FRIDAY 8:35PM- KAMAIYAH
When Kamaiyah was interviewed for the 2017 XXL Freshman cover, she said she didn’t want to sound cocky, but she wasn’t surprised: “I knew I was going to get Freshman. I’m just so talented, you know?” That casual, honest confidence was vividly present onstage at FYF Friday night, when she took the stage. The Lawn stage can be a little tricky: in a larger space without any video screens, many artists get lost. Kamaiyah, though, was unmissable, even in a no-frills performance where the only real theatrical flair was a team of dancers dressed in T shirts. Rather than rely on an overpresent hype man or intrusive AV, Kamaiyah focused on the music and had the crowd wrapped around her finger - the party went all the way to the back. She’s said before that Missy Elliot is a major influence, and seeing both of them on the same day certainly felt like seeing a baton being passed. The effortless ability to control the stage, to grab attention, and to perform while seemingly not caring about anyone’s response was there for both of them, even at wildly different levels of elaborate theatrical production (Missy had video interludes featuring Pharrell; Kamaiyah was wearing a white T shirt and jeans). No matter how produced a set is, talent doesn’t lie.
ISABEL BERG, DJ
FRIDAY 10:10PM- ANDERSON PAAK
Anderson .Paak’s performance left me speechless. It was my second time seeing him perform, but I was still awestruck by his stage presence. He came out on stage wearing a cheetah print jacket and sunglasses, full of life and hyping up the crowd. Throughout his set, he was encouraging the audience to raise their hands and dance; the crowd would reciprocate his energy. He stopped and said, “Before we get this started, I need you to make as much noise as possible.”
The crowd was alive and dancing to the end of the setand of course singing along, especially during “Come Down”.
He would stop occasionally between performances and flirt to the crowd, shouting out- “How you feeling? Sexy? You look sexy” and “Shout out to all the women out there. We love you, the future is female.” His connection to the audience through these breaks between songs made the performance feel more authentic and made me feel connected to .Paak as well.
Throughout his performance, he only got more energetic, taking off his jacket and shades as he moved to drums; he played so hard that he was dripping in sweat. What’s so great about Anderson .Paak is that he defies the genre of hip hop by incorporating his own style to it, such as the piano, saxophone, and drum solos. I actually wrote down in my notes “Starts drumming and I cry.” I even remember turning to my friend and saying, “I feel like he’s seducing me,” because he was so charming as he vigorously drummed. My friend who was seeing him for the first time said, “It’s like jazz. I feel like I’m by the fireplace sipping wine.”
He continued his set with “This Season | Carry Me,” which he said is about his mom, following it with “Am I Wrong” which had the entire crowd was dancing and jumping, including myself. He finished it with a drum solo that went into “Lite Weight", an incredible transition. I can honestly say that his performance of “Am I Wrong” into “Lite Weight” was one of the best performances I’ve seen, because everyone, including Anderson himself, was grooving. He continued encouraging the audience throughout by saying things like, “Do we have anyone who knows how to sing in LA? I need all the good and bad signers to sing this.”
Throughout the entire show, he had a smile on his face. Feeling very grateful, Anderson told us that this was the largest audience he’s ever played for. I felt so honored to be a part of that audience.
“Los Angeles, we’ve been all over the world, it’s crazy. I miss you.”
SABINE BAJAKIAN, DJ
FRIDAY 11:15PM- MISSY ELLIOT
Missy Elliot told the audience that this was the first time she performed in ten years. While there were high expectations for her performance, they were all met; it was an incredible show that was fueled with nostalgia.
The crowd was full of people of all ages: new and old fans. As her hype man asked where the old Missy fans were, many cheered excitingly in response. It seemed like all the old Missy fans had stuck around after two decades, showing up to see her perform.
Before getting on stage, her hype men asked us if we were ready to party and lose control. This followed with Missy coming out of what seemed to be a giant box, clad in a hat that read “Queen” and a jacket covered in rhinestones. The crowd came alive and cheered for the Queen herself as she came out. Missy called out to the crowd, “I love y’all. Thank you for supporting me for two decades. And I want you all to know I was sick, and I said I’m not going to miss this show for nothing. Can I party with you?”
While she performed, images of her old music videos were projected on the screen behind her, making for a more nostalgic and feel good vibe throughout the audience. Some of the songs she performed include “Work It,” “Pass That Dutch,” and “WTF (Where They From).” The audience was singing along word for word to each track.
The audience got the most excited when they were asked, “Any freaks over here?” and “Get Ur Freak On” came on. She stopped in the middle of the song to say, “This ain’t how we do it. When we do this, we make sure everybody in the building jumps.” She then encouraged everyone to put their phones down and said she wouldn’t stop until she saw the entire crowd, front to back, jump. I greatly appreciated her asking the crowd to put their phones down and just jump, because so often at concerts, people often forget to put their phones down and enjoy the moment.
Missy’s performance was fully fledged with multiple outfit changes, an animated audience, throwback tracks, and female empowerment. She called out, “Where my ladies at?” and received a loud cheer from the audience. She even had special fans backstage, Beyoncé and Björk.
She’s a dreamer. She’s a trendsetter. She’s a visionary. And her performance was incredible.
SABINE BAJAKIAN, DJ
FRIDAY 12:20AM- FLYING LOTUS
I consider a concert to be a successful experience if the artist has been able to give the audience a glimpse into their world in some fraction of a way. With his set at FYF, Flying Lotus did not just give the audience a glimpse, but completely submerged us in his universe. As the audience started arriving at The Lawn, the stage was set with some sort of a tree-root-like altar. The altar was honestly fitting, because the next hour was filled with visual sorcery and music- with FlyLo casting the spells.
The 3D was awesome; I hope he continues to use it at his shows because it is a really cool part of the experience. Some of the best visuals included giant jellyfish and a Devastator from Star Wars. His performance was great; there was a lot of improvisation and he clearly was having a great time watching the audience react to the 3D for the first time. He played some of his popular songs, played off of Thundercat’s new album, followed by his remix of the Twin Peaks theme. While it sounds like it was a smorgasbord of tunes, each managed to exist as its own entity, yet fit in well with the rest of the set.
The performance was meant for the audience, but FlyLo never lost control of his vision for the night. Towards the end, he began shamelessly promoting his new film, Kuso, which if you haven’t heard of it, is a pretty bizarre and grotesque directed by Ellison that apparently led to a sizable walkout during Sundance this year. Before showing a preview from the film, he explained his fascination with “all the crazy monsters that are out there.” Evidently, these monsters include a mobile Jabba the Hutt with a vagina for a navel because that’s what started dancing on the stage during one of his songs.
Bizarre, trippy, terrifying, Flying Lotus’ set was one of my favorites of the whole weekend. It blows my mind that he played at KXSC Fest back in 2011. While watching the clip from Kuso was not a terribly enjoyable experience, and I can’t say that I have a strong desire to actually watch the film, I can say that the show would not have been true to FlyLo form if he hadn’t have shared it. A large part of Flying Lotus’s appeal and mystique is his constant efforts to challenge the concept of artistic canon and translate the reality in his head into something that all can conceive and consume. After this performance I am curious to see how he expands his shows from here, but maybe more so I’m curious about how much Jabba the Hutt got paid.
CARLY SABICER, DJ