A good music festival has an almost gluttonous quality to it. How much music can you gorge yourself on in one weekend, to wring the most value out of that $300 ticket, before you wind up puking into a garbage can not from one too many margaritas but just because you've been doing wind sprints all day between stages that are half a mile apart?
This dilemma — binge or pace yourself? — is going to be especially acute for music lovers at FYF Fest, which has a lineup that basically makes it the Caesars Palace Bacchanal Buffet of music festivals. Even the pickiest of music fans is probably going into this weekend with at least 25 acts on her must-see list; for those with more eclectic tastes, that number is closer to 60. For me, just looking at FYF's printable schedules makes me feel like a golden retriever at a squirrel convention. I wanna see that! And that! Oh, and for sure that! Björk! Missy! Squirrel!
This begs the question: Is there a point at which a festival can actually become too good? Where the agony of the scheduling conflicts outweighs the pleasure of seeing so many great acts in one place? As crazy as that sounds, I feel as if FYF might have reached that point. This is a festival that is going to beget thousands of conversations that begin with the phrase, "I can't believe I missed ..."
For me, the worst Sophie's Choice moments are going to happen Friday night around 10 p.m., when Anderson .Paak, Slowdive and Survive are all on the same time, and Saturday night starting around 9 p.m., when Arca goes on smack in the middle of A Tribe Called Quest's set. For others, I'm sure Thundercat vs. Princess Nokia and Little Dragon vs. Mac DeMarco will cause some pain. And you just know that somewhere out there right now, at least a few old-school emo fans are calculating the distance between the Club and the mainstage so they can figure out the exact moment to bail on the Cap'n Jazz reunion and get to MGMT in time to hear "Kids."
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I hear your "just see half of one band's set and then go see something else" argument and I reject it. That's fine when you're just a casual fan of the bands in question, but when you're a rabid devotee, seeing half a set can be almost worst than missing it altogether. Even power-walking between stages at FYF takes a solid 10 to 15 minutes and everyone knows the Murphy's Law of festivals dictates that during those 10 to 15 minutes, Paak will play "Come Down" and Slowdive will play "Souvlaki Space Station" and I will feel like I have failed at life.
No, the best strategy at these big festivals is nearly always to just suck it up and admit to yourself that you can't see everything. Well, you can, but you'll be delirious by the end of the night and won't be able to remember half of it. (How do I know this? Because one of our writers tried it one year.)
To FYF's credit, it does seem to have made an effort to minimize conflicts during all the big headliners. Only comedian Hannibal Buress and some DJ named Dave P are in direct conflict with Björk, for example, and fans of Kehlani and Talaboman are the only ones who will feel anything tugging them away from the mainstage during Nine Inch Nails' closing Sunday-night set. (I would have liked to see Talaboman, but sorry, guys — Trent Reznor puts on one of the best live shows in the business.) So there will be fewer on-site FOMOs than there could have been.
But honestly, I still have no idea what I'm going to do when Arca and A Tribe Called Quest are on at the same time. Maybe I'll go to one and watch the live stream of the other between songs. It will be like I'm festivaling in the future! With less power-walking and puking into garbage cans. Unless I drink too many margaritas.