FYF started out very rocky, and I’m not talking about the genre of music. With general admission lines to get in lasting up to three hours, people not being able to get their hands on a Coke due to the festival’s “no high fructose corn syrup” policy, and the arena stage being held down by the fire marshal for over-capacity within five minutes of Chet Faker’s set, there were grumbles of distress and disappointment throughout. Chet Faker though said he knew that this was going to happen with his set: “I’ve gotten more tweets from people about this show than any other…Even when I’ve played festivals in Australia, where I’m from, I haven’t had this many people telling me they were gonna be there.” Real Estate encouraged fest goers to enjoy their set twice as much because those stuck in line outside couldn’t. The crowd control bugs were mostly fixed by day two with virtually no wait time to get into the festival; plus the organizers opened the upstairs of the L.A. Sports Arena so the stage’s capacity doubled making it so Darkside was the only band with a wait all day.
If you survived the lines to get into the arena on the first day you were treated to some serious fist pumping beats from Todd Terje. There were jokes about his set still vibrating the stage’s disco balls the next day. After Terje has the crowd screaming, Caribou silenced them with a hypnotic series of drum and bass beats that had hearts pumping. Four Tet swung the tempo back upwards, encouraging clapping and dancing as the synth synched up with the room’s laser lights.
While on Saturday Phoenix was having the final show of their tour and Thomas Mars was doing his signature move of singing from the crowd, Borris was tearing it up. Grimes closed out the lawn stage getting the crowd to move even more than her hype dancers on stage.
The Strokes headlined Sunday, but that didn’t stop Julian Casablancas and the Voidz as well as Albert Hammond Jr. each doing their own sets on Saturday. Hammond attracted more hardcore Strokes fans, and Casablancas got his own group of groupies, all of whom seemed to be there to wish him a happy birthday. The front row of the crowd had piles of birthday notes and posters and also rose into singing Happy Birthday to Casablancas during a lull between songs. No matter—Casablancas was very indifferent throughout his whole set, playing in dark moody lighting and complaining how the show was more for his record label than anyone else. Hammond, on the other hand, was all hot licks, and he and his band were vibrant through every song they played.
The highlights of Saturday featured Slowdive, whose presence was so moving it had a girl in the front row crying. Future Islands played on the biggest stage they have ever played in their three times performing at FYF. Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano looked somehow preppy and bad ass in her Kentucky Derby-esque hat as she danced with her tambourine. Avery Tare’s tongue stuck out consistently during his Slasher Flicks set. I introduced Chet Faker to Marnie the Dog, who, he was surprised to learn, had more Instagram followers than he did. The crowd went completely insane during Run The Jewels’ set.
The start of Sunday, now that everyone got in easily, was met with the difficult decision of whether to see Jessy Lanza, the beautiful and talented electronic musician and singer, fun rockers Twin Peaks or psych-pop multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner. It was hard to go wrong with any of them, but those hard choices continued throughout the day. Did you want to indulge in your punk side with the Bronx or enjoy the classic indie rock jammings of Built To Spill? Should you go with the intense garage rock of Murder City Devils or go into the dark and attempt to hide getting high as the chill electronic sounds of Darkside took you over? And there was rap prodigy Earl Sweatshirt tearing it up too.
Throughout the day, the rock stylings of bands like Joanna Gruesome and the Presidents Of The United States Of America seemed to be winning over the dancing shoes of many a fest goer. Especially when Presidents went into a high energy cover of Video Killed The Radio Star. Gruesome, big music fans themselves, were spotted dancing and singing around the festival to acts such as Mac DeMarco and the Strokes.
Before the Strokes, Haim announced not only how happy they were to be opening for the Strokes, but also that it was the last show in their album circuit and how thrilled they were to finish up their over year-long of tour in their hometown of L.A. Este Haim encouraged everyone to imagine being at one of the girls’ famed house parties. After which they went into an epic jam around their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well. HAIM weren’t the only L.A. natives jamming out. Thundercat got seriously funky with his giant electric bass. And Kelela added a little funk and soul to the fest with her unique brand of R&B pop.
Oh, as for those folks who couldn’t get their Cokes? There wasn’t much they could do. If you really wanted a super sugar fix the best place to go though was Bon Puf, the gourmet cotton candy stand, which featured mixed berry and mango chili cones and bags of spun sugar. Or there was Black Bean, an ice cream vendor that makes their cold treats with real coffee so eating a cup has the same caffeine as drinking a cup. The festival also featured a large number of vegan options, from Sage Organic’s Jackfruit Carnitas and Buffalo Cauliflower to Strictly Vegan’s Jamaican style curry tofu and jerk plant protein. Even Donut Friend made sure to serve exclusively vegan donuts. That’s right, your “Jimmy Eat Swirl” and “Bacon 182” were meat- and egg-free.
Overall FYF was a fun fest that lived up to its increasingly under wraps original name of “Fuck Yeah Fest.” (Meaning the name of this party is actually Fuck Yeah Fest Fest.) They do need to work on making sure there are not as many crowd control kinks next year. The food thing though, they’ve got that in the bag.
Photos by Jason Demetillo and Annie Lesser.