Words by Sam Nachbar || Photos by Joey Serxner
Speaking to a markedly young and trendy group of twenty-somethings during his late-afternoon set at FYF Fest (a.k.a. F*** Yeah Fest), Father John Misty used his time in between songs to relate to the crowd with humor. By impersonating an old man with a cane that was dragged to the festival by his granddaughter and turning to the audience to ask, “What time do the Foo Fighters play?”, he catered to the alternative, intentionally unkempt crowd by poking fun of the elderly and more “mainstream” festivals. His quips were for the cool kids; which was fitting, because the festival had an air of contemporary southern California style to it.
Festival goers who got to L.A. Historic Park before the sun went down took breaks to find shade intermittently, but the temperature was never oppressive, and the distance between stages (four in total) was minor enough to make the commute between acts enjoyable (the beer tents along the way didn’t hurt). As to be expected from an event held just outside of downtown L.A., the festival was a diverse gathering, and the music was definitely not genre specific. It ranged from punk to electronic dance, yet differences in musical preference did not separate attendees, and even as the various groups blended for the headlining acts, there remained a certain calmness to the event.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST
If the tank tops and songs about skateboarding (“Wake, Bake, Skate”) and making fun of friends who can’t surf (“Max Can’t Surf”) weren’t evidence enough, the members of FIDLAR solidified their L.A. roots by hanging a gold Lakers banner on stage before their set. The group played a collection of short and to-the-point punk songs that everyone immediately appreciated (even those hearing them for the first time). Lyrically, the band is about as brilliantly lowbrow as can be. From the opening hook when all four members yelled, “I Drink Cheap Beer, So What!” to the end of the set, FIDLAR won the crowd over with their youthful punk anthems.
At the Spring St. Stage, San Francisco’s King Tuff kept the California theme rolling with their blend of indie/punk/garage songs. Playing a beautifully beat up and sea foam green Gibson SG, front-man Kyle Thomas told the crowd, “This next song is about my guitar, and me breaking it”. For me and other guitar appreciators in the crowd, the thought of his axe crashing to its death was an unfortunate and simultaneously awesome idea to entertain. Luckily, Thomas did not dismantle his instrument and instead channeled his energy into a charismatic set while donning a shirt that read, “Blow Me”.
Cloud Nothings’ latest release, Attack On Memory, is one of the biggest indie albums of the year. On their self-titled first LP, the band had more of a power pop punk feel, but their melodies have matured into a heavier, grunge-influenced sound. Listeners unfamiliar with the change in approach became visibly bored amidst a noise rock breakdown during “No Future/No Past”, but Cloud Nothings won the crowd back, by adding a riotous outro to the song. For fans of neo-grunge, the six song set, complete with untraditional solos and extended break downs, was a beautifully executed live performance and a real highlight of the festival.
After a series of up-tempo early afternoon shows, A.A. Bondy’s comparatively tame folk set at the Hill St. Stage was a welcome gift. The songwriting was on full display, and the Louisiana-born Bondy played an appropriately fuzzy guitar to accentuate his refined vocals. With a series of trees lining the right side of the stage, many enjoyed the slow-moving songs from the comfort of the shade. It’s not that the music was too sleepy or uninteresting; it just had the sort of pitch that was best appreciated with your back against a tree.
On the main stage, a gratuitous number of Marshall Amps were lining the back of the stage as people gathered for Sleigh Bells. As front-woman, Alexis Krauss took the stage the crunchy guitar riffs (that were seemingly loud enough to drown out all other performances at that hour) began to get the crowd jumpy. Wasting no time, she grabbed the microphone and hurled into her blend of dance-punk songs. The pace was frenetic, and as Krauss’s vocals neared screaming levels, the crowd responded by bouncing even more feverishly. The genre-defying set was a perfect cross-section of the different sounds (electronic, punk) represented at FYF 2012.
Continue on to page two for coverage from the final day of FYF 2012