FYF Fest, Day 1: Grimes, Selfie Stations, And The Lines Of The Apocalypse (Photos)
This year's sold-out FYF Fest's first day in a new location was both a lot of hit and a lot of miss. Long lines, poor organization, and a stage that hit capacity early on took away from the overall magic of attending a weekend festival. But once you actually made it onto the grounds and to your stage, the music was pretty great.
One of FYF's selfie stations (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
When I arrived, I was told there was no separate press entrance and that I should go to the end of the line forming outside of the park. Being a rule follower, I walked for several minutes to find the end of the line. Some industrious hot dog and ice cream vendors had set up nearby to sell to ticket holders stuck in the line.
An hour or so later, I was actually inside the festival and credentialed, but no one had any idea of where to go. The provided map—described to me by another festivalgoer as "cutesy bullshit"— was not particularly helpful. They ended up running out of these maps/schedules around 6 p.m. or so, and there was very little signage set up at the festival. There is an app you can download with a schedule, though friends who had downloaded it said the map section just read "coming soon."
The festival grounds were in something of a horseshoe shape, and there were plenty of food trucks and vendors on hand. The food was not cheap (think $7 for a slice of pizza, $10 for a burrito, $5 for a plain grilled cheese sandwich), but there were plenty of area favorites like The Grilled Cheese Truck, Kogi and Stumptown Coffee. There was a craft beer and wine tasting area, as well as a beer garden. I learned that if you purchased a beer in the VIP area, you couldn't take it out, which might inspire you to chug it all at once because you paid $9 for it. Inside the VIP area, attendees were able to lounge in comfy chairs and get free swag condoms from Nasty Gal. True luxury!
Man Man (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
Of course, the point was music. By the time I got settled in, I was able to catch Philadelphia rock band Man Man. I've seen Man Man several times, and this particular time had all the crazy outfits, jumping up and down, screaming and keyboard pounding I'd come to expect. They played a lot of new material (and did not play "Engrish Bwuud"). Frontman Honus Honus donned a white, fur coat for a number even in the blazing sun, and the last notes were played by butt when he sat on his keyboard.
For the next hour, two friends and I tried to find the media area. I was directed by security guards to a parking lot outside of the festival, then told I had to wait in line again to get back into the festival, then instead walked into a random entrance back into the festival. Meanwhile, people on Twitter were beginning to complain about a two-hour wait in line.
Elsewhere, people had started really using FYF's #selfie stations. There were numerous areas that were clearly made for Instagram. These included a sign that read "I'm here, where are you?", an "F-Y-F" made out of flowers, and several large inflatable emojis. There was a cat with heart eyes, a ghost and a pile of poop.
Yep, that's a smiling pile of poo. (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
An interesting stage FYF had set up was "The Arena." Located underground, a backdrop of lights and a well-placed disco ball set this spot up for a good EDM rager. (It actually reminded me a lot of Movement in Detroit.) However, Australia's Chet Faker was not an artist for such a thing, and his rich vocals set off a moodier tone.
The Arena, FYF's underground stage (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
Future Islands was the middle of a Strokes' members solo project sandwich. Albert Hammond, Jr. went first, and his simple pop rock was good for afternoon. Baltimore's Future Islands took over next, with a gravely-voiced Sam Herring leading the charge. A lot of attendees had been talking about how excited they were for this synthpop act all day, and it was at this moment that it felt like the festival was starting to take off.
However, the Future Islands crowd was not enough to save the Arena stage from quickly reaching capacity for Todd Terje. Security refused to let any more into the underground stage, which prompted a lot of complaining on Twitter.
Julian Casablancas & The Voids then went on the main stage, but we opted to check out hip-hop duo Run The Jewels. Off the heels of his CNN appearance to discuss what's going on in Ferguson, emcee Killer Mike dedicated "A Christmas Fucking Miracle" to Michael Brown. Run The Jewels was followed by an activist act of another kind, Against Me! The punk band fronted by Laura Jane Grace formed in '97 and is still going strong. Their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, talks a lot about transidentity. Grace dropped her birth name, Tom Gabel, in 2012 when she came out as transgender. During the group's performance, she made sure to tell the audience what each of the newer songs was about, but they still played crowd favorite "I Was A Teenage Anarchist." These two acts on the narrow "The Trees" stage were two of my favorite of the night.
Meanwhile, shoegaze band Slowdive was plunging attendees not getting riled up by Run The Jewels and Against Me! into a dream state. Slowdive reunited this year after breaking up in 1995. This was the time for sitting on the lawn, resting your feet and melting into a wall of ambient sound.
Nearby, there was a vending booth by Ray-Ban that featured a staring contest and a place where you could get a free haircut if you put yourself entirely under the control of the stylist. Some people didn't seem too happy with their new cuts.
Hey, it looks great on Natalie Dormer (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
After Slowdive, the rush was to see Interpol. But if you made it into The Arena again, you got to stand around and wait for Four Tet. It appeared as though the crowding problems the stage had earlier were under control, but the schedule had been thrown off. When Four Tet finally went on, he (Kieran Hebden) was able to build into a solid set. The light show worked well here, creating an ambiance that was much different from the rest of the festival.
On the way to see Grimes, one was able to hear Japanese experimental metal band Boris from a distance. I am having some personal regrets about not lingering to hear more, as FYF was the last stop on their North American tour.
The Lawn (actual stage name) was packed for Grimes, though from the side, the audio seemed too quiet. Moving around yielded a better output. Her set managed to be simple and over-the-top at the same time. She danced in an oversized T-shirt between synths, while two stage dancers flanked her; simple enough, but a fan blew her hair, dyed electric blue, all over and her dancers occasionally employed the use of '90s ribbon dancer toys. At one point, she said she was too warm and took off her T-shirt, revealing a form-fitting back top and also a performance secret she's learned: just wear extra clothes and when you take them off, the crowd goes wild. And they did.
The headliners for the first night were Phoenix and Ty Segall. Other artists during the day included Tycho, XXYYXX, Little Dragon and Caribou.
Outside the grounds, Metro was set up helping infrequent riders use the train to return home. The Expo line was packed heading to the 7th St. Metro station, where more Metro employees waited to provide directions and offer assistance.
The general consensus among attendees seemed to be that despite the long lines and immense disorganization, the festival was fun. Let's hope organizers learned from yesterday and have a smoother go of it today.
Today's lineup kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Deafheaven, The Strokes, Haim, Flying Lotus and Jamie xx, among others.