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Fun Fun Fun Fest continues to defy boundaries, whatever those are

Peter Mongillo
Paint it Black on the Black Stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011.

Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers Graham Williams and James Moody are betting against dubstep. When it comes to booking their annual fest, now in its seventh year, the pair purposefully avoids the wildly popular genre of electronic dance music. “We could have sold a lot more tickets,” Williams said last month. “I guess Dillon Francis is debatable, but that’s really the only one on there. We could be totally wrong. In 10 years rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop could be irrelevant, and dubstep could be the main source of all music.”

Fun Fun Fun Fest, which happens this weekend at Auditorium Shores, has never really been about the main anything when it comes to its lineup. Sure, this year’s lineup does contain some hugely popular draws such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Santigold, but the festival’s reputation hinges more on its lack of any kind of focus. This year, reunited rap group Run-DMC will take the stage Friday as the big headliner; last year it was metal legends Slayer. “I still after seven years don’t think we know what it is yet,” Moody said. “It grows every year, but it’s still changing all the time and hard to figure out.”

“For us it’s about quality,” Williams said. “Next year it could be the Cure. Even though the stages are kind of genre specific, we definitely don’t limit ourselves on what we want the fest to be, because we don’t want it to be any one thing.”

This year’s shift from a focus on metal to hip hop isn’t new for the fest. In 2010, they brought in parody legend weird Al Yankovic.

“The Weird Al show was really great, because it really represented the spirit of the fest,” Moody said. “It was dad bringing kids, nerds everywhere. It was such a curveball and people were like ‘What are you guys doing?’”

This year’s lack of “any one thing” also includes a lineup that is pretty much all over the place: John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd., Austin post-rockers Explosions in the Sky, comedian David Cross, Houston rap veteran Bun B and garage rock band Japandroids. Still, even with some big names, FFF Fest, with last year’s attendance going above 15,000 a day, remains small, at least compared with the Austin City Limits Music Festival (and certainly South by Southwest), which brings in 75,000 a day. “That park is the right size park for us,” Williams said of Auditorium Shores. “I don’t foresee us getting much bigger; I don’t think it’s realistic to become an ACL or a Coachella.”

“I can see another Fun Fun in another market well before I can see a bigger Fun Fun in Austin,” Moody said.

Fun Fun Fun Fest