‘When I was a kid I saw a light/Floating high above the trees one night’, and yeah, it was Built to Spill opening their set on the Lawn stage with their song ‘Goin’ Against you Mind’… and every time I see Built to Spill, I see the light, I love their layers and layers of all-mighty guitars and Doug Martsch’s fragile voice spitting his poetic lyrics, moving his leg with this exact same nervousness. I like them because they don’t give a shit about anything, about trends and festivals, not even about people slowly crowd surfing, they look like regular quiet low-key guys with a perspective on great outdoors (they are from Boise ID) and they play like total rock gods. After all these years, they are still the same, playing dramatic long jams soon transforming themselves into empowering and earthshaking rock tempests… they played a bit ahead of the schedule and had time for all my favorites, ‘Trimed and Burning’, ‘Big Dipper’, ‘Carry the Zero’, and ‘Cars’…
As a tsunami of people were pushing like crazy to get close for Earl Sweatshirt’s set, I thought it would be hot and violent, so I better go see Seattle’s Murder City Devils at the Trees stage… but talking about hot and violent!! These guys wanted sure to eat us alive, open everyone’s throat and destroy the entire human population. I have seen some ferocious mosh pit, but this one (and the music was not even hardcore, rather some extreme supra-loud rock) was ultraviolence, Lana del Rey really doesn’t know what she is taking about! With his Woody Allen glasses, singer Spencer Moody revealed himself to be the most aggressive frontman I have seen for a long time, as he and his band installed pure chaos in a few songs, screaming during the whole set, swallowing the entire mic a few times,… some bloody annihilators, some enraged and vicious motherfuckers if I have seen some! Then, in the middle of the set, it was a bit slower, but still raw and visceral, and I could actually hear the lyrics,… I think he said at one point ‘I don’t care about freedom if I can’t have you’, and I liked that! Danger? Raw power? Darkness? All of the above.
Blood Brothers were another form of aggression, but I got kicked off my spot as more and more people were arriving to see the reunited punk band… I got to see them from a safe distance, but even there, a stupid fat guy almost made me fall down. Jeez, where does all this rage comes from? Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie did scream during the entire set, although I left a bit before the end of it to go see the Strokes at the main stage, but the screaming was different, with some anger embodied into a super high-pitched rage, and from the back of the crowd they sounded like two magpies fighting to death.
I had neglected the main stage since Mac Demarco, I had passed on Blood Orange and Haim, but I finished with The Strokes there. How couldn’t I? They were the reason why 90% of the people were at the FYF fest judging by all these Strokes shirts. They were late, they could afford to be as they were headlining and closing the night, but a huge sea of people had piled up around the stage. Like the day before, I watched the show from afar, and watched the large screens (they were broadcasting in artsy black & white, really?) although I can’t stand watching screens at concerts, they look too much like my TV. Their set started on the mellow side, very mellow compared to what I have just seen, and I didn’t know any of these songs, they were a bit dance-y with Julian Casablancas’ monotonous vocals, then the next one was even a bit exotic, funky, and I must admit it, I was a bit bored and tired… This other one sounded like an adventure movie, but I am sorry, if you don’t play the hits, I will yawn again,.. then they played one I knew, ‘Reptilia’, with this very recognizable guitar line, I am not a Strokes’ fan but I get some of their songs. ‘It’s chaos out there’ said birthday boy Julian Casablancas , referring to the heavy crowd surfing happening at the front. Their songs could stop abruptly and people were having a good time, even where I was, far in the back, clapping, singing along… these Strokes concert was not going to change my life or my opinion about them, I was not even going to buy a shirt, but it was good! Then ‘Someday’, and of course ‘Last Night’ which triggered a lot of clapping. Ha! They haven’t made a catchy song like this one recently,… then it was over? They came back for just one song, ‘New York City Cops’, making people very happy, whereas other had already left, eager to beat the massive crowd migrating toward the exit.
Sunday was less exhausting than Saturday because they had fixed a few things, but still, the FYF fest has turned into a mini Coachella in the heart of Los Angeles. It was difficult to find my way around at first, and still difficult to go from one stage to another once familiar with the site. I totally avoided the Arena on Sunday, first because I didn’t know any of the acts (I suspect a lot were the EDM type and I pass on those), then because it was so hard to get there on Saturday…There were many selfie stations (a sign of the time), many many food trucks and booths and free water stations, an excellent and smart thing to do. I saw many acts, went with the classics (Interpol and the Strokes) missed a lot of other acts (Flying Lotus, Grimes), but choices are difficult as it is a huge music fest, which is here to stay despite Saturday’s misadventures.
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