FFF Fest Founder announces Sound on Sound Fest coming this fall

sos2_smFun Fun Fun Fest founder Graham Williams, who left Transmission Events and FFF Fest to start his own company, Margin Walker presents last month, has announced plans for a new festival Sound on Sound Fest. Location, lineup and tickets will be announced on June 28, but the event has set dates: Nov. 4-6.

Graham Williams of Transmission on Thursday October 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Graham Williams of Transmission on Thursday October 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Williams’ departure from Transmission left the fate of FFF Fest, a celebration of rowdy punk and metal, hip-hop and cutting edge alt-rock that has a cult following among music nerds and adventurous listeners of all stripes, up in the air. But Williams reassured fans of FFF’s eclectic vibe that he had something in the works, a new festival that would be very similar, “almost exactly the same as” Fun Fun Fun Fest.

 » RELATED: 10 years of triple fun: An oral history of FFF Fest

Like FFF Fest, the new event is named after a song by Austin’s late punk funk kingpins, the Big Boys and the festival dates are set for the same weekend when FFF Fest traditionally took place.

When the shakeup at Transmission, which also included the departure of company co-founder James Moody, was revealed last month, Bobby Garza, who remained with the company as general manager, said we could expect an announcement about Fun Fun Fun Fest this June. On Thursday morning, there was no update about the festival’s status.

 

 

Look for Fun Fun Fun Fest announcement in June, promoters say

There was plenty to do and see at Fun Fun Fun Fest at Auditorium Shores on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2016.
There was plenty to do and see at Fun Fun Fun Fest at Auditorium Shores on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015.

After yesterday’s announcement that Graham Williams and James Moody have left Transmission Events, the fate of Fun Fun Fun Fest, the promotion company’s signature event, which turned 10 last year, has been unclear. Bobby Garza, who remains general manager for Transmission after the split, said today that we can expect an announcement about the festival in June.

Garza, who retained most of the Transmission production team in the reorganization, says it’s business as usual for his crew. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. He remains optimistic about the company’s future.

“I came to Transmission because I love the stuff Transmission does and I love the brand and I still think there’s promise with that,” he said. “We’ve grown not just on the booking side but also on the events side and I think we’ve professionalized that side of the business quite a bit as evidenced by doing things like Fader Fort this year. Those things are exciting to me and it’s definitely the space that I want to keep moving in.”

Beau Armstrong, CEO of Stratus Properties, the real estate company that now owns Transmission and Fun Fun Fun Fest, said his company remains committed to its entertainment ventures. “Stratus is in the hospitality business, and unique, Austin-focused live music events are an important component of our strategy,” he said. “The company generated $19.8 million in entertainment revenue in 2015. At ACL Live alone we hosted 210 events with an estimated attendance of 245,000 people. In addition, ACL Live sold 168,506 concert tickets during 2015.”

MORE FUN FUN FUN: THE FIRST 10 YEARS. The oral history

On Monday, Jason Maurer with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said the city and the Fun Fun Fun Fest “have been in communication.”

“At this time the festival is reviewing dates available (at Auditorium Shores), and has been in discussions as well with Long Center and Palmer about potential conflicts,” he said via email.

Last year Fun Fun Fun Fest put early bird tickets on sale in February. While it’s possible Transmission could announce details for the November event next month, it does seem late in the game to get a full-scale festival off the ground.

Tuesday morning, Williams’ new company Margin Walker Presents launched a website and set up shop on Instagram and Twitter. The company, billing itself as a “truly independent, boutique promotions, marketing and production agency,” has taken over all of Transmission Events club bookings in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas.

Williams said he also plans to work on festivals and expects to announce soon the first Margin Walker Presents-booked festival, an event he said will be “almost exactly the same as” Fun Fun Fun Fest. He said the new festival will debut this year.

Fun Fun Fun Fest founder Graham Williams launches new company; Future of FFF uncertain

TINA PHAN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN. 11/09/14. Concertgoers walk through the Fun Fun Fun Fest entrance on Riverside Drive on Sunday, November 9, 2014. With Auditorium Shores under construction, this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest occupies only part of the lakeside park, with the event grounds angling south into adjacent Butler Park.
TINA PHAN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN. 11/09/14. Concertgoers walk through the Fun Fun Fun Fest entrance on Riverside Drive on Sunday, November 9, 2014.

Graham Williams, who founded Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2006, has left Transmission Entertainment, the parent company that produces the festival. James Moody, another key player in Transmission and Fun Fun Fun Fest, has also left the company.

Williams, who began his career in Austin music at the downtown location of Emo’s in the 1990s, has founded a new company called Margin Walker Presents (named after a Fugazi song) focused on music promotions and booking. The business is launching with a crew of nine employees, roughly half the Transmission staff, who will move over.

Stratus Properties, a local real estate company whose holdings include the W Austin, the music venue ACL Live and a new smaller music venue 3Ten at ACL Live, now holds full ownership of Transmission Entertainment and Fun Fun Fun Festival. According to Williams, general manager, Bobby Garza will remain in place at the reorganized Transmission Events.

“I don’t think we always saw eye to eye,” Williams said of the split Monday night. “(Stratus) is a really big company. They build sky rises and we do live music. It was hard to understand both sides of that. They’re good people, just two different worlds.”

James Moody, left, and Graham Williams of Transmission photographed at their offices on Thursday October 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
James Moody, left, and Graham Williams of Transmission photographed at their offices on Thursday October 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Without Williams or Moody in the picture, the future of Fun Fun Fun Fest, which turned 10 last year, is up in the air. The festival, held at Auditorium Shores since 2011, has not announced a date or a location for 2016 and no tickets for this year’s event have been sold. The festival put early bird tickets on sale in mid-February last year for 2015.
On Monday, Jason Maurer with the Austin Parks Department said the city and the festival “have been in communication.”

“At this time the festival is reviewing dates available (at Auditorium Shores), and has been in discussions as well with Long Center and Palmer about potential conflicts,” he said via email.

Representatives from Stratus did not respond to a request for comment about the status of the festival on Monday.

Stratus and Transmission formed a partnership with Stratus taking an ownership stake in the events company in 2013. Last month, representatives from Stratus told the Statesman they had tapped a financial advisor to “explore a full range of strategic alternatives” for the company.

In addition to producing Fun Fun Fun Fest, Transmission Events runs a robust year-round concert promotion business, booking shows in venues all over town, notably the Mohawk, Barracuda (formerly Red 7) and Sidewinder (formerly Red Eyed Fly). Williams says his company will take over the bookings formerly handled by Transmission and will continue to work in their signature clubs.

Williams says he also plans to continue booking festivals and we can expect an announcement soon for the first Margin Walker Presents booked festival, a event he says will be very similar, “almost exactly the same as” Fun Fun Fun Fest. He says the new fest will debut this year.

“We’ve been doing what we do for a long time and we’re pretty good at it and people love it and they want us to continue doing it so there’s no reason not to,” he said.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to correct a misspelled name and a date.