We asked Sean Carlson, the ebullient organizer of FYF Fest (along with Black Flag and Circle Jerks icon Keith Morris), to tell us a little bit about the spirit of this festival, undoubtedly the summer's most interesting and eclectic lineup in the entire L.A. area (one word: Sleep!). Though Carlson was running around headless chicken–style doing all his last-minute organizing, he took time to tell us about his yearly labor of love. —Gustavo Turner
My name is Sean Carlson and I am the organizer of the FYF Fest. I am 25 years old and grew up in Torrance, California. I started the festival in 2004, when I was 18. My best friend Jon Gilbert interviewed me for this piece. He and I met in fifth grade in Torrance, California, and have worked with each other on all projects since (shows, zines, touring, etc.).
Why do you do this? You're broke.
SEAN CARLSON: When we started going to shows when we were 13, in '98, I became obsessed with the feeling, you know, being right up front hearing your favorite song, being in the moment, loving it, and I wanted to create that. I felt that feeling disappeared years back. Going to the same venues every week almost seemed dead, and with this festival I do my best to make this the favorite show, something people will remember and have that feeling.
What are you trying to accomplish with this festival?
To create the perfect mixtape. Many of the bands playing would never share the same stage with one another. Sleep, Panda Bear, Rapture, Dead Man's Bones, Mountain Goats, Local Natives, etc., etc. None of those bands would normally play with one another and that is what makes the festival special. It's the mix.
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Favorite festival moment?
I was 15. I got a ride to a metal festival in San Bernardino. Remember, that is 90 miles from Torrance. I wanted to see Slayer. My ride left 'cause he was feeling sick. After the show I convinced some guys that were passing out fliers for a rave to drive me back to L.A. They didn't know where Torrance was. I told them it was two miles south of L.A. After driving 25 miles south of L.A., they pulled off the freeway, started screaming at me and kicked me out of the car. I walked 10 miles that night and was grounded when I came home for showing up at 6 a.m. Slayer was amazing.
The all-ages FYF Fest features the Rapture, Panda Bear, Sleep, Dead Man's Bones, Unbroken, !!!, Man Man, 7 Seconds, Thee Oh Sees, the Mountain Goats, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Local Natives, Delorean, Cold Cave, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Washed Out, Wavves, School of Seven Bells, A.A. Bondy, the Blow, Best Coast, Davila 666, the Soft Pack, Abe Vigoda, Vetiver, the Growlers, Cults and many others, plus a comedy stage with Janeane Garofalo, Paul Scheer, Matt Braunger, Jen Kirkman, Jarret Grode, Joselyn Hughes and others.
Los Angeles State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St., L.A.; Sat., Sept. 4, noon; $30; fyffest.com.