From the speaker-blowing noise of Boris to Kindness' danceable tunes, FYF Fest had something for everyone. Some of our staff members took part in the festival at its new home, next door to the station at the Colosseum, 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 event.
Day one of FYF can be summarized shortly as “StressYF.” The lines to get in were almost unbearable and the lack of crowd control just made the wait worst. Day two however, made up for day one’s mistakes. FYF got it together and took great steps to fix their previous day's mistakes and everyone noticed.
The standout act for me for the weekend was Darkside, who are nearing the end of their touring days as a band “for now.” They solidified the temporary disbandment of their act by smashing this giant mirror utilized to create light effects for their set with a hammer at the end of their set, which was an amazing way to end a show. Darkside, I’ll miss you but I understand that you’re over... for now.
-Naomi Menezes, Promotions, Digital Decay
I am unashamedly a huge fan of Jessy Lanza. When I found out her set was at 2:30pm, the earliest of the day, I did all within my power to ensure that the dreaded FYF lines and Arena capacity limit didn’t prevent me from catching her set; I’ve never arrived to a music festival so early, but I’m glad I did. The KXSC Fest alum opened the disco-ball laden Arena with her early set, setting up the venue for an afternoon and night of danceable, bass-heavy sets. The basketball court-turned-dance floor provided an awkwardly large venue for the intimate and humble performance that Jessy was set to deliver, but was quickly remedied by the mass of bobbing heads and fans hailing the Hyperdub member. Her footwork-influenced introduction—perhaps a nod to the late DJ Rashad—reinforced her powerful beat-driven presence, soon to be joined by her ethereal high vocals.
Jessy’s status in the wave of female “future R&B” electronic musicians is hardly vanilla; her album from 2013, “Pull My Hair Back,” is a wave of glitchy bass-grumbling songs, with tingling, dissonant intros. As expected, she delivered nearly the entirety of the album, as well as her new single off of Hyperdub 10.2, “You and Me.” From the new-disco-esque “Keep Moving” to the slow-building “As If,” she kept the crowd warmed up and loose. With “5785021” (“you can call me when you’re on your phone/come on, call me”) I had to resist belting out something totally embarrassing (think “you can call me anytime you want, Jessy!”), not that other people weren’t. As her set came to her close, she looked up from her laptop screen—perhaps only the second or third time that afternoon—to shyly thank everyone for coming out so early. And I already started anticipating the next time I will get to see her again.
-Carrie Sun, Photographer, Sound Odyssey 2001
Despite the massive confusion and lack of organization involved in the Arena stage on day one I was able to battle security and massive crowds to get to the front for Todd Terje’s set. A process that involved over an hour wait and confusing conflicts with security, but as soon as Terje’s set began the crowd erupted in dance and all the issues of the day melted away.
The set built up beautifully as Terje made his way through tracks on It’s Album Time while mixing in the occasional disco classic. Terje kept the crowd moving the entire show before exploding into "Inspector Norse" at the end of his set an experience I can only equate to free falling through a rainbow cotton candy cloud. The set was like being transported to a silly tropical disco party.
-Will Burroughs, Assistant Music Director
Thundercat took me by surprise Sunday evening at the Lawn stage. He made his grand entry with a fox pelt on his head, but that was not the surprising part. He played on a six string bass, but that was not the surprising part either. The surprising part was witnessing such an amazing talent. It completely blew me away. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve listened to his albums. I thought I knew what to expect - some soulful and head-bobbing r&b grooves, and maybe a little free-form jazz thrown in there. I was surely unprepared.
Thundercat along with two other musicians, drummer Justin Brown and a keyboardist Dennis Hamm, tore it up on his six-string bass and tiny synth. He played songs from both of his Apocalypse-themed albums, most of which turned into full-blown jazz improv explosions. Free jazz fusion. His fingers were moving so fast I couldn’t even keep track of them. Not only that, but wow, the man has a voice. He went from crazy walls of sound to the softest, most harmonious melodies. I left his set dying to see the next Thundercat show. Few other artists in LA are quite as exciting and fresh as he is.
-Bianca Fragoso, Asst. Concerts Director
Navigating through a sea 5 panels towards the front of the crowd at FYF's Main Stage, the image of our lovable Canadian rock singer came into focus. The stage's vastness didn't seem to phase him and his band as they played favorites like "Still Together" and songs from his newest album Salad Days as comfortably and freely as ever. By freely I mean he also covered Bob Marley's "Jammin". What a little pisser. That's Mac for you though, and that's why we love him. Joking that Jennifer Anniston was back stage and sharing his experience watching Chef on the flight over, it was obvious that the limelight of the Main Stage in no way phased him.
Changing your performance for a larger stage doesn't have to be a bad thing, though. I danced, I sang and I laughed throughout the set, but the group's energy is notably better in a smaller setting, or at least for those in the front chunk of the crowd. As Mac continues to gain popularity and steal our hearts, I'm interested to see how he evolves as a performer. How will he balance increasingly larger events with his classic antics? In front of how many people is it acceptable to announce that your new 16 year old guitar player, Andy, is a virgin? Will Andy be a virgin the next time they perform? As with all things, only time will tell. Here's to you, Mac and Andy, and your futures ahead.
-Paige Schwimer, General Manager, Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements
Built To Spill
FYF marked the band's return to the general Los Angeles public, having only playing two nights sold out nights at the legendary Troubadour club in the past four years. Built to Spill went on at the Lawn stage slightly early around 7:00 on Sunday evening, to eager enthusiasm from their supporters. They wasted no time, quickly tuning and then launching into their set with the “Goin’ Against Your Mind.” The intricate guitar work that characterizes the bands was well represented in their opening performance. Led by singer/guitar player Doug Marsch, each of the three guitars was perfectly in synch with the others to craft a swooping, driving melody that perfectly accompanies singer Doug Marsch’s distinctive vocals over the punchy drums that move the song forward.
Although they did not work the crowd as diligently as other performers may have, their transcendent music stands far beyond the need for any kind of crowd pumping. After playing through several staples, Built to Spill began the somewhat more downtempo “Time Trap” as the sun set, casting an orange glow over the adjacent Natural History Museum. Although more laid back in tempo, this song did not lack for intensity as the guitarists launched into aggressive improvisational sections during the long instrumental stretches of the song interspersed among the more delicate sections that highlighted the bass work. During this section, the fans riding the rails gave way to enormous mosh pits and crowd surfing.
Built to Spill closed its set with the powerhouse back to back combo of “Carry the Zero” and “Car". "Carry the Zero's" powerful and climactic guitar chords in the final minute of the song were one of the highlights of the entire festival. “Car” closed out the set to great acclaim and some of the most questionable crowd surfing I’ve seen in a long time. As they walked offstage I found myself genuinely wishing that their set had been longer.
-Thomas Donovan, KXSC Intern
Photography by Liana Wertman