An oral history of Austin’s legendary Fun Fun Fun Fest
In a city famous for its festivals, only one brings together rock and hip hop, comedy, extreme sports, and a giant taco cannon for an annual extravaganza on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Named after a 1982 song by Austin band Big Boys, Fun Fun Fun Fest is the brainchild of legendary promoter Graham Williams and The Mohawk owner James Moody. For ten years, the festival has built a reputation on being, well, the most fun festival in Austin.
Since its inception in 2006, FFF has morphed from a one-day, single stage event at Waterloo Park to a three-day, multi-stage festival at Auditorium Shores that employs hundreds and relies on thousands more to make it a success. Its founders have gone on to create one of the most powerful event companies in Texas (Transmission Events) and a sought-after creative and marketing firm (Guerilla Suit).
Despite its devout fanbase and reputation for creating epic musical moments (RUN D.M.C.’s reunion in 2012; Glenn Danzig’s infamous meltdown in 2011, just to name a few), FFF faces an uncertain future. Faced with an ever-changing festival landscape and battles with the City of Austin over space and permitting, the festival’s founders say they aren’t sure what the future holds.
In honor of its 10-year anniversary, we sat down with the FFF team to pay homage to the festival that brought us, among so many things, the Jambulance (a Van Halen-themed ambulance) and a FFF logo made entirely of Luden’s Throat Drops. It’s a team comprised, mostly, of people who grew up in Austin, met in high school as fellow “music nerds” and have since gone on to become some of the most powerful people in Austin’s music scene. We sat down with Graham Williams, James Moody, Ian Orth, Bobby Garza, Bianca Flores, Max Gregor, Neil Maris, Antonio Bond and Alison Narro to discuss their favorite memories, the inspiration behind some of the festival’s famous ideas and all those little moments that draw 20,000 people together for a weekend of fun.