Now, while non-L.A. readers have probably heard of FYF Fest as it has grown to becomes a destination festival for some, many probably don’t know that FYF puts on concerts year-round. Certain bands have come to be associated with FYF Fest, because FYF books and promotes their shows in L.A. and the surrounding area. Deerhunter for a long time had the claim that every show they ever played in L.A. had been an FYF show. FYF Fest helped put together event shows from Pulp and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. There’s an FYF Scavenger Hunt, and FYF Christmas Party, and novelty concept shows, like an ice cream social with Roky Erickson and Okkervil River, or Ryan Gosling’s Dead Man’s Bones’ 50’s prom. Bands that frequently have aligned with FYF Fest have become known as “FYF Bands” and can be anyone from Cold Cave and Fucked Up to Purity Ring and Johnny Jewel’s acts (Glass Candy, Chromatics), to even unlikely associates the Head and the Heart and CHVRCHES.
On Sunday, some of FYF Fest’s most loyal artists were on the bill, and no one ranks higher on that list than No Age. The L.A. duo was making its 7th appearance on the FYF Fest bill, including once as Wives before they became No Age. And, fittingly, it was an opportunity for No Age to give many their first experience with their new album An Object, a record that holds dear a lot of the same DIY principles on which FYF was based. No Age proved their album to be just one incarnation of these new songs, allowing the old No Age’s pummeling force to carry the tracks to more conventional and more satisfying heights. It would be nice to think that No Age is a better live band in their home town of Los Angeles, but the truth is that No Age is a great live band anywhere. Still, the most closely associated FYF band owned this fest, and rightfully so.
But, My Bloody Valentine was the chief attraction on Sunday, and they drew a large audience to close the Carrie Stage, hitting volumes that reportedly blew the sound out at the stage three separate times. But the general reaction was the set was somewhere between complimentary and life changing, though others have taken to social media to complain about the sound issues. MGMT’s set seem oppositely hyped, with people expecting the worst from the psych-pop group. And beside a critically dismissed album that is a few years old, it became unclear what MGMT did to deserve such anger from the media and outspoken music fans. Sunday night they were still a little limp and droopy, but with their psych visuals and tuneful songs displayed, they seemed like a more songwriting-first, musical-chops-last group. With Tame Impala growing huge really quickly, MGMT could easily resurge on their new, more focused platform, as an old-fashioned psych-rock band. They just need to piss off some teenagers on the way.
And the day’s clear standout? Baroness, a heavy rock band that didn’t demand the knowledge of their near-tragic history to enjoy, nor did it need you to be a metal or hardcore fan. The passion of Baroness was clear as the air we breathe (read: the air we breathe when you are not at FYF Fest living in a cloud of dust for two days), and the band seemed amped to be on stage, making up one of the shows they missed last year. A great performance also came from How To Dress Well, who sells a song so much better up close, but can still draw in listeners in big tents through his emotional engagement and earnestness, with his concert serving as a personal introduction, or a hanging with an olf friend. He even had Aaliyah spinning pre-set, honoring her life on the anniversary of her death.
Also Yo La Tengo proved the long-held opinion that no matter how much Yo La Tengo I know, I will never be able to recognize a song that they play in concert. Beach House seemed to draw more people than anyone else for the entire weekend, which is pretty cool and pretty strange at the same time. Solange was someone I thought was all hype and family connections, but she absolutely ruled and a certain writer/photographer might have developed a huge crush. Chelsea Wolfe held a large audience despite being the opposite of “festival music,” while Washed Out seemed to do everything right with stage decorations and fancy lighting, existing as the paradigm of “festival music,” only to kind of fall flat due to a lack of great songs. Check out photos from FYF Fest Day Two below.
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