FYF Fest 2017, Day 1: Missy Elliott and Björk thrill, Flying Lotus enthralls

Missy Elliott at FYF Fest (Photo by Zane Roessell)
Missy Elliott at FYF Fest (Photo by Zane Roessell)

By Andrew Veeder, Kevin Bronson and Britt Witt

Where do we start with Friday’s first day of the newly expanded of FYF Fest? Missy Elliott’s larger-than-life return? Flying Lotus’ 3D spectacular? Björk’s equally avant but starkly different musical theater? Slowdive’s sublime ascent in the trees? Anderson .Paak’s rhythmic ripping? Angel Olsen’s riveting sunset turn?

All could be considered highlights on Day 1, as on a splendid summer evening FYF Fest 2017 got off to a hassle-free start.

||| Photos by Zane Roessell

From three Buzz Bands LA contributors circling the Coliseum on Friday, we bring it to you chronologically:

5:05 p.m. — A favorite festival hack works like a charm: Park the car free a couple miles away, unhitch the bicycle from the rack and leisurely ride to the FYF entrance at Vermont and Martin Luther King, where there is ample bike parking. Getting in is a breeze. There’s a long line to take photos at the “FYF” art-letters near the entrance, although do-overs are being discouraged. (— K.B.)

5:40 p.m. — The electronic music is pumping from the cozy stages called The Woods and Outer Space, but it sounds like the dinner bell right now. The food choices at FYF are many, and good. (— K.B.)

6:30 p.m. — Beach Fossils, who apparently drew the short straw, are subjected to playing the west-facing stage at The Lawn, staring directly into the afternoon sun. No matter, the Brooklyners’ breezy indie-pop has the crowd swaying and doing liquid dance moves. “This is our first show ever,” Dustin Payseur wisecracks. “I want to thank FYF for letting us play their open mic session.” The songs “Youth” and “Generational Synthetic” sound great. “Saint Ivy” boasts a sweet horn part from Daniel Fox. And then Rachel Goswell of Slowdive joins them on “Tangerine.” (— K.B.)

6:30 p.m. — Kirk Knight opens The Trees stage hollering “Can I Change My Life?” — and it’s the first existential crisis of the day. His sizable crowd appears to have smoked way too much weed way too early; nevertheless, the Brooklyn-based rapper and producer holds it down and shamelessly plugs himself. “Y’all are gonna go home, look me up and be like ‘This dude is dope!'” he says, celebrating the release of his “Nyck @ Night” EP, released today. Knight is hilarious (much more approachable than the record implies) and not afraid to restart a track multiple times to teach the “Cali kids” how to feel the performance. As he says, “Don’t you feel happy you participated?” (— B.W.)

7:10 p.m. — Aussie punks Royal Headache play to a small crowd at The Club stage, which is tented … but still, these guys would be better in a tiny club. (— K.B.)

7:25 p.m. — As promised, we sample the “Liberty” kombucha flavor, because GT’s marketing campaign for the beverage supported the ACLU and we’re suckers for marketing campaigns. 7.5. (— K.B.)

7:35 p.m. — Biggest crowd of the day at The Trees stage belongs to Badbadnotgood. Owing to the Canadian jazz-meisters’ tempo changes and overall musical complexity, there are many bad-bad-not-good dance moves going on. At this moment, it’s the most sophisticated shade at the festival. (— K.B.)

7:50 p.m. — Angel Olsen kicks off what would be a devastating 50 minutes in the gloaming at The Lawn stage. “I got things to say,” she tells the crowd. Three albums in, Olsen has shown herself capable of being tender and tough, and this set, careening from the defiant “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “Not Gonna Kill You” to the aching older song “Acrobat” (during which she twirled her hair) had it all. (— K.B.)

8:31 p.m. — DJ Vision is hyping the crowd with “Humble” and testing its L.A. hip-hop knowledge with obvious Dre tracks. When FYF veteran (2016) Kamaiyah arrives, the Oakland-based rapper hits the crowd with the yay in “Out The Bottle,” and they finally start the hip swirls. Her style is versatile and impressive, from the bubblegum-hop “Niggas” (this should be the theme to the new season of “Insecure” on HBO) to the dark throwback beat in “Why You Always Hatin?” (— B.W.)

8:49 p.m. — There are roughly 20 members of an orchestral contingent warming up in unison on the dimly lit Main Stage stage as its screens tout: “Next Up, Bjork.” It’s happening! (— A.V.)

8:56 p.m. — As soon as Bjork graces us all with her presence, the crowd systematically shifts up 20 feet to fill in the parking lot. She begins with “Stonemilker” from her 2015 album “Vulnicura,” accompanied by video of her traipsing around a desolate black rock landscape in a flowing green dress mouthing the synced words to the music. On stage, Bjork is dressed in an ensemble that resembles tissue paper garland decor colored Neapolitan-style with white, neon yellow and pink, like a couture cat toy, while donning an elaborate and bejeweled green mask, and huge leather platforms, or as a friend commented, a look like “a flamingo walked into a Quinceañera.” She finished by saying, “Thank you,” in an adorable and mousey chirp. Everyone swoons. “Lionsong” is up next, with vibrant visuals including a beating heart silhouetting a bouncing bosom pumping as if it’s mouthing the lyrics, followed by “Come to Me,” showing footage of a black baby bird flapping its wings up a storm and defensively dancing a predator away as the song crescendoes into the chorus and the rival bird flits off into the jungle. How can you not be enchanted? (— A.V.)

9:15 p.m. — Bjork performs “Jóga,” a song about feeling emotional landscapes, with visuals of literal Icelandic emotional landscapes. This is magical. After each song, her “thank you” to the crowd intensifies until it sounds like she’s yelling it. Bjork closes with “Hyperballad,” playing past her allotted time. “I love extra Bjork!” someone yells in the crowd. The pyro showcase on screen morphs into actuality, and the song concludes with a fireworks extravaganza, exploding the sky above the stage and sending plumes of smoke upward that drifted east while bathed in the light show. (— A.V.)

10:25 p.m. — Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals cover his Kaytranada collaboration “Glowed Up” over on the packed Lawn. He asks everyone to put their hands up for real hip-hop, and the masses happily oblige. The set is a mix of solo work and tracks from his project with L.A. beatmaker Knxwledge, called NxWorries. No worries indeed, as he launches into “The Season / Carry Me,” and moves over to the spotlit drum kit at stage left. Peak begins drumming while seamlessly still singing, literally not missing a beat and smiling ear to ear in the percussive lulls. “This song is about my mama, y’all,” he says. “Make some noise if you still love your mama, y’all,” and the audience happily obliges again. Then he plows into the electro-tinged “Am I Wrong” as everyone really starts moving. Paak is back behind the drums, starting and stopping the outro with ease, and blowing kisses during the pauses. Someone in his band finally shouts out, “Make some noise for Andy on the drums!” and so much noise is made. They close with the bluesy track “The Bird” and he notes this is the biggest crowd he’s ever played to in L.A. (— A.V.)

10:41 p.m. — “More reverb,” somebody shouts at shoegaze pioneers Slowdive during their transcendent at The Trees stage. “Is it ever enough?” Rachel Goswell replies. “Probably not …” Oh, and did we mention transcendent? Shortly after the band reunited, Slowdive played FYF in 2014, bringing tears to the eyes of old fans and winning younger ones who’d bonded with dream-pop revivalists for whom the U.K. quintet was an influence. This year, Slowdive arrive with a new, self-titled album in tow, their first full-length in 22 years. The shoegeezers in the crowd gaze weepingly during luxuriant old songs like “Catch the Breeze,” “Alison” and “Souvlaki Space Station” and revel in new ones like “Slomo,” “Sugar for the Pill” and “No Longer Making Time.” (— K.B.)

11:15 p.m. — A shoegeezer wipes the moisture from his eyes and wonders what part of the brain induces tears from music like this. He looks to his left, where a bespectacled kid a couple years away from a razor has climbed a tree to watch. He, too, is wiping his eyes. (— K.B.)

11:18 p.m. — In her first U.S. show in a decade, Missy Elliott emerges from a circular partition clad in a glittering white get-up with tassels, like a bedazzled cowgirl in the arctic, and rocking a trucker hat that reads QUEEN. All hail! Her set plays out like an hour-long, greatest hits medley that flows from track to track, executed in such a precise and calibrated way as to cherry pick two decades worth of songs with few breaks along the way. She’s flanked by a troupe of dancers, and the choreography spectacle of the stage plays on the screens like a live music video. “Thanks for supporting me,” she told the spectators, talking about how she was sick but also how she wasn’t going miss this show for nothing. She also causally points out that Beyoncé is in attendance. (— A.V.)

11:41 p.m. — Missy really is puttin’ it down, is the hottest round, and as she told all of the mothers, “Y’all can’t stop me now.” “Get Your Freak On” blares from the Main Stage, engaging in a biggie-biggie-bounce, as she knows the crowd digs the way she sw-sw-switches her style, with everyone taking their cue to yell “Holler!” at the opportune time. The people really do sing around, then gather round, and last but not least, jump around. She continues putting her thing down, flipping and reversing it as “Work It” segues into “Pass That Dutch.” During the break, she admits that she lost her ear piece and can’t hear what’s going on but she doing it because “real stars just keep it moving.” (— A.V.)

11:55 p.m. — The new Outer Space stage isn’t really much of a “stage” at all. It’s as if some kids co-opted their backyard, built a platform, brought in a sound system, lights and a fog machine and draped mesh over the top to give it a “secret” feel. In other words, it’s great. To a small crowd, some doing leg stretches and one dressed very Bjork-ian, Germany’s Helena Hauff lays down some heady techno that bites through the evening chill. In a proper club, she’d probably devastate; here it’s a fine 20-minute change-of-pace. (— K.B.)

12:06 a.m. — After a brief break helmed by hype men, Missy is back on stage and takes the time to introduce every one of her backup dancers, giving them each their own dance solo. “1, 2 Step,” “Lose Control,” “Rock The Boat,” and “4 My People” close out the set, and the queen exits through the same folded partition at center stage. (— A.V.)

12:47 a.m. — Flying Lotus is manning the ship from a console that looks like the bottom half of a mushroom cloud crossed with a tree stump anchored with tentacles, and drops a trap “Twin Peaks”-themed remix which is more lit that words can describe. There’s a reason FYF mailed everyone a pair of 3D glasses with their wristbands, because the closer you are to the stage, the more complex the visuals become. Drugs not required. His set played like an assortment of his own beats, reworkings, and rapper alter ego Captain Murphy tracks including “Between Friends” and “The Killing Joke.” (— A.V.)

12:55 a.m. — Bless the FYF faithful. And fans of Oh Sees, formerly known as Thee Oh Sees. It’s not like the band never plays an L.A. show, but here they are, well after midnight, shredding in the Club tent to a small crowd. There’s a small mosh pit. There are some late-late arrivals who ducked out of Flying Lotus’ 3D spectacular. There is some weary-legged dancing and head-bobbing. (—K.B.)

1:06 a.m. — Shout-out to the guy walking through the Lawn doling out yellow plastic glasses claiming a 100% upgrade in the 3D. It was more like 300%, giving the images even more depth as FlyLo plays tracks from his recent directorial debut “Kuso” while sipping a bottle of liquor and inviting a character from the film, a bloated grotesque man full of splotchy spoils, on stage to dance seductively. Then the screens show a preview for “Kuso,” as he noted you should “invite your friends over” to watch it — and “people you hate too.” If this trailer is any indication, it very well may live up to its reputation of the grossest film ever made. “Bootleg that shit, I don’t care,” he says. (— A.V.)

1:10 a.m. — Arrive at the bicycle rack to find a paper flower wedged in the handlebars. Good night. (— K.B.)

1:40 a.m. — Walking out through the exit chute back toward the entrance corner, the funky siren of Missy Elliott’s “Work It” blares out and over the sheer-tarped backstage fencing, causing people to stop and peer through toward the elevated trailer dance party to see what they might be missing. (— A.V.)