Fun Fun Fun Fest Thursday concert reviews: Kurt Vile, RJD2

The most optimistically named music festival in the country kicks off with two real performers

Jason Gilbert

Fun Fun Fun Fest — perhaps the most optimistically named music festival in the country — kicked off in Austin, Texas, on Thursday night, with performances by two solo artists who really perform in the, well, performative sense.


There was first Kurt Vile, a skinny rock-and-roll guitarist dude, playing with his band the Violators at the outdoor space The Mohawk. In tight jeans and vintage sneakers, and with his long dark obscuring almost all of his face when he sang into the microphone, Vile looked like a hipster Chewbacca as he played — or, well, “play” is a misleading verb in this case, as when Vile manipulates his guitar it looks like work. He lunged from speaker to speaker, tapping effects pedals, tweaking various knobs, sliding levels up and down, and, generally, berating the hapless Sound Guy, who couldn’t seem to find a setup to appease the musician. The short set motored along anyway, with nimble-fingered Vile and his talented band collaborating on breezy beanbag-chair-and-lava-lamp rock for the better part of an hour. The highlights: Any time Vile played a guitar solo; an all-out closing number guitar-and-saxophone freakout on “Freak Train” that would have made the Velvets proud.

View gallery

.

Musician Kurt Vile performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire …


The popular DJ RJD2 is an onstage spectacle, too, probably moreso than Vile. At the brooding, spacious Austin club The Parish, and after a spirited, crowd-pleasing set from Austin DJ Boombaptist, RJD2 — the nom de spin of RJ Krohn, a compact, muscular dancefloor specialist from Eugene, Oregon — set up his own equipment, which consists of, mercifully, more than just an iPod and an aux out cord. In fact, the most impressive element of RJD2’s live set may be the sheer amount of stuff he uses at once: There were four turntables — yes, four! All at once! — which RJD2 constantly supplied with fresh LPs from a crate behind him: Rushing to pluck out the correct one, lay it down, place the needle correctly, and then — BOOM! The perfect sample, the beat drop, the ecstatic mashup. RJD2 is a performative DJ: So much of the pleasure — and, oh, there was much pleasure and ecstasy and 90s kid-dancing at The Parish, which sits in the heart of Austin’s chaotic Booze River known as Sixth Street — comes from watching the man move as he makes music...not as you’d watch a ballerina, or a high-kicking lead singer in a riot grrrl band, but in seeing the sausage-making of the mixture of tracks in the pre-GarageBand days. Four record players, a crate of your best records, and a little bit of digital manipulation: Turns out that, if you’re RJD2, that’s all the force you need to turn a club inside-out.

View gallery

.

The musician RJD2, in an interview with Engadget.

View Comments (0)