This year marked the first year that FYF spanned three days. Taking over University of Southern California’s Exposition Park, concert-goers packed the grounds chugging complimentary bottles of Vitamin Water and buying $13 nachos. About 75 artists performed across six stages at the Los Angeles festival, and while there were loads of fantastic performances, we pulled out 10 that stole the show.
The Ones You Definitely Saw
There was a full crowd ready to see Icelandic phenom Björk at 9pm on Friday. String sections flanked each side of the stage, with a DJ/electronic mastermind standing dead center. Whining violins keyed up the crowd before Björk took the stage, officially kicking off the set with ‘Stonemilker.’ Fans were hushed as they tried to get a peek at the enigmatic singer. Björk wore a frilly, multi-colored outfit and a green, plastic-looking headpiece that appeared to be quite uncomfortable. But, of course, she owned it, tossing the ruffles around as she teetered across the stage in gigantic high-heeled boots. Famous for incorporating unique visuals into her performances, the double screens pieced together something of a short film to accompany tunes from Björk’s latest album, 2015’s Vulnicura. Björk threw in a few of her hits like ‘Jóga’ and ‘Bachelorette’ and close out the night ‘Hyperballad’ as spray of fireworks took off beside her.
It’s pretty much impossible not to dance like a fool while watching Missy Elliot. The rap pioneer headlined FYF’s main stage at 11pm on Friday—her first show stateside in a decade. Missy was brought to the stage in a neon coffin-like box, from which she emerged to perform ‘She’s a Bitch.’ From there, Missy delivered a slew of her hits including ‘Gossip Folks,’ ‘Work It,’ and ‘Pass That Dutch’ all of which kept the crowd moving. ‘Get Ur Freak On’ definitely got the largest reaction from the crowd, although it was a little forced. Missy and her two hype men stopped and started the song three times until they were satisfied with the amount of jumping from the crowd. When the song ended, even Missy was out of breath. While dancers joined Missy on the stage, the screens mostly showed clips from old music videos. Don’t get me wrong, Missy has made some of my favorite music videos of all time, but I was bummed that I couldn’t really see what was happening on the stage. Due to some technical difficulties (in-ear monitor malfunction), Missy left the stage while her hype men rolled through a medley of songs. The rapper returned to the stage for favorites ‘I’m Better’ and ‘WTF.’ She closed with ‘Lose Control’—and the crowd did just that, devolving into a giant rapping, dancing party.
Fans were eager to see Frank Ocean on Saturday night. The elusive R&B artist cancelled his FYF performance two years ago and backed out of several other festival as of late—leaving FYF goers to wonder if he’d actually show. Lucky for us, he was ready to go, delighting the audience with beautiful renditions of songs like ‘Chanel’ and ‘Lens.’ Throughout the whole set, Ocean wore studio style headphones, making him appear a bit detached, and as if the performance was for himself rather than the audience. He played through ‘Good Guy’ twice, while kneeling at the piano, because he wasn’t satisfied with his first go-round. About 30 minutes into Ocean’s set, Brad Pitt made an appearance. While Ocean sang ‘Close to You,’ cameras zeroed in on Pitt, holding a cellphone to his ear, and looking off into the distance. It was an exciting, yet odd, moment, as it took a while for the crowd to realize that Pitt was indeed at the festival, and that it wasn’t just a taped performance. Pitt left the stage when the song was over with nary a word from Ocean on his appearance.
While I was expecting to enjoy Solange’s set, I wasn’t expecting it to be my favorite of the whole weekend. The R&B singer opened her set with ‘Rise,’ the first track from her latest album A Seat at the Table. While she stuck mostly to songs from her latest release, she played old favorites like ‘Some Thing Never Seem to Fucking Work’ and ‘Losing Me.’ Not only did Solange’s voice sound glorious on songs like ‘Weary’ and ‘Don’t Touch My Hair,’ but the performance itself—from the giant brass section to the deep red lights to Solange’s own dance moves—the set was a joy to listen to and to watch.
Nine Inch Nails
I managed to find my way up to the front of the stage to see Nine Inch Nails, but I only last about two songs. Once Trent Reznor started 1992 hit ‘Wish,’ I became shoved into the mosh pit, slammed forward by giant dudes and stabbed in the back by tiny, rock-hard fists. NIN’s fans were out in droves and they were ready to rock. The heavy smoke and frantic bursting lights only egged on the excited crowd. Even his new stuff got a steady reaction, like ‘Less Than’ and ‘The Lovers’—both off his new EP Added Violence. Of course, old hits like ‘Closer,’ ‘Head Like a Hole’ and ‘Hand that Feeds’ were the obvious favorites, as the whole crowd head banged and screamed along.
The Ones You Might Have Missed
Singer Mitski attracted a modest crowd for her 5pm set on Saturday. But those that made their way to the Trees stage (a bit of a hike) were committed fans, which listened to the 26-year-old in rapt silence. Armed with a bass guitar, Mitski and her two bandmates created a rockin’ set, sticking mainly to tunes from last year’s critically acclaimed LP Puberty 2. The crowd sang along to favorite, “Your Best American Girl,” as Mitski’s voice crescendoed into the sweeping chorus. “First Love/Late Spring” (from 2014’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek) was a pretty, more melodic change of pace. Part of what makes Mitski so fun to watch is her versatility—her voice drifts into high sweeping sighs, drop to gritty, husky lows, and then builds to menacing screams.
You might recognize Noname from her collaborations with Chance the Rapper. But her Saturday evening set at FYF proved she’s a star all on her own. The 25-year-old rapper performed tracks from her 2016 LP Telefone. The crowd loved her old school hits that harken back to the 1990s but remain contemporary by touching on current events.
Motor City Drum Ensemble
Motor City Drum Ensemble wasn’t on my list of acts to see, but when I was walking over to the main stage for A Tribe Called Quest, I walked past the Woods stage and was drawn in to the dance-able beats—not to mention the shaded area. Motor City Drum Ensemble is actually just one man, German house music master Danilo Plessow. His music provided an upbeat reprieve from the relentless sun and heavy crowds.
The LA band attracted an impressive crowd, given that they played just an hour or two after the gates opened on Sunday. They started the final day of the festival off with bang, getting the crowd ready for a rockin’ day. Singer Clementine Creevey stalked around the stage, throwing her hair around and making wild faces. ‘Told You I’d Be With the Guys’ was my favorite tune of the set. The song is anchored by a solid bass line and complimented with Creevey and bandmate Sasami Ashworth’s harmonies, which start out light and pretty before they accelerated into all out screams.
British quartet Temples creates catchy psychedelic rock that will keep you moving to the music. Visually, the band looks like a cross between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but are more likely to get sonic comparisons to bands like Tame Impala. Temples set was solid from start to finish, with highlights being 2014 song ‘Keep in the Dark’ with its deep pulsing drumbeat, and ‘Certainty,’ the energetic first track from their latest LP Volcano.
Review by: Shosh | Photos: Rhivanz