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L.A.'s very first F--- Yeah Festival took place as a free underground event way back in 2004, founded by a then-18-year-old indie fan with a dream named Sean Carlson. Now in its 10th year, the festival is a legit, Goldenvoice-promoted, two-day music marathon at Downtown Los Angeles's 20,000-capacity Historic State Park. The fest also now goes by the more family-friendly acronym "FYF Festival," but don't ask what the extra "F" stands for. (Seriously, wouldn't "FYF Festival" literally mean "F--- Yeah Festival Festival"?)
All that's certain is the "F" doesn't stand for "Fail," because 2013's FYF, which took place August 24-25, was the best yet, featuring a lineup of big indie-rock names (TV on the Radio, Beach House, Yo La Tengo, Devendra Banhart, Delorean, the Melvins, Toro y Moi, Simian Mobile Disco, Washed Out, !!!) while still remaining true to Carlson's original vision.
And also, Fonzie was there.
Here are eight awesome highlights of FYF 2013...
Henry Winkler brought more cowbell to MGMT's set.
Ever since MGMT turned their backs on the early success of Oracular Spectacular and released the contrarian and totally incorrectly titled sophomore album Congratulations, they've been a polarizing band. But if there's one person who can bring the people together, it's the Fonz. And that is exactly what happened when MGMT played the main stage on FYF day two: Henry Winkler, aka Arthur Fonzarelli himself, showed up to bang a giant cowbell on the new song "Your Life is a Lie." It's unclear exactly (or exactamundo) why this happened, but when Henry appeared, it was happy days again for MGMT and their audience.
All of the stages were named after "Sex and the City" characters.
While there was no real rhyme or reason to this — it wasn't like the Samantha Tent featured only promiscuous party music, or like the Charlotte Stage hosted only classy girly fare, or like everything on the Miranda Stage was sarcastic and abrasive — the "SATC" references certainly brought smiles to female festivalgoers' faces. If only the park grounds hadn't been so gravel-strewn and rough-hewn, I might've even worn some Manolos. (And yes, the main stage was called the Carrie Stage, of course.)
Death Grips actually showed up.
The last time that this troublemaking industrial/punk/hip-hop trio was slated to play a festival, at an official Lollapalooza aftershow, they flaked. They later pulled a Pee Wee Herman and claimed they meant to do that — that this no-show was some grand artistic statement — but disgruntled fans rioted and destroyed the band's equipment anyway. So the FYF air was thick with tension as Death Grips' Saturday set time on the Miranda Stage neared, understandably. But then the Death Grips guys got a grip and hit the stage — only seven minutes late! — and the only chaos that took place was inside the moshpit. Phew.
Karen O did Carrie Bradshaw proud.
Over on the Carrie Stage, the always-dressed-to-impress-in-excess Karen O, of Saturday headliners the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, rocked an outfit that not even Sarah Jessica Parker's fashion-forward alter ego could pull off: a sequined leopard-print shorts suit, pink kneesocks, Michael Jackson-worthy fingerless red leather gloves, and, of course, a Technicolored cape. Karen gave one of the most aggressive performances of the weekend (yes, even more so than Death Grips), storming the stage while screaming, "Suck your blood!" (during the YYYs' new savage anthem "Mosquito") and spraying confetti into the crowd during the electrogoth partystarter "Heads Will Roll." But she always looked like a lady.
The Breeders made a big 'Splash.'
This should make some of you feel old: The Breeders' breakthrough album, Last Splash, came out 20 years ago. But when the Deal sisters (the coolest identical twins in rock; sorry, Tegan & Sara, Veronicas, Nelson, et al) played the album in its entirety on Saturday, and the duh-dum-dum-duh-dum bassline from "Cannonball" rumbled across the field, the music didn't sound like it had aged one bit. The Deals even played the same windchimes and Minimoog used on the classic LP, although they deviated from Last Splash tradition a bit by covering fellow Ohio indie-rockers Guided By Voices' "Shocker in Gloomtown" and inviting Deerhunter's Bradford Cox onstage for one song. This was the real Deal, pun intended — and really the only way to see Kim Deal onstage nowadays, since she recently quit the Pixies.
Solange was the sister who Knowles best.
Beyoncé's younger, cooler sibling has established herself as a darling of the indie set, collaborating with hipsters like Devonte Hynes, Grizzly Bear, Theophilus London, Of Montreal, and Chromeo. So it was hard to believe that she was so surprised by the massive number of hipsters who turned up for her Sunday evening set on the Charlotte Stage; apparently she thought everyone would head over to see the Fonzie-assisted MGMT instead. Solange was still a bit of a diva, however, ordering spectators to put away their phones and "grind" to her funky R&B while she performed in a wild, magenta-and-blue, zebra-print top that almost looked like it'd been borrowed from Karen O's closet. But Solange wasn't too divalicious: "I usually wear four-inch heels, but I wanted to boogie tonight," she explained, eschewing Carrie Bradshaw-style footwear as she danced the night away in sensible sneakers.
Roky Erickson flat-out roked.
At age 66, the 13th Floor Elevators legend made the Deal twins look young, and considering his spotty past (his mental health and drug battles caused him to be hospitalized for several years in the late '60s/early '70s, and he only began touring again recently), lookie-loos didn't quite know what to expect when they wandered into the Samantha Tent on Saturday afternoon. What they got was a set of absolutely blistering, soul-shaking psych-rock. Roky was in very fine form, and he received a very warm welcome from the very young FYF audience.
My Bloody Valentine blew minds, eardrums, speakers.
At their first U.S. concert in four years, the reclusive, reunited shoegazers (or "sandalgazers," since they were performing at an outdoor festival) played at their famously face-melting volume; complimentary earplugs were even handed out at the entrance gate on Sunday, the day MBV headlined, just as a precaution. The moment that MBV's first cacophonous note screeched across the field, I reached for my earplugs and pushed them into my ear canals so far and so forcefully, they practically came out my nose. But unfortunately, it seemed that FYF's PA system, despite a Carrie Stage upgrade to accommodate MBV's massive sound, couldn't handle the noise. The sound cut out several times during the band's festival-closing set, once even requiring a five-minute break while the technical difficulties were sorted out. When MBV did return to finish their show, their power was somewhat diminished, since they were now playing at a normal volume...as opposed to, you know, their usual hallucination-inducing, bowel-quaking decibel levels. But luckily, MBV cranked it all the way up to 11 (or 111) in the middle of "You Made Me Realise," a bloody preposterous nine-minute finale that consisted mostly of just shrieking, squalling guitars. In spite of all those free earplugs, the resulting tinnitus (and great memories) should last until FYF 2014.