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FYF Fest Day One, Part 2, Saturday August 23rd 2014

Phoenix

 

I stayed at the main stage to see Future Islands, with its very theatrical frontman Samuel T. Herring doing grand gestures and definitively using his deep cavernous voice, going into some Yeti monster mode, as his main asset. He had tons of presence, he was jumping a lot on electronic music, tapping his chest with his fist, and dancing as if he was auditioning for some tough modern ballet,… for some reason he made me think of a more male version of Morrissey if this makes any sense. The place was super crowded and security guards were evacuating quite rudely crowd surfers from the pit, the girls loved Herring’s sexy hip moves and I concluded he was a great performer.

Run the Jewels was a high energy rap band, with a DJ and two front guys, one black one white, who were exulting strength and humor while abundantly using everyone’s favorite word, motherfucker. They had a great energy and were haranguing the crowd the right way, but I had to run again (this FYF fest had to be nicknamed ‘on the run’) to see Julian Casablancas’ pretty face.

It was actually Julian Casablancas and the Voidz, a side project of the Strokes’ frontman, but I didn’t see much of Julian’s face. I could not even get close to the stage, as the crowd had transformed into a huge sea of people. Plus, the large screens on the side were used to project black and white old movies, Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, and the stage was pitch-dark with a luminous checkered background… okay they were playing mysterious and the music was actually very dark, much darker than I thought it would be, would the Voidz be a bit punk nihilist? I heard Casablancas’ signature voice screaming with interesting dissonances, a bit Cure-like,… then Julian said they were not allowed to play more because the record (‘Tyranny’) only goes out in September,… so they would ‘play other shit’. And it was a complete U-turn, he was crooning over a soft piano ballad, then it was his birthday, and the rest of the set was more Strokes-like (with ‘I’ll try anything Once’) and even disco (a Daft Punk cover?) with his voice all transformed. The crowd was immense, and I guess nobody did care that this set was not making sense (to me), they wanted to see Julian, even in the dark.

As people were pushing to get to see Interpol, the next act, the Casablancas crowd could not leave, and a lot of girls were evacuated through the pit,… they looked scared and exhausted! Yeah, it was getting a bit out of control and I decided to back up a little bit, as I can’t stand to be crushed by a crazy crowd anymore, even for Interpol. The New York band played many of their hits (‘Evil’, ‘Not Even Jail’, ‘Length of Love’, ‘Slow Hands’…) and new ones like ‘All the Rage Back Home’ that I hear all the time on the airwaves, in front of a giant reproduction of the cover of their next album, ‘El Pintor’…. It was just difficult to concentrate on Interpol’s dark beauty when people were constantly moving around me, a man was trying to push a large trash bin through the crowd, and a security guard was evacuating a fainting girl on a bike… I thought I had to see Interpol in better conditions in the future, I like their sound, they were one of my favorite bands playing at the FYF fest this year, and they were this tiny red spot in the distance with Paul Banks’ nasal and cold vocals, as incisive and sharp as a blade shining in the dark. I was almost sad I could not get closer, and even though they were not the headliners, the crowd was bigger than for the closing act, Phoenix.

Phoenix announced the color right away (a rainbow color by the way), saying ‘This is the end of the tour for us. We are going home and going to make a new album. This is our last show for a while, so we expect a lot from you’… Actually, I was expecting a lot from them to be honest, since I am not a huge fan of their music… The girl next to me blinked at me when Thomas Mars announced ‘We are Phoenix we come from Paris’, as we had chatted while waiting and she had told me she loved France. I couldn’t believe a French band had become so big in the US, is it a first? They opened their set with the Chinese-music-inspired ‘Entertainment’, then ‘Lisztomania’, ‘Fences’, ‘Lasso’, I knew a few of the songs, but there were a lot I didn’t know. I can’t say this show has converted me into Phoenix’s music, however, that said, they are a great live band, with a big energy, as they are a bit the opposite of Interpol who doesn’t do much on stage. The visuals in the background were changing with sharp images of Versailles, a huge colorful mountain, a video running through the streets of Paris…. Yeah they wanted this French note to be more than a small note! They had a funky square dance in the middle of the set and a confetti machine blasted tons of fake hundred dollar bills over our heads during a song. I picked two on the floor, which had become a dance floor. They ended their set with Mars doing a giant crowd surfing while singing… that didn’t really impress me, I have seen concert videos and doesn’t he do that every time?

When it was over, I was exhausted and it took me an hour to exit the festival! I wanted to see young prodigy Ty Segall or Grimes who were playing at the same time than Phoenix, and may be I should have… if only the stages had not been a mile apart from each other!

More pictures of the FYF fest 2014 here.




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