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Top 10 Moments from FYF Fest 2013

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on August 28, 2013

Photo: FYF Fest 2013 by Laura Baker-Finch

Los Angeles, California -- FYF Fest brought 25,000 daily attendees, 60 bands, a few life-sized emojis, and myself to LA's State Historic Park last weekend for one of the last festivals of the summer season. The traditionally punk festival still managed to span genres in its off-center lineup, thus drawing a variety of attendee types. Yet FYF exuded a slightly different (in the best possible way) atmosphere than most festivals I experience this year with no (noticeable) mollied-up bros in neon and only one (spotted) passed out girl in a flower crown. Pair that with a slew of not-to-be-missed acts and you're on your way to picturing my weekend at FYF. With that in mind, let me take you on a more in depth journey through the festival's top 10 moments from truffle fries-induced dance parties to jam sessions with Guards.

10. No Age First Listen

LA noise rockers No Age were the last to be added to FYF and, as far as I know, the band with the most history with the festival. They'd appeared on seven Fuck Yeah lineups including their 2013 date, which fell just six days after the release of An Object. For some reason, despite putting No Age in our top picks for the festival and despite having access to the album both digitally via Spotify and analog(ly?) during my trip to Amoeba Records, I decided to wait for the hometown live show to be my first listen. I can't say it wasn't tempting, but somehow I held out 100x longer than I would have if, say, the album was a cookie.

Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt began with new songs before pleasing the crowd surfers with "Fever Dreaming" and "Teen Creeps." Their set was enticing albeit slightly washed out (who didn't play for a few more hours.) It's hard for two guys to keep up with thousands of attendees, many of which were more interested in their beers and conversations than the music. Nevertheless, I wish I could transfer more first listen experiences into a live setting - though I think I used up all my will power for the next couple releases.

9. Kelley of The Breeders at Fuck YOU Fest

FYF has always fostered musical talent slightly off the mainstream path and you'd be hard-pressed to find a band that embodies the indie aesthetic more than The Breeders. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Last Splash, The Breeders played the record in full with the same mini moog and original wind chimes from when it was recorded back in 1993. But before they even got fully underway, Kelley had a confession. She may have known the history of the festival (sort of) with its beginnings in the alleys of Echo Park, but she was even more off when it came to what FYF stands for.

Fuck You Fest? C'mon Kelley, I think that one would be a bit different type of festival. Richie Rollin of Guards, however, got it right when he wished everyone a "Happy Fuck Yeah Fest... Fest." The Breeders: 0; Guards: 1.

8. Joyce Manor Discusses In N Out Burger

When I think of Joyce Manor live I don't necessarily imagine the most put together or refined sound, but that comes with the genre - doesn't it? But not even lead singer and guitarist Barry Johnson could continue playing Saturday evening with a faulty amp. Maybe it was the punk Gods punishing them for starting 5 minutes early. Unlike My Bloody Valentine the next night, rather than let the audience stare at the Miranda stage in silence as the technicians and band members switch between fixing a blown amp, to imploring other bands to lend them one, to realizing it was an electrical issue, Johnson turned to the crowd to fill the time.

"Who's going to In N Out Burger after this? Yeah? Me too. Do you know any of their secret items?"

After a few minutes of fast food secrets (try the Flying Dutchman) and hometown criticizing - "Don't defend Torrance. It's not that great, I did it too. It sucked, awful times." - the pop punk foursome went right back to screaming their quick, bashing tracks through hits like my personal favorite, "Leather Jacket."

7. Truffle-Induced MGMT Dance Parties

To be honest, the crowd at the Carrie Stage for MGMT only showed enthusiasm for the psychedelic group in spurts; three of them to be exact. Note I am hesitant to use waves instead of spurts or, later, peaks as the enthusiasm came and left too sharply to be recalled by the image of flowing water. Perhaps it was the anticipation of the act to follow (My Bloody Valentine) or the unfortunate reality of the group never quite hitting the success of 2007's Oracular Spectacular, but my enjoyment of their set followed the crowd and only peaked three times - during "Time to Pretend," "Electric Feel," and "Kids," respectively. What set my own trifecta of spurts apart from those of the MBV fans around me was their alignment with three pivotal moments in obtaining truffle fries from Holy Aioli - a truck located between the $4 service charge ATMS and, by that time, abandoned Craft FYF Tent.

As "Time to Pretend" brought up my energy and ass from the ottoman on which I was resting, I worked up enough of an appetite to crave the aforementioned truffle fries plus their not-previously-mentioned yet accompanied truffle aioli dipping sauce. I waited until the end of the song, most likely only because the projection on stage looked like the Rainbow Road from Mario Kart. Once over, I headed over to Holy Aioli, delighted in the lack of a line, and stumbled while pulling out singles from my makeshift wallet to pay. While waiting, the second peak hit as MGMT broke into "Electric Feel," Despite the late hour and relative emptiness around the truck, its patrons abandoned their posts (and my fries), whipped out their iPhones, and proceeded to join me in snapping photos and dancing in the grass. My energy spurt ended along with the song as I retrieved my fries and returned to my velvety resting spot. As I sat and began to revel in the glory that are truffles, "Kids" echoed from the speakers to my right, ushering in the final peak of MGMT's set - the best of the three considering what was in my mouth at the time.

6. Beautiful Beach House

Beach House. Where do I begin? There's nothing to be said of their stage presence, especially from further back than the sound booth, as the three on stage stand as their short film Forever Still suggests. But their music was (and always is) as soothing as a childhood lullaby as it eased the crowds of FYF into late Sunday night. With eyes closed its easy to forget your location not only due to its hypnotic quality but the, just, well, quality of it. I could barely tell the difference between Bloom played alone through my headphones and what was present on the Carrie Stage that night. A set to remind me why Bloom was my favorite record of 2012.

5. (K)Consistency at Kurt Vile

5:20pm, August 25, 2013, marked the fourth time I had seen Kurt Vile perform in the late afternoon sun, during summer, under a cloudless sky. I don't have much to say of the set that began with "Wakin on a Pretty Day" musically besides it being as enjoyable as the previous three experiences (like here and here.) Yet, while that may seem like a cop out and/or unenjoyable, the latter is untrue and the former, I hope, is too. There is comfort in consistency, particularly one that is as audibly pleasing as Kurt's rock paired with the weather equivalent of his repertoire. I have never seen Kurt indoors, or at night for that matter, but I don't want to. As he almost mumbled the title track of his similarly titled Wakin On A Pretty Daze album through his hair, I dazedly embraced the pretty day.

4. 80s Hair Metal at Mikal Cronin

I "ooh"-ed my way towards Mikal Cronin during "Get Along" for what was my first, and definitely not my last, experience with Cronin and his band. When I got to the stage I realized I was far from the only one crooning along as all in attendance joined in for the last line of "Weight." During the following song, "See it My Way," I stopped singing and switched to staring in awe as Cronin's guitarist brought back 80s hair metal guitar solos in a way so enticing people only turned away only to snap an Instagram of the skyline behind.

As I, too, turned around to see what all the fuss was about, I realized the sheer mass of people that were in attendance despite it being the first set on the Carrie Stage that day. Perhaps opening gates at 2pm takes away the taboo of being at the fest for the early acts of the day - something to keep in mind, fellow festivals. Invigorated for the day, I joined back in with Cronin on "...long long time ago" from "Shout it Out" on my way to the beer garden to finish the set with a Shock Top in hand.

3. Baroness and Banh Mi

I like Baroness and I hoped I would see their set at FYF Fest, but the band wasn't included in my top picks nor elicited the check mark I placed in the schedule next to those I would definitely see that day. They got a blue marker-ed question mark and, to be honest, if it wasn't for Vietnamese sandwiches and a longer than anticipated line to get one I probably would've caught fellow question marked Flume instead.

After watching No Age with a beer in hand, I passed Baroness setting up on the Miranda Stage to get to the hidden oasis of food trucks, shade, and picnic tables diagonally to the left behind the stage. The obligatory loop of the food truck row was made, cuisine was craved, and line was chosen. Baroness began playing while 5 Vietnamese-hungry festivalgoers still stood in front of me to order; they sounded great despite the distance and speaker direction separating us. Banh Mi was ordered, received, and Siracha-ed and plans were changed from eating while walking to Flume to eating at a picnic table while listening to Baroness; the sound still impeccable. I finished the 12 inch Vietnamese baguette in record time and began to walk in the direction of the Samantha Tent before looping around the inflatable kitten in love emoji for the rest of Baroness; it was too good to pass up.

Settled halfway towards the stage and the beer garden entrance next to dignified yet dedicated fans - and one non fan ("Why are they called Baroness if there isn't a girl?") - Baroness took the prize for best sounding set of the festival. They didn't miss a beat as every member on stage managed to hold their own, prove their talent, and contribute unequivocally to the overall product. Nothing seemed out of place; there were no filler moments or generic riffs, just game-changing heavy metal. If I wasn't a dedicated fan before Sunday at 7pm, I am now. I'm a converted Baroness fan and I have the FYF merch shirt to prove it.

2. Technical Difficulties during My Bloody Valentine

FYF-ers were still filing through the festival gates after 10pm and, rather than inwardly shaming them for their lack of dedication to the glory that is an all-day festival, I couldn't blame them. $99 for two days or $60 for one day to see the seminal Dublin noise export that is My Bloody Valentine? That's something dedicated fans of all ages would way without thinking twice just to see them. Upon entering they were all greeted with FYF volunteers handing out free neon orange foam earplugs and sound warning notices as we all were throughout the day in anticipation of the night's headlining slot. I utilized the beer garden to get as close as possible to the stage, where I staked claim to my territory against the metal checkered fence contemplating the neon orange foam ear plugs or the yellow and blue spiraled pair I purchased from CVS that morning. I didn't want to wear either though I half-heartedly twisted the latter into my ear as my phone struck 10:45pm.

Unassuming in appearance and presence, Kevin Shields, Colm Ó Cíosóig, Bilinda Butcher, and Debbie Googe took to the stage playing "I Only Said" as the cover of this year's mbv came to life behind them. I was happy, ecstatic even, as the droning vibrated through me as I became aware of all the bands they inspired - many of which graced the stage only hours beforehand. 15 minutes into their set of old and new, the first technical difficulty occurred and, for a split second, I berated myself, "Why didn't I just wear the fucking earplugs properly?" When I realized it was not my eardrums that had burst, but seemingly the speakers, I was relieved though found the situation comical in its sadness. They continued to play "Only Shallow" as if they hadn't noticed until the full sound punched back in as quickly as it went out. A few songs passed sans issue until the same blowout occurred. It wasn't one instrument or one section of the stage but the entire sound entering a vacuum or a heavily-waxed ear canal. I wondered if it was just the speakers on one side of the stage or if the minimal sound that was audible was simply from the stage monitors.

This time they stopped. At first Shields asked the audience for patience but after a minute or two a non-band member approached the microphone to announce a "5-minute technical difficulty break." As the band's famed drone ceased to reverberate in my rib cage, the silence encroached along with emptiness as the band left the stage, engineers approached it, and a herd of festivalgoers headed towards the exit. I stood, waiting and weighting the options of seeing the rest of the set, getting caught in the mass exodus down North Spring Street, and how long it would take to get back to the Chinatown parking garage in which I could only park until midnight. I turned, hung my head, and slowly strolled towards the exit before picking up pace once Holy Ghost! drowned out any updates from the further Carrie Stage anyway.

It wasn't the full hour and a quarter I had hoped for, but it was 45 minutes of inspiring brilliance and a plit second of not knowing whether what burst were the speakers or my eardrums.

1. Jamming with Guards

Live or recorded, I'm a big fan of Guards. Yet their display on stage gives them a bit more edge compared to their clean-cut recorded sound. That's not to say they're messy live - far from it, in fact. They just tend to extend their songs with expertly crafted jam breaks and covers that occur as seamlessly as their pre-recorded tracks. FYF Fest was no exception. From a song-length breakdown straight from "Nightmare" that continuously built up the audience's anticipation in a series of quiet-to-loud, pedal-fucking loops that rose to a drum solo into a cover of "Born Free." By the time the break-less period came to an end and "Supposed to Know" allowed FYF-ers to "slow dance," the relatively small crowd of which I was in the back of had grown trifold as I became encircled in a mass of fans screaming and imitating the Kaylie Sway.

Just when I thought the set hit its peak, Richie Follin began to slide his guitar fret against Loren Humphrey's symbol while egging the crowd on to "keep screaming stuff" during "I See it Coming" into a second (or maybe third) jam session with a simple yet intriguing bass line to keep the five together. The set was as perfect as its sign-off, "Happy Fuck Yeah Fest... Fest."

And it was a happy Fuck Yeah Fest Fest indeed.

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See Also:

Cultivora's Top 5 Picks for FYF Fest 2013
Top 10 Moments from Coachella 2013
Music Monday Playlist: FYF Fest 2013