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Photos: Grace Jones, LCD Soundsystem, And Surprise Guests At FYF Fest, Day 2
The Sunday leg of FYF Fest proved to be just as gratifying as the first day. And in fact it got off to a stronger start, as people showed up earlier to account for the upcoming work day.
Thanks to Preoccupations, one of the first acts of the day, the arrivals were met with a wall of feedback and mangled guitars. Drummer Mike Wallace made no qualms about abusing his kit, forcing his drum tech to come out and do some mid-song maintenance—it was a little like watching the pit-crew of a NASCAR race. The set was a declaration that there would be no formal introductions—the acts were going to jump right into it.
Wild Nothing, also playing on the "lawns" stage, picked up from where Preoccupations left off. Here, we got our first taste of drama as frontman Jack Tatum battled against the midday sun. “I think we’re the only indie band with two redheads,” said Tatum. But Wild Nothing didn't wilt under the glare, the band's layered hooks were played with painstaking attention and kept the audience in rapt for the duration of the band's hour-long set.
On the main stage, Blood Orange turned the event into a star-studded affair. Frontman Dev Hynes brought out Carly Rae Jepsen, Nelly Furtado, Zuri Marley and Sky Ferreira—all artists he's previously collaborated with and/or sing on his latest album—to deliver a medley of sensual tracks. The sound didn't always translate to the open-air stage, as the quieter songs got lost in the muddle. But Hynes' enthusiasm—he did everything from imitating MJ's dance moves, to shredding on his guitar—was enough to hold everything together.
The (not-so-hidden) gem of the festival may have been the "woods" stage, on which a number of DJs came out to deliver a playlist of house and techno jams. Chicago's The Black Madonna doled out tracks with tribal drums that were infectious and hypnotic. In one of the biggest surprises of the night, pop anti-hero Robyn showed up to provide some vocals to the pulsating beats. And Bicep—a duo from Belfast—deviated from the usual house-and-disco to play some techno jams with a harder edge. Floating Points, who'd DJed on Saturday, came out to the "club" stage for a live set of his elaborate compositions. You often think of electronic music as being rigid and perfectly-constructed. Floating Points' live set, however, was met with some snags, as the synths and drum machines sometimes ran out-of-sync. But, weirdly, this only boosted the set by ratcheting up the stakes for Sam Shepherd and his band. Ultimately, they pulled through and delivered a bone-shaking set of pure volume.
And then there were the night's headliners, of course. The back-to-back pairing of Grace Jones and LCD Soundsystem was very apropos, as they both hail from the NYC dance milieu. Jones showed no signs of slowing down, even though she'd been in the game for 30-plus years. Her voice was as clear and confident as ever, and she slinked and gyrated across the stage as if she owned the whole place (which she did). All her charms were put on full-display as she addressed the audience. Regarding LAX she said, "They sure like to frisk you around here. But I'm not stupid. Whatever it was they're looking for, I already took it."
And, in spite of it being a Sunday night, the crowd really piled up for LCD Soundsystem's 11 p.m. set. As far as the main stage acts go, LCD's turn wasn't quite as surprising as Jones' or even Blood Orange's, but the band dutifully tore through their wide catalog of dance-punk jams. Despite this being a "reunion" trek for the band, they sounded as taut and lively as ever. Their giant discoball, which looked big enough to have its own gravitational pull, reflected white rays of light that seemed like the perfect analogy to the unfettered joy that pervaded the crowd.
So there we have it, another successful FYF Fest. What had once started as a grassroots show at The Echoplex has now turned into a festival titan that can keep up with the likes of Outside Lands and Lollapalooza. Some may decry the corporatization of it all. And there's certainly merit to their concerns (M&M's was everywhere at the fest) but when the performances are this good, there's just no going back.
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