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Festival Wars 2: Sunset Junction and the FYF Festival
This year, for the first time in thirty years, Sunset Junction, the definitive Los Angeles summer festival, had a V.I.P. area. The gated parking lot at the corner of Bates and Sunset is typically home to a CD duplication business and a few FOR RENT signs. But during the two days of the festival, lines of young, “important” people formed by the lot.
35 yards away, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes were playing what might be their last semi-anonymous show in their hometown on the Bates Stage (no more performances in shopping malls for them). Sharpe made the most of the night, telling rambling stories and grandstanding for applause from the unimportant folk standing in the general admission area. But the crowd in the V.I.P. area wasn’t too interested. Aside from a triangle of couples holding hands waiting for Sharpe to sing “Home,” the hipster romance song of summer 2010, the important people that I saw were more concerned with trying to sneak up to the second floor of the parking lot lounge for free booze and greater exclusivity.
All of this may sound picky, but it bears discussing: For thirty years, Sunset Junction didn’t delineate between very- and un-important people. The original purpose of Sunset Junction was to unite the Latino and gay populations of Silver Lake and Echo Park; to visit the festival was to mix with all the other visitors.
Sunset Junction has lost its way. And the vapid V.I.P. section wasn’t the only giveaway. Management is still butting heads with local businesses. I overheard a bar owner complaining that the festival organizers placed their beer garden just feet from his door.
Those Angelenos looking for a better summer concert experience now have FYF Fest. To start, the festival formerly known as the “Fuck Yeah Fest,” was held on September 4th in the California State Historic Park, not on the closed streets of a busy thoroughfare. The location made FYF Fest seem like a backyard version of Coachella. The lineup would certainly fit in out in Indio—Panda Bear, The Rapture, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists could all fill Coachella’s tents. But the best part of FYF is the local artists it drew. Best Coast, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Dead Man’s Bones, Warpaint, The Soft Pack, and Local Natives did the L.A. music scene proud. The best local music at the best local music festival. No V.I.P. area required.