FYF was an extraordinary melting pot of talent, genres, fans, fashion, and food.
Described by some as the “urban Coachella,” and although Goldenvoice has been a partner in the festival since 2011, FYF has an utterly unique feel. Its urban element comes from the event being nestled in the heart of downtown LA, taking place in between the California Science Center, Natural History Museum, and Memorial Coliseum. The result is a locational metaphor of the crossing between so many different influences and stylistic tastes reflected both in FYF’s lineup and fanbase. It had been five years since I stepped foot on these nostalgic grounds for a music festival (2010 when Electric Daisy Carnival still called LA home), and this was quite a divergent experience.
“Millennials” (a term that makes me shutter) have caught a lot of flack for being a self-centered generation. People harp on this culture and do not seem to understand forking over hundreds of dollars for what they see as intangible and fleeting experiences, but for music lovers around the world this is the lifeblood of existence. The opportunity to go out into a crowd of strangers, all connected by music and the urge to share meaningful experiences with thousands of people is worth forking over weeks of saved paychecks, because this is the time they feel most alive. It’s about paying their hard earned money to support a festival and artists that speak to them, and make them feel things that no physical object could. It’s an investment in themselves and the underlying messages within music and the entire idea behind FYF.
In a recent open letterto FYF founder Sean Carlson published LA Weekly before the festival, long-time fan Art Tavana lamented about the festival losing its punk-centric culture that had originally drawn attendees to FYF over a decade ago. The condescending letter takes jabs at pretty much all that is good in the world including Jason Bentley (KCRW), Flume, Solange, Shlohmo, and the blessing that is Chet Faker (so yeah, we’re pretty sure this guy needs a happy meal). He went on to complain about the walking (yeah.. at a festival), and “fucking up his vans”… (once again, you’re at a festival buddy) while still being hurt that his favorite punk bands were not on the bill. Tavana tells Carlson that he’s lost touch with what the children of Los Angeles (boy was he wrong), but he’s a great reminder that even with a jaw-dropping lineup, you can’t make everyone happy all of the time.
The LA Times posted the perfect counter to the open letter in defense of the festival, raising this question: “Could FYF Fest be the most important music festival of 2015?” They mentioned that yes, this year’s lineup lacked a traditional punk presence, but many of the festival’s main acts including Kanye West, D’Angelo, Run The Jewels, FKA Twigs, and Morrissey exhibit the core of elements of punk music: people who strongly believe in their causes and are not afraid to critique modern day culture and society in the hopes of fostering change.
People may roll their eyes when the self-proclaimed “greatest living rock star” Kanye West is brought up as one of these people, but if they quieted the noise of their eye rolls and opened up their ears to listen to what he is actually saying, they might find that he is delivering similar messages in a more accessible way to millions of people. West replacing Frank Ocean days before the festival was quickly trending across social media, showcasing just how powerful his presence truly has become. He was an obvious highlight, but here are our top moments that will forever remain engrained in our memories after leaving the grounds of FYF and returning to the real world.
Our top moments of FYF
It was my first time seeing FKA twigs, and even though I had been obsessing over her as of late, I really had no idea what I was in for. FKA Twigs closed out the festival Sunday night and it could not have ended on a better note, especially because I don’t think anyone could follower her, and I would not want anyone to have to. She was visually awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping and captivating. She performed alongside a number of dancers (she a professionally trained dancer herself) and contortionists, bringing out elements of her music videos and her celebration of the unconventionally beautiful.
For someone who commands and holds such a massive presence, the small dancer with a soft elegant British accent was a statute of bold fearless power. The generous performer took time at the end of her set to introduce all of her dancers and the members of her band.
People lost their minds when Kanye was announced as the replacement of Frank Ocean for Saturday night’s headlining set. Before he was Kanye West the 2020 presidential candidate he was just Kanye West, (which is still a lot) and somewhere in the middle he was Yeezus. But no matter the name of the day he is hands down one of the most incredible performs we have, with his undeniable stage presence and meticulously planned out stage design clearly mesmerizing the audience. Kanye seemed to be in a rare and refreshing form, smiling and jumping around the stage with a palpable lightness. Instead of his anticipated and now trademark Kanye rants, his only divergence was an impromptu melody about being too high and wondering if your buddy is a high as you during “Runaway.”
Kanye also proved that his catalog of hits is far too large to fit into a festival slot, so for the last ten minutes he played small sections of as many songs as possible with the final tally ending around seven. Special guests included the humble Rihanna, who was just trying to enjoy Kanye like the rest of us in the crowd, but was kind enough to treat us to her parts in “FourFiveSeconds” and “All of the Lights.” G.O.O.D. music affiliate Travi$ Scott joined Kanye earlier in the set, bringing his trademark energy and performing “Upper Echelon” and “Antidote.”
I thought I loved Chet Faker more than anyone until I looked over in the crowd and saw many of the people next to me with tears in their eyes. His voice penetrates into the body and souls of people and seemed to conjure a nostalgia for places we know we’ve only ever been in our dreams. He treated fans to the goddess known as Banks who came out to perform her new remix of Chet’s “1998” and it was everything.
Run The Jewels
Killer Mike and El-P AKA Run The Jewels were excited to point out to the crowd that they had their own billboard next to the festival. Their lighthearted candor and enjoyment of the process was endearing to fans, and while they rap about extremely serious and prominent issues like police brutality in “Close Your Eyes,” they wanted to deliver it in a way where the audience left feeling uplifted and empowered, rather than overwhelmed and hopeless. Their performance included many guests such as Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, Blink 182’s Travis Barker, and Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo who nailed the female counterpoint to a raunchy sex song “Love Again” (and we all loved it).
Flume’s set was heavy on the special guests, bringing out Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt to sing their collaboration “Some Minds.” And one of the most noted special guests Lorde, who showed us that you can be quirky pop star from New Zealand that just wants join Flume onstage to dance around his remix of your song “Tennis Court” there’s nothing wrong with that. You keep doing you Lorde.
Although Death Grips is not my go-to music and I can only handle so much before a little blood starts seeping from my brain, I deeply appreciate their sound and extremely unique style and saw no crowd more excited or pumped up or trying to crawl their way to the stage more than these fans (minus the girl that attempted to jump on stage for Morrissey).
Props to Morrissey for once again using his stage time as a plea to the masses on the issues around us. Morrissey performed one of his songs “Ganglord” backed by hard to watch videos of police brutality, but when you’re Morrissey and everyone one of your songs sounds like your girlfriend just told you that she hit your dog with a car on the way back from cheating on you on your birthday, you don’t really have to worry about tiptoeing around the issues in the fear of bumming a crowd out because that’s what they came for. So once again props to you, Morrissey.
I’m very bummed I missed Bloc Party as they have long been one of my favorite bands, but at this point in the night my boyfriend was chain eating popsicles in attempts to mask his uncontainable eagerness to see his idol live for the first time in his life, and I feared taking him away from the mainstage too close to Kanye’s set time would completely push him over the edge. Love is a sacrifice, but Kanye was totally worth it.
Until next year!