When I first laid eyes on this year's FYF Fest lineup, I was stunned. It featured a pretty satisfying blend of genres like psychedelic rock, rap, and dance. Grimes, Blood Orange, Young Thug, Father John Misty, LDC Soundsystem, and a later addition, Mac Demarco, all in one place. In the past, a lot of people haven't really talked about the festival, but it's been growing rapidly and starting to look like it's becoming the
festival of the summer, right in sunny Los Angeles, California.
Speaking of location, let's backtrack for a second. The venue itself -- The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum/Exposition Park -- was not a great choice. Getting into the festival was a shit show, where they packed guests like sausages into a never-ending line and then once you got in, you were greeted by this overwhelming circle with no signs. A lot of times, we compared it to a labyrinth -- which way do you choose? Left or right? This one guess could either make or break your day! If you wanted to see half of one set and half of another, well... you couldn't. If you're going to a stage, you better commit to it because the walk between stages took a solid chunk of time out of the night. You want to exit the Main Stage (which didn't have grass, making us feel like we were hanging out in a parking lot) and head over to the Lawn Stage? Get ready to force your way through a tiny doorway along with hundreds of other people. Of course, there probably aren't a ton of great venue options in LA. Coachella already snatched Indio and you have to assume people aren't willing to drive out of LA to go to anything but Coachella. Also, another huge plus was that it was right across from The University of Southern California, where their obvious demographic lives. It was something to get used to, but only if they'd clean up their act, open up more entrances, and hang up some more signs. Honestly, the music was so good that it made us forget about the journey.
We started off Saturday with Vince Staples
who did not disappoint. Fresh off his latest EP release, Prima Donna
out last week, he actually seemed refreshingly low key. He played most of the tracks from Summertime '06
as well, including "Lift Me Up," "Birds & Bees," and dedicated "Hands Up" to police officers all over the world. He burned through his set with complete modesty, despite his astonishing growth this past year.
After that was Grimes
, who got the party started. The crowd couldn't stop dancing during the entire set as she pleased fans with "Kill V. Maim," "Genesis," "World Princess Part II," "Venus Fly," Blood Pop-produced, "Go," and "Scream," which featured surprise guest, Taiwanese rapper, Aristophanes. It was exciting to watch Grimes and her girl crew as they screamed, whipped out choreographed moves, and marched together -- true definition of squad goals. Halfway through, Grimes had some technical difficulties with what seemed to be her monitors, but the crowd couldn't hear the difference. She proved that you don't need to be a perfect singer to be an awesome artist overall -- she showcased her incredible production skills and whether she tries or not, her fashion sensibility. Her dancers and back up singer were all wearing clothes inspired by athletic wear -- sport bras, sneakers, and leggings, creating a new type of high fashion. When Grimes entered the stage, she had such a strong presence and even though she kept calling herself awkward, she worked the stage with growing confidence.
Another highlight of the night was Tame Impala
. What I love about this band is although they look like a group of guys in flannels with dirty hair who are so laid-back, they start playing their instruments and all of a sudden become control-freak scientists and create an otherworldly sound. They were undoubtedly the tightest band of the whole weekend, even when adding little changes in the songs, they were all in sync and well-rehearsed with not a single note out of place. Right in the pocket!
Lady Gaga came out for the last song not to sing, but to hug Kevin Parker and throw guitar picks into the crowd. It's rumored that Parker, along with Mark Ronson and Blood Pop, is producing Gaga's new single, so we can assume they're friends.
was another obvious standout on Saturday. He was playing to his home state, although it was probably more of a "hipster valley girl" crowd... Is that a thing? Does that make sense? I don't know, I'm from the east coast, but that's how I'd describe it. Lamar's set had a lot of ego in it which was off-putting. I've always thought of Lamar as one of the most modest rappers, but then again he's also the
biggest rapper right now, so I guess we'll let it slide.
AIR also made an appearance at The Lawn Stage, which Tame Impala's Kevin Parker later said was one of his favorite bands of all time. Ty Segall & The Muggers were another highlight that some people may have missed -- his guitars were whacked out on psychedelic fuzz, accompanied by borderline-scary screams. Hot Chip, as always, brought the party on the Lawn Stage with continuous disco-ish beats.
Much like Saturday, Sunday was also packed with overwhelmingly great music. We started the day off strong with Blood Orange
who wowed us with several strong guest appearances including Carly Rae Jepsen, Sky Ferreira (who sang a little bit of "Everything Is Embarrassing" and "You're Not Good Enough"), Empress Of (who sang "Best To You," a danceable highlight), and Nelly Furtado, whose dramatic, crackling vocals on "Hadron Collider" chilled the entire crowd. Blood Orange is an artist who's artistically free and experiments with all mediums -- he whipped out some ballet-like dance moves, played the piano, played some impressive 80s-inspired guitar solos, and even played the cello. There's nothing this man can't do.
Up next was Father John Misty
. His show was basically the same as the last two times I saw him at this year's Bonnaroo and Governors Ball, but he seemed to be a little more dramatic this time around (if that's even possible). One difference from his earlier festival sets was that he actually projected some images behind him... Although they were jokes. When he came onstage, there was a software update failure on the screen and when he left, a "Bonnaroo 2016" promo popped up. It seemed like there were a lot of technical issues during this set -- during the first song, he broke a string on his guitar but continued playing like a champ. His bandmates messed up a lot and stage hands would come on several times to fix something. The most confusing part was the abrupt end. Misty didn't say "thank you" or show any sign of an end, but instead just left with five minutes left to spare. Stage techs came on stage with big lights pointing at one area, which made the crowd think something important broke... But nonetheless, we once again received a dramatic, troll-ish performance from Father John.
showed up on the Trees Stage afterwards and announced this was his third or fourth year playing FYF Fest and it showed. He was his normal, goofy, lovable self as he blew through each song with comical commentary from the band in between each song. Demarco's show in particular was enjoyable after seeing artists like Grimes and Tame Impala because his music is the opposite -- not over-produced. He used a couple of effects on his guitar and played straight-forward music that sounded like a band practicing in a garage -- but in a great way. It's authentic and refreshing and proves that you can still blow people away with a great song. Then his band went overtime and actually got kicked off stage by the peeps running the how (ha!) and he announced that he'll be hanging around the fest and to not be shy if we saw him. I was considering skipping the rest of the night just to go look for him but I didn't #Massive #Regrets.
After Demarco came Beach House
. I always knew the band to be notoriously mysterious, and mysterious they were. Using barely any colored lights -- just black and white -- and not lighting their faces too well, they looked like they were witches, conducting some sort of witchcraft on their instruments. Victoria Legrand's voice live was airy and downright gorgeous as she loudly wailed but somehow managed to make it softly blend in with the rest of the music.
were one of the last acts of the night (in addition to Rae Sremmurd, who I missed due to an overlapping schedule). The crowd for LCD was massive, I stood in it for half the show and sat for the second half since my legs were threatening to give out. As I sat on the curb, I decided to watch the crowd's reaction to the band rather than the band itself and it taught me a lot. Almost every single person was drunk and dancing and the people who were suffering from exhaustion were still managing to push through and gently head bang during the set. The band had so many hits and there wasn't one point in the set where people didn't stop moving.
Other noteworthy highlights were obviously
Grace Jones, who a lot of people missed due to a very unfortunate overlapping with Mac Demarco and Beach House. During LCD's set, James Murphy told the crowd several times, "If you missed Grace Jones, I'm sorry, but you fucked up." Wild Nothing also played some dreamy guitar-driven tunes, Young Thug got the crowd hyped as he preached "Where the cute girls at?" and Anohni: Presents Hopelessness delivered a gorgeous, compelling performance and showcased her uniquely wavering voice.