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August 25, 2013

FYF Fest, Saturday Highlights

by  |  August 25, 2013

For a tenth wedding anniversary, diamond jewelry is the customary present. There were no precious metals exchanged at the 10th edition of Los Angeles indie music festival, FYF, but there were Crystal Antlers, crystal disco chandeliers and Karen O singing about gold lions. It may have been the next best thing.

There was something for most every stripe of music fan—from psychedelic rock, to four on the floor house, and onto the hardcore punk rap of Death Grips. Held at the State Historic Park in Chinatown, the event seemingly brought out every hirsute character in Echo Park and Silver Lake. Each stage was named after a different Sex in the City character, while the Metro line to and from the festival was so crowded with FYF patrons that it ought to have been temporarily renamed after Mr. Big.

Offering approximately 30 acts scattered over ten hours, there were too many highlights to count. But these are several that were 24 karat.

Charles Bradley
Even the most stoic may start tearing up when Charles Bradley sings onstage. Perhaps because of his heretofore tragic life (and its now-triumphant third act), and in any case surely due to the sheer catharsis that he puts across with each song, Bradley’s volatile performances are instruments built to incite emotion. Just try not to smile when he does his James Brown pelvic thrusts and peacock gestures; try not to be transfixed by the combination of his ravaged voice and the seraphic horn section that backs it up. You have no choice. You are in Charles Bradley’s clutches and for forty-five minutes on a Saturday afternoon in Chinatown, there was nowhere else you wanted to be.

Classixx
It‘s generally a wise move not to believe the hype, but that advice goes by the wayside when you watch Classixx perform. The Innovative Leisure-signed dance music duo has ascended to the disco throne over the last six months. Whether it’s tracks from their full-length debut, [Hanging Gardens] or their remixes, every song is a lush, Serotonin-spiking invitation to let loose.

A remix of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” caused the crowd to take proper note. Guest vocalists Aloe Blacc and Superhumanoids’ Sarah Chernoff amplified the energy. By the time the set was over, everyone was clapping their hands in the air, wiping their foreheads, and begging the DJs for more.

Nosaj Thing
Shrouded in darkness and smoke, the breakout star from LA’s Low End Theory scene brought FYF’s most mercurial and mysterious performance. You weren’t sure if you were preparing for the spaceship to land, or whether Jason Chung had transformed into evil Ryu from Street Fighter. All you could see was a shadowy outline wearing a hat and flannel. All you could feel was the mood being transformed. If you were looking for the party to get wilder, this wasn’t the place. But Nosaj’s compositions combined IDM, classical, hip-hop, and dance music into dynamite—even if you couldn’t see the fuse being lit.

TV on the Radio
This isn’t your older brother’s TV on the Radio. Once mostly inclined towards post-rock atmospherics, Tunde Adibempe, Dave Sitek, and company have begun to indulge their punk rock side over the last year. When walking towards the stage, the sounds of ferocity emerging from that direction might have kept you from realizing that the seminal New York art-rock band was holding court. But then you heard “Wolf Like Me” and “Staring at the Sun” and remembered that their songs always had bite.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
To be a fully legitimate rock festival, you need a legitimate headliner. In the indie rock sphere, those can be difficult to come by. You can’t be too esoteric or too quiet. You need hits and the ability to clearly project your sound for acres. You need a charismatic rock star singer. Basically, you need to be like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The New York City trio (a quartet live) brought a helter-skelter intensity and passion to the last set at the main stage. Backed by giant, white block letter, “Y’s,” Karen O wailed and yelped as though each love song could be her last. Triangulating 2000s indie with arena rock, the band’s anthems incited crowd singalong response. It amounted to a greatest hits set from their four albums, but the biggest response came from “Gold Lion,” “Phenomena,” “Zero,” and anything from their first album, Fever to Tell (also celebrating its tenth birthday this year). When they played “Maps,” it steered us in the euphoric direction we’d always wanted to go—and then it was time to head home.

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