Review: Fyf 2015 Festival – A Reflection
It's not every festival your phone pings to say the headliner has cancelled, even less likely that said headliner is being replaced with a little artist you may know as 'Kanye West' but, hey, this is America and everything is bigger here.
From humble beginnings in 2004, Sean Carlson's festival has outgrown it's orginal Echo Park home and Los Angeles Historic State Park and now takes up residence in The LA Sports Arena and Exposition Park orginally built to house the Olympics. Fun facts about the venue over, it's an impressive space. Though many locals miss the previous set-up, as a first-timer it brings to mind Primavera with a well-designed sprawl of stages meaning there's no sound overlap.
Four stages could make for a colossal stream of live review though and, not wanting to overestimate your interest in my view of FKA Twigs and Morrissey, I've condensed this into 11 things FYF did which put the 'Fuck Yeah' in this festival;
1. It's REALLY SUNNY
Firstly, it's in California and – whilst there is the obvious drought issue – the upside is you'll have more need for sun block than a sou'wester- take that Reading!
2. It's photogenic
I'm not just talking pretty LA people, this festival had more attention to the setting than most including supersize giant emoji (hiya ghost and giant aubergine) to pose with, and they banned selfie sticks so you needed patient friends or a kind stranger if you wanted a photo with one.
I was skeptical entering these early on where the brilliant and entrancing Flying Lotus played to a half-full room (admittedly the room was MASSIVE) but later on this space came into it's own, shrugging off the school disco vibe and acts whose sets have seemed a little lackluster elsewhere came into their own for a jubilant finish to Saturday. Most notably Simian, who packed the indoor arena with a wicked light show to boot.
4. Mac Demarco
The scheduling placed him a little out of the way but Mac's set was still packed. A lot of reviews have said in 20 years that everyone will wonder what the fuss is about, I say they miss the point. The joy of Mac Demarco is the lack of fuss, simple feel-good tunes and the accidental comedy duo in his band – props to Pierce and Andy. If no-one can remember why they had fun 20 years from now that's a sign of a real good time, long may it reign.
For every roadside burger at your standard festival, I raise you Mac n Cheese Waffles and Japanese hot dogs. Praise be to the power of Morissey too for the meat-free main arena on Sunday.
6. Speaking of Morrissey
You may flash up imagery of dead animals and two finger salutes mid-performance and occasionally flee the stage complaining you "can smell BBQ" but play "Stop Me" and all is forgiven. All hail King Misery and someone with the nous to put him on this bill.
7. Solange, FKA Twigs, Laura Marling, Alvvays, Tennis, Lower Dens and GirlPool to name a few
This is one festival bill where female-fronted acts were given, if not equal footing, at least some decent representation and the bill was all the better for it. Especially Twigs who seems to have her eyes set on the new 'queen of conceptual' crown with her beautiful and emotive set.
It's no secret our US friends are less shy but seeing them rip up the floor to Horse Meat Disco in a glitter-filled grove of trees is quite something. My lasting memory of this is a guy simultaneously inhaling spag bol and shaking all he had to "I Feel Love", a beautiful thing to witness at 2pm.
9. Things which you think will be good that are just great… enter D'Angelo
For me this was a "better see what the fuss is about" excursion but what followed was a seriously electrifying set and I don't say that lightly. I skipped whatever I was meant to watch next to see the full thing, it went from 0-100 in 10 seconds flat and stayed cranked up to 11 for the entire set. He may not have his six pack anymore but D' Angelo is far from needing it to get anyone's attention, literally one of my top gigs of 2015.
10. Pre and After parties
LA may not party late, hello 2am bar curfew and the reality check of the bar shutting at 1am (P.S Spoilsports), but they know how to amp things up and keep it flowing. The legendary Rhonda hosted Rhondavous: Paradise City at the Belasco for which the only comparison can be Koko on crack. Cue Horse Meat Disco, Simian and Psychemagick and the most fun you can have on a Friday in LA. Closing parties were edgier, thanks to Warp records and IAMSOUND securing the Overpass, which I think is hidden in a motorway (highway). Either way, it was part hunting lodge, part dark tunnel filled with dry ice, Evian Christ, Nguzunguzu and SFV Acid DJ sets and an open bar. I left at 5 but it was still in full swing.
11. I can't really start this and not mention Kanye can I?
As usual any props were abandoned to leave space for him and his ego to occupy the stage for most of it, however, maybe being a dad has made Kanye more inclined to share as he made room for Rihanna and Travis Scott to join him too. I have to give props to him though as, given relatively little special effects, he still carried a strong set.