FYF Fest 2013 – Day 2 FYF Fest 2013 – Day 2

Words by Griffen Callahan, Photos by Rob Schell

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“Those of us that had been up all night were in no mood for coffee and donuts, we wanted strong drink. We were, after all, the absolute cream of the national sporting press.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

With my head still buzzing from the previous day’s festivities, and trying to forget the fact that a technical malfunction had corrupted all the day 1 photos, today’s metro ride was a silent one.  But, there is no crying in punk music.  We must push on, we must prevail.  I had ingested enough caffeine to defibrillate a small horse. As soon as that kicks in, I should be right as rain.

To start our day, we decided to take our first steps into the Samantha tent for some comedy.  Content to sit on the makeshift plywood floor, and bask in the glorious shade of the tent, it was a genial way to ease into day 2.

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Comedy Show:  You have to get there early if you want to see any comedy at FYF.  Given only a one hour slot at the start of the day, comedians only had about ten minutes to work with.  Some seemed a bit nervous, and never really got any rhythm going.  Granted, their audience still looks half asleep, and their ears were most likely still ringing from the previous night.  Some comedians did drop a few gems.  Matt Dwyer reminded us that, “Cigarette butts aren’t litter.  There’re little reminders that cool people still exist.”

However, the real laughs of the afternoon came from two particular acts: Paul Sheer & Rob Huebel, and Ron Funches.  Paul Sheer, best known from the TV series The League, began what looked to be like any other comedy set.  That is until an “unknown” man in the audience starts screaming into a portable mic that he’s lost his baby, and he’s desperately looking for him…and also that he may have ingested a few illegal narcotics along the way.  After insisting his way onto the stage, Paul Sheer and the unknown man (Rob Huebel) begin a hilarious dialogue in which it’s discovered that Paul is actually Ron’s son, who was left at a Billy Joel concert 22 years ago.  Paul then pulls out a fake gun, and tells Rob to “get on his knees, and suck this gun dick.”  Yeah, they went there.  End scene.

Ron Funches was up next, and given the laughs Rob and Paul had received, I figured he was in for a rough ride.  I was mistaken.  With his rotund silhouette, and soft & slow delivery, he had the crowd doubled over with the keen observation:  “Why do I have to prove I’m not a robot, to a robot?”  And went into a detailed hypothetical situation, in which terrorists had kidnapped his mother, and were forcing him to have sex with two men in order to save her life.  His immediate response was that he would pick Hugh Jackman, and John Goodman; Hugh Jackman because he’s Wolverine, and John Goodman because he’s a good father figure on Rosanne.   His biggest laugh, and applause break, came after a high pitch squeal came from the back of the tent.  Apparently two seventeen year old girls hadn’t seen each other in hours.  Ron doesn’t hesitate a millisecond before screaming, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”   His sudden departure from the gentle teddy bear figure caught everyone off guard, and the crowd erupted in applause, and cheers.  Once again proving that sometimes the best thing you can do, is say what everyone is thinking.

Kurt Vile: After stringing together two successful albums (Smoke Ring for My Halo in 2011, and Wakin on a Pretty Daze released April of this year) Mr. Vile has gained a reputation as having mad chops on the six string, as well as a poetic pen hand.  His lyrics come across with authenticity, and strike a common chord which is easy to relate to.  His songwriting skills, groovy delivery, and rusty voice remind me very much of Bob Dylan.  Except Dylan could never play like this, sorry Bob.  Kurt absolutely shreds through his solos.  During his solo while playing “Wakin On A Pretty Day,” he dropped his pick, reached down to get it, and kept right on going, all without interrupting his fret work.  He makes it look way too easy.   Not to mention the fact that he literally played with his hair in his face the entire show, making his skills that much more incredible.

Adding spice to this live show, his band showed off their own skills by swapping a saxophone, a 12 string Vox, a lap steel, and some kind of bagpipe/keyboard hybrid into the mix for various songs.  The real treat of the day was the end of the set, when the band left, and it was just Kurt and his guitar for an acoustic version of “Peeping Tomboy.”

Kurt Vile & the Violators

Yo La Tengo: Putting on one of the slower tempo sets of the day, Yo La Tengo took to the Carrie stage to sooth the crowd with their dream pop sound, and incredible musical talents.  Seriously, the most impressive thing about their set was how often they swapped instruments.  Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew were constantly trading, and playing extremely well with whatever happened to be in their hands at the moment.  Although their technical expertise is fascinating, a slow melodic version of “Autumn Sweater” is about to put me to sleep.  I am off to find something with a bit more kick to jumpstart the evening.

Yo La Tengo

!!! (Chk Chk Chk):  This was a fun one for me.  I had never heard of !!!, and trying to do any research seemed impossible (go ahead, try to google ‘!!!’.)   So I figured I would show up blind, and see what happened.  Best decision of the day.   I would later be told this is dance-punk, although I didn’t get much of a punk vibe.  I did get a whole lot of dance vibe, notes of funk, and just a hint of soul.  Lead singer, Nic Offer, comes strutting out on stage wearing only boxers and a black shirt, with enough Mic Jagger swagger to fill the entire Los Angeles Basin.  “Cocky” doesn’t seem to quite capture to moment; this man takes narcissism to a whole new level.   It may be deserved, as he worked the crowd into one gigantic dance party.  Even a wallflower, like myself, couldn’t help but shake a little tail feather.  Ending the set with the infectiously funky “Slyd,” Nic jumped down in the crowd to join in the fun, working his way across the front row, and dancing with all of us.  I will absolutely be seeing them again.  They put on a very fun show, and everyone walked away with huge smiles.  And just so you know, the band also goes by Chk Chk Chk, so try googling that instead.

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The Melvins:  Storming into their set with “Hag Me”, off their ’93 album Houdini, the ageless gods of sludge metal took to the Miranda stage Sunday night with nothing to prove.  With over 20 albums in the last 30 years, The Melvins were cool, collected, and as tight as you would expect.  The stage took on an odd symmetry with Buzz Osborne dressed as a space monk on the far left, bassist Jared Warren resembling a long haul truck driver on the right, and the dual drum kits of Coady Willis, and Dale Crover, taking center stage.  There was no questioning commitment from these gentlemen.  They put on a polished set that exemplified everything great about this band.  Ranging from the slow forceful doom metal we have come to expect, all the way to technically impressive hypersonic paced songs, which whipped the crowd into a feverish tornado of dust.

The Melvins

Les Savy Fav: Where to start?  I knew going into this that Les Savy Fav, or more specifically its front man, Tim Harrington, had a reputation for producing a spectacle.  Nothing could have prepared me for what was about to unfold.  This guy is a madman.

First off, this man changes clothes like the wind changes direction.  During sound check (which ran long due to an extended set by The Melvins) Tim changed clothes three times, only to walk off the stage, and then return wearing a fourth outfit, which didn’t even last the first song, before being ripped off.  He then changed into a full body reflective silver unitard, which managed to stay on for a couple songs, before eventually being replaced by a toga.

As soon as the show starts, he’s already in the crowd, and the energy goes straight through the roof.  He has silver paint smeared on his face, giving the look of a huffer who stumbled into a fight club.  The crowd is more than willing to indulge the madness.  At one point he went to one of the small trees in front of the Miranda stage, hung upside down in it, and finished the song there.  The crowd ceremonially danced around him like it was a pagan tribal ritual.  At another point in the show, he threw a box of about 50 toilet paper rolls into the crowd, providing ammunition to a very worked-up group of individuals. You can just imagine what happened next, especially with the small trees adorning the pit.  From beginning to end it was a dust bowl of chaos, with projectile Charmin flying in all directions.

Nearing the end of the show, he brought a ladder out on stage.  He first climbed the ladder, before falling off, and then used it as a bridge over the photo pit.  At that point, it was his surfboard, and all he had to do was point in a direction, and the crowd obliged. He finished the song, “Clear Spirits,” standing on a ladder, floating around the top of the crowd, while piercing us with a blank stare that sent my soul running for cover.

This was just a portion of the show. I can’t even begin to describe all the shenanigans that went down.  The live performance was magical, and worth exploring for yourself.  Just know that it’s all about Tim. You almost forget the fact that there is a band playing with utter precision behind him.  It’s like looking at a bright neon sign on a beige wall.

Les Savy Fav

My Bloody Valentine: By sheer luck I had picked up a pair of earplugs earlier in the day, and it’s probably the only reason I can hear anything today. My Bloody Valentine had their amps turned up to 11…maybe 12. It was the first time all weekend that the sound from the main stage, was interfering with the Holy Ghost! beat coming from Charlotte stage, creating a muddled sound for those in the overlapping area. On top of the volume issues, the band was constantly battling technical issues through the entire show, with the sound cutting out at one point, and multiple crew members frantically scampering around trying to figure out the issue. The band had to have been a bit disappointed; looking around at the cringing faces of the fans, it was obvious they weren’t the only ones.

Perhaps it was due to the technical issues. Maybe it was the ungodly volume level. Or perhaps Les Savy Fav had simple meted my brain, and it was no longer functioning properly.  Whatever the reason, it was time to go. As my feet went into auto pilot through downtown L.A., I was amazed that even after we left Chinatown, My Bloody Valentine could still be heard clearly pulsing down the valley. In fact, I’ll bet if you listen very carefully, you can still hear them now, wherever they are playing. At the risk of sounding like an old man, sometimes more isn’t better; sometimes more is just REALLY loud.

Other Artists of FYF Fest – Day 2:

Antwon

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