Lesson learned from FYF’s first day of performances yesterday: Yeezus saves. (Jose Negrete for FYF Fest)
Eleven years is enough time to finally decide to join the cool kids right? After more than a decade of bringing some of the biggest names in music to Los Angeles I was finally heading into FYF 2015 not really knowing what to expect.
Over the years I have seen pictures on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook of friends at FYF but having never been there myself. It always felt a like some kind of surreal oasis of cool that I was oblivious to.
Because of the recent heat wave we’ve been experiencing in Southern California, I was convinced that it was going to be sweltering, but surprisingly the weather was not terrible which definitely helped everyone enjoy their FYF experience.
There were a ton of bands to see, but traffic around the Exposition Park grounds being what it was I didn’t end up getting through the gate until a little after 5 p.m. Thankfully the lines were not as long as in previous years and concertgoers were able to get in without having to suffer in the heat for too long.
As I made my way in, Tennis was halfway through their set on the Lawn Stage. The Colorado husband/wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, along with their band, performed during the mid-day rush of the festival just before the sun went down, soothing the audience with their blend of indie pop and yacht rock. Moore, who was alternating between her keyboards and pacing the stage with her angelic vocals, had festival-goers dancing and singing along as the group played hits “Timothy” and “Deep in the Woods,” while also getting the crowd moving with older songs like “Petition.”
The crowd there was as diverse as the city of Los Angeles itself. In this microcosm of alternative music and culture there was a mix of people from every corner of counterculture. From preppy, H&M-wearing hipsters to the hippie bums who were clearly already peaking on God only knows what.
After wolfing down the biggest slice of pizza from the Spicy Pie booth and recovering from the shock of spending $12 on a 9 oz. drink (seriously guys, $12 … c’mon!) I made my way to the Main Stage to catch alt-rock legend Dinosaur Jr. who put on a stellar 45-minute set.
A wave of awesome washed over me as singer/guitarist J Mascis’ unique melancholy vocals and guitar riffs along with bassist Lou Barlow’s high-energy low end and drummer Murph’s tight beats captured the crowd’s attention with songs from their illustrious discography like “Start Choppin’” and “Pieces” as well as the band’s cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” The crowd was not as packed for them as it should have been, maybe it was a sign of the changing of the times. The ones who were there, the older fans who have been following the band since their ’80s beginnings, were loving ever minute of it.
Other notable acts during the day were DJ/musician Goldroom, who rocked the Trees Stage and had swarms of hip concertgoers, male and female, dancing and feeling the music, and New York indie artist the Drums.
The bigger names on the bill, starting with the Killer Mike and El-P rap duo Run the Jewels put on a dynamite set with some help from special guests like Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, Three 6 Mafia rapper Gangsta Boo and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker who played drums on the song “All Due Respect.”
Australian electronica musician Chet Faker performed his hit song “1998” with singer Banks to the audience’s frenzied enthusiasm, as well as his cover of “No Diggity” and his platinum-selling single “Drop the Game.”
English indie heroes Bloc Party were one of the biggest treats of the night, with singer guitarist Kele Okereke starting the evening off with a joke.
“Hello Fuck Yeah Fest, my name is Frank Ocean – not really,” Okereke quipped, making an obvious reference to the elusive R&B singer Frank Ocean who dropped off the bill last minute due to scheduling conflicts.
The band ripped through a tight set of their hits “Banquet” and “Helicopter,” which was enhanced by the group’s amazing light show.
But as far as surprise guests, killer sets and amazing lighting goes, the evening belonged to none other than Mr. West.
News that Ocean had dropped out merely days before his Saturday performance only to be replaced by Kanye West was a bittersweet situation. Many concertgoers were obviously looking forward to possibly hearing some new music from Ocean who has yet to release anything from his new album, Boys Don’t Cry.
Their disappointment was short-lived the minute West hit the stage, opening with a tribute to Ocean’s “No Church in the Wild” featuring the singer’s hook. West, who would usually be one to comment on something like Ocean’s last-minute bailing, made no controversial comments, but let his music shut down the critics who were skeptical of his powerhouse live performance.
It was unfortunate that West’s set coincided with Cold Cave who were playing the Trees Stage. But missing them was worth seeing West fire through hit after hit from his musical repertoire with songs like “Stronger,” “Power” and “New Slaves.”
With a little more than 10 minutes left in his set, West stopped midway through “Runaway” from his 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, to let the audience know that “we have only 10 minutes for 10 years of hits,” before jumping right into “FourFiveSeconds” with Rihanna — like the real Rihanna. She joined West on stage for the song and later reappeared for “All of the Lights.”
West ended his set with his single “Only One,” a tribute to his daughter North West.
What could have been a potentially been a disappointing evening with Frank Ocean bailing last minute turned out to be a fantastic night of music.
Lesson of the evening: Yeezus saves.