No lines. Plenty of food. Ample space. Shorter walking distances between stages. Plenty of activity. Believe it or not, we're not talking about Coachella, but instead the new and improved FYF Fest.
It seems that after last year's logistics debacle, the FYF Fest have finally put together how to create a concert experience where the positives finally outweigh the negatives. The event's 12th edition proves that FYF can be successful as it gradually drifts towards the mainstream. Calling it Coachella Jr. wouldn't be fair, however, that assessments isn't too far off.
Unlike last year, the in-festival experience was far better. Beginning with the more efficient entry way, FYF learned from the mistakes of its mistakes. Opening up the arena to fit an arena-sized crowd was a positive, as was lessening the clusterfuck by allowing two entry ways around the L.A. Sports Arena. Granted, this should be commonsense when you have more than 40,000 people in a given area, but hey, baby steps right?
Even additions like a second beer garden, a dance area and improved use of the Coliseum space shows that the organizers are learning both from fellow Goldenvoice festivals and others around the world how to turn this into an event that becomes lauded outside of Los Angeles. This year was a sign that the FYF organizers are finally figuring out its direction and what the appeal of its brand is to a larger scale. So far, that means maintaining a distinctly Los Angeles voice with an eclectic array of musicians and the inclusiveness of the wonderful food culture the city has fostered
What made FYF a fresh festival in 2004 is different than now. Longtime FYF fans may gripe at the gradual inclusion of electronica, hip-hop and mainstream musicians, yet it makes sense. Originally having Frank Ocean and Morrissey as the headliners showcases the changing tastes of both the bookers — Goldenvoice has helped shape the event since 2011 –and its fans. It may seem a bit odd to say that, but if you think about it, many of the event's initial attendees are in the late-20s and early-30s, and tastes have changed and evolved. When Kanye West was announced as a surprise replacement for Frank Ocean, the general reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The same goes for the late addition of Flying Lotus to the bill. That his Yeezusness skewed away from the set of his last tour by playing only his greatest hits further proves the event's veering.
But what has made FYF bigger this year is the number of guest performers. Usually when there's surprise musician jumping on-stage, it's at a festival heavyweight like Coachella, Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo. Saturday alone saw Rihanna, Travi$ Scott, Travis Barker and Zack De La Rocha appear on the main stage.
Even Sunday's lineup that leans more indie rock with the likes of crooner Tobias Jesso Jr., British folkie Laura Marling and Unknown Mortal Orchestra features an array of alternative acts. Where else could you find D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Toro Y Moi and Nicolas Jaar also on the same bill at what's perceived to be a smaller festival? Not many.
Music festivals are generally a place for new music discovery. That's makes the 12th edition of FYF so ambitious. Now that they seemingly ironed out all of the wacky problems that have plagued it in the past –which weren't so much charming as it was irritating — FYF may be on the verge of becoming a must-attend festival, something that wasn't in the cards in 2004, nor even 2014.