If you look at the more than half-decade run of Los Angeles music shindig, FYF Fest, and the lineups strung together by founder Sean Carlson through the years, it's sort of mind boggling to consider he's only 25. This year's show, which will feature such acts as The Rapture, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Wavves, Dead Man's Bones and Panda Bear, is shaping up to be quite the corker. But listen to Carlson speak about the genuine passion he has for music and things fall into perspective.
”I don't think about growth or direction. I just think about what's best for the audience, the bands and doing the best I possibly can,” Carlson said.
To the naked ear such statements may reek of false modesty, but they're buttressed by the fact that Carlson has lived the life of a dedicated music fan. Add to this the fact that he's only asking $25 for admission to a day's worth of premier bands and the young impresario suddenly seems like some sort of music messiah.
In order to understand where the inspiration for FYF Fest, one has to look to Carlson's formative years at South Torrance High. He remembers himself as a social outcast and explains that he and his miscreant friends would go see bands like At the Drive In and Murder City Devils in a tiny venue in Wilmington called the PCH Club.
“It was a storage unit that held 60 people. Every show was 5 dollars. There was an energy in the room. And that's why I put on events.” Following high school, Carlson worked for (and sometimes still does) Fingerprints record store in Long Beach.
When discussing the successes of his brainchild, Carlson avoids number crunching and hype-mongering in favor of describing the dedication he sees being demonstrated by many of the bands playing.
“It's not easy to get on an airplane and fly across the country to play on stage for 45 minutes. We're flying in Davila 666 from Puerto Rico and they're playing for 30 minutes. That's four days of their life that they're dedicating to this,” he said.
Factor in that because of the relatively low admission price Carlson can't afford to pay the acts “Lollapalooza money,” and one has to marvel at the whole thing. When asked what bands he's excited to see this year, he predictably declines to name just one.
He does mention he's asked Claremont band The Mountain Goats to play the festival since its inception seven years ago. (2010 will be the their first performance at the fest.) “To have seen every show they've played in Southern California for the past 10 years and have them play the festival is very rewarding.”
And when Carlson is asked about the recently posted LA Weekly blog written by contributor Molly Bergen (wherein she rips what she sees as Sunset Junction's lackluster lineup compared to FYF), he just says, “I have no real comment there….I think Sunset Junction is a good festival…The only thing they didn't do is handle their cleanup properly. Now the streets are filled with trash.”
FYF Fest will be held on Sept. 4 at the Los Angeles State Historic Park (1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012). VIP and General Admission tickets are still available. For set times and more information, go to www.fyffest.com.