoyus, everyone.  This is Valient Himself.  I just got back from Texas, and I had such a blast, I thought I’d share my experience with you.  I’m writing to you on my brand new computer.  This is the first thing I’m typing on it, so I’m very excited.  So, finally our US tour in support of our new record has come to an end.  Last weekend we flew to Austin for the final show, and it was an honor to be asked to play amidst so many awesome bands at this year’s FUN FUN FUN FEST.  Ever since we were asked, we’ve had a collective boner about the lineup.  To our dismay the week before last, my favorite band of all time, DEVO, unfortunately had to cancel because Bob Mothersbaugh almost cut his thumb off or something like that.  Apparently it was pretty bad.  HOWEVER, we were not gonna let that deter us from having an awesome time, anyway there were a hundred other bands that were gonna rock as well.  And then, bang a few hours later, word comes through that the O.G. lineup of the Descendants were going to fill in for DEVO, playing their first show together in 8 years.  We’ll take it!  Awesome!

So, since I was gonna miss out on DEVO, I decided that I had to get a plane ticket a bit early so that I could see Weird Al.  I had heard that he puts on a pretty good show, and I might as well get my “money’s worth.”  I went earlier than the other dudes to take care of the business shit, rented a car, and headed downtown to Waterloo park to see what I could see.  I was a bit early so I hung out at Spiderhouse for a bit and read a bit of my copy of George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings.  Finally around 4, I headed down to grab our passes and all that stuff.  It looked like things were getting underway, so I looked around a bit, until I saw a row of classic arcade games under a big treehouse near the back of the grounds including Burgertime, Centipede, Galaga, and Gauntlet.  I headed to get some quarters and a tallboy Tecate, and moseyed back over to the Burgertime machine.  I tried to put a quarter in and saw that it was taped up.  I was like, “what the fuck, you need tokens or something?” and some dude on the Galaga machine was like, “nah dude, they’re FREE.”  I looked back down, and suddenly I realized I was in heaven.

As I slugged the Tecate, and cursed those damn pickle men on level 3 of Burgertime, I heard some band start to play a Queen cover in the background.  I thought it was like the sound dudes testing out the sound, but when they finished and went directly into “Death on 2 Legs”, I realized this was a Queen cover band.  I didn’t remember reading anything about it, but fuck it, maybe it was a local opener, it was still early.  As I walked down to check them out, they unloaded hit after hit, jam after jam, and dare I say one of the best sets of the whole festival.  The band was called Magnifico, and they WERE local.  I had to look down at my beer and remind myself that I had only had that one, but I was singing my ass off, as this dude pranced around in his purple unitard. Classic shit.  They finished with “Under Pressure” into “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and I was blown away.

I ran into a friend and we watched Todd Barry be funny, but mostly be annoyed by Apples in Stereo’s warm up.  He seemed to be actually pissed and maybe not used to a festival style setting.  He used it to his advantage to get a few laughs, but I feel he would’ve probably liked to do his actual set better.  I could give a shit about Apples in Stereo myself, so I walked off to find something delicious.  There was a red bus backstage that was making these vegan “freeto burritos” and I scarfed half of one, and then went to find a friend of a friend up in that treehouse so we could score some free Heinekens.  Once we got past the PIP (pretty important person) security, we got all the Heine and Chipolte burritos we wanted.  I had already ate that other one so, I drank.  Up next was Chris Hardwick, the dude from Singled Out, and G4.  He wasn’t funny at all.  I think he’s probably a funny guy in real life, but maybe he’s stuck doing the “1000 watt radio voice” and “drive time at 5” style humor.  Boring, and maybe purposefully aimed at the frat crowd.

Very quickly after that Weird Al came on.  Lemme preface this by saying I had no idea how badass this was gonna be.  Weird Al jammed for over 2 hours!  He had many background videos that came on between songs so he could change costumes and all that.  Super funny stuff.  Al TV clips and shows from throughout the years that have mentioned him.  He started off with a 10 minute medley of full on polka covers of newer pop songs, that I’m not really familiar with by artists like Conway or Kanye whatever, Ke$ha, Britney, Pink, and others.  Then he went through the classics, including my favorite “Beverly Hillbillies” to the tune of Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”.  At the end of his set, before the encore, him and 2 others did this accapella thing where they chanted nonsense words for like 4 or 5 minutes all choreographed, with no repetition, that was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen ever.  Memorizing things is hard anyway, but when you have no rhymes, and you are relying on pure memory it’s way tougher.  I was blown away.  Then I picked the dudes up from the airport a few hours later after a heated session at the Gauntlet machine that lasted until there was no one else left in the park.

I hung out for a while afterwards at Red 7 for the Dead To Me show, but my throat was kind of sore, and I didn’t wanna sound like shit the next day, so I split out.  The next morning, I had a bunch of interviews to do, but managed to catch a bit of Power Trip, Jeff the Brotherhood and Hatred Surge in between all that.  Then it was time for us to get ready for our 2:30 set.  We had a great last show, the crowd was excellent, the weather was excellent, and it seemed like even though it was early, people were finally warmed up to rock by the time we went on.  Directly after we played Strike Anywhere was up next on the stage beside of us, so we stuck around for most of their set, and then headed over to do a signing at the Waterloo tent.  Everyone in a band knows that signings are mostly embarrassing Spinal Tap type moments, and usually we dread them, but when we made it over there, there was actually a line.  So we signed records and jackets and shit, and a few moments later, GWAR came over and started signing right beside of us!  Awesome.  We got to meet them and become friends at a festival in Bielefeld, Germany this summer.

After the signing, I checked out a bit of Slick Rick and then headed over to catch our friends the Casualties.  Things were quick these next few hours, with no stopping until the end of the day. After their set, I rushed over to see a bit of Monotonix before heading back over to see Municipal Waste.  I don’t get in the pit a lot anymore, but with shredding like that, how could I resist?  The dudes ripped through jam after jam, and their set was a highlight of the weekend.  On to a few more interviews.  Then on my way out, and back over to the stages, I heard something that made me spin around.  There was an artist going off at the blue stage.  It turned out to be my big discovery of the weekend.  I had never heard of Big Freedia before, but he/she went off.  The hot butt squad he had with him shakin it down was nice, but he himself was a really good rapper when he would go off.  Sort of reminded me of Beans from Anti-Pop Consortium.  If you get the chance, you have to check him/her out.  Then I headed back over to check out the Dwarves.

I never knew how tall Blag from the Dwarves was.  Dude is tall as shit.  I’ve heard stories about those dudes starting fights everywhere.  If I was that big, I’d talk a lot of shit too.  I’ve wanted to see them for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed.  They played a bunch of stuff old and new.  Somewhere in here I went and ate some food, and I don’t know, I was partying so I’m probably forgetting some shit.  But then it was time for GWAR.  I think that GWAR needed a bigger stage for the amazing show they put on.  I mean it was adequate but these guys have 9 foot tall costumes, and they seemed crammed up there.  They played new jams from their new record which came out yesterday, and they totally killed Sarah Palin.  Ripped her guts out, and the blood cannon that was hooked up on her looked like a goddamn hose used to put out a fire.  It was the bloodiest shit I’d ever seen.  Amazing.  Right after that, Bad Religion went on, and ripped through an amazing set. I’m always happy when they play songs off of Stranger Than Fiction as it’s one of my favorite albums by them.  The sound was a bit off, but they killed it nonetheless.  Everyone else went to party again at Red 7, and if I knew that Blag was gonna be DJing I probably would have went out, but after a day like that, I was sore all over, my throat was raw, and I knew that I had another day exactly like that tomorrow.  So I hit a hotel up for some rest.

The next morning I was up and at’em early style, even though it was [the end of] Daylight Savings and I could’ve slept in.  We headed over to Ruby’s BBQ for a delicious morning of brisket, and then I had to head over to the fest for an interview.  The first thing I wanted to see this day was OFF!.  Dmitri from Burning Brides, Mario from Earthless, the bass man from Red Kross, and Keith Morris from Black Flag/Circle Jerks… how could it be anything but awesome?  and it was.  Very cool, and another highlight of the fest.  While I was waiting to watch OFF!, I took in the spectacle of Peelander Z with Matt Pike from High on Fire.  We had a good laugh, and I sat my beer down, and he put a mini orange cone beside of it, so that no one would knock my beer over!  That dude is hilarious.  Up next was Kylesa, and Mariachi El Bronx at the same time, so I had to divide my time.  I killed a Heine at Kylesa, and switched to Tecate for El Bronx well, because, I love mexican beer.  Not sure where all the time went, but I had a few hours that got away from me here.  I did something. I’m sure of it.  I had a pretty awesome conversation with Keith Morris about rocknroll and all kinds of stuff.  Then The Bronx were playing again as their regular selves and they were badass.  Next up I watched half of the Snapcase reunion and then watched the second half of the Polvo set.  I heard some of their new songs last summer when we had a month off and I rented a studio above where they were recording.  It was cool to hear the new songs in their entirety in a live setting.

The next few hours by themselves could blow a man’s mind, but coupled with the rest of the weekend, I could’ve been crippled.  High on Fire looked as ferocious as they sounded, and just ripped.  After that was one of my all time favorites… Suicidal Tendencies.  I told my friend, “I may get in the mix if they play my jams…” and as soon as I said that, they ripped in “You can’t bring me down” as the FIRST SONG! So I gave her my stuff to hold and headed into the shit to jam.  Before I knew it I was up front getting annihilated with the rest, and then they went straight into “Institutionalized”.  After a while, I came out for air, and then had to head back in for “Pledge your Allegiance”.  I sang right into the mic near the end and got pulled up on the stage with the rest of the dudes.  It was like a teenage dream come true.  I hope to still be rocking like that in 15 years. On stage and off!

Next up was the Descendants and Mastodon at the same time.  I watched Mastodon for a bit, but rushed over to see Descendants, because we’ve toured with Mastodon lately, and I’ve never seen Milo and co.  They were great and it was awesome to catch up with Carl again after the show.  Finally, we headed down to Red 7 for the end of the deal, where Floor played and everyone was doing karaoke.  Sadat Thorr was up on the stage before I even knew they were doing karaoke singing a Drive Like Jehu song.  I did Frank Black “Speedy Marie”, and Love “A House is not a Motel” before the night was through.

It was a great fucking weekend and probably the best festival I’ve ever been to, much less played.  I think that had to do with most of the bands being friends, and the festival being small in scale, yet gigantic in scope.  Thank you to all our friends and fans, and the bands, and everyone else.  We’ll see you all again soon.


Valient Himself

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