2015 FYF Fest Highlights

GIRLPOOL                                                                                                                                   Kicking off day 2 of FYF, Girlpool played one of their biggest shows yet. Normally confined to the LA indie circuit, Harmony and Cleo took the lawn stage and performed to an uncharacteristically large crowd. Everything else about the show, however, was exactly what Girlpool fans have come to expect: the subtly intense soundscape, honest lyrics, and minimalist chords. The duo transported the audience back to the small venue aesthetic and everyone was dancing, singing along, and throwing back the positive vibes. The feel-good attitude of the Girlpool set reverberated throughout FYF this year, where despite the heat, the crowds were cordial (but certainly not sterile) and it was clear that everyone was there to have a good time. Girlpool’s mellow set contrasted with the otherwise high-energy and eclectic lineup FYF is starting to define itself as - but the unshakeable indie atmosphere won’t be going away anytime soon.


Run the Jewels played their third consecutive show at FYF this year as part of their Jewel Runner tour and ladies and gentleman this performance shows how far they have climbed in the last few years. It was raucous, aggressive, and an in-your-face no-holds-barred absolute celebration of brashness without remorse. No soul was spared from the combined lyrical and musical domination these two rapper bring to the table.

The show began to "We Are The Champions" with El-P and Killer Mike walking out to its conclusion, setting the bar high from the start and it only rising it from there. The stage was permanently bathed in their iconic crimson and the lights themselves seemed to imbue the crowd with a certain anarchistic bloodlust. It was not a set for the weak of heart by any means. 

Listening to the set live reminds you of where their music is probably intended to be played: a riot. The political and social undertones are brought to the forefront as the entire crowd chanted alongside Killer Mike during "Close Your Eyes" while he rapped out against police brutality. Bodies were flying and nobody was safe from either of these rappers vitriolic lyricism.

RTJ has made it clear where they belong, on top.


The sun sweltered as sweat beads dropped down the foreheads of hundreds of impatient festival-goers eagerly awaiting an act from the indie music scene’s favorite goofball: Mac Demarco. Gaining serious attention worldwide after the release of his 2014 LP Salad Days, Mac Demarco has been characterized by his shocking yet refreshing level of transparency and interaction with his fan-base. Whether it’s performing a U2 cover naked with drumsticks up his backside, or giving his address out on his most recent album and inviting fans over for coffee, Mac seems like that goofy idiosyncratic friend we all have or wish we had, which creates another sphere of authenticity that encircles his music.

So it should come as no surprise that while almost every other act at FYF waited until their scheduled time or later to go up on stage, Mac showed up on stage 15 minutes early, sporting a Kurt Cobain tee which had the quote “I hate myself and I want to die” printed on the back. He kicked things off with The Way You’d Love Her, the introductory cut from his most recent mini-LP, Another One. However, it wasn’t until the second song in his act, Salad Days, that the crowd truly lost itself in a mosh-groove hybrid, where crowd-surfing and shoving became even more prominent as everyone la-la-la’d along with Mac. The sight was one truly to behold, and it felt a hell of a lot better being able to sing along with a crowd who was just as attached to the song as I was rather than in my car alone on the way to work.  

As the show went on, it became mildly apparent that the festival coordinator, Sean Carlson, had aptly timed Demarco’s set to go with the sun setting and the moon rising, which accentuated the mood of Mac’s performance even more. After ending his set with Chamber of Reflection and Still Together, Mac thanked the crowd for “hanging out with him” and promptly left the stage.  A beautiful set performed on the start of a beautiful night, Demarco’s set was the one that affected me the most when it came to the next morning’s dose of post-concert depression. If anyone reading this gets the opportunity to see him live, pay the ticket fare and thank me later.


See La Femme if you want to raise your vibration. Their offering of rhythms and tones was one of my favorite collections of rhythms and tones presented at FYF. People were dancing, the songs were fun, and most importantly, it seemed to transport the audience to another place. The set started off nicely with a light, floating tune in a major key that ended up becoming slightly repetitive; the second song had a similar effect. But La Femme seems to be most popular when they perform high-energy songs in a minor key that take the listener to a very french, psychedelic, and groovy headspace. The third song fit in with the aforementioned theme, and the crowd loved it. From that moment on, they induced a danceable trance and made it very easy for listeners to be in the moment, and to experience great joy and playful vibes. What more can you ask for?


FYF saved the best act for last. FKA Twigs, aka British electronic R&B musician and dancer Tahliah Barnett, performed during the last time slot (from 11:30pm to 12:30am) on Sunday, August 23—the day before classes started at USC. (As a result, I totally gave up on trying to look cute for the first day of classes, but let me be clear: it was totally worth it.) This was honestly one of the best live shows I’ve seen. I mean, see for yourself! 

FKA Twigs has been on my “musicians to see live” concert list for a couple of years now. I’ve been obsessed with her ever since she released her first EP, interestingly called “EP2”. She recently came out with an EP called “M3LL155X,” so FYF was a great place for her to debut these songs in LA. Luckily I made it to the front and had a great view of the dancing and choreography, which are huge parts of her live show. Usually at FYF, fest-goers choose to not use their phones and just enjoy the show, but pretty much everyone made an exception and took videos of FKA Twigs and her incredible dancing—myself included.

And I’m glad I did! This was honestly one of the best live shows I’ve seen. Tahliah has been dancing her whole life (the name Twigs refers to how loudly her bones would crack while dancing…first grand plié on a Saturday morning ballet class, I feel you, girl), and this was definitely evident in her performance. Her choreography included voguing, tutting, and lifts with several back up dancers supporting her. She was constantly seducing the crowd with her sultry dance moves and ethereal vocals. There were even contortionists! I felt like I was watching a show in Vegas.



Waiting in The Arena for Bad Bad Not Good to take the stage, I turned to my friend and wondered aloud, “Do you think they’ll bring out their friend to play sax with them? Probably not. They came all the way from Canada; they wouldn’t bring him out here for only a few songs. Either way, I’m excited.” Little did I know that my very wish would soon come true.

The three Canadian lads took the stage, full of energy. The crowd didn’t seem to return it at first, but everyone slowly began to vibe with this jazzy trio. Just as the energy in the room was coming to a climax Alexander Sowinski, the front man on drums, took the mike to announce that their dear friend Leland Whitty, all the way from Canada, would be JOINING THEM ON THE TENOR SAX. What. I couldn’t believe it. And oh MAN was it unbelievable. They started with “Confessions”, the track Whitty is featured on on their first non-cover album III, and just jammed on it for who knows how long. I don’t mean this in that it was too long. Every moment was perfect.

At one point Sowinski shouts out to Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and Kamasi Washington (and possibly others but he was shouting music others so it was hard to say), all of which artists who are reviving the Los Angeles Jazz scene through a fusion of jazz and hip-hop. After this Sowinski calls on the room to get excited, to yell, to jump. The energy levels are through the roof and then… they go into the strangest, most dissonant, “noise” like stuff I’ve ever heard from them. I found it funny that they got the crowd so hyped for this, but everybody really seemed into it. It was truly amazing, and I was so happy that this is what the crowd wanted to hear.


Philadelphia four-piece Hop Along truly brought the flame and the fury to FYF 2015. They were stuck with a fairly pedestrian set time of 3:20, which meant on that sweltering Sunday the sun was beating down furiously on the Trees Stage, east of the Arena. After a hurried dash over from the Lawn stage after Girlpool’s opening set to secure a good spot, I watched Frances Quinlan and her band tear it down. Wielding a fierce-looking, olive-green angular electric guitar, Quinlan’s trademark raspy yowl fought across complex lyrics and energetic melodies, and the crowd responded with huge enthusiasm.

Playing a mix of tunes from Hop Along’s debut album Get Disowned and their more recent critically acclaimed sophomore LP Painted Shut, Quinlan displayed her insane musical prowess almost effortlessly in the heat. Guitarist Joe Reinhart sprinkled sardonic banter throughout the set, adding some needed uplift to the heavy, heartbreaking tunes they played. “Waitress” and “Tibetan Pop Stars” received the biggest responses from the crowd, with audience members yelping along to Quinlan’s weighty warble. The band played with an intensity and fierceness that probably made the festival organizers reconsider giving them such an early slot— but if the world is a just place, these guys will be headliners soon enough.






'); $(function(){ $(window).scroll(function(){ if (!isScrolledIntoView("#header")) { $("#header-placeholder").addClass("sticky"); $("#subHeader").addClass("sticky"); } else { $("#header-placeholder").removeClass("sticky"); $("#subHeader").removeClass("sticky"); } }); }); function isScrolledIntoView(elem) { var docViewTop = $(window).scrollTop(); var docViewBottom = docViewTop + $(window).height(); var elemTop = $(elem).offset().top; var elemBottom = elemTop + $(elem).height(); return ((( elemTop >= docViewTop) && (elemTop <= docViewBottom)) || ((elemBottom >= docViewTop) && (elemBottom <= docViewBottom))); }