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Austin embraces Fun Fun Fun

Peter Mongillo
Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl (D.M.C.) McDaniels of Run D.M.C. perform on the Orange stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Fun Fun Fun Fest cemented its status as one of Austin’s most popular events over the weekend as large crowds filled the three-day music festival at Auditorium Shores. For the festival’s second year at the downtown park and seventh overall, concert-goers enjoyed mostly clear skies and warm temperatures as well as high-profile acts, including John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd., Swedish hardcore band Refused, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and DJ act Girl Talk.

One of the most talked-about sets, and the one most touted by the festival, was from reunited rap pioneers Run-DMC, who performed in the closing slot Friday night. One of the largest crowds of the weekend gathered to see Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels perform their well-known material, including the huge hit “Walk This Way.”

The group, performing for only the second time in 13 years, was without DJ Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, who was killed in 2002. Two of Mizzel’s sons, DJ Jam Master J’son and DJ DasMatic, took their father’s place. During the set, Simmons said that Mizzel’s death led to the group’s disbanding and that they had invited Mizzel’s sons so “they could bring Jay’s spirit with them.”

Festival-goers got to hear more of the group’s music Saturday afternoon when McDaniels returned with his solo act, which includes a live rock band and a DJ.

“The story of the fest is different depending on who you talk to,” festival producer James Moody said Sunday. “A lot of young kids were blown away by the Head and the Heart and Girl Talk. The Black Stage never had as big of a crowd as it did for Refused.”

Although exact numbers weren’t available, Moody said attendance was up about 15 percent from last year, when around 15,000 people attended each day.

In addition to more people, another difference from last year was less dust. Some was kicked up each day, but thicker grass in most of the park helped prevent it from being like last year, when a cloud had many in attendance wearing bandanas on their faces.

Festival organizers Transmission Events again offered “Fun Fun Fun Nites,” a series of aftershows included in the fest ticket price. On Saturday night, Red River Street felt like a smaller-scale South by Southwest, with dense crowds filing into the Mohawk, Beerland and Red 7, among other clubs.

In addition to music, a skate ramp and a taco cannon, several popular comedians, including Wyatt Cenac (“The Daily Show”) and Jon Benjamin performed during the festival. One of the biggest crowds of the weekend jammed into the small comedy tent for David Cross, known to many for his comedy show “Mr. Show” and his role on sitcom “Arrested Development.”

During his performance, Cross, who lives in New York, talked about Hurricane Sandy. He also joked about the festival’s music lineup. “Half the people playing here are in their 40s and 50s,” he said.

Despite the numerous travel delays caused by the hurricane that struck the East Coast earlier in the week, only a few artists canceled their appearances. Among them was rap legend Rakim, who was scheduled to perform as a makeup after missing his appearance last year. Omar Rodriguez Lopez of the Mars Volta and At the Drive-In, who wasn’t able to make his Friday set, took Rakim’s place Sunday.

Deborah Sengupta-Stith and Eric Pulsifer contributed to this report.

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