Frankly, it stinks that the 2018 FYF Fest has been canceled. Seriously, how could the ticket sales be poor enough to warrant pulling the plug? You’d think Janet Jackson’s name alone would be enough to get the punters strolling in. Add Florence + the Machine, St. Vincent, My Bloody Valentine, Charlotte Gainsbourg — damn, the lineup looked immense.
We’re in mourning, and have been consoling ourselves and each other by recalling some of the awesome sets FYF has given us over the years. Of course, this isn’t a definitive “best of” list, so don’t freak out because Kendrick and/or Kanye are missing. Rather, these are the sets that floated our boats. Feel free to comment with your own memories.
Hopefully, FYF Fest will be back in 2019. For now, here’s this…
Post-breakup projects from guitarist Matt Pike (High on Fire) and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (OM) helped grow the legend of NorCal stoner-doom icons Sleep during their hiatus from 1998 up to their 2009 reunion, with scores of fans working their way backward to the heavy drone of genre landmarks like the 52-minute, one-song epic Jerusalem. FYF Fest 2010 played host to Sleep's first Los Angeles show — and second American show, period — since their reunion the previous year. Even in the outdoor setting, the deep-rooted riffs of Pike and Cisneros — backed by new drummer Jason Roeder — rumbled and reverberated through the ground as wafts of pot smoke drifted upward . We’re sure that more than a few windows in the surrounding neighborhood rattled during this set. —Jason Roche
One of the most unenviable spots on any daylong music festival is the first hour. Showgoers are slowly trickling in, and the majority of folks on the grounds that early in the day are saving their energy for later. Burbank hardcore act Touche Amore took the stage at 12:30 p.m. and, off the strength of their newly released second record, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, unleashed 30 minutes of earnest emotional hardcore. The group's confident energy combined with the tortured screams of vocalist Jeremy Holm to whip the small but growing crowd into a frenzy, with dirt and dust flying into the ear as pitters responded with vigor. —Jason Roche
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaire
Crossover success came late in life for soul singer Charles Bradley. The performer was into his 60s by the time he started gaining notoriety performing his own songs, but years spent honing his live presence as a James Brown impersonator were evident from the start of his set at FYF 2013. Bradley and his band took the stage at 5 p.m., staring directly at the hot sun beaming down on them and the crowd. For the next hour, the confident charisma and soulful voice of Bradley shone brighter than the orange light coming from the opposite direction, with inspiring renditions of tracks from his first two Daptone Records releases spreading an aura of positive energy and feel-good vibes throughout the crowd. —Jason Roche
FYF ’13 was the fifth and final year at L.A. State Historic Park before the festival moved to Exposition Park. There was loads of good shit that year, but what stands out for me was the wicked set from Montesano, Washington, sludge metal/proto-grunge legends Melvins. King Buzzo and company took the Miranda Stage (there was a weird Sex and the City theme that year) around 8 p.m.on Sunday and tore through a 12-song set without interruption, certainly not bothering to introduce the two show-stopping covers that ended their set: Butthole Surfers’ “Graveyard” and Pop-O-Pies’ “Fascists Eat Donuts.” Fuck yeah. (You can catch Melvins July 13 at the Troubadour and Aug. 16 at Echoplex.) —Matt Miner
Harvey @ the Woods Stage
While FYF 2017 was busy being a music festival, DJ Harvey was throwing his own party at the Woods Stage. Tucked away from plain view in the foliage-covered space, the area really benefited from warm lighting and colorful tinsel flags. Harvey started early, at doors on Sunday, and carried on solidly until just after sundown. This was after he'd closed out the festival the night before with another lengthy and super-banging set at the Outer Space Stage. He began with yoga gongs and “om shanti” chant sounds, which suited the mellow afternoon mood perfectly. His steady ramp-up to the patented disco house vibes that are his identifiers had the clued-up crowd doing a strong shuffle about the makeshift dance floor, clearly marking this zone as the vibe-iest of the entire festival. —Lily Moayeri
When Iggy Pop appeared at the Greek Theatre in April 2016, riding a wave of adulation following the unexpected success of Post Pop Depression, rumors swirled that it might be his final local concert. But just a year later, the World’s Forgotten Boy was already back in L.A. at FYF, swaggering beside the Coliseum like a leathery, long-maned panther and hurling the microphone stand across the stage with his usual reckless aplomb. While his band at the Greek Theatre (with members of Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys) was more celebrated, Iggy’s relatively anonymous backup group at FYF kicked more visceral ass. It also helped that they delved into a more varied (albeit considerably shorter) set list, highlighted by a languorously sinister version of “I’m Sick of You” that simmered balefully like an unwinding anaconda in the late-afternoon sunlight.
Nine Inch Nails
There was already a lot of aggression and testosterone lingering in the air following intense sets by Run the Jewels and Iggy Pop earlier on nearby stages at FYF in July 2017, but the crowd — a bizarre mix of black-clad underground-music fans and beachwear-sporting frat boys — swelled to massive proportions by the time Nine Inch Nails finally took the stage as part of their first tour in three years. Propulsive blasts such as “The Great Destroyer” and the inevitable “Head Like a Hole” anchored the set with a throbbing crush of noise. But the emotional highlight might have been the band’s subtly affecting version of David Bowie’s “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” as Trent Reznor’s husky but vulnerable vocals wound down poignantly along a spiraling piano melody. —Falling James
Frank Ocean was FYF’s biggest act on last year’s lineup. It was all eyes on him. He thanked L.A. for coming out and let us all know this is only the fourth or fifth show he’d performed in years. He came out to “Solo” and it was over before it started. Song after song, hit after hit. The crowd knew every fucking word. Every time he started a new song, within seconds they would realize which one it was and scream their heads off. I was right there with them. We were all still recovering from how mesmerizing “Chanel” was before he began my favorite song of 2017, “Lens.” I literally started bawling. No lie. “Biking,” “Thinking of You,” “Nikes,” even a cameo from Brad Pitt. This was one of the most beautiful sets I’d ever seen. —Shirley Ju