I'm sun burnt, exhausted, sore, and bruised, but goddamn was FYF Fest awesome this year! This was the first year that the festival was at the LA Coliseum and Exposition Park instead of LA State Historic Park, where it was held the past five or so years.
Day 1: Saturday, August 23, 2014
For my first show of the day, I headed over to The Lawn stage to check out Mariachi El Bronx. If it was any other mariachi band I would've have avoided it completely, but I figured why not see both Mariachi El Bronx and The Bronx in the same weekend? I didn't really know what to expect from them at first, but they truly exceeded my expectations. They had a forty minute set and they played songs like "Revolution," "Cell Mates," and "Slave Labor." Matt Caughthran, their lead singer, even announced that the band's new album should be out sometime around November. Seeing Mariachi El Bronx was a great way to start the festival because they eased those who saw them into the concert mindset.
After Mariachi El Bronx finished their set, I quickly went over to the Main Stage to catch Joyce Manor. I never could really get into this band, but they have such a big following that I figured I should give them a shot, especially since Never Hungover Again was released fairly recently. They too, had a forty minute set and played a lot of songs from their new album such as "Heart Tattoo," The Jerk," and "Catalina Fight Song." By the time I was done taking pictures, the crowd easily tripled in size. I finally got to see just how dedicated Joyce Manor's fans truly are. As soon as they started their first song, the audience went wild; crowd surfing, mosh pits, and pot smoking ensued immediately.
(Quick note: I didn't see all of his set, but Albert Hammond Jr. got on stage after Joyce Manor's set and covered "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) by The Buzzcocks and "Last Caress" by The Misfits, which was really cool to see.)
After a much needed food and shade break, I headed to The Trees stage to see Against Me!. Admittedly, they were the band I was most familiar with that was playing FYF Fest because they are my favorite band. They never disappoint at their live shows. While Laura and James were killin' it on vocals and guitar and Atom was beating the crap out of his drums, Inge was jumping, kicking, and flailing around with his bass. And for having only fifty minutes for their show, they managed to play a wide array of songs from their discography. They played "Transgender Dysphoria Blues," "True Trans Sould Rebel," Black Me Out," "Unconditional Love," "I Was A Teenage Anarchist," "New Wave," "Thrash Unreal," "Don't Lose Touch," "Clich√© Guevara," and "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists." Surprisingly, they were even able to fit in three songs from Reinventing Axl Rose which were "Walking is Still Honest," "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong," and "We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules), which was the band's last song of the night. And during "We Laugh at Danger" Laura gave her guitar to their roadie to play while she jumped into the crowd with the microphone and sing while crowd surfing. The energy during this show was incredible (as it always is at an Against Me! show), but when Laura was crowd surfing the whole place went absolutely wild.
Day 2: Sunday, August 24, 2014
Day 2 of FYF Fest had a lot more bands for us punk rock fans compared to Day 1. And luckily the majority of those bands were all at The Trees stage, so I didn't have to run from stage to stage in order to catch each band that I wanted to see. The first band I saw play was Balance & Composure and a couple of the songs they played were "Parachutes" and "Reflections." I honestly couldn't get into them all that much. Their show was pretty straight forward and not all that eventful.
Things got pretty interesting though when La Dispute got on stage after Balance & Composure finished their set though. They literally had just gotten off a plane from England only a few hours before their set time, and yet they put on a very energetic show. They played songs like "A Letter" and "Why It Scares Me." The lead only one or two songs into the band's set, the lead singer was bleeding profusely from his lip from hitting his mouth on the microphone a bunch of times. Watching it drip down from his face down the microphone and to his hand added a lot to the visual performance regardless of whether it was on purpose or not.
The next band after La Dispute may not be considered a punk band, but they put on a really fun show and they drew easily double the amount of people to The Trees stage than the other bands did. This band was the Presidents of the USA. I noticed right away that what this band different was that the lead singer/bassist only had two of the four strings on his bass and the guitarist/back up singer only had three or four strings on his guitar. They played their three most well known songs "Lump", "Peaches," and "Dune Buggy," but they started out their set with an awesome cover of "Kick Out the Jams" by the MC5 and they also played a cover of "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles, which I didn't expect whatsoever, but it was cool to hear that song live. They also played a new song called "She's a Nurse."
Finally, The Bronx, the band I was most looking forward to seeing the whole day was up next and all I have to saw is "WOW!" I heard they were good live, but didn't expect them to be that amazing. And for such a hard rocking band, I found very interesting that they would choose to play mariachi music as a side project. Matt Caughthran is one hell of a front man. During one of the songs he jump into the audience and did some crowd surfing and between some of the songs he kept saying how lovely the twilight sky was and that he loved being in Los Angeles. He really knew how to get personal with the audience. Most notably, they put on great performances of the songs "Heart Attack American" and "The Unholy Hand."
After The Bronx finished their set, the Murder City Devils were up next. They were recommended to me by one of the other photographers there. This band too, not only had a very energetic front man, but the whole band was just jumping and kicking all over the stage. For the first song or two their front man would literally shoved the microphone into his mouth and sang into it. It was definitely different to say the least. They played songs like "Hey Sailor" and "I Don't Wanna Work for Scum."
Overall, I had a great experience at FYF Fest. It's a great festival for punks, hippies, hipsters and everyone in between to see some of their favorite musical acts and to find news bands and explore different genres as well. There are two things I hope the planners of FYF Fest will do; and they are that they will continue to have a large portion of the acts being punk bands, which they have always done, and I hope that they bring back stand up comedians, which they unfortunately did not have this year. I'd much go to FYF Fest next year than say Warped Tour or even worse‚?¶Coachella. I really hope I'll be able to attend next year.