Saturday, August 27, 2016

FYF Fest 2016, August 27 & 28, at L.A. Sports Arena and Coliseum, Exposition Park

By this time we knew how these festivals work, and FYF Fest in particular, our big, local fest, and what we could get away with in our day(s). We’d gotten the hang of getting to shows just in time to see the headliner (a scheme that often worked), and we applied the same thing to a weekend festival. Once the set-times came out (an event second only in excitement to the line-up reveal) we could make a plan, a necessity when there are other adult concerns in life (which could also be a friends’ kid’s birthday party). As much as we go to festivals and FYF to hang out with our people as much as see bands, we don’t usually bother to get there early without reason, and sometimes we get fairly surgical about it. There’s also the consideration of leaving two hours to get in, so it might necessitate using up a lot of the day and being there early but just not getting to see bands right after parking (which can also take a while then the walk from). Sometimes going one day is just an obligation for the two-day event and since we planned for the whole weekend in the first place. And so was our Saturday at FYF that year. We’d planned the whole weekend for it anyway, and had the headliner we most wanted to see, even if it was just because we probably wouldn’t see him anywhere else outside of a festival. So, after the walk from the parking and the line (both just as we’d planned), we got in to wander, to see where we wound up, which initially included some of Shellac, maybe just to establish seeing a band even if it wasn’t anyone we planned for; it was late in the day/early in the evening, with the sun going down, and without much of any other draw on our attention we just wandered, ending up for a minute at Air, who hadn't much advanced beyond their sound but still had the merit of establishing it in the first place, and Ty Segall, who we always seem to wind up near anyway, whether we know someone in his band or not; we finally got around to seeing Kendrick Lamar, the big draw, by far, for the weekend. It wasn’t too long before then that I had discovered To Pimp a Butterfly and found out the hype about him was true, if not understated, and that his stuff was too good to be pigeon-holed as just “rap”. FYF had progressed far beyond just being a punk show, even branching out to include hip-hop groups not just as novelty, so Kendrick might have been reaching to win over the indie and punk kids, and headlining the bill was at least enough for all the cred. He put on a full-blown show and pulled a lot of the crowd at the fest, though we didn’t see the beginning and left before long to beat the crowd out. It might have been a truncated day but for the event we got enough out of it, especially with a bigger day behind it.
Missed: Peter Bjorn, & John (probably just as well since we didn’t keep up after “Young Folk”), Diiv (I had the album ahead of time but it didn’t do much for me), Vince Staples (a renowned local guy but no one I knew), Grimes (who I should have known but didn't bother with at this one), Oneohtrix Point Never (if only by the association of having remixed a NIN track, but no reason to see even with the remote possibility of that in the set), Hot Chip (who perpetually have never done anything for me, even if they were lumped in with a lot of other acts that I’ve liked), Explosions in the Sky (who could probably be great if their songs had words), Moby (who I didn’t realize had some valid work, even after Play, but not enough of a pull to see).

Sunday worked better for us for the fest, being the day we could focus on and make more of an effort to take in, including leaving for it earlier and working some luck to only spend 30 minutes getting in. I got into Preoccupations when they were Viet Cong (a spectacularly ill-advised name, the story of which is probably less interesting than why they chose the name in the first place), and thanks to Tana on our camping trip, and they got out an early-day set that didn’t need to stand out one way or another; if it were up to Carla we might have missed Banks & Steelz, flying under the radar without their recognizable names as Paul from Interpol and the RZA. Luckily I caught it, and they ended up being a high-point for the fest. The angular music set to hip-hop beats and rhymes was disconcerting coming in on it cold but anyone can trust either of those guys to do something worth the time. They both went back to their own projects after that, but for us to get them even for a moment was a treat; soul-legend Charles Bradley was making a name for himself with the indie crowd when soul might be a harder sell to a modern audience that could be looking for it in R&B more attuned to hip-hop. But the guy was the real deal, and he brought as much energy and grit to the stage as anyone half his age. We got lucky to see him since it wasn’t much later that the passed, so we got a performance that became more special looking back; Father John Misty was arguably at the height of his fame, after the “Real Love” single, and I had been on the train, after being unable to avoid him in association with everything else I listen to. We, as a group, also couldn’t avoid the dudes with bushy beards and shaggy, long hair, which seemed to surround us, so we got back by naming them all "Misties". The man himself put on a sufficient high-afternoon set in sunglasses and a lightweight, open shirt, and spinning his cynical but tuneful songs for his flock, of girls too smart to go for that kind of thing and the dudes who may or may not be hipsters but still openly cop his look; it wasn’t until I was killing time and had randomly wandered to Ahoni that I came on the realization that it was Antony from Antony & the Johnsons. I wasn’t a big enough fan to be into more than his first albums but I had assumed that I would catch a new project (though it had been a big deal on eMusic, I figured it was for a reason beyond me). As it was I didn’t have enough time to get much more out of it than the recognition, but it was good that the new project could get a prominent place on the schedule, as well as being accepted with what could be a challenging or at least non-conventional character, though that would be the crowd to start; I never got how Mac Demarco was such a big deal. He was a dude who kept popping up on the FYF line-ups but he didn’t seem like he had much reason to have a place there. Maybe a local guy, sure, but L.A. has plenty of musicians that would kill to get in to that fest. He’s a tuneful guy but, really, just a dude with a guitar and a cap. But whatever it is I didn't pick up for the few minutes as we passed by, and if there was anything there I knew I could get it at the next one; Beach House are another band that always seem to be there, even when they don’t need to be. We might have caught a bit of them as we passed by, but by then I’d had enough of them. Haunting but not gothy light rock and I had parted ways by then; we caught a bit of Grace Jones while we were waiting, and I realized that it was probably a distinguished and distinctive appearance and we were lucky to get it but I only knew her from the weird, arty TV appearances back in the ‘80s (probably commercials, for what I don’t remember). That she was a musician was a level beyond to me, and nothing I could get my head around, in spite of it being more performance art on a large scale which could be more accessible, or because of it being such. As it was I figured that if I got it later a recorded performance could be just as good, and I could always say I was there anyway, but maybe there was just something mildly frightening about it -- and her -- coming in without proper preparation; LCD Soundsystem were the big deal for the day, finally earning a name big enough to headline, after being on the under-bill of pretty much every festival when they were originally together. It didn’t hurt that that this was part of their big, ballyhooed reunion, even if they’d only been gone five years, the length of time some bands take between albums as a matter of course (and LCD taping their last shows as if there would never be another and not just a cash cow to pay for their next side-projects). It hardly seemed like they had been gone anyway, with just a few new songs to mark any difference, and while it was good to see them back as a musical and cultural force and hopefully not leaving again any time soon, it also made it easy for us to check in and get a few songs before heading out since there was work the next day. Such was our surgical strike for FYF, knowing exactly how to hit what we needed and get in and get out, filling the time between sets with whatever friends rotated in and out of our mutual presence, and maybe picking up some new music if not a new experience, then entrusting next year's fest to come soon enough and getting on with our lives in the time until then.
Missed: the Black Madonna (who I didn’t know, but Jenn said was great, and she has a great stage-name), the Black Lips (another “Black” band that get mixed up with a lot of others if they’re not the Keys or Rebel Motorcycle Club), Young Thug (who had been getting some press but didn’t have a reason to stand out for me), Chelsea Wolfe (whose full show we’d seen, without really knowing her, and who plays more local fests than she doesn’t so we went somewhere else).

Kendrick Lamar’s set-list:
”untitled 07 | 2014 - 2016”
”Backseat Freestyle”
”m.A.A.d city (Part II)”
”Swimming Pools (Drank)”
”Collard Greens” (ScHoolboy Q cover)
”THat Part” (ScHoolboy Q cover)
”Free Lunch” (Isaiah Rashad cover) (with Isaiah Rashad)
”These Walls”
”For Sale?”
”untitled 02 | 06.23.2014.”
”Complexion (A Zulu Love)”
”Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe”
”Money Trees” (with Jay Rock)
”m.A.A.d city (Part I)”
”King Kunta”
”For Free?”
”Wesley's Theory”


LCD Soundsystems’ set-list:
”Us v Them”
”Daft Punk Is Playing at My House”
”I Can Change”
”Get Innocuous!”
”You Wanted a Hit”
”Someone Great”
”Losing My Edge”
”New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down”
”Dance Yrself Clean”
”All My Friends”

Father John Misty’s set-list:
”Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
”When You're Smiling and Astride Me”
”Only Son of the Ladiesman”
”Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow”
”Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”
”Bored in the USA”
”Holy Shit”
”True Affection”
”I Love You, Honeybear”
”The Ideal Husband”

Charles Bradley’s set-list:
”The World (Is Going Up in Flames)”
”You Put the Flame on It”
”Love Bug Blues”
”Heartaches and Pain”
”Let Love Stand a Chance”
”Changes” (Black Sabbath cover)

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