Review: FYF Fest 2011


By late August, most of Los Angeles’ surplus dust has collected in the city’s State Historic Park. This makes our city’s newest park a perfect site for music festivals, in league with the dusty farm in Tennessee that hosts Bonnaroo or the twin baseball diamonds which ground the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. The least dusty of all of the country’s music festivals is also its’ most expensive: Coachella may take place in a desert, but its stages sit atop a polo field with a carpet of Bermuda grass. The FYF Fest, which was held this past Saturday, September 4, was considerably less lush.

The festival’s windy sandbox of a locale kept two music critic I know from attending the event. “It’ll be too hot,” said one. “Like I would miss the start of college football,” said the other. But when I arrived, it seemed like the setting hadn’t dissuaded the masses. 20,000 people are said to have attended, a herd of young mustaches stampeding from the Gold Line stop in Chinatown, past the trailer selling day passes for $45, through the security queues and into the VIP tents for sample-sized ice cream bars and highball glasses filled with Sailor Jerry Backyard Tea.

Those afternoon concertgoers lacking “very important” wristbands headed straight for the shade of the festival’s lone indoor stage, right on time for the best show of the day, put on by Baltimore’s Future Islands. The group has only made one other tour stop in L.A., but they certainly maximized their time here, playing The Smell and Amoeba Records, and appearing on Morning Becomes Eclectic. 

Crossing the stage at the FYF Fest was a sort of graduation for Future Islands. They’re a headlining band now. It also was a graduation for FYF itself, from basement curator to outdoor tastemaker. With promoter Goldenvoice as a partner, the festival has turned into a kind of junior Coachella. And being able to witness this transformation shared by both young act and young festival alike, is just such a great reason to get out of the apartment on a Saturday, even a football Saturday.

Back under the tent, Future Islands lead singer Samuel T. Herring gouled around the stage, his arm outstretched. The crowd took it as an invitation, jumping on stage to dance with the band for the last two songs. We were shielded from the elements, but sweating and happy nonetheless.

Photograph byTod Seelie

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  • http://URL ralph

    Sooooo you left after Future Islands?

    • Forest

      No, I just thought that the story of Future Islands (emerging band makes good) best echoed the story of FYF Fest (emerging festival breaks into the mainstream.)