In the 11 summers since it sparked its first mosh pit, FYF has morphed from a free and feral punk festival into a beloved August ritual within the L.A. music archipelago. Its 2014 lineup might be the strongest yet.
Headliners The Strokes and Phoenix are signed to major labels, but most of the undercard are independent artists whose cults have been carved mostly from Soundcloud, Hype Machine and YouTube streams.
FYF’s growth is testament to tasteful curation, relentless hustle and the ever-dwindling gap between “mainstream” and “underground.”
The disintegrating binary might be best expressed by one of Saturday’s biggest acts, synth-pop shape-shifter Grimes, who records for celebrated indie 4AD but has management via Jay Z’s Roc Nation.
Fittingly, the FYF bill spans pop, techno, indie rock, hip-hop, house, psychedelic drone, beat music, mariachi, fusion jazz punk, hardcore and the band that wrote the song “Lump.”
With roughly 60 acts scattered over this Saturday and Sunday at downtown’s Sports Arena and Exposition Park, here’s a psychic guide to this year’s festivities.
Best Jam Band for People Who Hate Jam Bands: Darkside
Darkside aren’t actually a jam band. Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington transform jazz, classic rock and minimalist dance music into psychedelic santería (no Sublime). Their live show is meticulous and improvisational, a long, strange trip clocking in under an hour. Sadly, FYF will be one of their final shows.
Best Dance Moves: Earl Sweatshirt
You already know he can rap. Less discussed are the jabs, cooking dances and shimmies that Earl unveiled backstage at last month’s Pitchfork Music Festival. Forget the guy from Future Islands — if Grimes wants to step up her back-up dancer game, she needs to flash Earl the bat signal.
Best Dressed: Phoenix
They’re French, so I’m guessing they can take out The Stokes in a battle of twilled fabrics, silken cravats and $3,000 leather ensembles.
Best Time Machine: Interpol
If you want to feel ancient, consider that Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights is 12 years old. They’ve been largely taking elliptical subway routes for the last half-decade, but watching them live will inevitably will take you back to when The OC was on the air and “indie” didn’t seem like an epithet.
Best Mustache: DJ Harvey
All apologies to Man Man, but Harvey not only is the best DJ at any festival he plays, his mustache is so strong that it could easily get him appointed president-for-life in any breakaway Soviet republic.
Most Punk Rappers: Run the Jewels
The aesthetic isn’t punk but the attitude is. The duo of Killer Mike and El-P combines subversive politics with the strength of a Kurt Angle suplex. They’re hardcore in the way that MOP and EPMD meant it, which is more meaningful, I think.
Best Animal Band: Caribou
Between the new album from Caribou and Nathan for You, it’s another banner year for Canadians.
Bands Whom I Refuse to Listen to, Based on Their Names Alone: Kindness; Joanna Gruesome; Twin Peaks
Best Performance That Your Stoned Grandparent Might Like: Thundercat
My late jazz-loving grandfather once woke up from a stroke to ask the nurse if she could get him “grass.” He would really love Thundercat.
Most Chill: Mac DeMarco
Another impressive, low-blood-pressure Canadian, who hits the sweet spot between nap time and narcotics.
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Others not to miss: Flying Lotus, Blood Orange, Little Dragon, Built to Spill, Slint, Four Tet, Todd Terje, Mount Kimbie, Kelela, Jessy Lanza, Ty Segall, Haim
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