The LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park
A friend and I love to joke about the name of the festival as the letters already stand for F*** Yeah Fest – so why they also added another fest is beyond me. Kinda like Courtney Taylor-Taylor – because one is never good enough.
A long, hot drive down the I-5 was just the beginning of the fun. Apocalyptic reservoirs that clearly were not winning in this drought war to gorgeous sprawling mountains that were no longer any shade of a recognizable green. Eventually, I’d pull into the traffic known as LA which somehow wasn’t bad at all. (A rare feat in itself).
And then it was off to the oh-so-trendy Echo Park with Ben and friends. Sadly, I still don’t get how that neighborhood is all that popular. Aside from the major strip that The Echo is on and a few hipster bars it was pretty dead on this Friday night. So here I am trying to beg my way into Baltimore’s Lower Dens show as Jana Hunter passes by more than a few times. Temptation set in quickly to ask her for a ticket, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead its off to a bar and Lower Dens will have to wait.
FYF is nothing like what I expected. Its beyond organized and it’s a breeze to get into. Sadly, I somehow missed half of Broncho‘s set, whom I was really looking forward to seeing. But, of what I did hear I loved. They were upbeat, rocking out on the stage and their music was infectious. They ended their set with their ever catchy single “Class Historian” and everyone was bouncing and singing along. Great way to start the day.
I end up hanging around on the trees stage as its shady and a chill stage. The cool thing about this festival is the stages are spread out far enough that there’s no bleed-through but also easy enough to get from stage to stage. Expo Park is awesome with the coliseum in the middle sporting the 1984 olympic athlete sculptures cue “stars of track and field”.The real reason for hanging out at the stage is Paris’ La Femme. Easily one of my most recent favorite albums, the French do NOT disappoint. The band comes out covered head-to-toe in robes and head coverings (Arab-chic) looking like they should be playing in the Sahara and they are ready for fun as well as a dance party.
With their opening notes of “Its Time To Wake Up”, the band got the crowd moving. It was a kick-ass set and the crowd was dancing up a storm and singing along to their music. It was pure fun as they went through a good chunk of their album Psycho Tropical Berlin. As they finished out the set with the catchy “Sur La Planche“, the crowd was a dance party with everyone moving together and singing along. A pretty awesome first couple of bands.
After much needed shade and beer (they somehow go hand in hand) it was off to enjoy Dinosaur Jr. in the beer tent. The band is celebrating 30 years and with all the original members they’re awesome to see. As soon as the chords of “Feel The Pain” started it was off to the front of the stage to get the real feel of J. Mascis. Man.. he does not disappoint. With his grey locks flowing, he rocked out and really got the crowd into the music. Plus, their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” is insane and possibly better than the original, harder and heavier and so rocking. Just brilliant!
Then I had to give NYC’s The Drums another chance. I figured at a festival they would be better than the countless other times I’ve seen them in a club. And their light show was pretty incredible, but I still have yet to figure out the hype and they were still as boring as ever. Musically, they sound pretty good, but live — leaves a lot to be wanted.But then right after was the dance party I had really been waiting for — !!! (chk chk chk). And this is a band that never disappoints. Surprisingly, their stage is pretty empty which means even more room to work it out and dance dance dance.
As Nic Offer came onto the stage, the band wasted no time getting into their electro-dance-punk beats and the band members all started dancing on stage with instruments. By the time lead singer Nic started to sing, he was already working the crowd with his awesome/funky dance moves and his short shorts (a staple!). Not much had changed since I had last seen them and it was refreshing! As a frontman, he is always entertaining and its always a good time.
Thankfully, as I hadnt really been following them, they were playing mostly newer material and have a new album coming out. Plus, they have a show scheduled in SF at Slims in December … so the dance party will continue.
And then it was the newly put together Bloc Party. So long Matt Tong… and welcome to female drummer Louise Bartle, who totally kicked ass. The band had played their first show with the new band members, which also includes the new bassist Justin Harris, just 2 nights prior. And thankfully the band still has their same energy.Kele Okereke sounded as great as great as always hitting his high notes. He was talkative with the crowd and seemed happy to be performing again. And with the opening bass lines of “Hunting for Witches“, the crowd went crazy as everyone started singing and jumping. And then if it couldn’t get any better is the scratchy opening notes and catchy drum beats of “Positive Tension“. By then everyone was singing and dancing along if they weren’t already. Their post-punk sound filled the air and it was a great way to nearly be ending out the night.
So many awesome songs were played and it felt like a ‘best-of’ set which was perfect for this fest and perfect for the fans. I somehow ended up mostly in the beer tent area and a bunch of us went crazy as “Banquet” started to play. Singing in unison and all with the same ridiculous dance moves of jumping in circles as Kele sang “turning away from the light… turning into myself”. In some ways it felt like one of the first times I had seen them. The same excitement had returned which I hadn’t felt in forever.
After that I would try and see Cold Cave — just don’t get the love for that band — and I kinda felt bad as it was one of the most empty stages. But, anyone going up against
Yeezus, Kanye was seriously in trouble.
Trying to get to the main stage for Kanye was truly insane. Everyone at the festival was trying to get there and it was just beyond packed. While the screens helped some, it was near impossible to see anything. As people eventually cleared out, it got easier to see.
Kanye is truly something else. His rapping over Daft Punk’s “Stronger” is pretty brilliant. It’s catchy, original and he is pretty amazing. And then it was straight into the single “Power” which sounded even better live. I’m not sure who was performing the female vocals but it was pretty amazing. The guy was just delivering and I finally understood the obsession with Kanye and people needing to see him. (He was a replacement for Frank Turner – and people were paying top dollar to get in just to see him). Its hard to deny how talented he is and someone so worth seeing.Trying to leave the festival would be insane so left Kanye a bit early (missed Rihanna towards the end of his set) to see the Jesus and Mary Chain. The band was playing the album Psychocandy in its entirety and had never sounded better. Their loud, dark, moody sound filled the nighttime air. The sounds of guitars just seemed to go on forever; plus they had a pretty impressive light show.
I hadn’t heard this album in forever. The even louder, more rocking “The Living End” had never sounded better. Staring at their shoes for the most part, there was hardly any crowd interaction. But it’s one of those bands where none of this matters. The music speaks for itself.
It was one hell of a first day and the next day was even better.