FYF Fest, Day 1: Women Carry the Day
Saturday marked the 10th anniversary of local punk festival FYF Fest, and on the first day of the two-day show at the state park in Chinatown, it was bold female singers who won the day.
FYF’s corporate parent Goldenvoice, which also owns Coachella, took some lumps from music fans for booking an overly dude-heavy Coachella lineup this year. Intentionally or not, FYF was quite the opposite: from the first act of the day, Buffalo, NY punk trio Lemuria, to the headliner, epochal Brooklyn alt-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the festival gave women time to shine. (The stages were even named for the protagonists of "Sex and the City.")
Here are our five favorite acts of the day:
If you only know Eleanor Friedberger from her time in the artsy indie pop duo Fiery Furnaces, it’s time to reset your mental picture. On her new album, “Personal Record” (Merge Records), and in her rapturously received FYF Fest set, Friedberger took a positively Laurel Canyon-esque tack on classic singer-songwriter jams, combining bright, hip-shaking grooves and clever lyrics nodding to legends like Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman, as well as peer Father John Misty. Her voice was pure and clear, her band was tighter than your kid sister’s Black Flag belly shirt, and her natural star power behind the mic made her the day’s most captivating artist.
Waxahatchee frontwoman Katie Crutchfield is reminiscent of no one if not L.A. legend Jenny Lewis: like Lewis, the impressiveness of the Brooklyner’s confessional story songs, which take cues from Rilo Kiley, early Liz Phair and Bright Eyes, found their match in her sweet and true voice. Her live trio at FYF touched the songs only sparingly, leaving plenty of room for the show-stealing lyrics, but sometimes lacking the dynamism of the words. Still, anytime Crutchfield was singing, it was impossible to look away.
Watching Kim Deal’s Breeders play through the entirety of their 1993 album “Last Splash” had the revelatory feel of seeing your art professor’s old doctoral thesis for the first time and finding out that, when she was young, she was a genius—and helping you realize that she still is. At FYF Fest, which is mostly about underground sounds, the Ohio-based Breeders delivered the rare set of bonafide hits: “Last Splash” sold platinum and spawned the radio smash “Cannonball,” and the band has not lost a step. The result was a show that united a large crowd that was mostly under 10 years of age when the album dropped. Sure, a cynic might say it was a nostalgic trip, but hey, it was an awesome nostalgia trip.
Toro y Moi
South Carolina R&B band Toro y Moi filled up the field in front of their stage as the sun still beat down on FYF attendees—not an easy feat, but on the heels of this year’s outstanding album “Anything in Return” (Carpark), their set was a can’t-miss. Perhaps the only artist from the “chillwave” movement to escape the genre for bigger and better things, frontman Chaz Bundick recreated the certifiably sexy album grooves with the help of a four-piece band that located a sound somewhere between Usher and Prince. Whatever his old association with laptop music may have been, this was a set of streamlined funky soul, and Bundick’s sweet tenor brought to mind Stevie Wonder and Frank Ocean. And yeah, Toro y Moi made people dance.
Thee Oh Sees
There’s really nothing new to say about a live show from San Francisco psychedelic garage rockers Thee Oh Sees. Yes, they are still America’s most exciting live rock band. Yes, frontman John Dwyer whipped the audience into a frenzy with his sparkplug guitar and vocal approach. Yes, there was a huge mosh pit full of people losing their shit. Thee Oh Sees aren’t exactly known for delivering surprises—just insanely energetic garage rock delivered with sonic excellence. As Metro Gold Line trains zipped behind the stage on live standouts like “The Dream,” from 2011’s “Carrion Crawlers” (In The Red), Thee Oh Sees delivered equally unstoppable grooves.
Festival organizers attempted to stop the now-legendary FYF dust clouds in the park by putting down rubber mats over the dirt in front of the stages to mixed effect … Deerhunter delivered a spacey set, bringing it all back around with a couple choice pop jams from this year’s near-perfect album “Monomania” (4AD) … during Ty Segall’s acoustic set, the guy next to me observed, “I should’ve brought some weed. I have, like, weed at my house” … the defunct L.A. vegan restaurant Pure Luck had a pop-up stand, the burritos and sandwiches are pretty heavenly … TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” is still a really great song … ex-Black Flag members FLAG brought a tight and well-received set of Black Flag classics that even dipped into Rollins-era favorite “My War” … and yes, unlike their set at Lollapalooza, Sacramento noise-rap instigators Death Grips did show up and play.
FYF Fest, Day 2: Dream Pop Takes Over
FYF Fest, Day 1 Photos: TV On The Radio, Toro Y Moi, Title Fight & Deerhunter Rock 20,000
FYF Fest, Day 2 Photos: Poolside, Touche Amore, Baroness & More Bring The Dust
FYF Fest Style, Day 1: Photos Of Bandeau Bras, Jean Shorts & An Amazing Fruity Getup
FYF Fest Style, Day 2: Photos Of Lace, Southwestern Garb & A Tiger Suit
Metro Rail Offering Extended Late-Night Service During FYF Fest