The festival formerly known as the Fuck Yeah Fest and F Yeah Fest is now the curiously (and redundantly) named FYF Fest. Name confusion aside, the li’l engine of the L.A. underground music scene remains committed to the basic philosophy of the previous six installments: delivering an oddball collection of avant-punk, electronic and noise artists to the Conversed, cockeyed and free-spirited indie masses. This year’s single-day FYF takes place at a new location: Chinatown’s L.A. State Historic Park, a wide-open space that holds 10,000. (Proceeds from the festival will benefit the California State Parks Foundation in an effort to forestall budget-induced closures.) In the spirit of the legendary indie parties of yore, like the late ’80s’ This Ain’t No Picnic, the FYF’s curatorial genius is such that at least a few acts gigging on Saturday will likely become household names a few years hence. Which will it be? No Age? The Black Lips? The Thermals? No telling. But below are some of the artists we’re most excited to check out.
If you haven’t yet seen Avi Buffalo, now’s the time. If you have, then you already know better than to miss the Long Beach act, a quartet of recent high school grads (mostly — one is heading into senior year) whose star is quickly rising. Avi Buffalo is both the name of the band and the pseudonym of its prodigious mastermind, a gifted singer and guitarist who still wears the chub of childhood in his cheeks. He has worshiped at the thrones of Nels Cline and Jimi Hendrix, and the influence comes across during the band’s live performances. There, Buffalo’s bluesy, youthful folk is oft recast to psych-rock’s more epic proportions, but at the core of it all is a handful of unbelievably catchy and unexpectedly resonant tunes — “Summer Cum,” “What’s In It For,” “Where’s Your Dirty Mind” — that manage to roll Jeff Tweedy and Devendra Banhart into one big ball of amazing. (Chris Martins)
Have you heard? The kids are into synth pop again. Not the DFA, disco-punk kind from the early ’00s, but that gloomy, soul-munching drone that is English post punk. Sure, Interpol won the “strikes before the iron’s hot” prize on this one, but they kinda sucked. Cold Cave, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. If New York’s Silk Flowers pay homage to Joy Division, then Cold Cave draw from that band’s enterprising heirs, New Order. All cold and rapid with a voice that could lull a coke head to sleep, Cold Cave ride that fine Euro line of sounding like a cross between ’90s Stereolab and a bad junk habit. Songs like “The Trees Grew Emotions” and “Died” return you to a time when grunge had finally died and bands like Cibo Matto, Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk took the stage. Yes, the ’90s revival currently belongs to the flanneled and Doc Martened, but soon the inevitable keyboard will strike a chord that will shake the kids to the core. It looks like Cold Cave are going back to the beginning to start it off proper. (Nikki Darling)
Though they’ve done as much as anyone to steer the course of modern metalcore — and if that doesn’t scream T-shirt slogan, I don’t know what does — the members of Massachusetts-based Converge have never viewed their position of influence as an excuse to stop evolving: On Axe to Fall, their latest studio disc (due October 20 from Epitaph), their furious extreme-metal jams churn with a tightly honed precision the band abjured on 2006’s raw No Heroes and 2004’s sludgy You Fail Me. In one track, “Damages,” guitarist Kurt Ballou and drummer Ben Koller practically conduct a master class in riff-and-groove lockstep. The live Converge experience tends to downplay that meticulous instrumental interplay in favor of a more balls-out brand of brutality; suffice to say that both headbangers and crowd-surfers will go home happy. (Mikael Wood)
Dan Deacon’s live “act,” while inspiring, relentless and absolutely insane, sometimes eclipses the music that he’s created. The sight of the pudgy, balding former ska-band hype man losing his shit to strobing video projections while pushing forth his repetitive electronic jamz is pretty fun to watch, yes. What he’s doing sonically, though, is pretty fucking amazing. By making connections between a few decades’ worth of acid house, happy house, gabba, freakazoid IDM, early-’70s NYC serialism and the current-day circuit-bending scene, Deacon’s connecting a whole host of latent dots that, once joined, create this vision of hypnotic melodic robotic mayhem. Heard loudly and in the proper mind frame (be careful on acid — your head’ll likely explode), this music pushes and pushes higher and harder and harder from songs’ beginnings to their ends. On his recent, masterful Bromst, Deacon rides his music like some sort of Jetsons-era people mover. Expect to be people-moved, for sure. (Randall Roberts)