September 4, which marked the seventh year of FYF Fest, saw downtown Los Angeles look a little like God’s idea of a cruel joke on hipsters. The fest, which has changed names from F— Yeah Fest to F Yeah Fest to FYF Fest, has been caught cruelly between two worlds. Presumably, the reasoning behind the name change was one of appropriateness, but it has become symbolic of the dead man’s land that the fest currently occupies. Not yet popular enough to merit national recognition and yet clearly far too popular for its current digs.
FYF Fest has already migrated from Echo Park to Los Angeles State Historic Park, but another move, or at least a significant upgrade in atmosphere is in order shortly. A crowd descended on the park, unfortunately a crowd unmatched by the beverage or food supply capacities of the vendors there. Despite promises of double-digit food trucks, there were only two, and the other food options ranged from disgustingly generic festival fare, ranging in price from $8-$9, to disgustingly generic churros for $4. Of course, should you have had the inclination to pay those ridiculous prices, you would have had a virtually impossible time to do so; getting in line for food was a 2 hour proposition during peak hours.
I bailed on food and water lines twice after moving about 10 feet in three times as many minutes. It’s a good thing that I did because it helped me stumble into an actual good time in a festival rife with technical difficulty.
There were problems with mixing all day — to be expected, but ideally avoided, in an outdoor venue located next to some factories and a train track — but these issues made me leave Wavves and ditch Panda Bear after about two minutes of trying to hear him through all the screeching coming from the speakers. I’m told that his set was enjoyable if you stuck your fingers in your ears, but I was too busy losing my shit to “House of Jealous Lovers” to conduct a manual spelunking mission on my ear canal.
Back to how I accidentally had a good time. Sitting with friends and complaining about how we all wanted to leave after Washed Out couldn’t get their projector working or their speakers turned all the way up, we decided to brave the food lines to prevent ourselves from passing out. Standing there being serenaded by !!! was a microcosm of the best part of the festival experience—even when you’re waiting for something, there’s still live music providing a soundtrack to your activity. In this case, the activity was finding out that the food vendors were out of just about everything and eating some disgusting nachos and a half-decent crepe, but hey, !!!.
After eating and dancing and being disappointed by Delorean failing to show up within half an hour of their scheduled set time, we wandered back over to the main stage just in time to see Big Freedia blow everything else that came before or after her clean out of the water.
If you don’t know, Big Freedia and her DJ Rusty Lazer are ambassadors of New Orleans sissy bounce, which basically amounts to trannies doing Baltimore-club style tracks while shaking their junk all over the stage. And it rules. Hard. Witness: Big Freedia calling volunteers onstage before performing “Azz Everywhere” (she invited the volunteers up then said, “When you hear the song, you’ll know why,” and you know what? She was dead on) and inspiring a twig-thin white girl to do things that I previously thought were physically impossible with a that-sized booty.
The other highlight of the show was unquestionably The Rapture. Although their studio career has lost some steam (how many of you can name a Rapture song other than “House of Jealous Lovers” or “Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks”? No cheating!) their live chops are undeniable. They managed to lift a calorically-deprived crowd of disaffected youth into a state of ecstatic dance that made me kind of hope for a rapture right then and there. Just to, you know, see what it was like.
Basically there are three takeaways from FYF Fest. One: Certain music is meant to be listened to indoors and with a few people (Panda Bear, Washed Out.) Two: The festival has a lot of growing to do (food trucks, an absurd security line.) Three: If a DFA (or DFA-like) band is playing, drop everything and go see them. They will not disappoint.