What started out in 2004 as a punk-rock festival at The Echo, 18-year-old music promoter Sean Carlson, created “F Yeah Fest,” which was eventually moved to the L.A. Historic Park and re-named FYF. Last year, Carlson celebrated the 10-year anniversary, and this year has moved the festival to the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park at University of Southern California (USC’s) Coliseum. With an attendance of more than 30,000 bass heads and indie kids, the perimeters of USC were heavily guarded this weekend, including the bomb squad, to ensure no riots would breakout, in the animal-style, one way entrance to FYF.
Camping is non-existent at FYF, so transportation from hotels to the event included the public metro, driver apps like Uber and Lyft, smelly taxi’s, and self-parking in the ghetto, $20 lots. Going through the monstrous line made us dizzy, but when we reached security, they were allowed to touch every inch of our undergarments for weapons and drugs (over clothes of course). Some of the crowd flocked to see Joyce Manor, XXYYXX, Real Estate, and The Stroke’s, Albert Hammond Jr. The rest enjoyed a comfy spot in the beer garden, next to The Arena, where everyone was excited to “bag-it-up” with Aussie artist, Chet Faker. His sensual performance, included, “No Diggity” and “Love and Feeling,” and was a solid start to the weekend.
After the music kept us spirited, Future Islands changed lives on the Main Stage, Slowdive was banging it out on The Lawn, and Julian Casablancas + The Voidz picked up where Future Islands left off. Trying to get through the through the vortex of insanity to the Main Stage was impossible. Security was told to create a single-filed line for us to enter The Arena, which led to a barricade in front of the Main Stage, and nothing to do but look at the red lanterns scattered throughout a few of the trees. Friends were lost, fans were all hyped-up and inpatient, but got especially annoyed when forced to show wristbands to get through. The line pushed and shoved, finally knocking security out of the way and the thousands of fans into the doors. This nightmare was all for the master-mind from Dundas, Ontario, Caribou, who had left a memory much more powerful, than complaining about the complete f-up of organization. What looked like constellations on the stage and snow falling on the wood dance floors, was a reflection of about 100 silver, mirror, disco balls of all sizes, reflecting the blue and violet lights. Bodies swayed back and forth, to a vibe similar to Disclosure. The cool air struck me and I felt wispy as I caught onto, “Can’t Do Without You.” The simple lyrics and beat with flow created a happy love song that everyone was able to swiftly dance to. Next up was Tycho, followed by Grimes on The Lawn, but Interpol and Phoenix on the Main Stage were the next-up on my set-time schedule, and I was excited to see Phoenix close own day one. Missing Ty Segall was not too brutal, as he will be around for a few shows in his hometown Los Angeles.
By 11:30 p.m., the night did not feel young. Bodies were aching, blisters were brewing, and eyes dropped heavy, ready for closure. There was so much walking and standing due to the lack of places to sit, grass to lay in, or campsites to conveniently walk to for a power nap. There was not much to do or look at, besides throw beanbags through a small wood hole, or wait in a long line to sit at the arts and crafts table. There were a few clothing and accessory vendors, and $14 coconut waters, but we would rarely find a clean spot to rest for five minutes. It was that time to make way back to the hotel to rejuvenate and replenish for the final day.
After waking up Sunday morning, checking out of the hotel on time, and parking in one of the ghetto $20 lots across the coliseum, we felt less stressed when the FYF app notified our phones that more entrances had been added. We walked to the other side of the venue where others were trying to enter, and security informed us to go around to the left. We went around to the left, hit the VIP entrance, and that security guard told us to walk all the way around to the other side, on 39th and Vermont. After this thirty-minute walk, we got to security, which was a breeze. (Point: there was still only one entrance, located on the other side). The next notification on the app told us Mount Kimbie had cancelled their performance, but were giving out popsicles to the first 2,500 into the festival… well thanks to the false notifications, we couldn’t get one of those either.
After being searched much lighter around the top part of the girls’ outfits, we walked right to The Lawn for Mac Demarco on the Main Stage, while others were captivated by Daphni’s colorful stage presence in The Arena. From the larger beer garden behind the Main Stage, we danced to the New York duo, Tanlines, who sounded something like an electronic Two Door Cinema Club, under the tent that kept us shaded all day and lit with blue string lights all night. It was then time to make-way into The Arena, where instead of having a line this time, it was completely closed off, so we followed the herd around to the other entrance by the beer garden. Listening to Daniel Avery’s continuous beat for an hour gave us anxiety, but it was easy to deal with, knowing that Brooklyn duo Darkside was up next, where they would perform one of their final shows after deciding to go separate ways. The two boys never seem to introduce themselves before their set, but this is smart of them. Discovering this talent at Coachella this year was one of the most amazing experiences, so the wait was worth it. While stage/light crews were preparing the stage, and fans were still flooding in from the beer gardens, we gathered to the front-right of the sound stage. Finally, all the lights went off except two, dim spotlights, highlighting Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington. The fog emphasized their presence and illuminated their shadows, visually communicating their dark-side to everyone in The Arena.
Darkside was orgasmic, rushed blood through my mind, and put my body in a euphoric state. The extended intro of “Paper Trails” included deep bass and vocals, and as the music got louder, the stage-lights followed. Starting with what looked like a sun-shield for your car, was something like a mirror, circling the stage into the audience, reflecting a circle of white light; the kind Batman uses to mark his spot. There was a fan at the beginning of the stage with a Go-Pro on a stick, girls with glow sticks and lights, and fans making hearts with both pointer fingers. Their final song, “Golden Arrow,” was supported by an entire back wall made of medium-sized, circle mirrors, the same as they had at Coachella. They reflected and lit like fire in synchronization of the beat, and when a milky white light appeared like an exploding star, their set was over.
Darkside left the audience with a silent wave. One guy in front of me went to his friend, turned his head to the back of the stage, and closed his eyes on his friends shoulder while saying, “DUDE!” with the biggest smile. He to continued to jump with the crowd, taking in their last show. What went down as a night never to be forgotten, will be one always to remember.
Leaving The Arena with a feeling of fulfillment, it didn’t matter what was next. An executive decision was made as the way out of The Arena turned into walking packs of sardines. Nothing would be able to top Darkside, but to be fair HAIM deserved a second chance after Coachella as well. The sisters from L.A. had come on 15-minutes before Darkside was over, and while walking up to the Main Stage, major guitar shredding, and screaming fans, caused another herd of FYF. Everyone was spilling their drink while spinning in circles, and the trendy, hipster girls who just broke up with their boyfriends couldn’t stop singing every lyric. After the last of their set, including hits, “My Song 5,” “The Wire,” and “Forever,” we decided to skip The Blood Brothers, and headed to The Lawn to see Flying Lotus, at the opposite end by the entrance. This was obviously the stage to be at for trippy, psychedelic visuals, and simulated a smaller version of Coachella’s Sahara tent, but was completely outside and not nearly as large. Hearing a few songs was good enough before it was now time to walk back to the Main Stage for The Strokes. By this time, it was obvious that all of FYF exhausted from the constant walking. Fans were on the floor siting down on the dirty asphalt, or cuddling with their significant others, or still tweaked out and going hard.
It was important to support The XX family after being a dedicated fan for so long, so a few of us headed into The Arena. Dance moves that were only possible in movies, actually happened all around me, in what was an entire different atmosphere. Streaks of magenta, violet, white, and silver lights swept across the stage when he mixed, “Islands,” one of my favorites by The XX, with a funky beat of his own. After a few songs, his beats were almost as consistent as Daniel Avery’s, and sounded repetitive, so we decided to catch a few last songs from The Strokes. “Reptilia” was enough for us to end the night, so we headed out before the crowd could catch up.
Surrounded by ice cold waters for sale, and hot-dogs with grilled onions and other veggies being cooked on small grilling carts, we managed to leave the venue happy and safe, getting another ten-mile walk in.
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