Refused, Warpaint, The Vaselines, and others
September 1, 2012
Better than: Any cookout ever.
Braving choking dust clouds, oppressive sunlight and the inevitable game of PortaJohn Roulette ought to deliver an earthshattering prize. With another ambitious line up, and all modern conveniences covered this year (mist-troopers?), FYF Fest day one helped close down the summer in style.
An early afternoon of spectacularly energetic young acts like The Men and John Maus gave way to The Vaselines. Frankly, if you missed the Vaselines, you're kind of a poseur, even if you were dying to see Chairlift or whatever. Scottish act The Vaselines -- fronted by Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly -- jangled their way through their classic tunes "Sex Sux" and "Monsterpussy" before rocking some newer material.
More like watching your cool Glaswegian brogued aunt and uncle chaffing through Sunday dinner, McKee and Kelly killed with the witty reparte. "We're calling this one the 'Eugene Could Use a Shag' tour, so let's help him out, yeah?" requested McKee. And before playing "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam," McKee blurted out, "Well, Jesus is a good shag."
"Bit of a dick though," Kelly quipped back.
Next came the great Warpaint / Hot Snakes / Chromatics dilemma of 2012. We love Hot Snakes, but with not-to-be missed hardcore Refused closing the evening, we needed something cerebral.
We picked Warpaint, and it made all the difference. The Angeleno quartet packed the main stage area to an earnestly mind-blowing set. No joke. Stella Mozgawa's metronomically perfect drumming is infused with the right amount of personality and swagger. To say nothing of the occasionally ethereal vocals and sonically interdimensional floating guitar licks. On top of the brain high, the all-lady act Warpaint drives a bit of a body-moving groove. If it weren't for the, er, gopher pockmarked ground, we might have just laid down and vibed out or whatever. Enough people did anyways.
After the set of '90s post hardcore heroes Qucksand, it was all calisthenics in preparation for Refused.
As if distancing themselves from two decades of banal Swedish cleanliness and shiny pop, Refused exploded with the ferocity of a prison escapee on a rampage. Playing before a maelstrom of pulsating, jumping, shoving and windmilling bodies, they toyed with the crowd, delaying breakdowns, then pumping them with driving punk beats.
The Umea-based hardcore punkers certainly jaw-jacked as much as they rocked, "Sorry it has taken us 20 years to come to L.A.," apologized Dennis Lyxzén. Between climbing speakers, stage pieces, and a bass drum emblazoned "Free Pussy Riot," Lyxzen took plenty of time to chat about left wing politics. "Pussy Riot is in prison for two years for speaking out against the church and state. If I got two years every time I did that, I'd be in jail for 400 years." Luckily, the band never failed on the musical end of things -- dedicating the anthemic "Rather Be Dead" to the Russian gadflies. "I'm sorry, it's just that these tight pants restrict bloodflow to my brain," Lyxzen said.
There were a few bands we wish we hadn't missed: Most notably Fucked Up, Cloud Nothings and the Chromatics. Apparently, the Chromatics covered Neil Young and Kate Bush. So there was that.
See also: F-Yeah! It's the 2012 FYF Quiz!
Personal Bias: We're coughing up more dust right now than the Joad family.
The Crowd: The belly of the h-word beast, but not easily be summed up by the word itself. Punk dudes. Rocker ladies. And even the odd EDM kid. We saw enough variety in t-shirts to form a veritable punk/indie United Nations: Built to Spill, Dead Kennedys, Run DMC, Husker Du, Dead Milkmen, the Adicts, Elliot Smith, etc.
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