Ready to Fest? Our top music picks for Fun Fun Fun 2014

Run the Jewels/Vic Michael
Run the Jewels/Vic Michael

Blue Stage

Run the Jewels. Killer Mike and El-P, riding high off their new release “Run the Jewels 2, are at the top of the rap game. Loaded with frenetically paced electronic beats and furious aggro rap, the album is charged with braggadocio, making a claim to hip-hop’s throne. It’s also a no-holds-barred call to arms, bluntly addressing police brutality, political corruption and class warfare. Read more (Paywall) 4:15 p.m. Friday.

FRIDAY

2:15 p.m. SZA: The first female member of the Top Dawg Entertainment clique (home to Kendrick Lamar) spins dreamy watercolor swirls of abstract R&B over cool chillwave grooves. Also, she might just have the best hair in the business.

5:15 p.m. Ginuwine: Look, ladies, “Pony” isn’t the only reason to catch the smooth crooner. This is the man who gets “So Anxious” when he sees you “In Those Jeans.” Bubble baths and back rubs for everyone!

7:35 p.m. Atmosphere: The Rhymesayers collective kingpins put Minneapolis on the map as a hip-hop backpackers’ paradise almost 20 years ago. Though deeply introspective, their latest release “Southsiders” is also both accessible and danceable.

SATURDAY

2:10 p.m. Mas Ysa: Deeply emotional and evocative electronic compositions from a Canadian who’s emerging as a force to be reckoned with on NYC’s avant indie scene.

7:15 p.m. Nas: The hip-hop superhero is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his classic “Illmatic,” but at recent shows he’s mixed the track-by-track recital up with spirited selections from his catalog of hits.

8:45 p.m. Girl Talk: I’ll admit I was a little surprised that Nas didn’t get top billing, but if you’re trying to take Saturday night out with a boogie-down dance party, the mashup master’s totally got your number.

SUNDAY

1 p.m. The Internet: The warm and sensual R&B side project of Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians from the shock rap collective Odd Future.

4:50 p.m. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib: Gritty street tales from Gary, Ind., hustler Gibbs come to life over the cerebral, jazz- and funk-laced grooves from hip-hop super producer Madlib.

6 p.m. Sky Ferreira: Don’t hold the Miley Cyrus tour (or the heroin bust) against her; Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time” was one of the best gauzy dance pop releases of 2013.

7:25 p.m. Flying Lotus: “You’re Dead!”, the new album from producer Steven Ellison, is an expansive composition that blends soulfully orchestrated vocal harmonies and mind-boggling, complicated jazz over loosely constructed hip-hop beats.

New Pornographers at FFF Fest 2007, Jay Janner/American-Statesman
New Pornographers at FFF Fest 2007, Jay Janner/American-Statesman

Orange Stage

New Pornographers: With a penchant for blasting buoyant melodies with a wallop of indie-rock energy, the band brings the brilliance on “Brill Bruisers”. Read more (Paywall) 5:55 p.m. Saturday — Peter Blackstock

Neutral Milk Hotel Like “The Velvet Undergound & Nico” before it, Neutral Milk Hotels “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” proved to have legs beyond what anyone anticipated. Its psychedelic folk cacophony, at once explosive and achingly delicate, captivated a generation of listeners. Read more. 8:30 p.m. Sunday — Patrick Caldwell

FRIDAY

3:10 p.m. Mineral: The local emo band relives their ’90s heyday to the delight of longtime fans.

4:25 p.m. Sun Kil Moon: Mark Kozelek makes gloomy folk rock loaded with evocative imagery and strong melodic structure.

7 p.m. Dinosaur Jr.: Frontman J. Mascis has been thrilling audiences with his solo show (which he brings to the Yellow stage at 7:20 p.m. on Sunday), but expect a strong set of ’80s and ’90s indie faves from the full band reunion show.

8:30 p.m. Alt-J: Once hailed as the next Radiohead, the British indie rockers and NPR faves have established themselves as new school champions of elaborately crafted indie rock.

SATURDAY

3:35 p.m. Courtney Barnett: With a sly, self-deprecating sense of humor, the Australian singer-songwriter deadpans witty lyrics over jangly garage pop. Her charm comes from both her decidedly un-fancy demeanor and an ability to tease unexpected magic out of ordinary situations.

4:40 p.m. Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The poppy post-emo act neatly sidesteps the saccharine aftertaste of twee with a sound that’s dreamy and upbeat but still substantial.

7:10 p.m. First Aid Kit: With tight harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and sweeping emotion, the folksy Swedish sister duo’s excellent release “Stay Gold” seems destined to end up on many critics’ “Best of 2014” lists.

SUNDAY

2:30 p.m. Angel Olsen: Her critically acclaimed new release “Burn Your Fire for No One Witness” seamlessly transitions from folksy twang to fiery punk-influenced indie rock. A thoroughly intriguing new voice.

3:35 p.m. Foxygen: Following a full meltdown during their 2013 Austin City Limits Music Fest show, many thought the weirdo California psych rock duo would disband, but they’re back with a sprawling new release and a live set fronting a nine-piece band.

4:40 p.m. Dum Dum Girls: Supporting a new album loaded with hazy noir pop, the band was all over South by Southwest 2014, and after a year of touring their star continues to rise.

— D.S.S.

Judas Priest
Judas Priest

Black Stage

Judas Priest: Headlining Fun Fun Fun Fest on Friday, Halford and Judas Priest are undisputed heavy metal legends thanks to such classic albums as “Sad Wings of Destiny,” “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance.” Known for their leather-and-studs wardrobe, dueling lead guitars and Halford’s operatic wail, Judas Priest is promoting its latest album, “Redeemer of Souls.” Released earlier this year, the album has garnered critical praise as a blazing return-to-form after mixed reviews of 2008’s double-disc concept album, “Nostradamus.” 8:10 p.m. Friday on the Black Stage. Read more (paywall) — Dave Glessner

Amon Amarth: Sweden’s Amon Amarth are consistent to a fault. They’re like the Viking death metal AC/DC, never wavering from their formula of big riffs and tales of the old gods. Their “You Shook Me All Night Long” might be “Death by Fire,” an anthemic ode to just how hot Austin gets. Also, they may bring a Viking ship out on stage. (4 p.m. Friday)

Communion: If you decide to not rock after midnight following Judas Priest on Friday, you have little excuse to not show up bright and early for local doom metal trio Communion. Highly influenced by the droney, twangy stylings of Earth, this will knock you out of your morning haze. Drummer Jeremy Jenkins and bassist Theron Rhoten were both in deceased doom heroes the Roller, and guitarist Dustin Anderson also swings in Sweat Lodge. (11:30 a.m. Saturday)

Deafheaven: SF/LA black metallers Deafheaven are still riding high on the success of last year’s “Sunbather,” a lush melding of bombastic black metal and shoegaze. It seems like they haven’t taken a day off, as this year they played Pitchfork, Basilica Soundscape, Govenors Ball, Bonnaroo and Sasquatch festivals, in addition to touring the States, Europe, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia. Adult Swim recently released “From The Kettle Onto the Coil,” a new single from the band that builds all the stengths of “Sunbather” into one song. (We featured Deafheaven before their Red 7 show in June.) (3:50 p.m. Sunday, also a FFF Nites show Friday at Elysium.)

Death From Above 1979: Last time Death From Above 1979 came to Austin, crowds pulled down a fence at Beauty Bar. Let’s hope we’re on better behavior this time. After a long hiatus, the Canadian dance-punk duo are back with “The Physical World,” which continues on the bass driven grooves laid down by their still-hot 2004 debut “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.” Despite not being a headliner, they may be the most buzzed-about band on the Black Stage that isn’t Priest or Diamond. (6:35 p.m. Friday)

Pallbearer: Along with Deafheaven, Pallbearer absolutely crushed Red 7 when they played here in June. Expectations were high for “Foundations of Burden,” their follow-up to 2012’s critically lauded “Sorrow and Extinction,” but they gloriously rose above them. The riffs are huger, the production is clearer, Bret Campbell’s voice soars even higher — this is Pallbearer Mach II. Believe the hype, become a zealot. (2 p.m. Friday, also a FFF Nites show Saturday at Elysium)

Pissed Jeans: These Allentown punks don’t want to take on the world — they’re doing enough taking on themselves. Their noise rock focuses on more ground-level issues like office politics and coming to terms with past personal misogyny. Frontman Matt Korvette doesn’t always want to bum you out, however, and you can expect some humorous stage banter when they perform. (2:45 p.m. Sunday)

Radkey: St. Jospeh, Mo.’s Radkey are the younger incarnation of Death — three black teen punks taking no prisoners. The Radke (get the name?) brothers — guitarist/vocalist Dee, bassist/vocalist Isaiah, and drummer Soloman — have all the classic influences of Hendrix, ’70s punk and Zeppelin, with that youthful energy that’s all but essential to rock n’ roll. You better be able to keep up with them, whether you’re their age or old enough to be their grandfathers. (12:20 p.m. Friday)

Sick of It All: Youtube the video for “Step Down.” That’s as good of a crash course on these NYC veterans as you’ll get. (6:30 p.m. Saturday, also a FFF Nites show Friday at Red 7)

— Andy O’Connor

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

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