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FYF 2017: Still the great contender of all summer music festivals

It’s been seven years since I’ve been attending FYF Fest, and though the festival has gone through many, many changes throughout the years I can confidently say that it still retains a tone that clearly favors music lovers. Even with the higher price tag, and an additional third day, it’s almost as if it still needs to present itself as such. Given that FYF is still not an immediate sold-out event, there’s still a fine line that the event coordinators have to walk. While it’s mostly a given that you invite the likes of Missy Elliott and Frank Ocean to gather crowds into such a costly endeavor, it’s still just as necessary to make sure that your undercard is just as valuable. 

Considering how FYF began as a gathering place for post-hardcore and punk fans with refined taste, there’s always going to be a certain expectation it has to meet. But it had to grow, and if that means bringing forth an Apple-endorsed artist like 6lack and current hot commodity Mura Masa to spike up on sales then so be it. It’s leagues better than succumbing to EDM flavor-of-the-week fodder, and still, they’ll still invite the likes of Blonde Redhead (who had a sizable crowd at the more communal Club Stage even if they didn’t play one of their banner records) and emo purists Cap N’ Jazz (another explosive performance, even if the tambourine tossing was both childish and obnoxious at once) to appease an early thirty-something like myself.

But mainly, I was concerned about how the festival would benefit the good amount of local talent this city has. And though the final tally was scantier than other years, it was still able to deliver on that front. If you were there early enough on Sunday afternoon, the adorably-named Cherry Glazerr did offer a welcome shot of adrenaline to those who needed to cure themselves of Saturday’s post-Frank Ocean hangover. The same goes for genre-bending four piece Chicano Batman, who also brought a large gathering to the Lawn Stage with their 4 pm slot (a time that brought an underwhelming crowd the day before). But I can’t say that all the local acts scored a perfect ten: Moses Sumney was too reliant on the intricate trickery of his recorded material instead of trying to translate it to a more engrossing live experience, and Thundercat affirmatively clocked in as if he had to fulfill his day job. And yeah, Ty Segall once again delivered a knockout performance (he was gracious and honored to be something of an opening act to Iggy Pop, and I can’t imagine anyone else deserving it more).

So aside from the strangely-concocted set times (lining up Built to Spill, Perfume Genius and King Krule so close to each other just, well, cruel), I can say with much assurance that FYF is still the strongest contender of all summer music festivals. Sure, it doesn’t have the allure of a desert landscape or even an expansive park to its advantage, as the main stage has the appearance of a makeshift parking lot even if it works in a logistical sense, but it’s still very convenient to navigate without straining your legs too much. And they’re still intent on bringing special live experiences you can’t find anywhere. With FYF it’s all about that lineup, and thankfully, there was so much to see this year that you were bound to miss some things. And that’s not a bad problem to have. 

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FYF 2014 Local Report: Thundercat

Having Stephen Brunner, known for his stage name of Thundercat, at the Lawn stage of this year’s festival made perfect sense. The six-string bass maestro brought his peculiar brand of avant-garde jazz to what was suitably the chillest of all the stages, and though a good few of us were standing up, you could sense that the majority of relaxed attendees - most of them laying face up and letting the sundays hit - were letting his improvisational psychedelic arrangements sink in. Brunner plays with crisp sophistication, letting his masterfully precise fingerpicking speak for itself with the backup of top-shelf musicians who each add their own improvisational grit with seamless momentum. It was a welcome respite from the bustling activity going around the festival grounds, all of us nodding in unison with casual ease as the sun began to make its descent. - Juan Rodriguez

Photo Credit: Jennifer Mergott


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