Earlier this month we spent many hours hanging out with ten key players from the Fun Fun Fun Fest crew to build a comprehensive history of the quintessential Austin festival which turns ten this year. That’s coming soon, but we’re going to roll out a few choice anecdotes from the event here, starting with the day Danzig brought the doom (and by doom we mean epic diva style onstage meltdown). Fun Fun Fun Fest kicks off Friday at Auditorium Shores.
This story is told by
Bianca Flores: Marketing manager, began volunteering for the festival in 2010.
Max Gregor: Director of production, started as a stage manager in 2006.
Rosa Madriz: Director, talent buying operations for Transmission Events since 2007.
Alison Narro: Director of photography for Fun Fun Fun Fest beginning in 2008.
Graham Williams: Partner in Transmission Events, founded Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2006.
On the first day of the 2011 festival, Glenn Danzig was booked to close out the black stage with a set of material from his early bands the Misfits and Samhain. The set went disastrously wrong — Danzig went on an hour late, railed against the festival and unsuccessfully attempted to start a riot — but ironically, his epic meltdown emerged as an iconic moment that would define the fest’s offbeat appeal.
Rosa Madriz: Right from when (Glenn Danzig) landed, which was pretty early, one of my drivers was like, “He’s being difficult already … he’s talking about not wanting to play. This should get passed along.” It was like, before noon and he was sick, saying it was too cold. It was like 70 degrees. It’s lovely weather.
And then I got another message from my driver and he was like, “He really needs this chicken sandwich from Wendy’s and French onion soup.” And I was like, “OK, if that’s what he needs to feel good about playing, we will get that for him.” I sent a runner to go do it. I was like, “Top priority. Drop what you’re doing. Go get this.”
(It’s) really difficult to get fresh French onion soup during whatever time I sent him. No restaurants had it. They were like, “Oh, we’ll have it at dinner,” and I sent him like everywhere. I think he ended up finally finding it at TGIFridays or something. Brought it back to him he ate it. Then he needed us to go to GNC and get some supplements.
Later, Danzig was hungry again.
Bianca Flores: (Stage manager) Timmy (Hefner) told me to go pick someone up in the golf cart. So it was him. He wouldn’t sit in the front with me, so he sat in the back. I was like, “OK, rude.” … We go as far as catering and they were already done with food at that time because it was right before he went on and dude’s like upset with me and I was like, “Oh, I’ll figure something out.” Well, the thing is, I got him hot dogs at Frank. I was like, “This is the headliner, let’s get him some hot dogs.” He got hot dogs. He sat in the front with me. He was nice. Then I took him back to the stage and that’s when the whole thing happened. Right after.
Max Gregor: So the person that was actually in front of Danzig dealing with all those crazy requests was me. So I was like in his green room. … I was kneeling on the ground while he was telling me about how he was going to catch a cold because the wind was going to hit his chest that was in a mesh shirt and that he was going to tell people to riot because we didn’t have wind walls. While his giant security guard was towering like 7 feet above me. I was like, “What this person is telling me is absolutely ridiculous and not founded in reality,” but there’s not much I can do other than be very respectful because this guy looks like he really wants to hurt me if I tell him anything that is on my mind.
Alison Narro: He wanted heaters (to follow him) from his trailer to his stage. They showed up and he was like, “He cannot be seen from any angle except the front.”
Williams finally convinced Danzig to go on stage almost an hour late. When the festival was forced to cut him off at 10 p.m., only 20 minutes into his set, he had a fit and tried to convince the crowd to riot.
Alison Narro: They start ripping the scrim and breaking branches and throwing stuff. We’re done (for the night) at this point, then I get a radio from Max … I haul ass in the golf cart and had to photograph all this stuff they had destroyed.
Williams made the rare move of publicly calling Danzig out online. “Hi. I book the fest. Those that are hating could NOT be more wrong,” he wrote on the fest’s Facebook page. “Yes, someone has your money and ripped you off. His name is Glenn. Stop by his house in LA with some kitty litter in trade for your refund, but we still had to pay him and he didn’t deserve it after what he pulled.”
Graham Williams: We normally wouldn’t have addressed something like that but he had done so much damage to us onstage.
The festival emerged from the event triumphantly.
Graham Williams: Throughout the weekend people were making their own shirts which were Danzig jokes. And Ted Leo did a secret set of Danzig covers where he came out dressed as Danzig because apparently he has a Misfits tribute band … and they happened to all be in town. So they got on stage and did their Misfits set at the end as a joke. Anything like that which could have been bad turned into a positive. I feel like that fest, that year we were able to plant our flag in the park and say, “Ok we made it to the next step up. We were able to do this.”
But Gregor struggled with the experience personally for some time.
Max Gregor: There was this artist that I completely admire — holy (expletive) the Misfits “Static Age”—who knows what I wouldn’t have gotten into if I didn’t get into that extremely important punk rock record…So having that experience one on one…I was just immediately like, this guy sucks, this guy is not a cool dude.
(It) was both like a learning experience and also just an exercise in separating the art and the artist, because after that whole experience I kind of had to go through the period of “I can’t listen to the Misfits or Danzig”… Gradually, I was like, “You know what, I’m not going to let him win. I’m still going to listen to his music and enjoy it even though he’s a horrible person.”
Note: There are no photos of the man who refused to be seen from any direction but front and center. You will have to picture him eating French onion soup and hot dogs while wearing a mesh shirt in your head.