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FYF Fest Day One, Part 1, Saturday August 23rd 2014

Albert Hammond Jr.


I continue to go to music festivals despite my hate and love relationship with them, it’s probably the worst place to see a band, as it’s gonna be hot and very crowded, and you are gonna be tired and thirsty… My first day at the FYF fest this year was a perfect example of all this, I struggled the whole day and it was (almost) no fun. Still, it had its good moments and I want very hard to remember those and forget about the chaos of the day.

After the long long wait to get in, Conan Mockasin was the first act I saw on the Trees stage…but I wanted to see Angel Olsen, I looked at my phone and realized she was probably already done… Anyway, I could not find the Arena where she was supposed to play, and I was already lost as the festival was bigger and much more confusing than last year. I discovered later than the arena in question was an indoor and sub-ground stage, inside the LA sports arena… Since I was upset and could not get really interested by Conan’s music — he is okay, I saw him at Amoeba before and his stuff is a bit Ariel Pink-soft jazz-light-R&B with mellow sax and blonde hair floating in the wind — I decided to seriously look for the arena where Slint was playing next.

After a long walk downstairs, the stage was set up underground into a large arena and the ambiance was dark, black and blue,…I was blind coming from the bright sun and Slint played their weird music in front of a starry background. It was like nothing I had heard before, it wasn’t rock or punk, it was heavy, dark and mysterious, dissonant and doomed but not metal with these repetitive and obsessive guitar lines accompanied by monochord spoken words, they were turning a bit industrial, getting some saw-like sound from their guitars and they could have been playing the soundtrack of some terrifying movie. But I didn’t stay for the whole set as I wanted to get the most of the FYF fest and get the chance to see Joyce Manor playing on the main stage.

The main stage? It was probably a big deal for them, the crowd was really big, all the kids knew the lyrics of course, and frontman Barry Johnson shouted ‘it’s fucking crazy’… they were the first band I saw which had unleashed some real wild energy with high-dynamic melodic short songs putting the crowd surfing in plain action. ‘Who are you excited to see? Are you excited to see Slowdive?’ asked Johnson, I didn’t get to see Slowdive, there was too much to see, too much walking and too little time but Joyce Manor had certainly filled the Fuck-Yeah-Fest contract.

I ran to another stage to get a bit of Real Estate, but they didn’t really captivate me after this wild punk episode. That’s one of the problems of festivals, your mood has to switch fast, and this time it didn’t really switch. It was very relaxing and nice music, which let me a bit blank despite having plenty of pretty guitars. The very large crowd was not moving at all and I thought I could listen to this while driving to the beach on a sunny day.

I wanted to catch Albert Hammond Jr. on the main stage, I still had a few minutes and I stopped by the Trees stage to see a bit of Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, but I couldn’t make sense of his music… should we make sense of all music? Avey Tare is a founding member of Animal Collective, so I was not surprised by the weirdness and randomness of the sound, people seemed to truly enjoy it though. Let’s just say I wasn’t into his under-water screamed vocals and sketchy synth… it made no sense, but what do I know?

All I do is walking, I said to myself while hurrying to the main stage, so I decided to stay for Albert Hammond Jr.’s entire set. Albert Hammond was the earliest act of the Strokes-related three acts and, at a time when a lot of people think the New York band is done, they had multiplied by three for the FYF fest: Julian Casablancas was playing a bit later and the Strokes the following day. Nevertheless, I was not sure how the three acts would be different. Hammond played a rocking set through a dense fog (the fog machines were in full action), he covered the Buzzcocks (‘Ever Fallen in Love’), carrying his guitar in the back like true rockers do, and all this was breathing muscular and dynamic rock with energetic vocals… I could recognize some of these Strokes’ fast-strummed guitars, one song had a more-punk energy and a tall fat guy, who had rudely pushed me to find his way through the crowd, started a mosh pit. This Albert Hammond thing was not bad at all, but I had heard all this before; still he was making a cool background to take selfies, as I realized a lot of people were doing.

There was no doubt in my mind, the FYF fest belonged to the Strokes this year, you could tell by the number of Strokes tee shirts that people were wearing… if only I had counted how many I saw!!

More pictures of the FYF fest 2014 here.

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