FYF has been my favorite festival since its early years, born in the underground scenes of Los Angeles as a place for the weirdos, punks, indie kids, and occasional obscure hip hop act. As its grown over the years, its become a renowned festival capable of pulling both obscure acts and legends, as told by the fact that this year Missy Elliott, Frank Ocean, Iggy Pop, Nicolas Jaar, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and NIN were able to be seen in one location. A lineup like this doesn't happen everyday, even when we live in a festival-infested world like ours, and thus the capacity of the event seemed to be booming. While FYF as a festival has lost its indie feel over the years as its become a part of the Goldenvoice franchise, it's still managed to bring out all of LA's coolest kids and brought them to Expo Park to see these incredible artists be a voice of a generation through their magnetic performances.
Admittedly the festival has turned into a much more hip-hop intensive festival than in years past. Princess Nokia, Nadia Rose, Noname, Missy Elliot, Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest and more were seen as the major public draws, although it's not fair to call it a hip hop festival quite yet when it's got a diversity hard to find in other festivals of its size. I'm not sure exactly how to feel about the shift and obvious mainstream conversion FYF has faced over the last 5 years, but for the sacrifices it takes to make anything popular on a major scale in the music world, FYF's team has done it's best to walk a fine line in crafting a carefully fine-tuned roster of artists, even though it has meant abandoning the indie punk feel they used to have in the past.
Artists like Mitski, Homeshake, Mac Demarco, and the Drums brought forth the old feel, with Iggy Pop dominating as a much-talked about performance. Erykah Badu and A Tribe Called Quest brought old-school hip hop to the stage, and while sound quality seemed to be far from perfect for Missy Elliot, she still managed to get the entire crowd pumped for the rest of the night. Frank Ocean's beautiful voice brought forth serenity to the festival, and while I personally would have loved to see him in an earlier time slot to coincide with the peaceful, emotional attitude (am I the only one who thinks he would be beautiful during sunset?) I understand the complexity of contracts makes putting headliners in earlier spots near impossible. Nicolas Jaar had a stunning stage setup that combined smoke with a burst of pastel-like colors and while I preferred some of his earlier works and Dark Side collaboration a lot more musically, Jaar's ability to truly make music into a piece of art is worth massive nods. My two personal favorites of the day went to Motor City Drum Ensemble and Princess Nokia, both of whom I went into as an open book and came out being wowed. Princess Nokia balances grace with incredible energy, swaying the crowd and getting them pumped up for the rest of the day, while MCDE brought a little slice of dance music heaven and helped us remember why he's such a rare but coveted act in the US.
The main major issue I found in the festival was with its layout. I've had problems with FYF basically every year and this year was just the same. The festival layout made it difficult to find one another when I lost friends and distance dissuaded us from leaving one stage to see another at certain points of the day (usually when the sun was at its hottest point.) Cell phone reception seemed to work better than other festivals (I have AT&T so I can only speak for myself here), which was helpful though. The other incredibly helpful part was that FYF seemed to start the Friday festivities late, perfect for those of us that were doing our best to avoid taking time off to attend. Water was at a polite 2 dollars, not price gouged at the behest of young fans and parched wallets and the fact that built in bathrooms were so readily available ensured that we never had to wait in line (at least not very long) nor did we have to face the putrid portable bathrooms we often have to deal with at other music events. The lineup also did it's best to stagger artists as much as possible- which definitely made it an easier process for checking out every artist/band as easily as possible.