FYF 2011 Pictures and Review FYF 2011 Pictures and Review

Words By Betsy Lee / Pictures By Ben Irwin


In this year’s advertisements, FYF Fest claimed that their festival would be the best day of summer.  It was pretty dang close in my book; this year the fest nailed it.  The weather was a perfect 81 degrees as a high.  Last year’s problems with lack of port-a-potties and super long lines at the food vendors were solved, and every band (at least the ones I saw) was in top form and made for a beautiful, happy experience.  Speaking of the bands…

Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold got the audience into a swaying, clapping mood right away.  They drew in tons more people as their set progressed, as the crowd was filing in from the long entry line.  Their short six song set came exclusively from their new record, “Leave No Trace”, which was just released.  Luke Top, live, has an even more gorgeous voice than on the recordings, which frankly does not always happens with bands, especially on those lovely higher notes reaching into falsetto territory.  While reviews I’ve read push Fool’s Gold onto Vampire Weekend and The Smiths as reference points, I got more of a David Byrne vibe as I listened live.  The set gave a good overview of where Fool’s Gold is now; which is less Hebrew-inflected and more 80’s referenced than their eponymous first album, but with the same beautiful harmonies that I’ve come to expect from them.

Set List:
Leave No Trace
The Dive
Wild Window
Tel Aviv
Narrow Sun

Tijuana Panthers

“Did you get barreled?” the Panthers asked, at the beginning of their set.  They were asking about surfing over the beautiful Labor Day weekend, engaging the crowd right away.  I had just seen Dick Dale’s 50th anniversary concert last Thursday, and I definitely heard his influence in the Tijuana Panthers’ set at FYF.  But instead of sounding derivative, the Panthers came across as surf rock done right.  The audience got the most out of “Creature”, a super catchy tune about wanting parents to leave them alone for being more into nocturnal culture; if you only heard the chorus, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from a vintage horror movie.  The Panthers’ overdriven, jangly guitar with plenty of reverb, really brings their style into focus.  I also got to see them the very next day, and it wasn’t too soon, if that gives you any indication.

Tijuana Panthers FYF 2011 Pictures

Cass McCombs FYF 2011 Pictures


This straight-up punk supergroup lived up to the expectations I set and went even further.  Off! plays bust-out hardcore punk with short grrrrrrr-packed songs.  Lead singer Keith Morris, fresh from tenures with Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, is certainly a capable showman as well as singer.  He bounded around the stage, contorting his face and body into one angry pose after another.  As I mentioned in my preview, Off!’s “First Four EPs” gets through 16 songs in 17 minutes–no time for noodling around in these tunes.  So, even though the set was short, Off! got through a large amount of tunes.  What most impressed me was that even though the songs can be harsh, the band really conveyed a warmth onstage.  They certainly love what they’re doing.

Ty Segall

A definite highlight of the day, Ty Segall and his group brought an effortlessly powerful presence to FYF.  Ty’s vocals reminded me of a louder Jeff Tweedy, and that went along with loose guitar bends, a la The Cramps.  The music transitioned from Monks/13th Floor Elevators’ acid-freakout to lockstep beats.  Their out of tune chords belie a sloppiness that masks the undercurrent of an extremely tight band.  Before they went into the popular track “Girlfriend”, Ty said, “This is a love song.”  When some in the crowd booed/laughed, he continued, “Shut up…I don’t give a fuck anymore.  Love’s okay!”  Overall, I’d say Ty Segall brings a combination of Mudhoney, The White Stripes, and The Animals to the fore.  He has his own magic in the mix, though, and you should definitely check him out any chance you get.

Future Islands – FYF 2011 Pictures

Japandroids – FYF 2011 Pictures

The Cults

I was really looking forward to seeing The Cults’ dreamy 60’s indie pop live, and I made my way over to their stage with glee.  The sun was coming down over the huge, enthusiastic crowd that the band, only one record into their career, drew.  Saying that they had just gotten off a plane from London two hours before, Cults could have delivered a tired and sloppy set (how exhausted must they have been?), but they certainly didn’t.  My only complaint about this darling band is that the songs sounded exactly like they did in their recordings; that’s small potatoes, though, especially for such a new group.  And that said, Cults’ recordings are lovely, and they came through sounding just as good live.  Cults don’t seem like a blog flash in the pan to me, and I can’t wait to hear what they do after their self-titled debut album.  Bonus: Madeline Follin was doing an adorable swishy dance move in her short, navy lace dress throughout the set.

Set List:
The Curse
Never Heal Myself
Most Wanted
You Know What I Mean
Never Saw the Point
Rave On
Go Outside
Oh My God

No Age

Do you know No Age?  They’re legends in certain circles here in Los Angeles.  They were at the forefront of a downtown LA music scene of noise/garage rock and weird-core centered around a nearly condemned, sweaty shoebox of a venue called The Smell.  Their first releases were blistering lo-fi machine gun bursts that were over before you knew what hit you.  Now signed to Sub Pop, their sound has matured both lyrically and melodically, but they still have the same skull-crushing power that made them local favorites.  At the festival Saturday, they were geographically close to The Smell, but they had come a long way from small audiences there to a huge festival crowd loving them up.  No Age’s set had a great energy, and the kids were crowd surfing like mad.

Broken Social Scene – FYF 2011 Pictures


Going out of their way to have a showy display at FYF, Girls had white and red roses attached to all the microphones on stage before they made their way on. When they did appear, Christopher Owens (the core of Girls) was joined not only by a band but also by three back up singers who swayed and danced in unison for the whole set.  If you haven’t heard Girls, they have a kind of Beach Boys gone wrong sound, full of despairing and gloomy lyrics.  That said, Chris Owens smiled and looked super excited throughout his songs, which I wasn’t expecting.  The crowd, hearts on their sleeves, sang along in earnest while Chris went into the first song, “Lust for Life”, a hit from his first record, “Album”.  After a couple “Album” songs, he started with his new material, which the crowd loved, if cooing and clapping thunderously are any indication.

Girls – FYF 2011 Pictures

Guided By Voices

Bob Pollard started the set with his characteristic high kick, and everything pretty much went as one could expect from there.  It was great to see Tobin Sprout back on the guitar, and Pollard drew attention to and complimented Sprout, giving him his due.  I loved the crunchy, lo-fi sound that is characteristic GBV, and they definitely seemed on top of it all.  We got to hear deep cuts as well as hits like “Game of Pricks”, “Watch Me Jumpstart”, and “I Am A Scientist”, and they didn’t sound one bit tired of playing them.  Maybe that’s what a break will do for you.  Yes, Pollard might have, ahem, slurred a lit bit talking in between songs, but would it be a GBV show if he didn’t?

Guided By Voice – FYF 2011 Pictures


An example of punk rock at its finest, the Descendents blew away the huge group that gathered for them.  In fact, I heard that the crowd at Descendents was bigger than the Death From Above 1979 headlining act’s, which was happening at the same time on the opposite side of the park.  I’d seen Descendents shirts all day on both kids and older punkers, and damn were they psyched when Milo and crew hit the stage.  Screaming along from word one, the audience seemed like they could not have been more thrilled to hear the pounding beats and driving guitars emitting from the band.  During songs like “Suburban Home” and “I’m Not A Loser”, the crowd surfing and dancing got more intense than the chagrined security would have liked, but it was too much for them to contain.  My personal highlight was “Silly Girl”–sigh.  How I’d waited to hear that from the brilliant Milo’s mouth; is anything sexier than a musician with a PhD? Aces way to end the day.

Set List:
Rotting Out
My Dad Sucks
Silly Girl
Coffee Mug
I’m the One
I Wanna Be a Bear
When I Get Old
I Like Food
Nothing With You
Clean Sheets
Everything Sucks
I Dont Wanna Grow Up
Get the Time
Suburban Home
Sour Grapes
I’m Not a Loser

Dan Deacon – FYF 2011 Pictures

Dead Milkmen – FYF 2011 Pictures

The Dead Milkmen, Tijuana Panthers, and Audacity: FYF Post-Show @ Alex’s Bar

Frankly, I was exhausted after being at the LA Historic State Park for almost 12 hours, and I had to go home and miss The Dead Milkmen at the end of the night. It was really disappointing, but I crashed knowing I was going to see them the very next day at a tiny Long Beach punk club called Alex’s Bar.

You’ve already read my review of Tijuana Panthers above, but let me spend a moment on Audacity, a really young-looking group from Fullerton.  They shredded! Formed when the members were only 14, the band must have put in some serious time together, because their jazzy punk sound was tight.  The best part, though, was their smart lyrics; they’re not some moronic Neanderthal punk band.  Take my advice and get in on the ground floor.

When the moment came for The Dead Milkmen to hit the stage, the packed-in audience lost their minds.  Rodney Anonymous told us that he was already sweating like a hog, and they hadn’t even started (it was super hot in there).  But that sure didn’t stop him from jumping around like a madman during the set.  The whole band seemed to be having a good time, especially the new bassist, whom I saw mouthing along to all the words of the songs.

In the speech before “Bitchin’ Camaro”, Rodney told us that instead of getting political that night, as he is one to do, he was going to give us something more light-hearted.  He then went into a “post-modern deconstruction” of Faderhead’s “Coke for my Ass”.  I wish I could convey the hilarity that ensued.  He then worked “Coke for my Ass” into several of the songs that came later in the set.  Even better, he added Rick Perry to the lyrics for “Right Wing Pigeon from Outer Space”.

The Milkmen really gave it everything they had from start to finish, and it was a kickass time.  We got a 22 song set and a 3 song encore out of them, and it was a glorious thing.

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