Hark ye! What thunderous calamity ariseth from yonder hilltop?
Dreamy indie faves Beach House, dance rock outfit Phantogram and Austin’s own cinematic post-rock kingpins Explosions in the Sky are set to headline the inaugural SOS Fest in a spot out by Elgin where Central Texas Renaissance Festival enthusiasts go to rock voluminously plumed hats and ruffled blouses and talk in bad British accents.
Also making the journey 30 miles east of Austin (and 400 years back in time) for the fest are rappers Run the Jewels, Young Thug, Big Boi, Wale and Aesop Rock. Electronica duo Purity Ring, Australian rocker Courtney Barnett and ’90s rockers Guided by Voices will perform alongside seminal punk rockers the Descendants, the Dead Milkmen and supergroup FLAG. Bob Mould, Mac DeMarco, FIDLAR, Cursive, Denzel Curry, A-Trak and Charles Bradley are also on the bill.
And continuing a Shakespearean tale of unrequited passion and betrayal that dates back to 2013, thrash rap outfit Death Grips is (allegedly) bound for the forest.
Local artists Magna Carda, Moving Panoramas, Anya, Night Drive, Hard Proof and American Sharks round out a bill that includes roughly 85 artists, making it similar in scope to Fun Fun Fun Fest.
The $169 tickets to the festival and $115 on-site camping passes are on sale now. (Service fees and shipping add roughly $30 to those prices.)
Carrying forward a vision honed in 10 years working on FFF Fest, Graham Williams and the Fun House crew aim to create a festival that’s more than “just a show with some stages.”
“There’s a castle. There’s a (expletive) jousting arena. It’s insane,” Williams said on Monday afternoon. “Getting to see Run the Jewels play in a place with a castle and a giant dragon and where you can throw rotten vegetables at people in stockades, that kind of thing.”
The move out to the country puts the new festival in stark contrast with Fun Fun Fun Fest, an event Williams built to be a city center festival, “something you can ride your bike to.“
“There’s a lot of challenges being a city event, especially being one that books kind of edgy music that some folks don’t like,” he said. “There was always a lot of push back when we were doing things downtown — neighborhood associations, City Council people. A constant push back to make sure it never happened again. And every year we would win some fights to get to do it. … At some point there was a discussion of, “Are we fighting it just to fight it? Do we need to find a location that’s not in the middle of Downtown Austin?'”
With the move to the country we can expect later gate times and later nights with additional programming in the campground. “There’s a lot of magic that happens after sunset at a lot of festivals, and we’ve been sort of missing that (in Austin),” he said.
Instead of having the standard festival layout in a field with tents, SOS will take advantage of the “old-timey booths” and buildings of the structured village at Sherwood Forest Faire. Festival vendors will set up in the property’s pubs, restaurants, shops and stages.
SOS Fest will keep the three music stage format, although organizers might depart from the color-coded genre delineation that Fun Fun Fun Fest employs. “The way it’s set up it might flow a little more,” Williams said. “You might watch a hip-hop group and then a punk band play after.”
Still to be announced is the lineup for the “Yellow stage” area which will house comedy, spoken word and panel discussions. The skate and BMX ramp and Anarchy Championship Wrestling will also have a presence at the new festival.
The festival crew is currently plotting more Medieval themed activities that will be announced over the next few weeks. (We’re pulling for Scottish country games, because surely this event should include tattooed dudes in kilts tossing cabers.)
Williams said he intends to book a downtown club component to the festival including a massive kick off party on Thursday night. The festival is also currently working on a transportation plan and they hope to have shuttles dropping off and picking up fest-goers at multiple Austin locations. In what seems like a lofty promise, Williams said “shuttles are going to be running every 10 minutes.”
Overall, Williams said the transition from working on a decade-old festival to booking a new event was surprisingly smooth. “I’ve got to give the credit to all the booking agents and bands I’ve worked with over the years,” he said. “There was just a lot of trust there.”
Trust is earned. Williams has a long track record as one of the most solid and innovative bookers in the state and right now he’s inspired. “It’s exciting doing something new and having a lot of freedom to do something fresh,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s fun again.”
In May, Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers said there would be an announcement about their 2016 event in June. On Tuesday, Transmission Events general manager Bobby Garza said he would have information about FFF 2016 later this week.
SOUND ON SOUND FEST – 2016 MUSIC LINEUP
Explosions In The Sky
Run The Jewels
Guided By Voices
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
The Dead Milkmen
Youth Of Today
Thee Oh Sees
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Girls Against Boys
Car Seat Headrest
Shannon and the Clams
Kero Kero Bonito
Old Man Gloom
Into It. Over It.
The Relationship (Feat. Brian Bell of Weezer)
Planes Mistaken For Stars
War On Women
Open Mike Eagle
Leopold and His Fiction