SATURDAY 5:10PM- MITSKI
On Saturday afternoon, Mitski proved that her talents extended beyond her songwriting. Her performance was one of the best that I have seen coming out of her genre. While her songs depict deep emotional and mental turmoil, her performance was intentional, collected, and calm. She didn’t trade intonation or vocal strength, for over the top flailing or other various melodramas. Doing so, she emphasized the importance of the things she was saying instead of going over the top and seeming to feign sincerity. Her melodies soared just as beautifully over her dark alternative sound as they do on the record. Most of the songs she performed were from her last two albums, and they worked well with her simple three piece of her on the bass and two guys on the drums and guitar.
At some point I'd love to see her again and hear some of her older work with their more elaborate orchestrations. She didn't have a lot of banter in between her songs which she very sweetly apologized for but in my opinion I think that's fine because her songs do enough talking for her. Aside from her songs, the most striking thing about Mitski was her gratitude to create and perform music. Before her last solo performance of “Crushed Little Stars,” she kept saying “thank you” on repeat until her guitarist finished tuning her guitar. Her thankfulness reminded me of how symbiotic the relationship between the musician and the listener is and how lucky we are to come across genuine, talented, and hardworking artists like Mitski. If you haven’t had the chance to see Mitski I recommend hopping on the next opportunity that comes along.
CARLY SABICER, DJ
SATURDAY 5:20PM- PRINCESS NOKIA
As soon as Afro-Nuyorican goddess, Destiny Frasqueri, AKA Princess Nokia, graced the Club stage last Saturday at FYF, I felt the power of a thousand women, all shapes and colors, guide me through her performance. I still do not know what hit me that smoldering July afternoon, but I think it had something to do with starting out my day by belting out Nokia’s hits and dancing like an absolute goon throughout her brilliant 60 minute set.
I had arrived to the stage a little later than I had anticipated, and ended up snaking my way through the crowd to the front in order to fully experience Princess Nokia in all her glory. She marched onto the stage in a white floral two piece dress and gold sparkly hoops the size of the sun. All I needed to hear was the intro of “Tomboy” and I knew I was locked in for a good time. It was truly wild. Almost the entire crowd consisted of strong, beautiful women who, like me, look up to Nokia for her unapologetic love of her culture and femininity.
As she transitioned from “Kitana” to “Brujas” and finished her set with one of her newer singles “GOAT”, I couldn’t have asked for a more magical performance. Princess Nokia is the past, the present, and future of hip hop, may her reign last forever.
NATASHA DOSHI, DJ
SATURDAY 5:30PM- THUNDERCAT
Sometimes music is so evidently inside a person that seeing them do anything else in life would be strange. Thundercat is one of those people. In a time where jazz is said to be dead, it's fusion is alive. Weird pedals and eclectic progressions make up the multi piece band that took over the lawn stage at 5 PM on Saturday.
Thundercat is a Los Angeles staple. Being from LA, I’ve seen Stephen play a multitude of times - once being at my high school for a school concert. Can you think of anything more LA? However, seeing him at a festival is a completely immersive experience. I enjoy festivals because they allow the audience to actually see people play. Watching Thundercat is a testament to true musicians everywhere. He sings and can play bass. Sorry - he lives through that bass, playing voicings in strange time signatures and tempos as if it were clockwork. His fiery red hair bobbed up and down as he played favorites like “Lotus and The Jondy,” “Jethro,” “Them Changes” and more from his praised album, Drunk. To be quite honest, the synergy between he and his band is unlike anything else I’ve ever heard and I am glad to say I got to witness this performance.
LANI RENALDO, DJ
SATURDAY 6:30PM- MGMT
There was a great migration for MGMT’s set; everyone, mostly millenials, were on their way to the main stage to see them perform. They opened with the song “Pieces of What,” which was an incredible sight to see, considering I have been a fan of MGMT since middle school.
Everyone got excited when they heard the familiar bubbling synthesizer of “Time to Pretend", as they raised their hands, started dancing and singing along to the lyrics. There were animations of the solar system projected on the screens as well. Throughout the show, there were different animations projected, setting the mood for each song and making the experience visual as well as audible and providing a more tangible experience.
MGMT would stop occasionally between songs to ask the audience how we were doing and to tell us that we were a very polite audience, as we were giving them a lot of praise during their performance. Lead singer, Andrew VanWyngarden, was leading the conversations between songs. He was just as entertaining as his music, dressed in a sparkly shirt and sunglasses, being playful with the audience as he went on tangents every now and then. When performing “Me and Michael,” MGMT had to stop short and restart the song because Andrew messed up. But he played it off, and the audience laughed along.
There was a loud uproar as “Kids” came on, one of the band’s most popular jams from their 2007 album Oracular Spectacular- the entire audience began jumping and singing. Suddenly, they began remixing the song with a synthesizer towards the middle, incorporating robotic like talking which made for a more futuristic sound. This song was one of the biggest hits way back when, so seeing it live was surreal and very nostalgic.
They ended their performance with “Electric Feel,” which got even louder cheers from the audience, if that was possible, and ended in a long guitar solo. I’ve waited years to see MGMT live, and their performance was well worth the wait.
SABINE BAJAKIAN, DJ
SATURDAY 7:30PM- KING KRULE
King Krule is a 23-year-old singer and songwriter from the UK. Krule, also referred to by his legal name, Archy Marshall, has been making waves with his punk jazz sound for a few years now. He graced the cover of The Fader in 2014 and has released two full length albums. Now that you know a little bit of background of Krule, here is my review of his show at FYF in Los Angeles from July 22nd.
I had bought a single day FYF ticket for a few reasons. A major one was to see Frank Ocean, the other main reason was to see this guy King Krule. I had seen him just once before this at Beach Goth Music Festival nearby a few months ago, and his stage presence and amazing vocals blew me away. I was expecting nothing less for Archy’s 7 PM set.
Right on time at 7 PM and I had an excellent spot to see Krule come out with a six-man ensemble of a band. He has been playing with the same bass player, drummer, and guitarist since I saw him a few months ago however he added a saxophone player and someone using a MIDI pad. Krule entered the stage with some of the best glasses I have ever seen. They said I have all the confidence in the world. They were bright red- most likely purchased at a gas station before the show.
Krule came out screaming a lot more than he had the last time I saw him; he was clearly very amped up to play this show which excited me. He played crowd favorites from “Baby Blue” to “Easy Easy”, however he spent a lot of time playing new music. I was amazed by the new found energy that some of this new music had. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of any of them, but it made me 50 times more excited for Krule’s next project said to release sometime this year. Archy is always an entertainer, despite his cold and depressed sounding exterior he is a genuine guy who loves to laugh and have fun. The crowd was very into the show and Archy could tell.
I loved this show for a few reasons. First of all, it was about the perfect amount of time for King Krule to keep the crowd entertained, a total 55 minutes. His energy was the best I have ever seen as his glasses, and his newly added bandmates added a whole new perspective. If you have never seen a live King Krule show and enjoy his music at all, I would highly recommend it. Songs that are dreary and make you want to go to sleep are transformed in his live show to a jazzy or more punk version of the album. Although some songs do sound exactly as they do on the album, Archy’s voice and microphone are turned on absolute max volume to deliver the power of his deep booming voice. If you listen to his music on a streaming service and then go to his live show you might expect to sit down and have a drink and relax, however this show is best enjoyed dancing and moving around.
King Krule has gotten me hooked right back in, after previewing new music and hyping the crowd up I hope that new music will be released sooner than expected. The added use of the saxophones and more upbeat signing is a great direction that Archy is headed in. Be on the lookout for a live show for him in the near future as he plays around California quite a bit.
CHRIS LASKE, DJ
SATURDAY 7:45PM- PERFUME GENIUS
If you are a fan of Perfume Genius’s music (or even if you aren’t), you should definitely see them in concert. I hadn’t started listening to his stuff until a few weeks before the festival and I knew after listening to a couple of songs that I would definitely want to see him live. The shimmery pop vibe on his new album, No Shape, is a sharp contrast to the serious nature of his lyrics. With a tight backing band and a strong stage presence, Perfume Genius translates energy of his sound over to the stage, with plenty of theatrics and dancing. Perfume Genius used the space at The Club well, employing all the lights and smoke machines in the house for a dramatic entrance and beautiful show. I would love to see him again, but in a better venue. The Club at FYF feels a little bit like a mix between an Easy-Bake Oven and a very noisy echo chamber. Despite this, Perfume Genius pulled off a powerful set.
CARLY SABICER, DJ
SATURDAY 9:50PM- ERYKAH BADU
Watching Erykah Badu live is the equivalent to having a spiritual baptism you did not know you needed. Without Badu, it’s questionable as to what soul and R&B music would be like today. She’s not your conventional afro-artist as she’s profoundly unique. A heavily spiritual vegan, who’s R&B songs dip into melodic genres cognisant of jazz, experimental music and hip-hop, Badu is an icon. Some might say funk and others might say neo soul, however, she made it quite clear that she had a message for us: She was our mother without us knowing. Our Gaia, mother earth figure with a voice that was almost so unbelievably good, I sat in the grass of Expo Park wondering what alternate musical space and time I’d wandered into.
Hidden beneath a large hat, Badu gave the crowd one singular thing to focus on: her voice. Her message.
I'd like to dedicate this to all of the Creator's righteous children
I have some food in my bag for you
Not that edible food the food you eat?
No I have some food for thought
- Erykah Badu, “Appletree”
Leading us through her string of hits, listeners enjoyed and danced to select tracks from Baduizm, New Amerykah, Pt. 1 & 2, But U Caint Use My Phone, and of course, she left us with her classic, “Tyrone.” Erykah expressed that she was ready for the 90s babies to “grow the f-ck up” as Baduizm, spanning almost 20 years of her career was for us. She hoped that those born in the year could understand and hold her words close. They’ve lasted 20 years and no doubt they’ll last 20 years more.
LANI RENALDO, DJ
SATURDAY 11:00PM- FRANK OCEAN
I saw many exceptional shows at FYF this year, but none were important in the way that Frank Ocean’s Saturday Main Stage performance was. All weekend, I was struck by the flawless execution of artists such as Erykah Badu and Bjork, who made their artistry seem effortless in front of thousands of energetic admirers. FYF is cyclical by nature, and one can walk around in circles all day, ducking in and out of perfect 45-60 minute displays, and usually, this is more than enough. I intended to stay at Frank Ocean only briefly, but I ended up watching his entire performance, which took the form of a raw and immersive live video, filmed by legendary skate/music video and film director Spike Jonze. The filmmaker made no effort to hide the camera or the technical mechanisms at play - the multiple handheld cameras as well as one placed prominently center stage afforded the audience a humanizing perspective. Visual artist Tom Sachs contributed to the sparse yet efficient set design. This show was neither perfect, nor polished. It was both tragic and true, and it was a beautiful thing.
Frank Ocean is an artist who has battled with his demons in the public sphere, which has earned him fame and infamy. Just two years ago he was slated to headline FYF but backed out at the last minute. There was a common understanding among those of us gathered that this set was not to be taken for granted. Further, there was a depth of communication between Frank Ocean himself and those who had gathered to listen to him that is rare to witness. During “Good Guy,” he knelt at a keyboard placed on the ground, and upon finishing the song, he was not satisfied with how it sounded. He asked the audience to bear with him, and then repeated the same short song. This vulnerable moment was met with cheers of encouragement.
Of course, there were stadium show moments, too. Brad Pitt briefly appeared on stage as Frank Ocean serenaded him with a cover of The Carpenter’s “Close to You.” Ocean also debuted a new track, and there were lines snaking around his Blonded pop-up shop in the Night Market all day despite the heat. FYF is a massive festival in the middle of a massive city, and it expands every year into something bigger and broader and unrecognizable from what we once knew it as. And then there are moments like at Frank Ocean’s headlining set, where thousands of people gathered together are challenged to consider what it might be like to be a human on that elevated platform, and also what it’s like to be a human standing in that parking lot, looking up.
ELIZA MOLEY, DJ & GENERAL MANAGER
SATURDAY 11:45PM- THE BLACK MADONNA
On Saturday morning I woke up to the realization that it is not a waning desire to party that stops older people from going out; it is the fact that with use and abuse, your body eventually just breaks. Last year, I declined an invitation to a party at which the Black Madonna was playing, and my friends reported that she played Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic. I’ve been looking for a chance to redeem myself ever since, so nothing was going to stop me from hitting up the Woods from 11:45PM to 1:45AM - not even the impressive amount of joint pain that I was experiencing.
Let me tell you: that rally was well worth it. The Black Madonna delivered and then some with an ambitious late night set of disco-infused techno stylings. The dance floor was packed, and the energy was high. As a producer and a selector, the Black Madonna is able to establish a real connection with her audience. I was laughing watching her dance behind the decks because I knew she was vibing just as hard as I was- it was a symbiotic relationship, and everyone could feel it.
I’ll leave you with a condensed quote that summarizes the Black Madonna’s vision, which I feel was very true to the party she threw for us on Saturday night:
“Dance music needs riot grrrls. Dance music needs Patti Smith. It needs DJ Sprinkles. Dance music needs some discomfort with its euphoria. Dance music needs salt in its wounds. Dance music needs women over the age of 40. Dance needs breastfeeding DJs trying to get their kids to sleep before they have to play. Dance needs cranky queers and teenagers who are really tired of this shit. Dance music needs writers and critics and academics and historians. Dance music needs poor people and people who don't have the right shoes to get into the club. Dance music needs shirts without collars. Dance music needs people who struggled all week. Dance music needs people that had to come before midnight because they couldn't afford full admission. Dance music does not need more of the status quo.” (word !)
ELIZA MOLEY, DJ & GENERAL MANAGER