FYF Fest – Los Angeles State Historic Park – September 1, 2012

See Also:
*FYF Fest 2012: A Complex Punk Portrait of the SoCal Music Scene
*FYF Fest 2012: Five Reunited Bands We Really Want to See
*FYF Fest Two-Day Line-up Announced

Yesterday marked the first day of what has become the two-day FYF Festival. Like last year, it got insanely crowded, especially as darkness fell, with hipsters in Chinese paddy hats and sand people goggles traipsing across downtown's Los Angeles State Historic Park. But unlike the last two years, the breeze was significantly stronger–a godsend to anyone burning up at FYF under the L.A. sun. With four stages spread out across the park, you had to scramble to choose which of the 40 bands you wanted to catch. But with rows of portable bathrooms, free water filling stations and sexy ladies from Chilli Beans sunglasses blasting concertgoers with pressurized water vapor, the experience was as comfortable as possible. As for the bands, here's a list of the high and low points. For those going to day two, see you at the beer gardens!

The Highs:

The Two Gallants proved Saturday that less is more. Comprised of guitarist vocalist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel, they brought the thunder on Saturday with a charged folk sound (imagine a deconstructed Local Natives with more fuzz.) Stephens voice crackled with intense urgency while his counterpart made up for the fact there was only two of them with nimble and complex percussion. The song “Nothing to Lose,” was a set highlight and shimmered with rhythmic complexity and gorgeously rising and dipping guitar trills.

Red Kross

 While I'm not a huge fan of classically oriented rock, it was heartening to see Red Kross, who reunited after a decade-long hiatus, play a high energy set like a well oiled unit. You don't always get tight performances from reunion acts. And it was clear the joy of playing is still in their blood. Bassist Steven McDonald whipped his long-ass hair while expertly laying down a chunky dose of low end on songs like “Crazy World” and their new single “Researching the Blues.”

This band represented a highlight for me, not because of their new wave sound (think Berlin), but more for the stagecraft of singer Caroline Polachek. Granted, her voice resonates with crystalline iciness, but she's a joy to watch as she whips her arms around like a karate student performing a kata, then spins rapidly on a dead center like Michelle Kwan. Compelling shit.

The Lows:

Sleigh Bells

Visually this band had it going on. Against a backdrop comprised of a wall of Marshall Amps, Alexis Krauss whipped her raven locks and stomped around stage with conviction. But her strained, white-girl pseudo raps were dwarfed by the loud guitars joining her. Straining to stay in the pocket, Krauss just sounded strident. She may look stellar in a studded leather jacket and teeny tiny jean shorts, but that may be the extent of her talent.


You would sort of expect a band whose sound thrives on distance and aloofness to expect fans panting in near three digit heat to listen to unfamiliar material. In that respect, Warpaint lived up to expectations. Though they played well, save for one false start (on an older song,) they played material largely from their forthcoming album. What does the LP hold in store? Judging by the songs played Saturday, more of the band's stock-in-trade: reverb-laden wandering jams. It sounded a little tedious at times, though it could have just been the heat, or perhaps singer Emily Kokal's fuchsia-colored, velour bell bottoms.

The Growlers

 Though they played well enough, with their psychedelic surf guitars overlaid with singer Brooks Nielsen's unmodulated Jim Morrison whine, they pulled a stunt which has us at the Weekly scratching our heads. Mid-way through their set, Nielsen announced that Abigail's lead singer/guitarist  Warren Thomas had gone on a bender and died the night before “His heart couldn't take it,” Nielsen said. For now, the Orange County Coroner's office says it has not taken possession of any bodies named Warren Thomas on top of which, there's activity on Thomas's Facebook page. Whoever is currently operating it was trying to sell FYF tickets last night. We'll keep you updated as things develop.

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