Between the screaming of The Locust, funky vibes of Charles Bradley, and the unmatchable energy of KXSC Fest alum Dan Deacon, FYF Fest had something for everyone. Some of our staff members went for FYF's 10 year anniversary and wanted to share what they thought were the highlights of the festival. Below are reviews of their weekend favorites, as well as some pictures from the weekend.
FYFers got their first glimpse of Cox during The Breeders’ set, whose 21 and over crowd mostly filtered out when they ended with Fortunately Gone. Only a few ven diagramer fans delighting in Bradford Cox, clad in street clothes, aiding the Deal sisters with painfully modest vocals to Saints. Cox sauntered on stage right after sunset, cigarette in hand, clad in a snow leopard print dress and large black wig and no nonsense went into Microcastle openings.
The 45-minute set fluctuated between calm toe taping shoegazing to head bumbling jumps, criss crossing the years of their 5 year discography. It is still surprising how seemingly small Deerhunter’s popularity is after their sizable and 12 year catalog, with their relative successful throughout. Music Director Zach Nivens claims that Deerhunter is the best American live band playing today – which is easy enough to argue with – but has its merit when completely engaged from start to finish. They know the value of a great set, rarely losing sound for applause and dipping from album to album, tones changing from song to song, but folding into one another with a learned ease.
It is apparent that both Cox and Locket Pundt have both matured with their solo careers (Atlas Sound and Lotus Plaza), both as musicians and bandmates – an added cohesiveness that was less apparent in past performances and recordings. Most audibly during a 10 minute Nothing Every Happened, with Cox and Pundt switching and playing off one another before falling into three final Menomania songs, ending with its title track – audience screaming along.
-Anya Lehr, General Manager
When it comes to punk rock, many acts just don’t know when to quit. I often forgo seeing my favorite bands so as not to spoil the images of the youthful and imposing individuals whom I hear in the recordings blasting through my speakers. I like to imagine that the musicians—like the recordings themselves—are frozen in time, exempt from the physical and mental decay we call aging.
As the air finally clears after a raucous set by Thee Oh Sees, a group of older men take the stage. They look as if they have spent their entire lives by our side in the pit. Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, and Bill Stevenson were all once members of the iconic hardcore band Black Flag. The only foreign member is Stephen Egerton who earned his chops playing with the Descendants and All. These are the guys who brought us punk classics such as “Nervous Breakdown” and “My War”, but all I can think about is what Keith does with the dreads that are slowly detaching from his balding head. I look around and realize that my company in the pit has shifted to match the demographic of the men before us on stage (50 year old dudes, but intimidating none the less). Some younger kids have also stuck around to see what all the buzz is about. I overhear one who claims that this is the real Black Flag and that Greg Ginn is a fraud (Greg founded Black Flag in 1976, and if either one of the reincarnations of Black Flag can be considered the “real” one then it’s his).
Despite my observations, I am optimistic. The music starts. The crowd rushes towards the stage, and I find myself pinned against the metal barricade. The pit erupts into a frenzy of flying bodies. We are engulfed by a cloud of dirt that rises up from the ground, churned to life by seldom steady feet. The characters on stage disappear behind the veil of dust, and we’re left with just the music, fast, loud, and familiar. I find myself belting out the lyrics to “No Values” alongside some guy who could probably be my dad. In this moment, I have more in common with this guy than I could have ever imagined. We are both there for the music, and whether it’s coming from some snotty teenagers or a couple washed up old dudes, we like it just as well. And hell, he’d probably even seen them in their heyday.
Then I got kicked in the face and decided to step out.
-Sam Hill, Punk Director
While I was waiting for MGMT to start I really wasn’t expecting much. To me, MGMT was the band that you could not get away from my freshman year of high school. “Electric Feel” was the overplayed song that the 30-year-old school lifeguard that still partied with students blasted every swim team practice. To be honest, I was only there because My Bloody Valentine came on afterwards, and one of my friends convinced me that MGMT would be a fun show.
Thank goodness I was easily persuaded to stay. MGMT ended up being the best show of the weekend, and even lead me to pull out their old CD from the dusty depths of my CD briefcase. This was great, but their music had another amazing dimension added to it when performed live. On top of this, the bands visuals were the best I’ve seen in my life. The psychedelic animation included flying hot dogs and bacon in fluffy clouds, a crawfish headed man with eye nipples, 3D undulating sine graphs, and a scene reminiscent of Mario Cart’s Rainbow Road.
Of course, MGMT played a fair amount off of their newer album, but they made sure to play all their old hits like “Kids” and “Time To Pretend”. The highlight of the show, however, was not the visuals or the now nostalgic sound of songs I abused as an eighth grader, but Henry Winkler coming out to play the giant cowbell reading “BE AWARE” to “Your Life Is A Lie”. Struggling at first to play at the right time, I felt like a proud mother when he finally got it the last half of the song.
-Paige Schwimer, Publications
My Bloody Valentine
“OK guys, let’s remember, we’re here for the guitars.” I said in the insufferable music-nerd cadence I’ve been honing ever since I first listened to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. “I’ve seen the band twice before – don’t expect to hear any vocals or synth lines.” The KXSC staffers gathered around me maintained a thousand-yard stare directed at the rest of the crowd. What did they do in a past life to deserve this? Is there anywhere else they can stand? Am I going to talk through the entire show about how much I’m loving the show?
Fortunately for my companions, I was rendered speechless for the vast majority of MBV’s headlining set on Sunday evening. The sound pouring out into LA Historic State Park was far more focused and balanced than I’ve come to expect from the band, with Bilinda Butcher’s cooing vocals snuggled up comfortably against the howl of Kevin Shields’s pedal board. The guitars may have been the stars of the show, but the surrounding puzzle pieces are integral to what makes My Bloody Valentine so affecting.
Of course, there’s also the volume to consider. As you might have heard, MBV likes to play loud. It’s a particular brand of loudness – the kind that disorients your defenses so it can muscle its way into your soul. It draws out your pride and fear equally – your confidence and insecurity, your successes and failures - and lets them swirl in the cool night air with everyone else’s confusion. Our hearts don’t listen to reason, but they sense a kindred spirit in the relentless thump of “Soon” at 120 decibels.
The set was not without its share of disappointments, most notably prevailing sound issues that eventually led to a five-minute break approximately halfway through the performance. The complications threw a wrench into the band’s planned setlist, which might explain the disappointing exclusion of “To Here Knows When” (the footage linked, a live recording from Fuji Rock 2008, is my nomination for Best Video on Youtube). Nevertheless, Kevin and the gang still managed to burn through an impressive swath of material covering the entire oeuvre, from the mosh-inducing roar of “You Never Should” to a particularly heady rendition ofmbv highlight “New You”.
As I held my friends close during the infamous “Holocaust section,” where the guitars take on the character of jet engines and Colm Ó Cíosóig’s cymbals transform themselves into pure shimmering energy, it became impossible to linger on the false starts and the PA blowouts. Like our feelings, MBV can be frustrating in their unpredictability; yet we’d be unable to truly appreciate our fleeting moments of joy and stability if we never felt pain or confusion. This music has always excelled at delivering a simulacrum of our emotional experience, but at FYF it actually dragged us through the gauntlet of those emotions and spat us out on the other side, as uncertain as ever but far more optimistic.
-Zach Nivens, Music Director