FYF Festival, Los Angeles
Meanwhile, in America, they do things differently. Dust fills the pores of anyone braving the front 12 rows of each stage, gophers poke heads from the fist-shaped holes punctuating the ground, and the beer-drinkers are penned into invitingly named ‘gardens’, encircled always by metal fences away from the performances themselves. Nine years after its genesis, FYF (‘Fuck Yeah Festival’ – hear me out) is in its ascendency, and while swelling in size, has yet to become fully bloated.
Saturday day sees the likes of Cloud Nothings decaying vociferous as Nirvana with a hornet in their bonnet, Future Islands rumbling wry, and Warpaint being Warpaint, with a few new tracks that sound like Warpaint. Doldrums are an excellent addition also; schizophrenic in assembled cacophony, always on beat.
Sunset brings with it an entire change of atmosphere, and one of the largest crowds around to greet James Blake. Typically, having waxed lyrical to anyone who’d listen about how it must be nigh on impossible to create a real intimacy during a large-stage set, it’s great to see Blake quash my notions by acting the antithesis with aplomb. Absolutely nothing was lost in translation; the true soul of his body and sound wisps and reverberates freely among those around him.
Sleigh Bells are then raucous in their main stage slot – they play that song from that advert and those others heard on various nights out, while M83 do something similar immediately afterwards. It’s also good to see Simian Mobile Disco still chugging along, perpetuating the amphetamines market with ‘I’m lovin’ it’ accord.
Then to that headliner. Tonight they are unforgiving, unerring, and unparalleled. Dennis Lyxzén is bullish and raw, both when delivering material, and later, in his scathing disgust at the recent treatment of Pussy Riot. Naturally, it’s during moments in ‘New Noise’ and ‘The Shape of Punk…’ that the innate togetherness flows fastest through the onlookers, but the whole set is justly brash and worthy of savouring. With that Refused are fucking dead.
Sunday brings with it my first visit to the comedy tent – another string to the weekend’s bow – and a chance to see the world’s first analrapist, David Cross. It’s jovial. The first music of my own day is packaged by The Field, appearing shamefully early given his techno pastiche often accompanies 5am wind-downs in many lives. Then, in a perfect nod to the eclectic nature of FYF’s roster, it’s over to witness a wonderfully abrasive set from Providence’s Lightning Bolt. It’s truly superb to see the acclaim for this duo reflected in both their position on the bill and the unerring crowd they pull.
Paul Banks of Interpol fame swiftly follows, displaying tracks from his new solo album (having dropped the Julian Plenti moniker, for now). On first glance, the four-piece line up today would suggest a less than immediate withdrawal from what would be classed as his day job, although speaking with him later that evening, it becomes clear he relishes the chance to stretch his wings, as Daniel Kessler writes the bulk of ‘pols material. The FYF set, along with the new LP, does more than just reiterate Banks is capable of taking confident solo flight.
A set from Liars is another golden opportunity not to be missed this weekend, especially given the heavy emphasis on material from June’s ‘WIXIW’ (‘Wish You’) release. It has been described as their most ‘accessible’ LP to date, which is interesting when you read further into both the writing and recording concepts circling its inception. That said, there is ample excuse for head-nod and hip-sway among the watchers tonight, all of whom gratefully adhere.
Black Dice are an exercise in experimentation, an extra-curricular activity which ought to be encouraged in all, and at this point in the evening it’s bordering on a mind-wrong and that’s just grand. Gold Panda is appearing solo, but it’s misguided to mark him down as a DJ, as his own grasp of electronic adventure is beyond the confines of cross-fades alone. There are, of course, cross-fades, but the complete tapestry of sound is interwoven expertly throughout. Then, Beirut to close. That alone brings a face-aching smile.
As the dust settled and the droves meandered to LA’s subway then home, the old cliché rang true; diversity and depth will only act to enrich a festival as a fair reflection of its attendees. While Coachella may be the place for the ill-informed to be seen, and even though wristband collection for FYF was in a coffee-serving bookstore between Silverlake and Echo Park (and lo, we bemoan Shoreditch!), the fact that every second of music this weekend differed from that of its peers ensured the die had been cast. Here’s to future years.