FYF Fest: Dispatches from Michelangelo’s Stage


[Buzz Bands LA and friends were out in force at this year’s FYF Fest. Part 3 of 4:]

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Tijuana Panthers Ӣ Ty Segall Ӣ Future Islands Ӣ Japandroids Ӣ No Age Ӣ Girls

Photo galleries: Concert photography by Scott Dudelson

Below, our capsule reviews:


Highlight: “Surf’s up – and it was the last couple days,” bassist Daniel Michicoff told the mosh-ready crowd. “Anybody get barreled?” The Long Beach trio then unleashed a half-hour of garage rock that packed the wallop of a 10-foot breaker, and certified them as frontrunners among SoCal surf-rock revivalists. Sixties dance moves and spirited moshing ensued, especially during “Creature” and “Father Figure,” and on a day advertised as “the best day of summer,” the Panther’s “Summer Fun” could’ve been theme music.
Lowlight: There was only dust, no sand, in that moshpit.
Afterthought: Afternoon sets like these make it easy to forget you pace yourself.
– Kevin Bronson


Highlights: When listening to San Francisco’s Ty Segall playing a stage perfect for dust-blowing mosh pits, it’s hard to believe a whiny Wavves played the main stage two years ago when FYF first took their event outdoors. The Bay Area garage-rock provovateur tore a hyper-adrenalined, thrashing set as he threw his body around on stage with as much reckless abandon as much his fans did.
Lowlights: C’mon people … Segal introduced “Girlfriend” by saying, “This song is a love song,” which earned him a smattering of boos. He followed by saying “Shut up. Yeah, yeah. I don’t give a f*ck anymore.”
Afterthought: “My Sunshine” sounded especially great but only reminded me of the heat.
– Seraphina Lotkhamnga


[Adjacent to the Michaelangelo/Donatello stages was Splinter’s Den …]
Splinter’s Den turned out to be a grey utilitarian tent where the comedians usually held court, but between sets a band would hop on stage. Baltimore darlings Future Islands filled the tent up about 3. Guided by a drum machine, bass guitar, and space-age synths, lead singer Samuel Williams’ strong mournful invoked David Bowie. “This song is about us. It is about you. It is about what this is,” he announced cryptically before launching into a set full of songs from their latest album, “On The Water.” His body was possessed by the drum machine. His head ducking and weaving like a cobra ready to strike, Williams punctuated every beat with a movement whether it was bobbing and weaving his body, crouching down to sing to the front row, or punching the air violently. Some people were there to hear the album, but probably most people were there to see the madman in white. Watching a man give his entire body over to the music is a spectacle always worth seeing.
Lowlight: For those who were looking for a refuge from the heat, the tent was not the best place to go – it quickly became a sweaty hot mess that smelled very strongly of musk.
Afterthought: Half way through the set I foolishly allowed myself to be pushed to the back so that could freely scribble but where I couldn’t see a goddamn thing. Never again.
– Molly Bergen


Highlights: An observer on their way to join the crowd at Ty Segall’s set earlier in the day may have said, “This is the Titus Andronicus of this year,” but the truth is Japandroids turned in the most ferocious set this year at the far end of the festival grounds. Vancouver’s noise rockers Brian King and David Prowse were already dripping sweat by the end of their first song, and plenty of feet were already up in the air as kids moshed to songs such as “Younger Us” (which is fortunately the only song which came off Jimmy Eat World-esque). Thrashing bodies also didn’t go without mouths shouting the lyrics to tunes that haven’t even been released yet. Kick starting their set with a handful of new songs they have been working on for a new album, Japandroids made a lung full of dust and a pair of blown-out eardrums battle scars their fans wore happily.
Lowlights: There was really no escaping the giant dust cloud no matter where anyone stood. Kids went all out for this mosh pit.
Afterthought: It was entertaining enough to watch the security guards pull crowd-surfing kids over the barrier, then point to their right without a word. However, it was even funnier to see the same kid make it over the barrier three times – in just his underwear.
– Seraphina Lotkhamnga


Highlight: Looking for a recap on the energy spewing forth from No Age’s FYF set? Just ask the dust. A trampling tornado of fans (think Midwestern April) swirled beneath the dirty duo’s simplistic and passionate approach to punk rock, causing even the distant laid-back observers to consider the risk of Valley fever. These L.A. rockers did not disappoint, showcasing songs from their most recent release “Everything In Between,” as well as thrashy, nostalgic crowd-pleasers like “Eraser.”
A wall of electronic samples that has been contributed by an occasional third band member to some recent live shows was noticeably absent. Disappointing for those (especially newer fans) who would have preferred for a more album-esque feel to the bands riffy, raw, and power driven song-set.
Afterthought: When the dust settled I found my tank top torn and my suede shoes ruined, a petty price indeed for the much-needed injection of punk fury my soul absorbed.
– David Webster


Highlights: Roses and all, Girls were rather romantic. Christopher Owens and Chet “JR” White seemed to have taken their songs deeper than grade-school crushes this time around, and the maturity has suited their sound well. Although fans cheered when the San Francisco-based band started out with “Lust For Life,” it was their new sound that really wooed the crowd. Owens (who always manages to come off as a sane version of Ariel Pink) played on heartstrings as much as he could with his baritone voice and familiarly forlorn lyrics. New lines like “My love is like a river / She just keeps rolling on” went over fine too. Gospel-soul singers were in full force, and Girls’ new sonic explosion had transformed their set into a magnificent performance, with songs like “Vomit” sounding most excellent in an outdoor setting.
Lowlights: The only audible qualm with Girls’ set was Owens’ vocals going so low at one point, making it hard to make out his words.
Afterthought: I have a hunch those backing vocalists have a strong presence on their forthcoming album “Father, Son, Holy Ghost.”
– Seraphina Lotkhamnga