FYF Fest 2013 @ LA State Historic Park 8/25/13 – Day 2
On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, this was the year FYF came into its own, and Sunday was the jewel in the crown. The animal known originally as the Fuck Yeah Fest has certainly seen some changes over the years, but along with its family-friendly name overhaul and comfortable residence in Los Angeles State Historic Park, FYF have worked hard every year to improve. This year the big issue was combating last year’s renegade Dust Monster. Their efforts included laying down matting in front of the Main Stage, a king hell load of wood chips scattered in the main walking areas, and free bandanas to help the more sensitive cope. Other fun new twists to the fest included an interactive Craft FYF tent and giant blow-up emoji.
Sunday proved to be a master class in the art of programming a festival, taking a page from the golden years of Coachella, (circa 2003-2005), before it became Corporate Party Central. While the obvious coup was beating out every other festival in booking the return of My Bloody Valentine, a survey of below the headliner showed a savvy in making a statement about this alternative music of ours, where it came from and where it”s going.
It seemed fitting to start the day with the Godfather, Jonathan Richman, whose LP with the Modern Lovers in the early “70s set a pre-punk benchmark. Accompanied only by his drummer Tommy, Richman essayed a typically idiosyncratic set, demonstrating his “come join the party” message in Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic. In a pithy song about Vermeer, Richman didn”t let the passing metro step on his rhyme. Not missing a beat, he and Tommy flipped back to the top of the verse and did it again, a small reminder that you”re in the hands of professionals.
Fear Of Men proved to be the surprise find of the day. The guitar-driven quartet from Brighton, England specializes in nervy guitar pop. It will be a pleasure to catch up with them on record. Early Fragments is a compilation of their singles worth seeking out.
Hewing to FYF”s strong suite, The Orwells kicked the day into high gear with their garage rock goodness. The Chucks that this Owl was wearing probably matched the average age of the band members, but be that as it may, these gentlemen knew how to get down, and with the first rolls of toilet paper flying, the Goodyear blimp spying overhead, and the LA skyline visible in the distance, it could only be FYF.
Chelsea Wolfe“s churning Goth Soul would be better served by darkness, but she managed to conjure up the wind element at least, and her sound was pitched at the perfect level of painfully loud. With a new LP Pain Is Beauty on the way, she”ll be back in the winter for further touring adventures, and based on her winning set, we”ll be checking in on her.
Two Sundays ago found Kurt Vile in a different situation, charming a fog-bound meadow at Outside Lands with a sound best described as liquid silver. This Sunday, with a 30 degree difference in temperature, Vile reshuffled the deck, and there was no effin” around. Pushing the amps to the max, he crashed through the 10 minute title track from this year’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze, dusted off “Jesus Fever” from Vi kan helt klart anbefale denne tradisjonsrike programvare-leverandoren som i flere ar har levert knallgode . his previous, and threw down an epic “KV Crimes” that might have been the high point. From there it was off to the races, on a one-band mission to chase the sun away.
If there is one band that could be considered the face of FYF, it would be the LA noise duo No Age. A recent appearance on the Santa Monica Pier found them introducing songs from their not yet released new LP. Sunday found them throwing down the gauntlet, leading with a brace of songs from this week”s new release An Object, including “No Ground” and “Lock Box,” before setting the audience off with “Teen Creeps” from Nouns. For all the experimental ambience of the new LP, the live presentation is as brutal as ever.
Yo La Tengo was another key booking thematically, as the Hoboken indie powerhouse delivered an astute set that drew on their voluminous back catalogue to buttress the key points of their latest, Fade. The husband/wife duo of Georgia and Ira Kaplan, joined by James McNew is the embodiment of “the family that plays together,” and they proceeded through the set with utter disregard for traditional instrumental “roles,” as they traded places with abandon, opening up with bassist James on drums, and George and Ira trading guitar licks. They tossed bones to the faithful, a scintillating “Stockholm Syndrome” with vocals by McNew. Everyone got their turn in the spotlight, with Georgia up front for “Tom Courtenay.” Perhaps the most “punk” thing of a weekend filled with noise, was Ira Kaplan veritably whispering his way through a hushed version of his ode to mortality, “The Point Of It,” locking in and ignoring all the cross-talk and restlessness permeating the audience. Dedicating it to Fred Willard was a nice touch as well. Finishing off with the tension and release of a coruscating take on “Blue Line Swinger,” Yo La Tengo left the stage, their work done.
Beach House was heralded to the stage by vintage Roxy Music and as they started their set, the audience was already swaying and the connection was made implicit: this is boudoir music of the highest order. Victoria LeGrand’s voice at times was rough, but it only served to highlight the personal connection in the music rather than detract. Material from 2010’s Teen Dream got the greatest response, but they took time to visit every nook and cranny in their catalogue. In terms of programming, the main stage closing trifecta of Beach House, MGMT, and My Bloody Valentine was perfectly balanced to seduce and explode heads.
Washed Out, playing their second show in a year, turned FYF into a coming out party, drawing an overflow audience to the Charlotte stage. Tried and true songs like “New Theory” and “Get Up” made their appearance in a set salted with tunes from the brand new Paracosm. Finding that sweet spot on the grounds where Washed Out bled into Bleach House was pure narco-pop bliss.
Speaking of coming out parties, it would be understatement to say that Solange’s set was awaited with baited breath. Given her scattershot releases thus far and musical bloodlines, the jury was out…was she a behind scenes catalyst of emerging indie rock and commercial hip-hop or simply a case of over the top nepotism? It took just a few songs to realize Solange Knowles is her own woman. Consolidating the gains made with her recent True EP, a partnership with Dev Hines (Blood Orange), she utilized a crack band to win over the crowd. When she decided The Grind was the thing, Solange truly made the set her own.
My Bloody Valentine, taking a victory lap for the long-awaited mbv, brought the myth to life for a generation who had few, if any, opportunities to see them live. Pre-show, the security guards swept the audience…passing out ear plugs. Which should pretty much fill your need to know for what was about to come down. Kicking off with a double-shot from 1991’s Loveless, “When You Sleep” and “I Only Said,” the band was engaged, and the sound, for being near jet-engine level, was crystal clear. It was the first time we’ve heard actual audible lyrics at an MBV show, and as the show progressed, they seemed to recede into the mix as just another instrument. They experienced some sound wobble bass-wise on the first cut from mbv, “New You,” but by the second, “Only Tomorrow,” (sound) order was restored, and the solo that fades out on record were gloriously extended here. Falling back onto first full LP, Isn’t Anything, they broke out “Soft As Snow,” and the pattern was established, a survey of their journey to the noisy side. Key takeaway on the performance was drummer Colm Ó Ciosóig, who tends to get buried in the mix on the new effort. On stage, he was an absolute monster, along with Debbie Googe driving the engine. Few things could be as surreal as seeing the nighttime Los Angeles skyline serenaded by a band you thought you’d never see, and this brought to a conclusion the tenth edition of FYF.
Check out a full gallery of awesome photos HERE!