The legendary Thundercat was caught in the groove during FYF. | Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.
This Year’s FYF Festival Is Arguably The Best Lineup Of All-Time
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.
The 14th edition of the FYF summer music festival held its most ambitious lineup to date, and it was totally worth it.
Los Angeles’ annual summer music festival, FYF, held their 14th edition with the most ambitious line up to date, and arguably the best lineup for any U.S. festival in 2017. Held at the L.A. Sports Arena and Exposition Park, it toted headliners Frank Ocean, Björk, Solange, Nine Inch Nails and the long awaited return of Missy Elliott. Produced by Golden Voice, FYF bolsters the indie heavy lineup that their other SoCal fest, Coachella, was traditionally loved for.
On the following page, we break down the FYF Fest with a timed recap of what happened to us while in attendance. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.
5:00 p.m.: Day One started later in the day, allowing attendees to avoid the mid-afternoon summer heat. The section of the park that houses the legendary Memorial Coliseum was divided into four performance stages and two DJ areas around the stadium’s perimeter. Dance parties in the Woods and Outer Space entertained early arrivals until the first band, Beach Fossils, hit the Lawn stage at 6:30 p.m. The main stage would not be alive for more than two hours but Björk fans were already saving their space at the front. The first notable act of the day was Canadian Jazz Fusion faves, BadBadNotGood, as a parade of curious Angelinos in diverse festival attire popped in and out. If Coachella style is famous for being runway hippie, FYF is more… Williamsburg chic. Those getting the lay of the land flooded the merch stand to get first dibs on tees, played skee ball at the Angry Orchard sponsored game tent and ate charcoal ice cream from Little Damage.
8:50 p.m.: Björk takes the main stage backed by a 14-piece orchestra, costumed as eccentrically as expected in a green rubber mask, a dress that looked like an origami paper ball and thigh high leather boots. The set began with “Stonemilker” from her most recent album, Vulnicura, but touched on fan favorites including “Joga,” “Isobel,” and “Bachelorette”. Percussive glitches punched out like Morse code over a wave of orchestration, Björk projecting otherworldly whales as if to translate the message both urgent and endearing. For fans, the rare appearance was everything, and one can only imagine it being a transformative moment for virgin ears.
After a fireworks finale for the Icelandic songstress the masses migrated to the Lawn for L.A. prodigal son Anderson .Paak. In the year and a half since his album Malibu was released he's quickly outgrown the "second” festival stages he is relegated to, pulling crowds big enough for the main stage. Kicking off with "Milk and Honey" off his debut Venice, the audience was primed and ready to ride from the mellow grooves of “The Waters” to the dance-inducing heights of “Luh You”. Once over, the party quickly picked up at the main stage.
Missy Elliott has not performed a major concert in 10 years. This was not overlooked and standing room was limited. Backstage was a who’s who of her A-list friends: confirmed were Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, Katy Perry and Janet Jackson to name a few. She’s been gone but not forgotten, teens could be seen rapping along verbatim to “One Minute Man,” “The Rain,” “Hot Boyz,” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “Work It,” as there were too many hits to name. In an era where visuals are key to live shows she was prepared decades ago as her 20-year old videos displayed in the background exceed the tour visuals of her younger contemporaries whom she inspired. The set was closed out with a tribute to her friend and collaborator Aaliyah as cell phone lights went up during “Rock The Boat” and Missy left the stage, hopefully to plan a large scale tour around the globe.
12:20 AM: The late night crowd was treated to a 3-D visual feast musically curated by hometown beat conductor Flying Lotus. The DJ set ranged from a Trap remix of the Twin Peaks theme to Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce” with all the head nodding original production you crave from the experimental instrumentalist and rapper. "This is awesome! I can tell by the non-movement y'all are transfixed." Indeed. A unique and memorable cap to only the first night.
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.
2:00 p.m.: As the Dance areas began to bleed sounds from classic Boogie to Acid House, off stage attractions like the Frank OceanBlonded pop-up drew early crowds before the first acts appeared. Between the current high demand for urban music and the traditional popularity of jam bands at summer festivals, a rebirth of Jazz fusion has slipped in to occupy some prime real estate. Day One saw BadBadNotGood, but Day Two found Thundercat on the Lawn stage with a large turnout to see who may be considered the next Jaco Pastorious once his story is complete. At the same time, the club tent was filled with indie hip-hop fans watching Princess Nokia's set while enjoying the shade from the intense sun. The New York-based MC backed by L.A.’s own DJ Bianca Oblivion sang and spat verses over traditional beats to drum-n-bass rhythms prompting such thunderous applause that Nokia was emotionally moved before doing a well earned mic drop.
In between Rock bands like MGMT and King Krule a tour of the food selection proved to be vastly impressive. Vegan fare from Sage, 2 Cent Café’s shrimp-n-grits and an assortment of artisan choices that signal the end to traditional meat on a stick and funnel cakes. The House of Vans hosted a skater themed tent providing an oasis of craft tables (DIY buttons and jacket patches), a photo gallery, Thrasher film screenings and a ton of free swag for everyone.
The first major headliners of the night were the seminal hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest. With the passing of Phife Dawg last year, the group’s resurgence has been astronomical and turnout was proof of their legacy. New songs such as “The Space Program” and “Black Spasmodic” sandwiched seamlessly between iconic tracks like “Oh My God,” “Find A Way,” “Sucka N****s” and “Bonita Applebaum”. Q-Tip and Jarobi held center court backed by long time associate Consequence as Ali Shaheed Muhammad cut from track to track in true hip-hop fashion. For Phife’s verses they moved to the sides of the stage to spiritually give him his space. Being the most quotable of the crew, the late rapper had the vocal backing of the entire crowd. The encore took things higher with “Can I Kick It,” “Award Tour” and “We The People” before L.A. said their final cathartic goodbye to arguably the greatest group in the genre’s history.
10:20 p.m.:Erykah Badu is a half hour late but tardiness never deters the masses who worship at the altar of Badu. A condensed 30-minute set ran through classics from the now 20-year old Baduizm, paid tribute to the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep with a “Shook Ones” remix of “... & On,” ending with her staple closer, “Tyrone”.
Fans quickly ran over to the main stage for the headliner of the night, Frank Ocean. In a stripped down production suited to the simplicity of his recent release, Blonde, he stepped out wearing a large pair of headphones and started the minimalistic “Solo” as the audience of thousands got pin drop silent. One thing was evident, Frank may not be a radio pop star but he’s touched people personally as the crowd spilled over with emotionally moved members of all communities spanning race and sexual orientation. Absent from the set was his current commercial hit collaboration with Calvin Harris, “Slide”, but it was not missed since it is a stark contrast to what the people came to hear.
12:30 a.m.: The night’s after hours were closed out by Chicago House DJ The Black Madonna in the Woods area. At the Club tent the party kicked into high gear as Seun Kuti and Egypt ‘80 staged their second performance of the day, shooting a massive dose of funky Nigerian adrenalin into a crowd not ready for the night to end. Channeling his late great father, Fela Kuti, the electrifying Afrobeat rhythms and political messaging were just what was needed before a late night drive home.
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.com
5:45 p.m.: Under a much kinder sun, the Lawn stage kicked off the day home grown with Chicano Batman's Mexican soul, proceeded by the vintage sunset strip style rock of Ty Segall. At 5:45, hip-hop heads got Chicago's Joey Purp in the Club tent. First to the main stage were festival faithfuls, Little Dragon. Synth rhythms and the voice of Yukimi Nagano (clad in white with black trim 80’s frill gown and Japanese ornamental hat draped from head to torso with a sheer orange scarf) wafted over a machine fog under the dusk of a slowly sinking sun.
Smooth transition over to the Club tent to see Alternative R&B singer Moses Sumney. Hard transition back to the Lawn for nihilistic proto punk godfather, Iggy Pop. 70-year-old Iggy Pop has outlived his less hedonistic contemporaries, breaks mic stands and drops more F-bombs than a woman in open toe shoes whose foot has been stepped on. God bless him.
8:25 p.m.:Solange takes the mainstage and it’s apparent from overheard conversations that a large number of women in the crowd have only come to FYF for this show. With one of the most culturally relevant albums of the current decade, “Mad” and “Cranes In The Sky” are instant classics the entire crowd can be heard singing. Simple but classy presentation befitting of the music, subtle choreography performed by a majority of the band in all red slender outfits, the younger of the Knowles sisters has found her own lane and refined her art into something special. Beyoncé, go ahead and raise those babies, Solange got it from here.
Run The Jewels have become the reigning kings of live hip-hop over recent years and their Lawn performance did not disappoint. “We came to burn Los Angeles down!” Killer Mike proclaimed, and that they did.
10:30 p.m.: It’s the final acts of the night. Nine Inch Nail’s roadies are hard at work while across the grounds Kehlani closed out the Trees stage. No stress from competing with Trent Reznor, as much of Solange’s followers migrated over to get in some more R&B, not the Industrial Rock of Trent Reznor.
Nine Inch Nails fans had been filling in for a good view for over an hour. Rightfully so. Having just released a new EP this week, Add Violence, this show kicked off what will be their latest tour in three years. From 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine to 2013’s Hesitation Marks, no album was unturned. What could’ve been a three hour show was capped at an intense 1 hour, 20-min ending with an encore performance of “Hurt” before FYF was in the books for 2017.
Peep our full FYF gallery recap below and keep an eye out for @Okayplayer at Panorama Festival this coming weekend!
Dominic Painter is a writer and DJ based in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Instagram @djdpainter and Twitter @dj_dpainter.