Austin On Friday, the calendar said 2012, but you wouldn't have known it walking around Auditorium Shores. It might as well as have been 1980, or 1985, or 1992, or 1995.
The seventh annual Fun Fun Fun Fest kicked off Friday with a strong undercurrent of nostalgia flowing between its four stages, culminating in a shockingly brief headlining set from Run DMC, which had the crowd ecstatically shouting along with classics like It's Tricky and Walk This Way. (Despite not having performed live for more than a decade, Run DMC was extraordinarily tight.) Elsewhere, veterans like X, Bob Mould and Superchunk catapulted audiences back into the thick of seminal works like Los Angeles or Copper Blue, rendering 20- and 30-year-old albums in vital, fresh performances. Superchunk, although never officially separated, attacked its set like a hungry young act, bashing out material from 2010's Shredding Majesty alongside staples like Slack Motherf---er.
As is often the case, few fresh faces could compete with fond memories of yesteryear, although there were strong showings from buzzy acts like Macklemore (aka rapper Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis, El Ten Eleven, Santigold and Sharon Van Etten. Each had great moments -- Santigold, despite starting 20 minutes late, delivered a rapturous set full of irresistible grooves; El Ten Eleven's richly textured instrumentals were a gorgeous counterpoint to the setting sun -- but the day clearly belonged to music's elders.
The beauty of Fun Fun Fun Fest -- which could not have ordered better weather for its first day -- is the riot of sounds that, at certain points in the park, bleed into one another and create an intoxicating cacophony. The clockwork stage set-ups also allow for nearly continuous music over the course of a day, but also makes room for some truly bizarre interludes. One such detour from the festival norm was the sight of Val Kilmer, interrupting Atlanta garage rockers the Black Lips, during their short set on the Blue Stage.
It wasn't a total surprise -- director Terrence Malick is in town, filming scenes for an as-yet-untitled work revolving, somehow, around live music, and he could be seen directing Kilmer, Michael Fassbender and Rooney Mara during the Lips' chaotic, stop-start set. Kilmer, who hacked off chunks of his hair with a hunting knife, after chucking a bucket of sand at the audience and shouting about the death of rock and roll, appeared to be eating up the attention (and dodging projectiles from the audience). It was a weird detour from the festival's primary focus, but its thrilling unpredictability did reinforce why so many return again and again to see live music performed: you just never know what -- or when -- you're gonna get.
Other video highlights from Fun Fun Fun Fest's first day: