Howdy-ho, friends! KOXY, along with the fall and the new semester, is back! We all had pretty rad summer breaks, and we hope you did, too. Let me tell you a bit about what we’re going to be up to this year at KOXY. Generally speaking, we want to improve the station and your experience of it. We’re partnering with the Green Bean to bring our programming to the ears of more students. We’re bringing more bands, and specifically more local acts, to campus. We’re introducing podcasting and (cross your fingers) a web player to our site. We’re fixing the site up a bit, and posting to it much more regularly with news, reviews, and commentary. We’re getting more involved in general with campus happenings. Essentially, we’re going to be awesome, and you will not only notice, but benefit. We’re always happy to hear from our listeners and fans with suggestions, comments, questions, etc. So find us on Facebook, send us emails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you see us around, come chat! We’re looking to make KOXY your station more than it’s ever been before. For starters, I’m going to kick the semester off with a recap of my fantastic Labor Day weekend spent at FYF Fest. Read on!
To those of you unfamiliar with FYF, well, I’m sorry. This organization is behind many of the fantastic goings-on around LA, music-wise, sponsoring a bajillion awesome concerts every year, throwing a city-wide Scavenger Hunt in December, and, most awesomely, throwing their annual Labor Day weekend festival, the F**k Yeah Fest Fest.
Since my freshman year, I’ve attended the Fest, and I can say with absolutely no regrets that this year was the best ever. They’ve gone from a small, one-day festival with many, many problems (No water! Too hot! So much dust in my facial orifices! Three-hour lines!) to a streamlined, two-day event with amazing sound, accessible water, cooling stations, vendors galore (including the crazily hyped Brazilian sunglasses company Chili Beans, who floated a hot air balloon over the park), and generally killer ish. Most importantly, the lineup this year was better than ever. FYF is typically punk-oriented, but this year they definitely expanded more than ever into other genres. You can see the lineup on that there poster up there if you don’t believe me. Comedy, dance, and folk became serious elements of the Fest this year, for the first time that I can really remember. Anyway, here’s a general recap of the highlights of my weekend:
Arriving at the LA State Historic Park on Saturday to the sight of no significant line at all was the first indication that things would be great this year (FYF’s partnership with Goldenvoice, who put on Coachella, clearly made a positive impact, at the expense of a bit of corporatism). I managed to catch the last few songs of FIDLAR‘s set, which were a blast of punky fun about social awkwardness and cocaine. My friends and I then headed over to catch Moonface do his new epic thing: the new “solo” project of Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown (both now defunct). I put scarequotes around “solo”, because on his latest record, this year’s Heartbreaking Bravery, Krug is backed by Finnish band Siinai to fantastic effect. Masters of the slow-build, Siinai provided the perfect backdrop to Krug’s fantastical musings, which succumbed to a bit of pretentiousness when he read from a book for a bit during a song (A fan asked what it was and Krug responded, “It doesn’t matter, we can talk about it later.”) We stuck around at the same stage to catch Two Gallants, who I’d never heard before. I was thoroughly impressed by their angsty folk-rock, and by the quantity of noise two dudes could produce. I quickly shuffled off to Cloud Nothings, whose sophomore record Attack On Memory is one of my favorites of the year. They dragged out the jam on “Wasted Days” for a bit too long, but closed the set out with a fantastic rendition of “No Future/No Past,” still the best thing they’ve ever done. I then saw a bit of the insanity of F**ked Up in the distance as I waited for some food-truck Chinese. Warpaint (who KOXY brought to the Cooler my freshman year) did their interweaving guitar/voice jams with typical aplomb, Tanlines ran some nice groovy numbers in the dance/comedy tent, and then came James Blake. Already a huge fan, I have to say that live is really the way to experience Blake’s music. His unreal voice sounds better, if possible, and he and his band evidently have complete and utter control over everything at all times. Everything, even the vocal processing, is done live, rendering it all that much more impressive. But his spare cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You,” just piano and voice, may have been the highlight. I moved on to catch a tiny bit of Purity Ring‘s set, which was visually impressive, if not so thrilling musically: about twenty light-up cocoon-shaped things hung from the ceiling, and producer Corin Roddick had a few set up as triggers, which he’d hit with sticks for lights and sounds. Definitely worth a glimpse, but I had to run to catch M83 after not too long. The French ex-pats closed out the evening in expectedly epic fashion, playing all the hits from their recent Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. I would’ve liked “Kim & Jessie” and “Don’t Save Us From The Flames”, but the set was so overblown and awesome that it’s hard to complain.
Sunday began as easily as Saturday, though perhaps with a bit of residual soreness, as I got in to catch most of Joyce Manor‘s set. The young local punks have a huge cult high-school following, and played a rousing set geared towards that fanbase. I was going to catch NorCal punks Ceremony, but got distracted by the comedy tent, where I saw the hilarious Brendon Walsh, the awkward Brent Weinbach, and the legendary David Cross, of Tobias Fünke fame. King Khan & The Shrines put on a rousing, brass-filled show, complete with male nudity! Then I moved on to catch a bit of noisemongers Lightning Bolt, but had trouble sticking around for long. Plus, the legendary Dinosaur Jr. were getting started! This was the first super-exciting show of the day, for me, and they did not disappoint. Bassist Lou Barlow brought his adorable kids out on stage at the beginning of the set, and then the band ran through a brutally loud (and dust-filled) string of hits: “Feel The Pain,” “Little Fury Things,” “Sludgefest,” “Freak Scene,” and their awesome cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” were all rocked brilliantly. I managed to catch Liars for a few songs, but tragically missed the amazing title track from their awesome new album WIXIW while going to the bathroom. I then saw a few minutes of Conor Oberst’s recently revived punk act Desaparecidos, who were nothing if not energetic. My next move was to catch HEALTH‘s thrilling set, where I lost an earplug in the midst of the pit. I saw the noise-rock act several years ago opening for of Montreal, long before I liked them at all, and hated every minute. This show was the exact opposite, with “Die Slow” and “We Are Water” as obvious highlights. After all the excitement, I went and sat on the hillside for the very pleasant second half of Yeasayer‘s set, and then moved closer for the Beirut‘s first few songs, which happened to include classics “Elephant Gun” and “Postcards From Italy.” To close out the weekend, I headed over to one of my perennial favorite acts, The Faint, who are interesting for being pretty much the only electroclash band to survive into the new decade. The reasons are obvious: even with their frequently stupid lyrics, The Faint know how to craft a mean bassline, and maintain an amazing stage presence. I hopped aboard the Gold Line with worse hearing, more dust in my lungs, and a hoarser voice than I’ve had in a dog’s age. But it was all worth it.
If you’re interested in FYF, check them out over at www.fyffest.com, where they keep updates on all their many shows, events, giveaways, and contests.