Day 1 at Los Angeles' FYF Fest was pretty hectic. Yeah Yeah Yeahs headlined, closing out the first night of the fest opposite of Death Grips. The action packed day also featured rare performances by The Breeders, FLAG, Thee Oh Sees, The Locust, and many more.
The festival was divided into four stages, all named after Sex and the City characters. The Carrie stage featured the festival's larger names--Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on he Radio, The Breeders, etc. Charlotte featured smaller bands that were still pretty eclectic, including STRFKR, Toro Y Moi, and Metz. The Miranda stage was mostly dedicated to punk, with the notable exception of Death Grips, and Samantha's tent was the dance stage.
The set time conflicts were minimal, depending on tastes. I was a little bummed that The Breeders and Title Fight shared the same time slot, but the three or so minutes I spent listening to the melodic punk band sounded good.
The eagerly anticipated Breeders reunion was one of the best sets of the day.
The band, comprised of all of its original members, performed Last Splash in full in honor of the album's 20-year anniversary. It was probably expected for the band to open with "New Year," the first track from the album, but instead, the group covered Guided By Voices' "Shocker in Gloomtown."
A very cheery Kim Deal stuck to business, quickly moving on to the Last Splash tracks. Before singing crowd favorite "Cannonball," she blew a whistle. Even though The Breeders haven't actively performed in quite awhile, the songs sounded just as great as their recorded counterparts.
The Deal sisters looked content on stage, frequently flashing smiles (in contrast to Josephine Wiggs' stoic look). The only other band that rivaled an overall feeling of joy was FLAG.
The Black Flag reunion group comprised of Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton (of Descendents fame), performed a lengthy set that followed the same format of the band's Punk Rock Bowling set.
As FLAG set up, I heard lots of discussions about Greg Ginn's lawsuit. Morris seemed to answer everyone's questions with his introduction--"Just to be clear, we're not Black Flag," and once the band tore into "Revenge" there was no doubts that this is not Ginn's Black Flag. FLAG's songs are the appropriate speed and don't feature extended jam sessions and a theremin. The two to three minute songs maintain their fast and furious energy and sense of urgency.
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My main point of comparison is the song "Nervous Breakdown." FLAG makes the song fun, as it should be. Black Flag's version sounds like a poor cover song.
The Locust sounded just as crazy and discordant as most fans would expect. Surprisingly, there wasn't much going on onstage for a band wearing masks, but then again, Masked Intruder warped my expectations a bit. I was reluctant to rush over across the festival to the Carrie stage to check out Deerhunter, but I'm glad I did. I saw the band perform at Clubhouse on the Halycon Digest tour, and while the music was absolutely stunning, the band wasn't that interesting to watch. Bradford Cox proved me wrong instantly.
The Deerhunter singer took the stage wearing a zebra print dress, matching headscarf, and a black wig. The headscarf was removed early in the set, but Cox stayed in character, performing songs from Monomania and some great songs like "Revival."
Toro Y Moi and Devendra Banhart had some of the larger crowds of the festival, but the biggest draw by far was for Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O debuted a new outfit and like the Phoenix show, modified it throughout the band's set.
It was just the right mix of avant garde and weird--who would have thought that a headlamp would be interesting. The setlist also followed a similar format of the Marquee Theatre show, providing a good balance between fan favorites and new songs.
I made my way over to the Miranda stage during "Zero" to check out Death Grips. The rapper had a bit of a late start, but fans patiently waited and went insane as the musician broke into his signature rapid-fire raps.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: FYF Fest at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Personal Bias: I'm definitely a Miranda stage kind of gal. The Crowd: Mixed, though the punks and hipsters all seemed to congregate on opposite ends of the festival. Overheard in the Crowd: "What is this, the menopause tour?" When a couple of guys were considering watching The Breeders. Random Notebook Dump: "Why is everyone dressed like a 90210 extra?"
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For more photos and the critic's notebook, click through to Page 3. And stay tuned for more FYF Fest coverage as the festival continues.