The experience of covering FYF as a Los Angeles based music publication is akin to preparing a speech for your lifelong friend’s wedding. Each year of FYF exists in a vacuum but the journey of how it got to this point, the triumphs and the scars, are impossible to extricate from the experience.
We started covering FYF back in 2009, its 1st year in the Los Angeles Historic State Park. It now seems like a dusty memory but at the time the $20 one-day fest, with as many bathrooms and food trucks as I have fingers, was as inspiring as it was infuriating. By the end of that day I was dehydrated and famished, yet totally satiated. Somehow in spite of all the chaos, or perhaps fueled by it, some meaningful chord had been plucked, as if someone had just stood up to lead the unwashed masses of LA’s music scene.
2009 was actually FYF’s sixth year of existence, which means as FYF entered our publication’s consciousness it was already emerging from its infancy. We missed out on its embryonic stage where you’d spend the entire weekend bouncing between venues, record shops, and houses in Echo Park, but we were there as FYF was growing up.
Now in 2015 we were there as FYF hit its maturity.
Whatever nostalgia any of this year’s FYF attendees had for the DIY roots of its yesteryear need to be tabled. As much as Sean Carlson is still the spiritual leader of this festival it stopped being a hip party for him and his friends years ago. This hatchling has had to shed its skin several times to grow into the python before us today. FYF is now a major music festival with all the trimming and trap that goes with it. If anyone had any doubts about its punching power they need look no further than its ability to add Kanye West when it was simultaneously announced that Frank Ocean dropped out. Here’s a few of the festivals the Kanye West’s recently played: Glastonbury, Coachella, Life Is Beautiful, Outside Lands, Bonnaroo, FYF. If seeing a festival previously known as Fuck Yeah Fest on that list is shocking to you it shouldn’t be; that’s where FYF is in 2015.
Truth be told for all growing pains leading up to this year, FYF 2015 ran as smoothly as any festival I’ve ever been to. World-class artists like Morrissey, Kanye, Jesus and Mary Chain, D’Angelo and more sounded glorious, had stunning festival caliber stage shows, and started and stopped exactly when they are supposed to. Some of LA’s best food was being cooked up (being able to eat a Canter’s pastrami sandwich on rye while watching Thee Oh Sees is a thing of sheer glory), craft cocktails were flowing, and getting around the park was significantly better than any years past. Over the course of the weekend I was able to see 22 bands, there’s no way that could happen without hundreds of different elements coming together, and they did swimmingly.
I’ve no idea what the future holds for FYF. I’m not sure how much bigger it can get before it needs to relocate one more time to more spacious venue. I really don’t even know if continued rapid growth is what they desire. What I can say for certain is that 2015 was the single most cohesive year of FYF’s existence. For those who were attending FYF for the 1st or 2nd time, I’d imagine it was as captivating an experience as any festival delivers. For those of us who’ve been to more than a few it was the coronation we’ve seen on the horizon for years. Either way FYF 2015 was a triumph.
Ed. Note: Now please dig, if you will, Ben’s pictures:
Run the Jewels
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Toro y Moi
Belle & Sebastian
D’Angelo and the Vanguard
Thee Oh Sees