FYF Fest 2014, Day 1: Grimes, Slowdive, Little Dragon, Real Estate and more on The Lawn



Reviews: Grimes, Slowdive, Little Dragon, Real Estate, Mariachi El Bronx


You Should Have Been Here Because: The post-Interpol crowd seemed to herd en masse back around the Coliseum, cruising briskly past Boris’ experimental metal, for Grimes’ closing performance/dance party. Flanked by a pair of backup dancers, and at least that many fans blowing upward from below, Claire Boucher whipped her hair back and forth as her electro-pop sound boomed through The Lawn. The surging bassline of her hit “Oblivion” drew the biggest response of the set, and once the percussion came in, heads were bobbing up and down in the beautiful crowd like waves on a restless sea as she sang the chorus, “See you on a dark night.” Songs blended into one another, keeping the energy up throughout the almost hour-long set. She later brought out Mike Diamond, aka Blood Diamonds, for two songs, “Phone Sex” and new single “Go,” with a dubby wobble that had ’em all dancing hard, before closing with the feel-good, crowd-favorite “Genesis” from 2012’s “Visions.”
Downside: I guess it doesn’t matter if you forget the words to one of your most popular songs, so long as the beat is banging and crowd is singing every lyrics anyway.
Postscript: By “beautiful crowd,” I mean there were thousands of attractive people in attendance, and the song “Dream Weaver” kept going off in my head every which way I turned. If my future wife was in the crowd, maybe I’ll see you at Darkside tomorrow?
– Andrew Veeder



You Should Have Been Here Because: Playing on a grassy expanse only steps from Los Angeles’ biggest home for dinosaurs (the adjacent Natural History Museum), the shoegaze progenitors proved their music anything but extinct. Playing to a large (but not massive) cross-generational crowd in the gathering dusk, the U.K. quintet looked young, sounded young and all but expunged the memory of FYF’s previous great shoegazer reunion, My Bloody Valentine’s sound-problem-plagued set last year. There were four songs from Slowdive’s sublime second album “Souvlaki” (“Alison,” “Souvlaki Space Station,” “When the Sun Hits” and “Machine Gun”), the first two songs from their first EP in 1990 (“Slowdive” and “Avalyn”), the single “She Calls” and a song apiece (“Catch the Breeze” and “Crazy for You”) from their other two full-lengths. None of it sounded two decades old, especially with the preponderance of nu-gazers approximating Slowdive’s aesthetic today, and on the FYF Transcendence Scale, it ranked right up there with Explosions in the Sky’s festival-closing set in 2011. During the sweet tsunami of a closer – the Syd Barrett cover “Golden Hair” – I threw back the hoodie I’d donned to shut out nearby conversations and tilted my face to the sky, seeing a jetliner glide past in the gloaming, lights blinking. It was perfect.
Downside: November seems like a long way off. That’s when Slowdive will return to play the Theatre at Ace Hotel.
Postscript: Props to the guy in the Charlatans U.K. 1991 T-shirt.
– Kevin Bronson


You Should Have Been Here Because: By the time the Swedish electronic band went on, The Lawn was finally getting a packed crowd. With Little Dragon’s sleek fusion of trip-hop, synth-pop, and neo-soul, it was difficult not to walk by and get caught up in songs like “Klapp Klapp” and “My Step.” As the bass lines boomed, front woman Yukimi Nagano bounced around with a big floppy hat and a tambourine as if there were a master puppeteer above. A nice duet between and Nagano and the crowd came to fruition during the chorus of “Ritual Union” as well. It was a good electronic set that almost felt organic.
Postscript: Props to the folks who stayed after and got a nice spot for Slowdive afterward.
– Seraphina Lotkhamnga


You Should Have Been Here Because: The weather was pretty much perfect for a festival day – not too hot, not too cold – and Real Estate’s dream-pop simply made for a sublime time. Although the band’s surf-rock undertones could fool anyone into thinking they were a SoCal band, these New Jersey boys kept the good feels rolling with a set that included older songs like “It’s Real” and newer jangle-pop tunes like the excellent “Talking Backwards.”
Downside: The crowd only thinned out when Chet Faker fans left hoping they would get into The Arena. Little did they know that a capacity-related issue would nearly cause a small riot at the venue.
Postscript: You can only guess where many of those good feels came from. Party on, folks.
– Seraphina Lotkhamnga



You Should Have Been Here Because: It never fails – every time we see L.A. punk-rockers in their Mariachi El Bronx guise, they are playing a sun-facing stage on a hot afternoon wearing those heavy, handcrafted black charro suits. And they seem happy to be there. “It’s been a hectic week,” frontman Matt Caughthran told early arrivals in his best motivational speaker’s voice, “but it’s all led up to this beautiful moment under the hot sun.” And beautiful it was, the eight-piece taking their reverential music and spiking it with festival gusto. It was the band’s first Mariachi El Bronx shows since May – Caughthran, Joby J. Ford (who celebrated a birthday Saturday), Jorma Vik, Brad Magers and Ken Horne have been touring in their hardcore punk persona the Bronx – but they’re so good by now at their dual personalites (four punk albums dating back to ’03, two mariachi albums) it hardly mattered. Besides favorites like “Cell Mates,” “Slave Labor,” “Revolution Girls” and “48 Roses,” they played a new song “Wildfires” that’s so catchy it should be on radio. They also revealed that a new MEB album was on the way, possibly in November. Oh, and as Caughthran said, “There’s this band called the Bronx who are playing here tomorrow afternoon at 4 and they’re pretty good.”
Downside: Caughthran croons like a mariachi singer and cusses like a street kid.
Postscript: If you’re not familiar with how the punk-rockers came to take on mariachi, read this.

Photos: Gallery by Zane Roessell; additional Slowdive and Mariachi El Bronx courtesy of Concert Photography by Scott Dudelson