FYF: L.A. contribution to music festivals

Colorful jean shorts? Check. Posse full of “woo” girls? Check. Bra-filled stash of drugs? Check. Skip the flower headdresses, ladies, this isn’t Coachella. As for the fellas, as long as your girlfriend doesn’t drunkenly wander off or pass out in the porta-potties, getting through this two day music festival should be a piece of cake. The F*ck Yeah Festival, best known as FYF, decided to change its location this year to the L.A. Sports Arena (possibly the vaguest venue name in history) next to Exposition Park and the Natural History Museum.

While a new location sparks some excitement, it also allows room for ruthless ridicule. What’s the overall consensus? Let’s move it back to its original location at the L.A Historic Park, shall we? Despite the fact that I left last year’s FYF with an ass rash thanks to sitting on ant-infested bark chips in shorts, it was a still a rocking good time. No ass rash this year, thanks for asking, but there were other bigger problems, if you can imagine.

For starters, they sold more tickets than the venue could hold. This became evident when electronica music fans waited in line outside The Arena stage for two hours. Now, let me confess that FYF goers have nicknamed The Arena, “The Belly of the Beast,” and “The Drug Den.” Anyone who dares enter The Arena has already swallowed at least one pill of molly and never intends to leave — screw the main stage’s headliner, even if it is The Strokes.

Darkside (Sophie Radvan)
(Sophie Radvan)

While a two hour wait may seem manageable to some, imagine how long that feels to people who “just wanna dance” for thirteen hours straight in a dark, underground space filled with disco balls and strobe lights.

The second problem was the overall design and layout. I realize FYF’s organizers may not be solar astronomers or study heliophysics, but someone should have noted that placing the Main Stage in front of the unforgiving L.A sun was an immense mistake. I’d love to say that watching Future Islands perform around the golden hour of six o’clock was enjoyable, but instead, most fans found themselves with their backs to the stage to avoid squinting, with a cold Straw-ber-rita in hand. Really, music festivals shouldn’t start until the sun goes down. I can’t imagine people genuinely enjoy seeing thousands of strangers’ faces in broad daylight. Let’s just fade into the background and get through this night together.

By day two, FYF’s attendee’s feedback reached the masses and positive adjustments had been made. The staff added more festival entry checkpoints, they opened up the seating area of The Arena for those unwilling to dance themselves clean, and everyone loves complimentary water in 90-degree weather.

Choosing which stage to stand by at a music festival can often times feel like choosing a lunch table to sit at in high school, whether it’s The Arena, the Main Stage, The Lawn or The Trees. Where do you fit in most? What clique do you belong to? These are trick questions because the paramount answer is to jump around from stage to stage, clique to clique, and explore as much music as possible.

On the Main Stage play the coolest, most popular kids: Interpol, Phoenix and The Strokes – the Regina George of music; everyone knows who they are (unless you haven’t seen Mean Girls in which case these next few name-dropping allusions make no sense).

On The Trees stage you’ll find Janis Ian, the misfit, the one who doesn’t really fit in, and makes everyone around them feel unsure and uneasy. “Do I dance to this? Maybe I’ll join the mosh-pit. I immediately regret this decision; I lost a tooth.”

Last year’s FYF misfit group was Death Grips, who were supposed to perform again this year but sadly broke up. This year’s nonconformists were Blood Brothers and La Dispute.

Moving onto The Lawn stage, you’ll meet Damien. Who needs a last name when you’re the grooviest self-proclaimed Belle of the Disco Ball? Not to be confused with a raver kid. Artists who fall under the “Damien” category are simply “too gay to function,” and I don’t mean that in a homosexual sense, I mean it in the Shakespearean sense. Bands such as Grimes, Tycho and Little Dragon all have that pop-synthesizer disco vibe.

Paul Banks of Interpol (Sophie Radvan)
Paul Banks of Interpol
(Sophie Radvan)

Lastly, in The Arena, performed the “under the radar” bands that take more ridicule for their musical DJ genre than most, and who’s talent can go unseen by certain audiences. Think of Kevin Gnapoor’s performance at the Christmas talent show; did Principle Duvall really have to pull the plug? DJ’s face the critique that their music is just noise and that “anyone can do it.” Wrong. The evidence lies in the hands (literally) of DJ Harvey, Darkside, Jaime XX, and John Talabot, who all possess the power to make a packed stadium dance with the touch of, well, a hundred different buttons. After all, who stands in line for two hours to listen to just noise?

Only FYF-ers? Perhaps that’s the point of a music festival. Not to sound like a One Love afterschool special, but regardless of whether you’re a Damien, Kevin, Regina or Janice, we’re still a part of the same high school; the same festival. Sure, it’s more likely to make friends in the line of the bathroom with a belly full of “mood enhancers,” but it doesn’t mean that it’s not sincere. We’ve all gathered at the F*ck Yeah Festival for one reason, and it’s a fairly obvious one, to listen to music.

FYF is a particularly special festival because it has not reached the masses the same way Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival have, and it should stay that way, although I fear it won’t. It’s a psychological response that we have the desire to be a part of something special and exclusive, and once something becomes too well known, it loses its magic. Maybe that’s why I lived in Phoenix for three years and never visited the Grand Canyon.

The only solution to keep music festival’s mystery alive is to create new ones, in different cities with new venues and artists. There’s no doubt that Los Angeles will do its part to contribute, just look at the lineup for Budweiser’s Made in America festival, which is only a few days away. The future of music festivals looks bright — but slightly blurry. We’re all drunk or on drugs the whole time anyway.