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Fun Fun Fun Fest Grows While Staying True to its Roots

Mary Kang for KUT

Fun Fun Fun Fest describes itself as “the darling of independent festivals for music lovers and music makers.” But this year, with headliners like Run DMC and Girl Talk, is Fun Fun Fun Fest outgrowing its underground roots?

“It’ll never become super popular,” says James Moody, co-creator of the festival and owner of music venue The Mohawk. “It’s growing, but it’ll never do well as a very big festival.” That’s because Moody says they aren’t interested in billing big names.

Moody says they try to give attention to bands that aren’t as widely known, or inspire a small but devoted following. “We try to keep people on their toes and remind people that there are no genres anymore, so we don’t try to pigeon hole with our headlines,” Moody says. “We could throw a curveball and get The Cure next year or something.”

“It’s kind of more from a fan’s perspective,” says Mark Trimble, a festival attendee and native Austinite. “It’s who you’d want to see if you were putting your own festival together.”

Trimble admires the pull Fun Fun Fun Fest has despite its small size, compared to behemoths like Austin City Limits and Coachella. “They never seem to have a problem filling out the bill. It’s executed perfectly. There are never lines for the bathrooms, never lines for food, and it hits all the right buttons.”

Fun Fun Fun Fest is traditionally slugged as three music festivals in one. Bands are allocated to separate stages based on genres (loosely, metal bands play on the black stage, hip hop on the blue and indie rock on the orange). Moody says that Fun Fun Fun wants to blur the lines between “alternative genres” by welcoming them all in one place.

“Now there’s just super focused genres,” Moody says, “so it’s like Math Rock and Nerdcore. It used to be just alternative music, but alternative music means nothing anymore because there’s so many little slices of that.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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