FYF Fest, Day 2: Dispatches from Spring St. Stage
Kevin Bronson on
[Photos and capsule reviews of selected sets from the Spring Street Stage at Sunday’s FYF Fest:]
The Faint, Twin Shadow, HEALTH, Paul Banks, Lightning Bolt, Cursive, Ceremony, Joyce Manor, PAPA, Lovely Bad Things
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||| Photos by Laurie Scavo
More photos and capsule reviews after the jump:
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Some of the best things at FYF (Desaparecidos, Aesop Rock, American Nightmare, Cursive) had their heyday in 2001-03. And the Faint’s synth-spiked dance-punk didn’t sound dated one bit as the Nebraska outfit closed out FYF Fest with a rabid dance party that seemed to kick up dust from downtown to Pasadena. Their album “Danse Macabre,” 11 years old now and getting a deluxe reissue Oct. 30 via Saddle Creek, offered (and still does) dance music for rockists, letting synths be part of the vocabulary rather than dominating the conversation. Those electronics squawked, screeched and squelched in subversive delight Sunday – there was more energy in the Faint’s opening song (“An Unseen Hand,” which was unfamiliar to most Faint fans near me) than in Twin Shadow’s entire set preceding. (Here’s your remastered version of “Take Me to the Hospital,” by the way.)
The Downside: One particular writer’s legs were too sore to move very much. Ahem.
Postscript: A different kind of nightcap that Explosions in the Sky’s FYF finale last year, but exhilarating nonetheless.
– Kevin Bronson
You Could’ve Passed on This Because: The big obstacle between George Lewis Jr. and the pop stardom he so obviously desires is actual pop songs. He has one, maybe two, and he and his backing band (which includes ace multi-instrumentalist Bram Inscore, of L.A.’s Touché, who toured as part of Beck’s band, among others) did their best to connect with a huge crowd wanting a payoff … a sing-along … a hook … a dance party … or something. Only the faithful up front seemed to be buying Twin Shadow’s overly glossy New Wave. Hey, those magazine photo spreads are great, though.
The Upside: The lines at the pizza truck were shorter.
Postscript: A lot of people seem to have left Yeasayer’s set early to catch Twin Shadow.
– Kevin Bronson
You Should’ve Been Here Because: HEALTH again showed why they are like no other. The experimental-minded quartet out of L.A. dazzled sonically and visually over 45 minutes, alternately trancey, thrashing and angular. At first blush, their music seems a soundtrack to chaos, but there’s a compositional genius to the way they use noise, whether it’s icy synths, fuzzed-out guitars or polyrhythmic blasts. It’s fun to imagine what these guys could do with a straight-up pop or rock song, but it’s better to simply give your ears to what they’re doing. With apologies to hardcore and post-hardcore acts, HEALTH’s was the most dangerous music at FYF Fest.
The Downside: Because they were busy cashing Rockstar Games’ check to score the video game “Max Payne 3,” their next album won’t be out until next year.
Postcript: Props to the cameramen who did their best to keep up everybody on stage.
– Kevin Bronson
You Could Have Missed This Because: It’s hard to separate that voice, Paul Banks’ voice, from the beauty that was Interpol in those heady early ’00s. He’s doing his own thing now, and he’s striking out with a moody, almost theatrical set of songs that seem more suited for a stage melodrama than the club circuit. Rarely rising above a mid-tempo groove, he played several new tracks such as “I’ll Sue You” and “Paid For That,” which, lyrically, used those phrases so often that when he revealed the titles, it wasn’t too much of a shock. Although he claimed to have retired his Julian Plenti persona, the few tracks of “his” that Banks performed gave the show a pulse, and the audience visibly perked up during “Games For Days.”
The Upside: The vibe might have been perfect for the sunset time slot, if you were ready to wind down for the evening ”¦
– Mo Herms
You Should’ve Been Here Because: Along with nearby sets from Allah-Las and Nick Waterhouse, PAPA’s 30 minutes in the scorching sun let you imagine the summer Sundays of decades past, even if you weren’t born yet. The least overtly retro of those three L.A. artists, PAPA dispensed R&B- and funk-infused rock with prickly guitar and tickling piano lines. It revolves around the precise rhythms of barefoot drummer/singer Darren Weiss, who once manned the kit for Girls and, before that, punk-rockers Wires on Fire. Weiss was on his game, his Blues Brothers vocals nailing “Ain’t It So” and “I Am the Lion King” from the quartet’s “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” EP. Notable: The new song “Put Me to Work” is kind of a Motown-meets-Springsteen indie scorcher with a racehorse piano line.
The Downside: The set was actually short. What’s the rush? FYF Fest did a remarkable job with changeovers and getting sets started on time.
Postscript: PAPA’s full-length won’t be out until 2013, but a digital single is en route before year’s end.
– Kevin Bronson
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