When it comes to summer festivals, I've got a laundry list of complaints I tend to rant that should be titled, Why I Ain't Goin'. It mostly has to do with crowds, poor sound, the cost of basic needs, and abridged sets. I do not complain about Port-O-Potties, like I don't complain about the weather. I merely tolerate their surprises. I cave for one festival every summer and I regret it, but FYF Fest was different.
FYF chief Sean Carlson has a good ear for bands. Whether it was his call or a team of soldiers, the lineup times and band arrangements were brilliantly managed. A body could move from stage to stage, not missing a closing cover or opening song, and there was a sense that putting Black Mountain, M83, Tycho, and Quicksand on overlapping times would not piss off the average festival goer. Those who wanted to dance could do so. Just as those who wanted to mosh or mellow the hell out could without consequence. I've never been so at ease in a festival atmosphere. One could stroll casually, admire the scenery, and still get a good spot without too much tree obstruction at the slightly claustrophobic Hill St. Stage.
As good as FYF Fest was to me, the following list will air out a few complaints due to it being in my nature. FYF Fest was also responsible for a few breakthroughs.
Dinosaur Jr. ripping through a cover of The Cure's “Just Like Heaven”.
Watching J. Mascis and Lou Barlow shred inspires the same sort of awe that one might get from seeing an actual dinosaur. You just get this feeling that you're watching something that may not even exist anymore or will take years for you to feel again. There's a lot of heartbreak tucked in Dinosaur Jr.'s noisey three-piece and channeling it into a Robert Smith song helps one grasp that.
One of the tambourine players from The Shrines pulling “the tuck” during “I Wanna Be A Girl”.
With King Khan possibly going the sober route, he and The Shrines feel a wee bit tame. It's less of a punk ethos meets an Otis Redding concert. With Khan keeping his cool, one of the Shrines climbed a monitor, turned his back, dropped his belt line to his ankles, did an about-face, and revealed his nifty “tuck”. In a brilliant moment of quiet after “I Wanna Be A Girl”, someone yelled out “mangina”, which made King Khan laugh. That lucky son-of-a-bitch.
Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, and Dark Time Sunshine giving a haircut on stage.
One unlucky volunteer got his Madmen haircut butchered into a punk-Friar Tuck look. Considering the high volume of men with a clean part in their hair at FYF, he's privileged to stand out, but he probably should have elected for the more professional free haircuts from the Sailor Jerry crew. Hopefully he had a pocketfull of those free sunblock packets in his pocket – that new bald spot probably burned within minutes.
Octo-Mom on The Eric Andre Show
Standing in for Hannibal Buress was Octo-Mom. I missed this entirely, but just overhearing, “oh shit, Eric Andre brought out Octo-Mom” was all I needed to know it was funny. She thought she was promoting her album, Sexy Party (I'm not one for teenage hyperbolic jargon, but… worst album name ever), and shame on her publicist for walking her into a trap. Also, hooray for walking her into that trap. It's been five days. How are there no Youtube videos of this?
James Blake won me over… sigh… damn it.
I never cared for James Blake, but something happened at FYF. I drank the proper amount of Stella Artois, let just enough sun tan lotion seap into my skin, smoked the perfect number of oneys (if only I could remember how many it took), and stood in a location that kept Tanlines dance tent mania from luring me away from James Blake's set. I still cannot believe it happened. He went from being “the dude who plays piano over whale sounds and minimal dubstep” to one of my favorite performances at FYF. Truly magical.
Dinosaur Jr. saying “Fuck Yeah Fest Fest” when no one else would.
No one will address it. Enough corporate money is involved to dillute the name into a parental advisory friendly title. It's amusing, since no one saw a problem in the redundancy of “FYF Fest”. No one, but Lou Barlow. Thanks, Lou.
Comedian Pete Holmes has a bit about Celine Dion that is fuggin' comedy gold. His facial expression seals the bit. You can imagine him saying this, right? I'm not going to retell the joke, that would be senseless, but if he tours your city, go on the chance he's still talking about “salon dijon”. I get a feeling of inner laughter each time I think about it.
The Orwells's teenage energy
It wasn't easy getting in on Day 1 for the opening bands, but I saw The Orwells' final four songs. The teenagers from Chicago ripped the Spring St. Stage before it even had chance to be broken in. They finished collapsed in a fiery echo of feedback like they had been touring with Dinosaur Jr. since 8th grade. Pretty damn good for a group of kids that weren't even allowed in the VIP section.
I played a game called, “What does LA think of Warpaint?”
Warpaint was on the bill, so it felt like a fine opportunity to get LA's perspective on their signature girl group. The consensus: “Well, their drummer is great…”. Each conversation began with Stella Mozgawa and ended with polite consideration for the singing and song-writing talents of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman.
Watching the faces of people who decided Black Dice was not for them.
What'sa matter, pussies?
Neil Hamburger: “What's the worst part about getting gang-raped by Crosby, Stills, and Nash?”
Their three-part harmonies! (I'll ruin this joke only because that's how a Hamburger set goes)
I skipped all the reunion sets. Why? Why not.
I don't catch the bug for reunions. I used to, but only from the announcements. I'd say, “holy shit, a chance to see The Stooges/Pavement/Dismemberment Plan/A Tribe Called Quest/etc.” Then, I'd never go out of fear that it will ruin my delicate childhood/teenage memories. I did enough damage to my childhood memories by turning Candyland into a drinking game in my early 20s. Keeping my bands sacred.
The Metro passing by during The Men's set.
It looked like two full-steam trains would collide. The first time it happened I was alarmed. The second time it happened it was rad. I made sure to be at Aesop Rock's set to renew that New York feeling.
Chromatics cover Neil Young
I hear the “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” cover is on the record. Cool. It's awkward. It might be bold, in some grand leap manner, but all I got was a bad taste in my mouth after a decent set from a band I marginally care for.
Refused wrote “Free Pussy Riot” on the drum kit.