Thursday, September 9, 2010

FYF Fest Recap

I have to admit, I hesitated posting my reactions to FYF Fest for a few days now, trying to find the best way to articulate my analysis of the overall event.

After reading Consequence of Sound's thorough, and I'd say pretty honest (while maintaining a sense of "benefit of the doubt") coverage, I finally felt inclined to give my take.

THE TUNES First off, let's start with the positive: the line up. Could it have been any more amazing, genre-bending, exciting, or fresh? From the opening bands all the way up to the headliners, every hour of my Saturday was filled with music I HAD to hear live. 

Abe Vigoda = Michael Vidal (lead vox, guitar), Juan
Velazquez (keyboard, vox, guitar), David Reichardt
(bass), Dane Chadwick (drums)
I started the day off with Abe Vigoda on the Oak Stage [1 PM].

Nick from Off Air: Smart Rock Radio listened to their newest album Crush (out Sept. 28th on PPM Records) and said it was definitely more melodic and entertaining than some of their first records.

Honestly, I hadn't heard anything by this young band of Los Angeles misfits until they stepped onto the stage and said "Hi. We're Abe Vigoda, and we're from ... here."

Michael Vidal

Abe Vigoda ended up being my cup of tea.

From Vidal's Robert Smithian vocals, to the energy of their tunes, I became a fan standing in that crowd.

It was new wave and post punk: super fun. It makes sense that they share a label with some of my other favorites like Mika Miko, No Age, and Wavves.

And it was at this performance that I witnessed the first mosh pit of the day - a random explosion of tween hipsters bursting out of nowhere during a particularly mellow A.V. track that kicked up a lot of dirt, and raised a whole bunch of unnecessary ruckus.

You could say I'm anti-mosh pit, or that I'm getting older. Both statements are true.

Perhaps I'm not completely anti-mosh, but I certainly think that there are appropriate times to jump around and push complete strangers into the dirt: 1.) ska shows in the mid 1990s; 2.) your first Blink 182 concert; 3.) weddings.

Strangely enough the one band's performance that I figured would garner the most mosh-pittery in fact had the nicest, calmest crowd: Screaming Females.

Screaming Females = Marissa Paternoster (lead vocals, guitar),Jarrett Dougherty (drums), and King Mike (bass)

This three piece punk band all the way from New Jersey seriously knocked my socks off. In fact, the only way I can figure that no one started to mosh at this show is that the crowd was too blown away. No one could move. 

Sure, I had listened to their third album Power Move during my volunteer days at Off Air (and loved it), BUT I had never seen them live, AND I had no idea what to expect out of lead singer (and one killer guitar player) Marissa Paternoster. 

Screaming Females in only five years have released four albums (their latest Castle Talk out Sept. 14th on Don Giovanni Records), toured nationally with major acts like the Throwing Muses and as far as I'm concerned stole the entire FYF Fest for me. I would have rather paid $25 to watch them all day long. Actually I would have paid more.

COMEDY AND THE CAVEAT The other part of FYF Fest I was super excited about was their comedy tent. In the style of many major festivals these days, not only is there music but a line up of alt comics that resemble if not embody the spirit of the event. However, as much as I was looking forward to catching some shade and having a few laughs, this is regrettably the point when my patience disintegrated and where many of my issues with this festival reared their ugly heads.
Photo by Nick Brunner

Janeane Garofalo, Matt Besser, David Koechner (right), Jen Kirkman - the list of comics was solid. But, the placement of their performance tent was ridiculous if not completely insulting.

Positioned between two VERY loud stages, on top of a piece of dirt and rock covered patch, the comics could barely be heard and my hope for a nice sit was crushed. Not to mention that none of the comics seemed to want to be there. One of the earlier stand-ups, revealed that comics didn't even get artist passes to the event - just all access passes.

Everyone, including the comics were hot and uncomfortable. And frankly it affected their performances. Koechner, known for his roles on Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy and the Office brought a bag full of schtick - a costume belonging to one of his characters: a 300 lb gay man who is "just the worst" and I happen to agree.
Photo by Nick Brunner

But there were of course some nice moments. I thought Brent Weinbach did a great job. He went up there did his thing, didn't complain and made a lot of us laugh.

And then there was Jen Kirkman [known for lending her voice to the popular Adult Swim cartoon  Home Movies, and recently her involvement with "Drunk History"] - a breath of fresh air to me. She was completely honest about her struggle to arrive at the festival, the rudeness she received from the FYF staff just trying to get onto the grounds to perform. "I don't want to be funny," Kirkman exclaimed toward the beginning of her act. "I'm sorry, but I don't."

Kirkman's honesty about not wanting to be funny actually made her funnier. She was real and fallible and it made me appreciate her as a stand up even more. I'd see her again for sure, but someplace air conditioned and easier to get to off the freeway.

After Kirkman and Koechner I was over it - not just the comedy tent but the entire festival. I was so dirty and tired and frustrated that I had no desire to stick around for the comedians and musical performances I had been looking forward to for weeks. 

Last picture taken before getting the heck
outta there = Titus Andronicus
Many noteworthy blogs, like Consequence of Sound, have already discussed and noted the obvious issues with this year's FYF Fest.

I think that the organizer's real fatal flaw here was that everything was too big for the space. There were too many people and not enough food vendors, security officers, volunteers directing people etc. They had three music stages (with lots of great acts performing on them) but not enough space in that "park" to give them enough room to play loud without sound bleeding over to other areas.

It seems that in the future, either FYF Fest needs to be scaled down a touch, or they need to find a bigger space to hold the event. For $25, it was a great deal and I'm completely impressed by the work these guys and gals put into this year's festival to make it even better.

Unfortunately, once I had my ticket's worth of entertainment, I had to leave.

Next year I will be more prepared.

Check out more photos from FYF Fest 2010 at Paduta's Facebook.

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