The Best of the Fest, Part I: No Age, Wavves, and Japanther + Ninjasonik Slay at FYF (MP3s)
View more photos in the FYF Fest slideshow.
Lungs still dusty. Ears still ringing. Hair still sticky with soda. On Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown LA, FYF Fest came, and we, verily, were conquered. To call the 10-hour gathering musically punishing is to sound harsh, but then - if the lopsided showing at Lightning Bolt was any indication - harsh was exactly what we the audience asked for. The part we didn't ask for? An hour-long delay in opening the gates (2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m.), plus as much as a two-hour wait for festival-goers who'd pre-bought tickets via Ticketweb (about 5000, I'm told). By 4:00 p.m., the line to the pickup booth had snaked around the Gold Line stop about a quarter of a mile away.
Inside, however, was a pot of gold, each dingy musical doubloon marred in its own perfectly imperfect way. Here are my top three, in chronological order.
With a downsized cast on his wrist and the kit-destroying Zach Hill behind him, San Diego's Nathan Williams was rode high on a crest of hugely propulsive no-fi surf scuzz. The Wavves singer/guitarist (etc.) recently weathered a shitstorm of bad press following a drug-induced meltdown in Spain only to break his wrist skateboarding, but none of that slowed his roll. Williams cracked a few jokes, and played a mix of songs both old, recent, and brand new (including "Hula Hoop," written since Hill joined the band), while Hella's erstwhile drummer worked his arms into a fury of rhythmic distortion equivalent to the heavy guitar fuzz that coats Wavves' ebullient, noisy bangers.
Anyone with a cursory knowledge of either group might have guessed what a sloppy thing the Japanther/Ninjasonik big-band would be. Far fewer could have predicted how good that punk-rap slop felt going down. The hypersexual sleaze of the Brooklyn rap crew mixed (sloshily, chunkily) with the fuck-it punk of the Brooklyn noise band, turning FYF's smallest stage into something like a frenzied frat scene. Friends crowded the stage, The Death Set's drummer stage-dove from a towering monitor, and the band tore through "Do You Wanna Dance?" before bidding us adieu: "We're fucking Ninjasonik! We're fucking Japanther! We're fucking every person in this park!"
Ninjasonik with Japanther
The fan-shot video below rightly illustrates the combination of chaos and adoration that No Age inspired at the foot of the main stage (and deep into the field). What it doesn't capture: the 100-plus cans of Jones Soda that were smuggled up, passed out, shaken and released in multicolored spews. The kids were crazed, moshing and pogoing under a cloud of their own dust (visible in the video whenever a flash goes off). Dean and Randall were given a king's welcome, and they returned that favor with a full embrace of white noise and warped notes. In a word: Glorious.
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