“Wow them in the end, and you got a hit. You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you’ve got a hit.”
Maybe quoting the movie Adaptation doesn’t seem particularly relevant to a retrospective on the 2014 version of FYF, but ask anyone who was there and you’ll understand. There’s perspective to be had now that a couple weeks of past since the 11th iteration of the annual Los Angeles based festival, and the lingering memory is a sweet one.
Undeniably the character of FYF is built, breathes, and dies based on the unique lineup they consistently put together. The exponential growth in the amount music festivals over the last 5 years is simply dizzying, and for the most part they’re all starting to look the same. Outkast played over 40 festivals in a single year. Does that mean that we don’t want to see Outkast? Shit no. It means that having Outkast to headline your festival doesn’t provide any distinctiveness, a trait that FYF has in spades. Headliners The Strokes, and Phoenix hadn’t played a festival date within 3000 miles Los Angeles this year. It had been nearly 3 years since The Strokes had played in California at all. Then there were the Blood Brothers, and none of us in attendance will ever be the same after that.
Having the right headliners is definitely a requisite start but a festival is only as good as the worst bands in their lineup. This is where FYF founder Sean Carlson knocks it out of the park. Every band that played felt like they belonged to this festival. While bands like The Bronx, Haim, and Earl Sweatshirt gave this fest an LA feel, it was bands like Future Islands, Ty Segall, Slow Dive, Grimes, Slint, Mac Demarco, and Murder City Devils and Presidents of the United States of America that defined FYF 2014. Of the aforementioned bands almost an even split between bands that rarely play Los Angeles and bands that play here with decent frequency largely due to “FYF Presents” promoting the hell out of good music (for those uninitiated FYF and their partner Goldenvoice present the bulk of the best shows in Los Angeles your round).
At some point very soon they’ll lose the slack we cut them on some of the more logistical points of fluidly running festival, but seeing as this was their 1st year at the USC / Exposition Park location there were bound to be some hiccups. The good news is by day two the festival was running noticeably smoother. Issues involving entry to both the festival grounds and individual stages had been markedly improved, as had issues around water and food lines.
So as the festival circuit starts winding down for the year and we all prepare to get fat on candied meats, and try to figure out what the top albums of 2014 are, I can confidently say that of all the festivals we cover as a publication FYF is of the most distinctive. The flip side of Coachella’s brand continuing to stretch globally is that it’s long since flew the coop on being classifiable as a Southern California festival. With FYF so intertwined with the LA music scene it seems apropos that they have taken the reigns.