If you’re going to a music festival in the near future please adhere to this one rule/bit of advice: a music festival is only enjoyable as you make it. Only you can determine your own happiness.
With that said, I feel like this past weekend’s FYF Festival was a hit and miss affair. I have to commend Sean Carlson and the festival staff for going above and beyond to fix the problems of Saturday for a more pleasurable Sunday. They actually read the comments and tried their best to make more room in the Arena for fans and created more entry points to get into the festival. As a Monday morning quarterback, it seems like a vast majority of the Saturday/Day One problems could have been prevented maybe with a few more strategy sessions, but who knows? One would believe that after ten years of doing this festival, everything would move smoothly. Yet when you move from one location to location, it gets difficult. When you move into a new place, do you automatically know where everything is or does it take some time to get used to your brand new surroundings? There were growing pains.
For the most part, I had a great time. The bands I wanted to see delivered inspired performances. While the lines might’ve been much, I can’t complain about the lack of vegan and vegan friendly food available. My biggest regret of the festival was that I was not able to pick up a third donut from the Donut Friend booth near the main entrance. The Fritter Seems Forever was incredible and the Nutellavision blew my mind. I also regret not being to be able to be in two places at the same time because I would have loved to see Flying Lotus’s set, but there was a conflict with the Blood Brothers. I specifically came to see The Blood Brothers.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I was not to thrilled about it being at Exposition Park. Many, many moons ago, I witnessed my mother have a full fledge panic attack/nervous breakdown as she drove my sister, my sister’s friend and myself to a Raiders game at the Coliseum. Since then, the Coliseum has been a place to avoid. Once it was officially announced that the Coli would be the location, I was going to skip this year’s edition. Then the Blood Brothers’ reunion drew me back in. Not that I had unfinished business with the band, but I feel like the last time I saw, I ended up getting to the show late and missed a majority of their set. I wrongly assumed that the Blood Brothers were the headliners, but I guess it was Against Me or something similar to that.
The Blood Brothers were incredible. They sounded like they hadn’t miss a beat; like they were still a band putting out records and touring. While I missed that they could’ve played for ever. It was an ideal set. They played the hits, minus “The Shame”. They never do “The Shame”.
Boris, was probably the highlight of Saturday night, for me. I’ve heard a few of their albums, but I never really kept up with their output. As a live band, they are amazing. Wata shreds. She’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen in person. Then there’s Nagata, the drummer. He’s miced up so he’ll just yell “yeah!” or “woot” during random parts of the song. I was laughing while rocking out. It was a very enjoyable experience. And top of that, Nagata has a smoke machine so half of the time, he’s covered in smoke and smashing a giant gong behind him. It was incredible. If they come to your town, go immediately.
What I didn’t like about the festival, I believe this could be applied to most music festivals in California, are the people that are there because it’s a cool thing to do. It’s a tricky issue because promoters need those people because a festival with the likes of Blood Brothers, Fucked Up, Ty Segall, Boris and some Burger Records bands isn’t going to fill up Exposition Park, let alone the good old State Historic Park in Chinatown. Haim on the line up means more to the average person than say Chain of Strength or even a Fugazi reunion. It’s the bigger bands that allow for the little side stages.
After Death Grips broke up and dropped off the FYF bill, the promoters asked for replacement suggestions. The comments were flooded with people asking for The Killers and Of Mice and Monsters or some dumb folksy band with a monster reference in their name. My suggestion was Gorilla Biscuits. That’s sort of the problem as a festival evolves and becomes more financially viable, it has to carter more to the needs of a larger alternative/indie rock fan base.
Here’s the thing though, I feel like the 2013 FYF did a much better job of curating a line up that would appeal to all sorts of people. You had the likes of Solange, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Locust, and, Shlohmo. There was a little bit for everybody. This year just felt too much like Coachella Weekend 3; like Goldenvoice had a much stronger influence in shaping the line up this year.
Well, my problem is that I wish FYF could have been like Burger A Go Go. I don’t know how the dudes from Burger Records and the folks at the Observatory in Santa Ana pull it off, but they managed to create multiple weekend/all day festivals that are strictly about the music and having fun. Maybe its the venue (a swampy place smack damb in the middle of a industrial part of Santa Ana [that’s actually more closer to Costa Mesa; it’s a couple of blocks down from a giant Ikea and an exit away from the infamous South Coast Plaza]) with its three stages (One big, one small, one very tiny) or just the line up crafted by Sean and Lee in between bong rips. There was never really any down time between bands or real tough decision. The headliners seemingly played after each other starting at 7pm. As the night went on, each band got better than the previous and as things got louder and better, the cool kids kind of faded into the background. Granted, the food options at the Observatory weren’t as plentiful as FYF, there wasn’t a lag or down time. It was walk in one direction, there’s a band and if you walk into the other, you’ll probably find another band.
All in all, I had a good time this year at FYF, but it’s going to take a lot for me to come back next year. I don’t know how or if they can afford the various reunions: Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, and, Fugazi.
In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, here’s a list of all the bands I saw full sets of (in no particular order): Angel Olsen, Slint, Slowdive, Boris, Ty Segall, Jessy Lanza, Les Sins, Kelela, Thundercat, Murder City Devils, The Blood Brothers, and Deafheaven.
Had a cup of Coffee with (Caught a few songs): Real Estate, Future Islands, Run The Jewels, Interpol, Joanna Gruesome, Mac De Marco
Also really enjoyed whoever was DJing the Lawn Stage on Sunday right before Thundercat’s set.
- Not exactly sure how to fit this into the earlier narrative but one of my favorite parts of the festival was in the Arena on Sunday. There was a shirtless guy who basically ran laps around the Sports Arena floor then danced. It was incredible… Too dark to get a pic. Also, I have to agree with Bruce Springsteen regarding the Sports Arena. It really is a dump that jumps. The sound for Slint and Angel Olsen was great.
- I later realized I saw Vanessa Hudgens at the festival, but it was dark to notice at the time. After reviewing the tape, I realized I got video of her sister getting loose to “Bank Head”.
- There are a lot of attractive people on this great planet of ours.
- Kelela said that a year and half ago, she used to work in a call center in the Valley seeing solar energy. So, we all probably hung up on her.
- Overheard a nerd shamefully admit to his equally nerdy friend that he “only likes” Spiderland.
- Jackfruit is incredible.
- There was a mosh pit during the ‘I Miss You’ part of “Good Morning Captain”. It was weird.
- Ty Segall and his band rule. If I was to draft a fantasy band, it would be that band.
- On Sunday, they were giving away water bottles until 6pm so I filled the free Cult Records tote bag with water bottles and didn’t really have to pay for water the whole day. Like I had four bottles of water and bigger one I brought in home.
- Wish I could’ve seen more of Run the Jewels.