Two days of FYF is pretty manageable when you live 15 minutes away and doors don’t open until two. I got to sleep late, have brunch with my family, and still roll in early enough to find free Sunday street parking and order one of the best ice coffees ever while walking through Chinatown. Seriously, the helper at Hill Street Cafe & Cigar brewed and poured fresh espresso, spooned in some condensed milk, added ice, topped it off, sealed it in a boba cup, and then shook it by hand. I love FYF but that probably wasn’t going to happen in one of the food trucks, and definitely not for 3 bucks.
Jonathan Richman kicked of the day with a set that reminded us that music is made by humans for humans. The ex-Modern Lover who appeared in There’s Something About Mary not only chooses to surround himself with people rather than watch TV and have conversations in person rather than with a cell phone, but doesn’t even use monitors when playing with his buddy Tommy onstage. It’s that immediacy, integrity, and honesty that makes him a hero to punks and all music that stems from it.
Immediately after Jonathan Richman and Tommy left the stage, the area was flooded by a younger crowd. Festivals are all about checking out new bands, so I stuck around to sample chain-smoking Canadian’s slacker rock vibe and watch his fans go nuts. Mac Demarco makes it look easy but you know it isn’t…
Checked out another band that was new to me… Holy crap, The Orwells put on an amazing show with a ton of nervous energy and unhinged rock ‘n’ roll that will sound great in my van after I order the cassette from Burger. This super young, hyper melodic band is touring with FIDLAR and the pairing is going to rule.
Got a taste of Chelsea Wolfe and her crew letting the heavy atmospheric goth flow in broad daylight. She pretty much turned the Gold Line into a ghost train, the Goodyear Blimp into a UFO, and the afternoon into a daydream.
The other good thing about going to a fest is that you check out bands that your friends really like a lot. To me, Kurt Vile was kinda like Joey Ramone singing Exile on Main St. I wonder if it was weird to have that Black Flag logo on the laptop when members of the band are actually walking around the fest…
Is it FYF if you don’t see No Age? The fest’s house band/beloved L.A. duo’s songs of the brand-new album sounded amazing live. Some were drop-dead gorgeous. This is one set where I stayed from beginning to end.
Baroness had to cancel last year’s FYF appearance to recover from a horrible bus accident in Europe. This year, the healed-up and reconfigured heshers unleashed a full-on blast of rock that recalls a Southern-fried Metallica. Epic shredding with a ton of melody and no irony, these guys are the real deal and it’s rad to have them back in action.
Melvins were next, and I was excited to see the new lineup with Jeff Pinkus from Butthole Surfers. Talk about a love connection. Both bands share a commitment to destroying eardrums and minds, and Pinkus meshing with King Buzzo was a perfect bookend for drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis. Not metal, punk, or grunge but originators in all of three, the Melvins are their own genre of heavy music and they play like a well-oiled death machine.
Was Les Savy Fav the best show of fest? The band hasn’t performed in years but cranked out their brand of melodic post punk perfectly as singer Tim Harrington not only climbed into the audience multiple times but dangled from a tree, rode across the crowd on a ladder, and gave a box of toilet paper for fans to throw through the air. Long live Les Savy Fav!
Headliners and fest closers My Bloody Valentine didn’t allow photographers up front during their set and that was fine with me. Anyone with less than industrial strength ear protection has no business being that close to their famously loud performances. It couldn’t have been easy for the fest to arrive at a closing band that will tie together all fans of genres and age groups, but anyone who likes interesting, independent, or underground sounds has to respect the Irish shoe gaze pioneers’ alternately beautiful and noisy aesthetic, which blew out the sound multiple times. Everyone left content, knowing that neither the speakers nor their ears could handle any more. See you next year.