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Shanghai Neck-Lick

Slamming to the Circle Jerks (Photos by Wild Don Lewis)

Slamming to the Circle Jerks (Photos by Wild Don Lewis)

Fuck Yeah Fest

at the Echo and environs, August 18-20

“I would totally give you advice, but I...am...wasted.” A shaggy stranger in an Amoeba shirt had his head in my passenger window. Judging from the heavy eyelids and drool, I knew he would be of no help in locating the parking lot, and was likely to vomit at any moment. Ah, welcome to the Fuck Yeah Fest, y’all!

Held at the Echo, with annexes at the Downbeat Cafe, the Jensen Rec Center and Sea Level Records, the third annual homespun indie-orgy was a stew of local bands, young comedians, lowbrow art, and rampant inebriation.

Friday night, a musk of male aggression hung in the dank Echo like exhaust: The bill included 400 Blows, the Bronx, and festival curator Keith Morris with his legendary punk outfit, the Circle Jerks. A violent funnel cloud of flailing moshers touched down before the stage, and the evening was a blur of grown men screaming bloody hell into microphones, crowd surfing, and Morris’ long dreads swinging like an enraged octopus. Standing at the rim of the violence, I was groped by a drunk punker, complete with a shanghai neck-lick. My contempt for all-things-androgen reached its peak, and, smearing the saliva off my collar, I mined my purse for keys.

Saturday night carried a more melodic, mellow tone. At the Downbeat Cafe, comedian Anthony Jeselnik turned out impressive standup, while back at the Echo, Foreign Born closed their set with a clap-along before Dios Malos played to a swollen crowd, their wild-eyed drummer pounding at his cymbals with bare fists. Between acts, I braved the slow crawl of the bathroom line, overhearing the echoing chatter of girls hogging a stall to snort something and talk about Fred Segal. Fuck Yeah? Fuck No. Hurry up, bitches.

Local heroes Silversun Pickups packed the house, stomping through a set of fuzzy summer numbers from their debut LP, Carnavas, and were rewarded with earnest and fervent applause. Headliners Giant Drag seemed to be having technical difficulties; As arrestingly charming front woman Annie Hardy described it, her amp sounded like “the Loch Ness Monster with diarrhea” — a visual so absurd, I do believe it lifted the tension.

After two days and dozens of bands, it was a challenge to get off my keister and into the Echo on Sunday. I had intended to catch Matt & Kim at the Rec Cen, but parking woes jacked my schedule, and turned me somewhat homicidal. Vehicular exasperation was shared by Gris Gris, whose radiator rebelled en route to the show; but they rushed in to pound through a masterful set of textured percussion, retro bass lines and vocal distortion. I killed time checking out the modest art show at Sea Level before Midnight Movies crooned their new tunes with a larger lineup, and headliners Dead Meadow delivered stoney drone to an Echo packed to the back wall.

My festival comrade at last turned to me with a simple declaration: “I’m totally music-ed out.” At that, we scooted away. Shuffling down Sunset, I wondered aloud if these were the halcyon days for the Echo Park music scene, a golden era unfolding. My friend was quiet for a moment, then replied, “I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure fedoras are the trucker hat of 2006.”

—Alie Ward