FYF Fest 2013 – Day 1 Reviews and Pictures FYF Fest 2013 – Day 1 Reviews and Pictures

Words by Griffen Callahan, concert photography by Scott Dudelson


As our photographer and I hoofed our way through L.A.’s China Town, the mid-day sun breaking on our heads, the excitement began to creep its way up my spine.  We were both rookies to FYF fest, and really didn’t know what to expect.  Based on the line-up, I envisioned a ten hour mosh pit, taking breaks only to run for a bottle of water, before rejoining the human hurricane.

Upon arriving, we realized something instantly, and it held true for the entire weekend.  The dust was everywhere.  We hadn’t even gone through the front gates before ingesting our first mouthful of Southern California’s finest dirt, and it was not the last time this weekend.  Thankfully, they were handing out bandannas, and because we were so far up in line, we got one.  Many others were not so lucky; but, numerous people knew enough to bring their own, so this must be a known issue at this venue.  It culminated in a festival population that resembled hipster versions of Wild West bank robbers.

FYF Fest technically stands for the ‘Fuck Yeah Fest’…Fest.  Something more than one artist commented on during their sets.  I guess they could call it the FY Fest, but where’s the fun in that?  Set times were quick.  Only 30 minutes for early bands, 50-55 minutes for sub-headliners, and 1:15 for the headliners.  This means crews, and roadies, better be on their game, because losing 10 minutes, of a 30 minute set, is a big deal.

Once inside, I see the grounds are much smaller than Coachella, or Outside Lands.  This makes sense, as they are only expecting between 20,000 and 25,000 people each day (compared to Coachella at 90,000, or O.L. at 65,000).  The stages are named after the Sex and the City characters, which is fucking bizarre for an indie/punk fest, but apparently they change every year.  It makes me think somebody, somewhere, at some time, lost a bet.  Maybe there was some level of shame, as they conveniently neglected to mark the stages with their designated names.  Carrie is the main stage, Charlotte is the meeker second stage, Samantha is the dirty electronic/comedy tent, and Miranda is way over in the corner, and you may forget about it, were it not for the epic line-up about to grace it this weekend.  It was Miranda where we would begin our day.


Lemuria: The Buffalo, New York, based indie/punk trio opened the festival on the Miranda stage with “Brilliant Dancer,” off their album The Distance Is So Big, which was released June of this year.  With the downtown L.A. skyline behind them, and an open makeup case with a large picture of Leonardo DiCaprio’s face adorning the inner cover perched atop one of their amps, they held nothing back.  With only 30 minutes to work with, they choose from the higher end of their catalogues energy spectrum; with notable renditions of “Mechanical”, “Dog” & “Dogs”, and the lyrically lesbian laced “Lipstick” (say that five times fast).  Guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella has a natural fluttering vibrato in her voice, adding depth to songs that seem to come, and go, too quickly.  Lemuria is fun and energetic, but it is certainly on the lighter end of punk rock.  In other words, don’t come to a show expecting mosh pits, or wild melees, as things may get awkward.

Crystal Antlers:  As we wander back towards the Charlotte stage, it’s obvious the lack of stage signs is befuddling the masses.  It’s still early, and getting close to the stage still isn’t an issue, so I pushed way up, and settled in to watch Crystal Antlers.

It wasn’t much of a drive for these Long Beach Natives to come rock the crowd at FYF.  You can almost taste the salty air of the beach as they dive into distorted melodies that seem to pay homage to the surfer and psychedelic rock of the 1960’s.  But these aren’t your father’s Beach Boys; these young gentlemen came to rock your face.  They tend to lull you in with softer sections, and then BANG, high energy sped into your ear-hole.

Their third song in they played “Rattlesnake”, the first single off their album, Nothing is Real, scheduled to be released Oct. 15th.  The indie rock trio obviously had some fans that were a little late, because by that point the crowd had grown to a respectable size, assembling in the glaring Los Angeles sun.  The bassist/vocalist, Jonny Bell, is sporting long hair, long jeans, long-sleeve NHRA shirt, and he doesn’t seem to be sweating at all….did I mention it’s about 86 degree’s out?  I’m convinced he has a mechanism in his body which converts body heat, to raw vocal awesomeness.



Metz: Following Crystal Antlers, was Metz.  You know that age old colloquialism about the chicken, and the egg?  Well, it’s hard to know what came first, the first chord of their first song, or the mosh pit that exploded in the center of the crowd.  Instant chaos, and apparently I missed the memo.

Working the faithful into frenzied violent pockets with songs off their self-titled (and only) album, it was obvious the crowd needed this.  The band seemed to move around on stage with the same energy of the pit.  The crowd was mirroring the band (or vice versa), and feeding off the energy of the other in a very symbiotic way.  This noise rock/hardcore punk trio hails from Toronto, Canada.  They are high octane, and could possibly replace your morning cup of coffee. They killed their set; and the crowd had a look of relief, and relaxation, as they walked away tattered, and torn.



Charles Bradley:  After an amazing pulled pork/grilled cheese hybrid sandwich from the Manglers Meltdown food truck, I wandered to the Carrie stage for the resurrection of James Brown.

The band looks like they just hopped off a time machine from 1976.  It could have been the cast of Starsky & Hutch 2 on the stage, for all I knew.  After an instrumental version of “Summer in the City” without Sir Charles on stage, a band member (who I could swear is on Duck Dynasty) introduces the man we’re all waiting for.  As soon as he walks on stage you immediately know two things: he’s got soul, and he’s super bad.  Adding a funky blues note to the afternoon, Mr. Bradley started with “Love Bug Blues”, followed by “Crying in the Chapel.”  This man provides some serious baby-makin’ music.  He ended his set with, “Let Love Stand a Chance,” as he fell to the stage in a writhing pelvic display, while staring at the crowd in a way that surly made some guy in the front row very uncomfortable.  He then declared to the crowd, “I Love you!” and jumped down to gives hugs, and high fives, to just about anyone in the crowd who wanted one.  This man was born to entertain, and entertain he shall.  To quote a prophet of our time, “The Dude abides.”


The Breeders: It’s been 20 years’ since The Last Splash, the album that shot the Breeders to legends of the 90’s status.  The Saturday crowd at the Carrie stage was ready to relive it in all its glory.  They opened by covering Guided By Voices’ “Shocker in Gloomtown”, before launching into The Last Splash in full.  The Deal sisters looked comfortable, like they were having fun; as was Jim Macpherson.  But, for the first three songs, bassist Josephine Wiggs had a look on her face like she was an angry teacher, trying to quiet down a misbehaving class.  She seemed to loosen up a bit as the set progressed.

A particularly beautiful moment of their set was a slow, sultry, version of “Mad Lucas”, as the sun set over the downtown L.A. skyline.  Almost as if Kelley Deal was singing it to sleep herself. It was a mellow vibe as we walked away and back towards the Miranda Stage.  Little did I know, that was the last mellow moment of the evening.



The Locust: I now know why these guys wear masks.  They are sensory thugs who will assault your ears, and eyes, without regard for safety.  If I was questioned by the police about the crime, I don’t think I could provide much information:

  • There were four of them wearing masks.
  • There were a lot of fast, loud, sounds.
  • There were bright, quickly flashing, lights.
  • At one point there was a prolonged high pitched squeal, which probably caused the death of at least one local dog.

Songs?  There probably were some.  Lyrics?  Perhaps, but I can’t say for sure.  Loud?  You bet your ass.

Although I was thoroughly violated, I loved it in the most masochistic was possible.  The seizure-inducing light show pandered to a much more primitive portion of my brain.  Plus, they were tight.  It may have looked and sounded like anarchy, but they were playing with almost telepathic efficiency.  In fact, they don’t even talk between songs; not to the crowd, not to each other.  A small break of silence, and then simultaneously burst into the next song. These guys were my surprise takeaway for the day.  Like the dirty little slut I am, I want more.




Thee Oh Sees: Right off the bat, I’m shocked.  In what may be a first, Justin Pearson (the bassist for The Locust), and John Dwyer have managed to put on back to back sets, on the same stage (Miranda), both with clear, acrylic bodied, stringed instruments.  What are the odds?

Thee Oh Sees are a garage rock/punk band that hails from a city close to my heart, San Francisco.  You may know the lead vocalist/guitarist, John Dwyre, from such bands as: Coachwhips, Pink and Brown, Yikes, and The Hospitals.  Wait…there’s something missing on stage.  Oh right, a drummer!  Lars Finberg is nowhere to be seen, leaving the typically dual-drummer band, with only one set of sticks.  Mike Shoun didn’t seem to have any trouble picking up the slack, as the band put on a forceful set.

The voice dynamic between Dwyre, and keyboardist/vocalist, Brigid Dawson, reminds me of another favorite band of mine, The B-52’s.  Only much louder, more energy, and a much more distorted garage sound; perhaps capped best tonight by their mosh-inducing version of “Toe Cutter Thumb Buster”. However, they also have a softer side, as they showed with slower versions of “Block of Ice,” and “Minotaur.”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: I arrived early.  I knew this was sure to draw the largest crowd of the day, and there was no way I was settling for anything further than 10 ft back from the front row.  After some expert crowd navigation, and a few steps over some ‘sitters’, it was mission accomplished.  On the screens’ adjacent to the stage, they are playing movie previews from the 90’s, and one that keeps replaying is Batman Returns, which I find appropriate, because Catwoman is about to take the stage.

Lights go down, onto the stage they walk, and there she is, Karen O.  This woman knows how dress, and knows even better how to work an audience.  Sticking to tradition, they rocked through a power packed set list.  After their fifth song, “Gold Lion,” Karen stomped a pedal on the stage, and thousands of little paper ‘Y’s detonated into the crowd.  From that point forward, we were putty in her hands.

During their performance of “Sacrilege,” the stage took on a holy feel.  White lights cast long shadows up the stage, giving the chapel-like vibe to our environment.  The crowd was singing along with the gospel style chorus line, and our high priestess was presiding over the entire congregation.  It was the closest I have come to church in a long time.  Just when I thought it was time for communion, they launched into “Head will Roll,” and everyone lost their shit.

I highly suggest seeing this band.  This was my third time this year, and I still don’t feel satisfied.  They have an addicting brand of indie rock, and have absolutely mastered the delivery.  This may be the FYF fest, but today it was the FYYYF fest.


Editors note: A special thanks to Los Angeles Concert Photographer Scott Dudelson as he contributed his amazing photos after a hardware failure wiped out our staff photographers day 1 work.

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