The 2017 FYF lineup is so top-to-bottom good that attempting to rank all the acts becomes an act of critical hair-splitting. Can you really say whether Ty Segall rocks harder than Thee Oh Sees, or vice versa? Is A Tribe Called Quest's jazzy, Golden Age version of hip-hop any better than Run the Jewels' edgier, more modern take? The less obvious apples-to-oranges comparisons start to feel even more random: Is Nine Inch Nails really a better live act than Erykah Badu? Am I really going to go out of my way to catch some of Sleep at the risk of missing Frank Ocean? And come to think of it, how in the hell is anyone supposed to make it through a festival this stacked without having a total FOMO meltdown every 10 minutes?
Still, in a well-intentioned but probably futile attempt to help you navigate your way through all the awesomeness, I have gone ahead and ranked every act playing FYF, all 75 of them, for you to judge, debate and possibly even take into account when you're making impossible choices over who to see and who to miss. So with apologies to all the acts I diss at the beginning (there's only like six of them, which somehow makes me feel like an even bigger asshole than when I do this for Coachella and diss closer to 50), let's dive in, shall we? The full list begins after this nifty Spotify playlist.
75. Mura Masa (The Trees, Sunday, 7:45 p.m.)
It takes real effort to make Damon Albarn and Christine and the Queens sound boring, but damn if Britain's Alex Crossan didn't pull it off on his recent single, “Second 2 None”/”Blu.” His tracks incorporate a lot of interesting sounds — steel drums, marimbas — but never really do much with them.
74. TR/ST (The Club, Sunday, 9:40 p.m.)
Maybe if you're super into the sound of synthesizers weeping, Robert Alfons' TR/ST project is the perfect way to sad-dance your way down from three days' worth of festival sensory overload. But for me, once you get past undeniable single “Bulbform,” most of his stuff just sounds like all the members of a bad '80s darkwave cover band fighting over the one mirror in a shitty dressing room to apply their black eyeliner.
73. Majid Jordan (The Trees, Friday, 12:25 a.m.)
I know, I'm bashing two Toronto acts in a row. Sorry! I love you Toronto, really, I do. Just not TR/ST and Majid Jordan.
72. The Drums (The Trees, Saturday, 9:05 p.m.)
Now essentially the solo project of sole remaining original member Johnny Pierce, The Drums update straightforward surf-rock drum beats and guitar riffs with touches of dream-pop and shoegaze. It's perfect if rather unremarkable summer festival music that probably stands out in Pierce's home base of Brooklyn — but here in L.A., a dozen different Burger bands do it just as well.
71. Temples (The Trees, Sunday, 5 p.m.)
This British psych-rock group's touchstones — Donovan, The Byrds, Primal Scream — are a bit less obvious on their latest album, Volcano, than on their entertaining pastiche of a debut album, 2014's Sun Structures. But that's not necessarily a good thing, as cluttered production overwhelms the band's songwriting, which in hindsight was never all that interesting to begin with.
70. Paranoid London (Outer Space, Friday, 9:45 p.m.)
If your favorite dance music track of all time is Green Velvet's “Flash,” then by all means go see this London duo, who employ a vocalist named Mutado Pintado to intone nonsense over their springy tech-house tracks. But if it's not, your time is better spent elsewhere.
69. Hannibal Buress (The Trees, Friday, 9:30 p.m.)
I don't even know how to rank a comedian on this list — apples, oranges and all that — but since FYF saw fit to put Buress on at the same time as Björk, I have no choice but to put him pretty far down in the ranking. Hannibal, you are a very, very funny dude, but I'm sure you understand. (Hell, if I were you, I'd just hire another look-alike so you can go catch Bjork's set.)
68. Horse Meat Disco (The Woods, Friday, 5 p.m.; Outer Space, all day Saturday)
67. Young Marco (Outer Space, all day Saturday)
Both these acts are co-billed on Saturday with the great DJ Harvey to be sharing a 10-hour (2 p.m. to midnight) mega time slot. Both are good fun, but U.K. crate diggers Horse Meat Disco (who also get their own extended set on Friday) pretty much play FYF every year, and Amsterdam's Young Marco, while he shares Harvey's freewheeling, anything-as-long-as-it-gets-the-crowd-moving style, isn't in the elder DJ's league. So here's hoping they're mostly on the Saturday bill so Harvey can have the occasional smoke or bathroom break.
66. Homeshake (The Trees, Saturday, 4 p.m.)
Former Mac DeMarco guitarist Peter Sagar must've felt like his boss's music didn't sound stoned enough, because the stuff he does as Homeshake sounds super-duper stoned. I hardly ever use the term “super-duper” but somehow it totally fits here.
65. Royal Headache (The Club, Friday, 7 p.m.)
Good old-fashioned rawk from Down Under. If you like beer-soaked guitar bands who defiantly ignore the last 20-odd years of recorded music, these guys will scratch that itch until it bleeds.
64. Russell Alexander (Outer Space, Friday, 5 p.m.)
63. Kelly Lee Owens (Outer Space, Friday, 7:30 p.m.)
These were both late additions to the FYF lineup to play the new “Outer Space” on opening night. Based on the name and FYF's sprawling layout, I have to assume “Outer Space” will be somewhere on the far side of where the old Sports Arena used to be and take roughly 45 minutes to get to. (Kidding! Probably.) British producer Kelly Lee Owens is the more intriguing of the two (mostly because Russell Alexander seems to have no online presence as either a producer or DJ), with a self-titled debut album out earlier this year that straddles the lines between techno, electro and synth-pop.
62. Blonde Redhead (The Club, Sunday, 8:15 p.m.)
These '90s alt-rock survivors have all the hallmarks of a band I should probably like — stints on two excellent labels, Touch & Go and 4AD; quirky guitar hooks; a sound that can be heavy, ethereal and experimental all at once. But though I definitely dig their vibe, their songs never stick for me, and with so many other great bands at FYF this year, I just don't see them being a draw for any except their most ardent fans.
61. Honey Soundsystem (Outer Space, all day Sunday)
This San Francisco DJ collective serves up house, house and more house, and they're really, really good at it. Basically, unless FYF's new “Outer Space” stage is in Whittier, and you still have any dance moves left in the tank by Sunday, you should drop by for at least some of their 10-hour set.
60. Fatima Yamaha (The Woods, Saturday, 5 p.m.)
One of Dutch DJ/producer Bas Bron's many aliases, Fatima Yamaha is described in all “her” bios as “a young lady, born to a Japanese father and a Turkish mother.” Bogus gender and backstory aside, Bron's original productions as Yamaha sound more like the work of the keyboardist from some forgotten '80s new wave band trying to reinvent himself as a techno producer and not quite being able to let go of all his old Korg and Fairlight synths. Whether you have a positive or negative reaction to that description is probably a good barometer of whether you should catch Bron's FYF set.
59. Julia Jacklin (The Club, Sunday, 3:15 p.m.)
This Australian singer-songwriter's debut album, last year's Don't Let the Kids Win, is full of promise, navigating nimbly between hushed confessionals (“Elizabeth”) and more full-throated rockers (“Coming of Age”). Her songwriting doesn't always live up to her dynamic arrangements and appealingly twangy voice, but her talent is unmistakable.
58. Kehlani (The Trees, Sunday, 10:30 p.m.)
57. Kamaiyah (The Trees, Friday, 8:35 p.m.)
Oaktown represent! Both these artists bring plenty of East Bay swagger to their music and lyrics, but in different ways. Kehlani mixes pop instincts and tough-girl attitude over glittering, EDM-informed R&B in a way that recalls Rihanna; Kamaiyah, by contrast, is a West Coast hip-hop traditionalist, spitting and crooning over trunk-rattling G-funk.
56. The Faint (The Trees, Saturday, 10:25 p.m.)
Most fans probably associate this Omaha, Nebraska, group with the disco-punk craze of the early 2000s that also jump-started the careers of The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem. But Todd Fink and company have been dirtying up their synths since 1999's Blank-Wave Arcade and their most recent album, 2014's Doom Abuse, still finds them laying down infectious dance riffs with punk-rock urgency. At this point, no band this side of LCD do it better.
55. Nicolas Jaar (The Trees, Saturday, midnight)
I'm a fan of Chilean-American producer Jaar's studio work, especially his luminous 2011 debut album, Space Is Only Noise. But I'm not gonna lie: I thought most of his set at Coachella earlier this year was really boring. Still, I'm hopeful he'll bring more energy to a later time slot at FYF.
54. Omar-S (The Woods, Sunday, 7 p.m.)
Keepers of the Detroit techno flame don't get much realer than Motor City native Omar-S, who keeps his music stripped-down and sleek and his public profile low. The bare-bones website for his label, FXHE Records, pretty much sums up his whole aesthetic — old-school, unfussy and uninterested in appealing to anyone except the true believers.
53. MGMT (main stage, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.)
It's probably telling (I'm telling myself) that I accidentally omitted these mid-2000s indie-rock survivors when I first put together this list. Although their debut, Oracular Spectacular, remains an influential classic, they've seemed a little lost ever since. Still, it's hard to name a better festival anthem of the past 10 years than “Time to Pretend.”
52. 6lack (The Trees, Sunday, 9:10 p.m.)
My favorite song by this Baltimore singer-rapper is “Luving U,” on which he lets a jealous girlfriend scroll through his texts, leading to the immortal exchange, “Who's this bitch?” “Girl, that's my mom.” Not all of his tracks are as lyrically memorable, but he's a master of vibe, with a ear for moody productions that would've fit right in at Low End Theory circa 2010.
51. King Krule (The Lawn, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)
As King Krule, Archy Marshall comes on like a millennial Billy Bragg, all working-class sneer and no-frills, busker's guitar riffs. His most recent album, A New Place 2 Drown, released under his own name, ditched the guitar for spacey, post-dubstep electronic music, but the fact that he's billed here as King Krule likely means he'll be back in full piss-and-vinegar mode, possibly with new songs in tow. Whichever Marshall shows up, he's a gifted songwriter with a lager lout's demeanor and a poet's heart.
50. Kirk Knight (The Trees, Friday, 6:30 p.m.)
Even though he's kicking off the festival Friday, it's possible that this hip-hop/future bass producer may have a special guest or two; among his best tracks is “Best Friends,” which features Noname and Thundercat, both of whom are also on the FYF lineup. His purely instrumental stuff, as showcased on this year's Black Noise, is pretty great, too.
49. Mac DeMarco (The Trees, Sunday, 6:20 p.m.)
I described this guy as “Jason Mraz for stoners” when I ranked every 2017 Coachella act, but after catching some of his set, I'd like to amend that slightly. I'd now describe him as “Jason Mraz for Steely Dan fans.”
48. Princess Nokia (The Club, Saturday, 12:30 a.m.)
Rapper-singer Destiny Nicole Frasqueri's alter ego, Princess Nokia, is a shape-shifter, both in sound and attitude, delivering everything from atmospheric drum 'n' bass (“Dragons”) to sexy R&B come-ons (“Apple Pie”) to swaggering declarations of sexual independence and body positivity (“Tomboy”). Her latest track is called “G.O.A.T.” and while it might be premature for her to claim that title, she's got the skills to make a run for it.
47. Perfume Genius (The Club, Saturday, 7:20 p.m.)
My favorite track by Mike Hadreas, the Seattle singer-producer behind Perfume Genius, is “Fool,” from his 2014 album Too Bright. Midway through a heartfelt but fairly straightforward synth-pop ballad, the beat drops out like a trap door, and we're plunged into a neon-lit chapel where Hadreas wails an unintelligible hymn over swirling, celestial synths. The music of Perfume Genius frequently reaches for such moments of transcendence, and though it doesn't always get there, the act of reaching can be fascinating in and of itself.
46. Cherry Glazerr (The Lawn, Sunday, 3:15 p.m.)
“My carpet smells like beer forever,” croons Clementine Creevy on “Trash People,” just one of several funny, smart, hooky tracks from her band's excellent (and excellently titled) third album, Apocalipstick. Creevy and her bandmates build party music around massive guitar riffs and whip-smart lyrics; they're kindred spirits with Deap Vally, Bleached and Ty Segall but bring an irreverence to L.A. garage-rock that's wholly their own.
45. Hundred Waters (The Club, Friday, 8:05 p.m.)
This Florida-bred, L.A.-based trio make music so ethereal, it almost feels untouched by human hands, even when Nicole Miglis' celestial vocals float over the proceedings like an elfin call to prayer. At this point, they're more famous as the brains behind Form Arcosanti, the anti-festival held each year in an experimental “arcology” (architecture + ecology) town in Arizona, than they are for their music — but that likely will change soon, especially with recent, more pop-minded singles such as “Particle.”
44. Andy Shauf (The Lawn, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)
Canadian singer-songwriter Shauf's 2009 debut album, Darker Days, remains one of my favorite folk records from that era when it became weirdly trendy to throw a banjo on everything. It was a concept album, repeating the title phrase and related imagery on multiple tracks, without getting overly precious about it. Since then, he's evolved into a master of the kind of throwback, melancholy soft rock practiced by Josh Rouse and The Silver Seas — beautiful, fine-grained music for broken hearts, rainy days and getting stoned in a shag-carpeted basement rec room in 1976. His latest album is the saddest record titled The Party ever released, and I mean that in the best possible way.
43. Whitney (The Trees, Sunday, 3:45 p.m.)
I'll just repeat what I wrote about these guys when they played Coachella, because it holds true: I never really cared for the jangly retro-rock of Smith Westerns. But Whitney, the newish group featuring that band's Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, adds a wood-paneled, countrified tinge to the proceedings that I can't get enough of. Whitney's debut album, Light Upon the Lake, is arguably even more self-consciously '70s-obsessed than anything Smith Westerns ever did, but Kakacek, Ehrlich and their new bandmates sound like they're having a blast channeling their inner Flying Burrito Brothers.
42. Ty Segall (The Lawn, Sunday, 5:30 p.m.)
41. Thee Oh Sees (The Club, Friday, 12:15 a.m.)
Two of the West Coast's greatest living practitioners of heavy, guitar-freakout-filled, psychedelic rock on the same bill? Yes, please. Both Segall and Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer, in their various bands and solo incarnations, play L.A. all the time, so it's hard to rank them any higher. But both are well worth catching a few songs of if you miss the good ol' days when rock acts wrote tart, three-minute pop songs and then stretched them out live into eight-minute epics of screaming, shredding, feedback-soaked awesomeness.
40. John Talabot (The Woods, Friday, 9:30 p.m.)
39. Talaboman (The Club, Sunday, 10:45 p.m.)
Barcelona producer John Talabot emerged in 2012 as the heir apparent to Caribou and Four Tet with his excellent debut album, Fin. He returned this year with a new project, a collaboration with fellow producer Axel Boman called Talaboman. Their album, The Night Land, builds beautifully on Talabot's mix of fragile synths and sturdy beats that flit between synth-pop's crisp midtempos and house music's deeper, darker pulse. Both incarnations of Talabot are in the FYF lineup: He'll do a four-hour Friday night DJ set and a Sunday night live set with Boman.
38. Mitski (The Trees, Saturday, 5:10 p.m.)
I still kinda wish more of this New York singer-songwriter's catalog sounded like “My Body's Made of Crushed Little Star,” an acoustic punk outburst even better than its title. But even in her quieter moments, Mitski's voice and guitar demand attention.
37. Jonathan Richman (The Club, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
At any other festival, an appearance by the legendarily sardonic singer-songwriter of The Modern Lovers and There's Something About Mary fame would be a major highlight — but at FYF, Richman's appearance feels like more of an outlier, a token nod to however many fans bought tickets mainly because Iggy Pop is on the bill. Still, here's hoping a few Father John Misty fans stumble onto his set and discover that it's possible to write highly literate, acridly witty folk-rock without being kind of a dick about it.
36. Slowdive (The Trees, Friday, 10:20 p.m.)
It's practically not a Goldenvoice-produced festival without at least one reunited shoegaze band. But unlike so many of their peers, who dust off their guitar pedals and rehash past glories, British quintet Slowdive returned earlier this year with a brand-new, self-titled album that's way better than it has any business being, considering it's the group's first in 22 years. Credit Slowdive mastermind Neil Halstead for finding a way to capture his band's original sound (especially on guitar pile-ons such as the epic “Star Roving”) without letting the songs themselves devolve into pure nostalgia.
35. Built to Spill (The Trees, Saturday, 7:35 p.m.)
How's this for a booking coup: Not only did FYF get indie rock legends Built to Spill to replace Grandaddy (who sadly had to cancel after the recent death of their bassist, Kevin Garcia) on short notice, they got them to play their classic 1999 album, Keep It Like a Secret, in its entirety. OK, so BTS were already planning to do Keep It at Riot Fest in Chicago in September, but still. Even stripped down to a trio, which is how they've been performing of late, Doug Martsch and co. are capable of kicking up a mighty racket.
34. Thundercat (The Lawn, Saturday, 5:30 p.m.)
Bassist extraordinaire Stephen Bruner has always had one foot squarely planted in '70s soul and soft rock, so it shouldn't have come as that great of a shock that he enlisted Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald to do guest vocals on his latest album, Drunk. It shouldn't have, but it did. People are easily shocked these days.
33. The Black Madonna (The Woods, Saturday, 11:45 p.m.)
32. Motor City Drum Ensemble (The Woods, Saturday, 6 p.m.)
Fans of classic Chicago house have at least two reasons to hit FYF this year: Chi-town's own Marea Stamper aka The Black Madonna, who keeps her city's fat four-on-the-floor beats and church-service vibes alive both in her own celebratory mixes and as creative director of the influential club Smart Bar; and Germany's Danilo Plessow, who resuscitates old-school, disco-inflected house to great effect as Motor City Drum Ensemble. I'm ranking MCDE ahead of The Black Madonna only because we get fewer chances to hear him on the West Coast, but both are outstanding deckhands who know how to keep a festival crowd moving.
31. Noname (The Trees, Saturday, 6:20 p.m.)
When this Chicago rapper and slam poet breaks out her luminous hit “Diddy Bop,” people hearing it from a distance probably will think Erykah Badu changed her time slot. But the artist formerly known as Noname Gypsy is more than the sum of her influences, which also include Lauryn Hill (for whom she's opened), D'Angelo and Nina Simone, as well as authors like Toni Morrison. She's a gifted storyteller with an ear for smooth, soulful melodies that buoy her tales of growing up young, gifted and black in Chicago.
30. Helena Hauff (Outer Space, Friday, 11:45 p.m.)
Hamburg's Helena Hauff is one of those techno producers who can somehow imbue the most mechanical sounds with soul. Though her music is all sleek surfaces and sharp edges, often piercing into the realms of industrial and EBM, it's also richly detailed and full of little melodic twists and turns that remind you of the humanity behind it. If her latest track, a banger of a collaboration with Greek producer Morah called “The Royal Game,” is any indication, her FYF set might be one of the weekend's hardest.
29. Chicano Batman (The Lawn, Sunday, 4:15 p.m.)
Memo to festivals: Stop giving L.A.'s favorite rock 'n' soul combo daytime slots. They wear tuxes, for God's sake. Are you trying to sweat them to death? Plus, even though their music can have a laid-back, summery vibe, they also know how to get a crowd moving after the sun goes down.
28. Little Dragon (main stage, Sunday, 6:25 p.m.)
Here's an indicator of how good the FYF lineup is: When I ranked the 2017 Coachella lineup, these guys came in at No. 21. They don't drop to No. 28 because their latest album, Season High — released after I did my Coachella rankings — isn't any good; on the contrary, it may be my favorite work from them yet. But even though FYF is smaller than Coachella, it's mightier. So don't worry, Little Dragon — I still love you. And maybe I'll even catch more than two songs of your set this time.
27. Nadia Rose (The Club, Sunday, 6:05 p.m.)
If more U.K. grime acts sounded like Croydon's Nadia Rose, I would totally be on the grime train. A cousin of the genre's current superstar, Stormzy, Rose flows with equal assurance over uptempo dance tracks (“Boom”) and slower, more menacing cuts (“Murder”). And if the video for “Skwod” is any indication, she might be second only to Missy Elliott at FYF when it comes to busting out the well-choreographed backup dancers.
26. Big Thief (The Club, Saturday, 4:45 p.m.)
Big Thief's Adrianne Lenker is an extraordinarily gifted songwriter, able to depict the welter of sensations and emotions that accompany trauma with clear-eyed, unflinching detail and so much empathy that her quietest songs can be downright harrowing. Her bandmates support her with arrangements that sometimes rock out with free-falling forward momentum, and other times hang back with exquisite restraint. It's hard to think of any artist since Elliott Smith who can spin sadness and suffering into such hauntingly beautiful music.
25. Survive (The Club, Friday, 10 p.m.)
I ranked these Austin synth-rockers high on my 2017 Coachella list on the theory that their set would be a magnet for cosplay fans of Stranger Things, the hit Netflix show for which they did the soundtrack. I missed them, so I have no idea whether they attracted a mass of nerds in Demogorgon masks and Eleven dresses with Peter Pan collars. But it doesn't really matter — their haunting music, all '80s horror movie synths and creeping atmosphere, is reason enough to make sure I don't miss them this time. (Except that they're on at the same time as Slowdive and Anderson .Paak, so I probably will.)
24. Moses Sumney (The Club, Sunday, 7 p.m.)
There probably isn't a more original artist on the FYF lineup this year than Sumney, who combines looped vocals, guitar, synths and complex rhythms often borrowed from Ghana, where he spent much of his childhood before returning to Southern California, where he was born. He can sound like Nick Drake, Bon Iver or D'Angelo, sometimes on the same song.
23. Avalon Emerson (The Woods, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.)
One of my favorite things about well-curated festivals like FYF is how often they introduce me to artists I might otherwise have overlooked. Even though she's originally from California (SF, not L.A.), Berlin-based DJ/producer Avalon Emerson had somehow escaped my notice. But I'm kind of obsessed with her music now, which is dark, deep and highly atmospheric — think Gui Boratto at his moodiest, or Sasha when he anchors his fluttering melodies in a good, propulsive bass line. (P.S. Kudos to FYF for booking so many gifted female DJs this year — and all other festivals, for fuck's sake please take note.)
22. Flying Lotus (The Lawn, Friday, 12:20 a.m.)
FlyLo's FYF show is being billed as happening in 3-D. I thought all live concerts were in 3-D (aka reality) but whatever. The producer born Steven Ellison is known for putting on visually dazzling, high-tech shows to match his dense, futuristic music — at Coachella in 2015, he performed inside a goddamned hypercube — so I'm sure whatever he has up his sleeve will be worth putting on those goofy glasses for. Hopefully, it will include some new music — he hasn't released any since 2014's You're Dead!, but a new album from his animated alter ego, Captain Murphy, reportedly is coming out later this year.
21. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (The Lawn, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Nigeria's Seun Kuti is Afrobeat royalty — the youngest son of the legendary Fela Kuti and leader of his dad's celebrated band, Egypt 80. If you like horn-laden funky jams with endlessly intricate African rhythms and politically charged lyrics (see “IMF,” an ode to the controversial International Monetary Fund that renames it “International Motherfucker”), you might find yourself unable to stop dancing for all of Seun's set.
20. Angel Olsen (The Lawn, Friday, 7:50 p.m.)
Angel Olsen could probably sing the fine print on her Jagjaguwar recording contract and make it sound dramatic — she just has one of those voices, quivering with emotion and forever implying even greater depths of passion and sorrow caught somewhere in the back of her throat. Her latest album, My Woman, rocks harder than her previous efforts and includes at least one song, “Shut Up Kiss Me,” that in any other era would be blasting out of every car radio from here to her home base of Asheville, North Carolina.
19. Tiga (The Woods, Sunday, 9 p.m.)
18. Daniel Avery (The Woods, Saturday, 10 p.m.)
Two DJs with very different approaches to their craft — Montreal's Tiga favors bright, shiny electro-house and winking, tongue-in-cheek disco, while Londoner Avery is all about the moody, mind-expanding grooves of melodic techno — but with the same end result: Both will make you dance your ass off.
17. Sleep (The Club, Saturday, 10:15 p.m.)
I can't say I'm personally a huge fan of Dopesmoker, the one-hour drone session that made this trio instant legends in doom-metal circles. But I'm kind of fascinated to see how Sleep's music will go over in a large festival setting in front of a crowd that's probably mostly there to see Run the Jewels or Nine Inch Nails. Sleep's brand of doom is the very definition of uneasy listening, a thunderously loud, almost amorphous wall of guitars and drums meant to be appreciated more as an enveloping force than as mere sound. How will the crowd react? Will people start a pit or stand transfixed in confusion and awe? Will they stay for the whole thing or leave after five minutes? Whatever happens, I bow down to FYF for slipping something this fucking heavy into the lineup.
16. Beach Fossils (The Lawn, Friday, 6:30 p.m.)
Based on their name and first couple albums, I pretty much wrote this Brooklyn band off as yet another in the parade of jangly surf-rock bands that turned indie rock into the world's least interesting beach party from about 2009 to 2012. But their latest album, the recently released Somersault, is a stunner, shedding Beach Fossils' lo-fi roots in favor of a more richly orchestrated, almost jazzy sound with echoes of everything from The Clientele to Washed Out to Steely Dan.
15. DJ Harvey (Outer Space, all day Saturday; The Woods, Sunday, 2 p.m.)
We named Harvey Bassett L.A.'s best DJ last year, which is why I'm ranking him the highest of all DJs spinning at this year's FYF. A typical Harvey set — what am I saying? There's no such thing as a typical Harvey set. He'll drop disco, house, Afrobeat, funk, garage-rock and everything in between, in ways that will delight your ears as much as move your feet. Wisely, FYF has booked him to play 15 hours (with help from Horse Meat Disco and Young Marco for 10 of those hours, but still) — and if you stick around for all of them, you won't hear the same record twice.
14. Joey Purp (The Club, Sunday, 5:25 p.m.)
When it comes to Chicago hip-hop, Joey Purp got next. He's part of SaveMoney, the collective that also gave us Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper, and shares their gift for rhymes that are street-smart and confessional, set to soulful tracks with lots of horns and funky percussion. His latest mixtape, iiiDrops, echoes other great Chi-town sets like Chance's Coloring Book and Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor while flaunting a style and sensibility entirely his own.
13. Cap'n Jazz (The Club, Saturday, 6 p.m.)
This Chicago band is sort of emo's answer to Slint — a group that toiled in relative obscurity while they were still together but reached near-legendary status after breaking up. This is their first show since 2010, and it's a big, big deal to anyone who still remembers FYF from back when it was still called Fuck Yeah Fest and featured a lineup of bands that could nearly all name-check brothers Tim and Mike Kinsella (later of Joan of Arc, Owls and American Football) as sonic touchstones. Their early-'90s catalog, most of which was later collected on Analphabetapolothology, still has a raw, ramshackle energy that might shock anyone for whom the term “emo” still evokes more polished latter-day acts like Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World.
12. Solange (main stage, Sunday, 8:25 p.m.)
While her big sister Beyoncé was turning pop music sideways with Lemonade, Solange Knowles was quietly gearing up to release her equally provocative A Seat at the Table, an album that finally achieved the not-inconsiderable feat of moving her out of Queen Bey's shadow once and for all and getting her the critical acclaim and commercial success she has long deserved (and if you don't believe the “long-deserved” part, look up her criminally slept-on 2008 album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams). A Seat at the Table has done at least as much as Lemonade, if not more, to spark a conversation about how African-American women are represented, and given room to represent themselves, in popular culture — and it's done it with tracks like “Don't Touch My Hair” and “Cranes in the Sky” that are both witty and flat-out gorgeous.
11. Badbadnotgood (The Trees, Friday, 7:20 p.m.)
This Canadian group's music is usually described as jazz, but how many other jazz ensembles have a collaborative album with Ghostface Killah? On their latest album, IV, the quartet venture even further from their base genre, exploring David Axelrod–like soundscapes on “And That, Too” and turning Future Islands' manic frontman Samuel T. Herring into a quiet-storm crooner on “Time Moves Slowly.” As good as FYF's lineup is, you won't hear a tighter group of musicians all weekend.
10. Björk (main stage, Friday, 8:50 p.m.)
Fans of Iceland's greatest export will cry foul that I'm not ranking her higher, and I can't blame them. But Björk's highly esoteric music, especially on recent albums such as Biophilia and Vulnicura, is an acquired taste, and it's not one I've ever been able to acquire. That being said, even casual fans who've never heard her extraordinary voice live shouldn't miss out on a chance to do so — and if she decides to break out some of her earlier, more straightforward material, like “Hyperballad” and “Army of Me,” her set could be one of the weekend's most talked-about.
9. Run the Jewels (The Lawn, Sunday, 9:35 p.m.)
Has any rap group over the past four years had a better run than Run the Jewels? That's a rhetorical question; the answer is demonstrably “no.” In that short window of time, El-P and Killer Mike have turned out three masterful albums (of which their latest might be their best yet), crushed back-to-back Coachellas and even dropped a you-gotta-be-kidding remix album, Meow the Jewels, that should've been a throwaway but was actually kinda brilliant. (It's new versions of their songs based entirely on sampled cat sounds, and it has no business being as good as it is.) Mike and El-P clearly inspire each other to ever greater heights, and it's a joy to watch. Plus, their live shows tend to erupt into nonstop mosh pits, and when they play L.A., Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha often shows up to holler his part on “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck).”
8. Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals (The Lawn, Friday, 10:10 p.m.)
In a way, Anderson .Paak is a throwback — a born entertainer in the mold of a Prince or a Stevie Wonder who can seemingly do it all. Live, he raps, dances, sings and plays drums like a motherfucker. Sweat and charisma fly off him like sparks off a lowrider tailpipe. His backing band, The Free Nationals, give his songs an extra layer of funk and an occasional flourish of rock & roll, especially when guitarist Joey Rios rips a solo. This may be one of the last times you see Paak's name on a festival flyer where he's not the headliner — he's that good, and somehow keeps getting better.
7. A Tribe Called Quest (main stage, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.)
Yes, their performances at the Grammys and on SNL were kind of a mess, and there's no filling the void left by the late, great Phife Dawg. But this is still Tribe we're talking about — one of the most influential and wildly entertaining hip-hop groups of all time, with a certified resident genius in producer/frontman Q-Tip and a 2016 comeback album, We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service, that improbably holds up against their best work. Expect party vibes, guest appearances galore, tears for Phife, middle fingers for Trump and a nonstop hit parade of indelible tracks like “Award Tour,” “Can I Kick It?” and, of course, the song that put El Segundo on the map.
6. Erykah Badu (The Lawn, Saturday, 9:50 p.m.)
The queen of neo-soul has always been great, but in recent years, she's achieved a kind of elder stateswoman status that's extremely gratifying to everyone who stayed loyal to her buttery, vibed-out sound even while it fell out of fashion in the mid-2000s. Now, you'd be hard-pressed to catch every act on the rest of the FYF lineup who owes her a debut: Solange, Anderson .Paak, Noname, Frank Ocean, Thundercat, Kehlani, Little Dragon. Fans are still longing for another studio album — her last, New Amerykah Part Two, came out in 2010 — but a couple of 2015 mixtapes had some fun highlights, and seeing her live is really about hearing her belt out classics like “On & On” and “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)” anyway.
5. Nine Inch Nails (main stage, Sunday, 10:45 p.m.)
I wasn't a Trent Reznor fan until I saw NIN live for the first time, at Coachella in 2005, where he and his bone-splintering backing band blew my mind. They remain one of the best live acts in the business, combining state-of-the-art visuals, top-notch musicianship, propulsive grooves and Reznor's riveting vocals into a sound and spectacle that whips festival crowds into a frenzy. And their new stuff isn't mere set padding; more recent tracks like “Came Back Haunted” off 2013's Hesitation Marks and “The Hand That Feeds” off 2005's With Teeth are just as intense as the classics “Closer” and “Head Like a Hole.” This is their first show since 2014 and you can bet Reznor will have some surprises in store.
4. Arca + Jesse Kanda (The Club, Saturday, 8:45 p.m.)
It's likely you've never heard of London-based, Venezuelan electronic producer Arca, but even likelier that you've heard his work: He co-produced most of Björk's Vulnicura, as well as Kanye West's “Hold My Liquor” and FKA Twigs' “Water Me.” I know ranking Björk's producer higher than Björk herself probably seems crazy, but I honestly think Arca is one of the most exciting producers working today in any genre, and he very rarely plays U.S. shows (FYF is only his second L.A. show ever, following an appearance at Hollywood Forever in 2015). His ominous, clattering music is utterly alien but also deeply soulful — especially on his latest, self-titled album, his first featuring his own singing. For FYF, he's presenting Trauma, an ongoing collaboration with filmmaker Jesse Kanda that's even trippier and more disturbing than his music — but if you already played the video above, you don't need me to tell you that.
3. Frank Ocean (main stage, Saturday, 11 p.m.)
Frank Ocean is the most mercurial performer in contemporary R&B. Odds are probably 50-50 that his FYF set will be a huge letdown, or possibly not even take place at all; he famously canceled his FYF appearance in 2015, when he was replaced last-minute by that relative paragon of stability, Kanye West. But he's also a genius, and a notorious perfectionist, so odds are probably also 50-50 that people will still be raving about this performance a decade from now. Ocean's music isn't exactly party-starting stuff, but it's incredibly powerful and emotive, and hearing tracks like “Nikes” and “Pink + White” live for the first time (not literally, but he's only performed them live a handful of times, and never in North America) on FYF's main stage should be riveting.
2. Iggy Pop (The Lawn, Sunday, 7:20 p.m.)
Our own Henry Rollins calls Iggy the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of Rock & Roll, and it's hard to argue. He's the last man standing from his generation of proto-punk rebels, has a deep catalog of indelible anthems (“Lust for Life,” “Sister Midnight,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog”) and can still belt out that distinctive baritone with the vigor of a man half his age. He's currently doing a victory lap for his most recent album, last year's excellent Post Pop Depression, which might be his last — at least that's certainly what its final track “Paraguay” implies. So catch him while you can. He's at least as important in the pantheon of rock as anyone who played Oldchella.
1. Missy Elliott (main stage, Friday, 11:15 p.m.)
I mean, c'mon, did you see Miss Supa Dupa Fly totally steal Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl halftime show? The world has been starved for more Missy ever since (and for a long time before that, actually) and this is her only scheduled performance of 2017. New single “I'm Better” is kinda whatevs, if we're being honest, but the video is pure fire, which bodes well for what should be a flashy, high-energy live show that will almost certainly feature every hit you could hope to get ur freak on to.
[Correction: An earlier version of this list omitted MGMT. We regret the error.]