How FYF Fest Is the Ultimate Music Lover’s Festival
- FYF Fest has one of the best curated lineups, year in and year out. What’s especially awesome is that in addition to booking big-name touring bands, FYF also consistently books bands that aren’t on the touring cycle. These typically include indie bands with dedicated fans, leading to some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime sets.
- The number of band shirts vastly outnumber tanks, faux-bohemian wear, and other common festival fashion. Over the entire weekend I was constantly appreciating the sheer number and variety of great bands repped by music fans.
- Every year I’ve gone I’ve encountered moments where people will randomly strike up conversation about music, whether it’s because of a band shirt or because they’re curious who you’re looking forward to see. This year was no different – while waiting to get into the festival Chris and I chatted with another guy in line about bands we were planning to see, which inevitably led to music recs, mentions of other upcoming festivals, and another group of people chiming in with more music recs.
- The crowds are some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s clear that people are there for the music, and they’re not too cool to show it – there’s constant cheering, clapping, dancing, singing along, and crowd surfing. I’ve learned that the people really make the festival, and nowhere is this more apparent than at FYF.
Grimes took the stage Saturday afternoon and proceeded to give an electrifying performance. I caught her set at FYF a couple years back, and even though she was great then, she’s improved by leaps and bounds this time around. The crowd went crazy to a mix of her newest songs from Art Angels as well as old favorites from previous albums. She had dancers and musicians on stage, and the whole performance was an artsy dance party. Near the end of the set there were some technical difficulties with her sampler, but she breezed through that with class and skill, playing parts from memory and still having a good time.
The anticipation was high for Kendrick Lamar‘s headlining set on Saturday. In the past I thought he played it safe by sticking to festival bangers from Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, but this time around I was absolutely blown away by the song selection, stage setup, and artistic vision he brought to the performance. With a live band playing the jazz parts from his latest album To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick was completely at ease, flowing through his lyrics and getting the crowd to party. The multimedia and stage setup were incredible, with a black-and-white color scheme and giant screen behind him playing clips from old movies and pop culture events. Kendrick is one of the rare artists that gets better each passing year.
My favorite set of the festival was Blood Orange‘s Sunday afternoon performance. Besides a huge assortment of talented guest singers, including Carly Rae Jepson, Sky Ferreira, and Nelly Furtado, and a solid backing band, the man himself absolutely killed it. He practically played every instrument imaginable, danced with the guest stars, and looked like he was having the time of his life. The crowd was amazing. Everyone was dancing, singing, and clapping to the music – it was really one of those sets where I had to mentally take a step back and tell myself, “Wow, this is an incredible show!”
The selection of food and drinks keeps getting better each year. This year I was blown away by the sheer number of food booths at the festival, with a nice selection of local eateries setting up shop to feed hungry festival goers. Yeastie Boys was my favorite, and possibly the best festival food I’ve ever had. This Melrose food spot makes 100% hand-rolled bagels and serves up delicious bagel sandwiches with rap reference names. I ordered the King Kunta (soft scrambled egg, peppered bacon, cheddar, jalapeno smear, and tomatoes, add avocado) and was in food heaven.
In the past, the activity booths at FYF weren’t anything to write home about. This year, we encountered a fun one – the Angry Orchard arcade booth. With free tokens and a nice assortment of games such as skee ball, whack-a-mole, and the crane machine, we had a blast re-living our childhood, with tickets to boot. At the end of our session we traded in all our tickets for some sweet prizes. Angry Orchard trucker hats and festival bandanas, for the win!
Right before ANOHNI’s set at dusk on Sunday, Chris swore he spotted the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Deafheaven, in the crowd. I didn’t believe him at first, but he insisted so we re-traced our steps and sure enough, George Clarke was standing in the crowd, chatting with another festival goer. I was starstruck until Michelle suggested getting a picture with him. I’m glad we did eventually strike up a conversation with him – he was totally down-to-earth and cool with getting a quick picture. How awesome is it that even people in bands not performing at the festival were there, in the general crowd with the other fans? Since we were at FYF, this wasn’t surprising in the least!
This year, the festival grounds changed its layout, mainly because the Memorial Sports Arena closed and is in the process of getting demolished. FYF lost a wonderful indoor venue that hosted some of the most memorable sets over the past few festivals (Slint, Darkside, Nicolas Jaar, Jon Hopkins, to name a few). This year’s replacement stage was called The Club, which was a nice spot but didn’t have the same feel, sadly. However, that all changed Sunday night when we saw Gold Panda perform there. With some beautiful electronic tracks and an amazing crowd dancing and cheering throughout, Gold Panda’s set brought the Sports Arena dance vibe back. The music was so pretty that at one point I was almost in tears.
What better way to cap off FYF Fest 2016 than with a stellar performance by LCD Soundsystem? The band has always been on point, but the crowd there made the experience ten times better. I swear, during the first few songs there were people around me singing every single word. As James Murphy and crew played through their hits, the crowd danced, clapped, and cheered. It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable festival.
But wait, there’s more! Last year Michelle and I tried to get Koreatown KBBQ at the world-famous Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong after the festival, only to arrive just as it was closing up. This year we made it our goal to make it before closing time, and we did! Michelle, Chris, and I had some of the most delicious and mouth-watering meats – beef brisket, short rib, pork shoulder, and more! It was past 2am by the time we finished our late-night meal, but we were stuffed and so glad to have attended another amazing year at FYF!