Many of Austin’s festival lovers were disappointed last year when Fun Fun Fun Fest founder Graham Williams left Transmission Events, the company behind FFF Fest’s production. Williams was not only one of the founders of the festival — a staple of Austin’s festival scene — but instrumental in booking acts for the event as well, so the future of Fun Fun Fun Fest without Williams was uncertain.
However, earlier this year, Williams announced that his new booking outfit, Margin Walker, would be producing the Sound on Sound Fest, a new music festival to take the place of Fun Fun Fun Fest.
“Naturally, there are a lot of similarities,” says Williams. “I founded and then we booked and produced Fun Fun Fun Fest for a decade, so it’s going to be coming from the same minds behind FFF Fest. A lot of that spirit is still there. That said, this event is very different as a whole.”
One of the major differences for Sound on Sound Fest is that it’s going to take place at Sherwood Forest outside of Austin, home of the annual Sherwood Forest Faire. The site is populated with a castle, jousting arenas, sword-fighting areas and more, and is a very different atmosphere than FFF Fest’s previous Auditorium Shores’ location. There’s also going to be on-site camping, meaning attendees can stay the whole weekend without traveling back and forth and gives the festival producers the opportunity to have late-night activities that were previously restricted by an urban setting.
“There was a lot of discussion regarding how you make a festival not just another festival,” Williams said about the new location. “They’re often pretty cookie cutter in their lineup, but even original bills still fall into the same trappings. Doing it in a Ren Faire that is being rented out for the event is completely changing the look and feel. Instead of ‘bands in a field on stages,’ [we’ll have] bands and fans in a crazy experiential spot that is wild and fun. It’s in a forest and every building is an old structure from the mead halls to the vendor booths. You won’t see as many plain white tents everywhere.”
As far as the music represented in the festival, Williams was very conscientious of whom he booked.
“We’re a local event and I’m booking a show for Austin and for Texas,” he said. “We have a lot of people that travel for it, so we want it to feel big and international, but also represent Texas artists. Margin Walker books shows year round in venues all over Texas, so we work with a lot of great acts from around here. We have about 20+ local and Texas bands, not including the local comedians and speakers on ‘the globe’ stage, which is all non-musical acts. Musically, we want it to be diverse, but not a kitchen sink model. I hate festivals that have that weird setup where they have a random reggae act and two punk bands and four alt rock bands and one hip hop act. Nobody wants to pay top dollar for a festival ticket to see one band they like. I think it has to be a good amount of acts from each scene. Diverse, but not 50 bands that have nothing in common. I also think that diverse bills need a common thread running through them, as well. For example, at Sound on Sound, there are hip hop acts, indie bands, electronic acts, and garage and punk bands that share record labels and band members. There is a big cross over in independent music that isn’t as obvious from the outside, but does work well under the same roof.”
Fans can expect music from local artists like Magna Carda, American Sharks, Calliope Musicals, Explosions in the Sky and Moving Panoramas, among others. But there are also bigger names like Beach House, Run the Jewels, Mac DeMarco, Courtney Barnett, Big Boi, Thee Oh Sees, Phantogram, Purity Ring, Young Thug and Pussy Riot. As an outdoor event in the middle of a forest, Sound on Sound also has late night programming specifically for those camping. There’s the SOS Knights Comedy Club showcase each night from 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. with sets by comedians and additional music. There are also nightly DJ sets from 12:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. and additional performances from local bands.
It’s hard to say if Sound on Sound Fest will turn out to be as popular as Fun Fun Fun fest, which had ten strong years, but its first year certainly seems like it’s going to be a good one. For one thing, its venue and setup make it stand out among Austin’s other musical offerings.
Sound on Sound Festival will be held Nov. 4-6 at Sherwood Forest Faire, approximately 40 miles outside of Austin. General Admission passes start at $85 for one day, and $169 for the full festival. There’s also a $445 VIP “Treat Thy Self” package available. Camping access starts at $75 and tents and sleeping cots are available to rent if you don’t already have your own. There is also RV access at the park. Shuttles will be available for $5 from downtown Austin. For the full lineup, additional information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.soundonsoundfest.com/.