Four years ago, the initial Fuck Yeah Fest drew 2,000 people, lured in by the impressive slate of local bands and the concept of literally going to a free Fuck (Yeah) fest. By year two, promoter Sean Carlson was getting harassed by locals complaining about the “Fuck Yeah” signs papering every restaurant, bar and telephone pole from Los Feliz to Echo Park. Last year, Carlson brought aboard punk legend Keith Morris, the former front man of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, to co-curate. Accordingly, it boasted its strongest fucking lineup yet, anchored by Silversun Pickups, the Ponys and the Thermals. This year, neither Morris nor Carlson knows exactly what will happen. But that’s sort of the point. It’s something of an institution for Los Angeles’ underground music, art and comedy worlds; think of it as the younger, freakier and more eclectic sibling of Sunset Junction. The fest, which occurs in Echo Park on Saturday and Sunday (see www.myspace.com/fuckyeahfest for more info) is filled with a spate of names you might know and some you’ll probably know soon. Here are some tips:
Let’s just say that for some odd reason you decide to bring your 6-year-old brother to the Fuck Yeah Fest. Even if he doesn’t get kidnapped by marauding hipsters and sold for a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, he won’t survive a set from Indian Jewelry. Fuck the “bad acid trip” descriptor tags commonly used to describe these dudes. Bad acid trips are over in a few hours. Exposing a youngster to Indian Jewelry will give the poor kid nightmares for a decade. The lights flicker. A ferocious Indian war mask looms in the center of the stage. Drums and psychedelic chants throb at an ungodly volume. Kafka dreams.
You might think that, with a name recalling a classic CSNY cut and hailing from San Francisco, the Sub Pop–signed Wooden Shjips would be on some hippy-dippy love-the-people-type shit. Not so much. While ideal for the narcotically inclined, Shjips’ brand of psychedelia takes a page from druggy dirges like the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” and “Murder Mystery,” with lead singer–guitarist Erik “Ripley” Johnson delivering codeine-laced vocals buried under a smoldering haze of guitars and sinister organ licks.
Times New Viking
Times New Viking are a bunch of ex–art school kids just out of their teens, whose first two releases helped resurrect the famed Siltbreeze label. Creating a significant stir in the noise underground, the Columbus three-piece found themselves in a bidding war between the indie stalwarts Sub Pop and Matador, ultimately signing with the latter. When asked why, guitarist Jared Phillips answered, “Alien Lanes.” Listening to Times New Viking’s lo-fi, ADD-addled guitar rock hearkens back to fellow Buckeye greats Guided by Voices. Erik the Red would approve.
When the Midnight Movies takes the stage on Sunday night, expect most of the males in the audience to say “FUCK YEAH.” Sure, the noir-tinged shoegaze outfit has been building a buzz in recent months, touring with Blonde Redhead, landing Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to remix their track “Souvenir,” and even getting invited to play “Young Folks” onstage with Peter, Bjorn & John. But chances are the event’s name will take on a whole new meaning now that the Midnight Movies’ strikingly pretty Gena Olivier has stepped out from behind her drum kit to be the front woman.
Busdriver needs to take advantage of the fact that he might have the greatest possible rapper slogan ever: “Busdriver — because I’m taking these kids to school.” That’s the problem. You get the idea that he’s just a bit too smart to use a catch phrase so painfully obvious. When he’s on, he’s on (see his work on Islands’ “Where There’s a Will There’s a Whalebone”), but when he’s not, his motor-mouthed lyrics set to video-game beats will make you want to get off at the next stop.
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Did you go to Sarah Lawrence or Vassar? Is it your lifelong dream to run frolicking in a field in Topanga, picking dandelions and trying to ensure that your chi is at the perfect equilibrium? If so, meet your new favorite band. Lavender Diamond aren’t bad per se, just hard to take seriously, considering their home page boasts the message: “Did you know that this is the beginning of the era of true love? . . . It’s true. True love can only exist in the absence of oppression and where true love exists there is no oppression . . . Earth is heaven, the water is magic, the ground is magic, your voice is magic, you are pure magic.” Hippies.
Deerhunter’s live show reminds me of the first scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, where Bill and Ted awkwardly flail at their instruments while bitching elliptically about the necessity of making a triumphant video to get Eddie Van Halen to teach them how to play guitar. Nowadays, you don’t even need a triumphant video, you just need a good Pitchfork review, which is what the Atlanta noise-rock outfit Deerhunter got earlier this year. Suddenly, in an Emperor’s New Clothing–esque turn, a group whose biggest discernible talent is its knack for self-promotion became one of the biggest buzz bands in indie rock. Let’s hope that, in the span between now and the Fuck Yeah Fest, George Carlin can drop down to Earth in a phone booth and teach them how to no longer be bogus.