[Photos and capsule reviews of selected sets from the Spring Street Stage at Saturday’s FYF Fest:]
Simian Mobile Disco, Quicksand, James Blake, Chromatics, F*cked Up, Cloud Nothings, Redd Kross, King Tuff, FIDLAR, the Orwells
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- ||| Photos by Laurie Scavo
You Should Have Been Here Because: These two Brits, who made a side project into a full-on career, took the minimal bleeps and bloops of their latest album “Unpatterns” (and an upcoming EP produced by Brian Eno) and blended them with enough of their acid and house past to craft a party full of unusual and groovy stuff. The late night set was perfectly timed, except for the fact that most in attendance appeared dazed by the long day (or perhaps substances consumed over the course of that long day), and when Simian Mobile Disco appeared with their Borg-like box of cables, knobs, patch chords and switches set up on a table, it didn’t look like anything exciting would happen. But soon, lovely and crystalline tones spilled out over the crowd, who were mesmerized while the duo created a beautiful build up with “I Waited For You” and “Cerulean” from the new album. The pretty soon turned squelchy, as they mixed some more experimental numbers like “Nerve Salad” before launching into the real party by throwing in some Beth Ditto (of the Gossip, and whose EP they produced last year) on the new track “Cruel Intentions.” Their classic acid club hit “Hustler” snuck in under some other smooth sounds, almost like the ghost of itself but still reviving the crowd. And, also in classic club move, they broke it down in a soulful way with “I Believe” while blasting the last of the laser show, and kids tossed their glow sticks into the air.
The Downside: All the sun and dust and beer had taken their toll, and a happy crowd was still a tired crowd. And you’re still basically watching two guys play with their knobs, after all.
– Mo Herms
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Reunions are all the rage. Even if you’ve almost forgotten the original union. Quicksand, who reconvened for the first time in 13 years this past June at the Glass House, were tight as fist at FYF, if only a little bit less aggressive than they were when “Slip” (1993) landed in your CD case next to your Fugazi. Guitar crunch? Check. Calls and responses? Check. Square-jawed anger? Check. The years have treated Quicksand’s music well, and on Saturday the New York quartet did the same for those who remembered it.
The Downside: Those James Blake fans who were still making out against the fence got a helluva shock.
Postscript: Lineup-wise, this might have been FYF’s biggest curveball. Nice one.
– Kevin Bronson
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You Should’ve Been Here Because: You probably weren’t there five years ago, when the Canadians bruised bodies and battered eardrums at the Echoplex for the 2008 F*ck Yeah Fest. “Who would’ve thought it would get this big?” frontman Damian Abraham said of FYF. “Sean Carlson and Phil are the P.T. Barnum of our generation.” And Abraham? A poetic Sam Kinison. As happens at F*cked Up’s shows, Abraham was shirtless and in the crowd by the end of the first song, screaming, hugging moshers, trading high-fives and, eventually, crowd-surfing himself. He invited the crowd to consider heading for Canada should the presidential election go badly (nationalized health care and all). And, in his characteristic good humor, he dedicated one song to “everybody here who’s a little overweight.” It was “I Hate Summer.”
The Downside: Hard to believe, but the sultry, bass-heavy set by Nite Jewel in the Tent bled over into the Spring stage area (even though there’s a beer garden located in between). Not very hardcore, huh?
Postscript: They played “Queen of Hearts” first, before some of the sound levels were right.
– Kevin Bronson
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Hard to believe that the Dylan Baldi who not long ago was making twee-pop in his bedroom is the same young man fronting the festival-worthy quartet. The Cleveland-based band with the Pitchfork-endorsed new album “Attack on Memory” was viciously good, turning pop-punk hooks upside down and inside out, treating them not as a template but more of a signpost pointing toward some loftier (and more long-winded) ideas. At somewhere around 10 minutes, though, “Wasted Days” hardly ever tested your attention span.
The Downside: Did we mention it was hot and water cost $3?
Postscript: Nice of those fighter jets to do a fly-by mid-set (we think they had just buzzed the Coliseum for the start of the USC football game).
– Kevin Bronson
You Should Have Been Here Because: Redd Kross are the legends somehow deprived of their legendary status, which is just plain wrong. The McDonald brothers, Jeff and Steve, started playing in this band when they were in junior high, and that was a heck of a long time ago. They champion a Cheap Trick style of rock ’n’ roll melody filled with Ramones riffs and never lose sight of the fun of it all. Bands like Green Day, the Lemonheads and OK Go all owe these dudes a beer. Redd Kross just released their first album in 15 years on Merge, “Researching the Blues,” and this festival show in their beloved hometown featured many tracks from that new record, including the title tune and the thrashy single “Stay Away from Downtown” (considering where the festival was located, making everyone a violator). Not too much of the clever banter for which they are known, but they did pepper the set with brief but punchy classics like “Kill Someone You Hate” (which clocks in at just over a minute) and the ode to their favorite old school Mouseketeer, “Annette’s Got the Hits.” Much happy pogo-ing and air guitar-ing ensued.
The Downside: The short festival set was just not enough for these guys to get comfortable and really stretch their legs, as these seasoned pros can do very well.
Postscript: More bang for your buck, or in this case, a bonus McDonald. Jeff’s daughter Astrid came onstage to sing “Pop Show” from the new album, flinging her hair about and rocking just as charmingly as her dad and uncle.
– Mo Herms
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Chances are you weren’t around four decades ago when garage rock was an actual rebellion and not a fashion statement. Frontman Kyle Thomas plays in several bands that ply several different styles, so King Tuff feels like just another hat he wears, although the hat the Vermonter wore Saturday was a black LA Dodgers cap. The music – a little bit New York Dolls, a little bit T. Rex, a little bit straight-up power-pop – was infectious as hell, for at least four songs. The set was heavy on material from King Tuff’s recent self-titled album for Sub Pop, but Thomas did bust out the nugget “Freak When I’m Dead” from a 2008 release (the vinyl’s now selling for $150 on Amazon). “This one’s for all the weirdos in the crowd,” he said, “which looks to me to be every single one of you.”
The Downside: Shouldn’t we be past T-shirts that say “Blow Me?” Just wondering.
Postscript: Hope Thomas stuck around for Redd Kross’ set.
– Kevin Bronson
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Hometown punk heroes FIDLAR (F*ck It Dog, Life’s A Risk) took the stage with a roar of approval from the crowd. Their set was filled with all the things disillusioned youth love: weed, skating, cheap beer, surfing, rehab and cocaine, all wrapped in punk bravado. Shirts, flip-flops, and bodies flew everywhere as the mosh pit grew into an all-out war. With lyrics like “I don’t have a job. I don’t have a phone. I don’t have a life and I’m always stoned,” matched with lightning fast guitars and drums pounding like the blood in your eardrums, it is easy to see why kids born in this economy are drawn to just jump in the mosh pit and dance out their rage.
The Downside: At one point lead singer Zac Carper announced, “There is a lot of cracker-ass crackers out there, wearing tight jeans and shit.” Bro, stay away from the racial slurs. You sound like a fool.
Postscript: Black Lips better watch out. These kids will give them a run for their money.
– Molly Bergen
You Should’ve Been Here Because: The teenagers from Chicago took the stage with something to prove. The Orwells’ debut album was released on Autumn Tone records last month, and they were eager to show off what they could do. Boy, did they. Their set was short and fierce, rippling angst-laden garage rock across the field like waves of heat. Long blond hair shrouding his face, lead singer Mario Cuomo, shivered and shook like he was having a seizure, making sure that all eyes were on him as he sang about how damn unfair it is to be young. “Mall Rats (La La La)” especially struck a chord with the crowd as wood chips covering the ground flew up from the tiny mosh pit like the start of a lumberjack competition.
The Downside: Due to the early start time and lack of organization at security, most of the Orwells’ fans were still outside in line trying to get in when the band started. During the set they would come running across the field, ready and willing to start a moshpit of six. Security needs to open their doors earlier, so everyone who wants to can catch the early bands.
Postscript: Turns out FIDLAR is the Orwells’ favorite band. No surprises there.
– Molly Bergen