Monday, July 24, 2017

FYF Fest ! Day Three - ROCK!

 *Reprinted from story for Juice Magazine!

Day Three of the FYF Fest, and I think we all got the hang of it. There was a different feeling in the air ... more relaxed, less pressure to do it all (though it was still nagging in your mind that so many things were happening around that you were missing at any given moment), a slight, refreshing breeze, and the real, tangible need to just let go and ROCK.

I always feel a little bad for the day's first bands, because many people are still recovering from the previous day's activities well into the afternoon. That was definitely the case for myself and my brother, who had had two gigs AFTER FYF Day 2, and had been up all night. But still, there was epic rocking to do, so we got there as fast as we could. We missed Cherry Glazerr, but I heard they rocked it very hard. There were many, many NIN shirts in the line to get in, so it was easy to see what the day's big draw was. One such shirt wearer was saying he didn't get why they weren't playing IN the Coliseum ... good question.

We checked out some of the stuff we'd previously missed, like the Fingerprints Records pop-up, said hey to the Vans people again, had a quick bite, then hot-footed it over to the Lawn stage where Ty Segall was about to get underway. The festival girls were out in force, and it was fun just to look at all the creative, awesome fashion that was going on, and watch them dance without a care in the world. Not just like no one is watching - they WANT you to watch. Freedom - that's one of the best parts of festivals ... you forget everything else that's going on for a few days. You just focus on how much music you can possibly see and hear, and what new things you might discover. Calls and emails tend to go unanswered for those few days. It's a badly needed escape, and everyone is united in that vibe. It's pretty beautiful.

DJ Harvey was spinning in the Woods area, and it was clear that all the day-ravers were having a good old time in there when we walked by. It was like a big, gay dance club with ultra-decked out revelers not giving a whit that it was broad daylight ... if they even knew.

Ty Segall - Wow. This quintet ROCKED it, and was my new discovery of the day. Which is kind of lame, considering that I see he has like 9 albums out, but hey, better late than never. They were throwing it down, and people were picking it up like crazy. Dancing, moshing, head banging, INTO it. The guitars were shred-tastic, with all kinds of feedback antics, and Segall himself reminded me of a more punk rock legend of Venice, Paul Chesne.

Appropriately for the day, these guys played their "Freedom" with its line, "I'm not scared." Me neither, boys. The crowd grew and grew as people going by heard how great these guys were, and they deserved it. "Finger" got the audience so hyped that there was now daytime crowd surfing. Yes.

Thirst required another walk, and we caught a little of Joey Purp rap in the Club tent while quenching it. That was good for another few shouts of "Make some fucking noise!", which sent us packing off to see some of what Mac DeMarco had to offer.

The slacker rocker had a full audience by the time we got there, comprised mostly of young females screaming for the Canadian dude that flirted with them from the stage. DeMarco has an interesting way of leaning into his chords, and the girls dug it. He was probably the most verbose performer I saw all weekend, as happy to chat between songs as to play them, it seemed. He played mostly from his Salad Days EP, and looked like he was having a great time doing it. Melodic rock, but rock - in the order of the day. "The Stars Keep On Calling My Name" has the line, "I just wanna go" ... which me and another girl near me echoed. Off to the next!

Back at the Club tent, Moses Sumney was taking his sweet time getting set up, finally taking the stage saying, "Lord Jesus, there's a fire!"
Not under him, apparently, but that was fine as a slew of people were still streaming in to hear his heavily altered vocals, looped live to create an ethereal whole. It was interesting and absolutely good, but I had a date with Iggy Pop all the way across the venue.

I was rushing away while others were rushing in, showing once again how varied the musical tastes are at FYF. This was all the more obvious when I passed the Main Stage above, and saw how many people were down there for Little Dragon, while I couldn't wait to get to the Lawn to see Iggy.

                                                                                                                       Photo: Goldenvoice Media
Iggy motherfucking Pop! The punk rock icon/legend/warhorse/miracle bounded onstage shirtless - of course - with both middle fingers blazing, and immediately lit into The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog", causing the punk faithful gathered to lose their ever-loving minds. It was non-stop jumping and moshing there in the Lawn stage pit, and you could see Pop feeding off the incredible energy. He was flailing about, jumping up and down, and was out in the crowd on the very first song. This 70 year old powerhouse was way more gnarly than most of the youngsters in the crowd, showing them first hand what it means to be punk rock.

Shaking his ass to the camera, Pop knew he had this crowd exactly where he wanted them, and "Gimme Danger" and "The Passenger" rocked so hard he just said, "Fucking thank you, FUCK!" afterwards. Exactly. Then Pop put his mic down the front of his jeans to free both of his hands to get the whole place clapping, and the band simply scorched their way through "Lust For Life" (my favorite), and the ensuing mayhem really showed the strength of that title. Everyone was feeling that, all the way. It was so good, even Pop yelled "WOOOOO!" after it was done.

"Skull Ring" led right into "I'm Sick Of You" and the reception was so big, Pop said, "Hey, fucking thanks for checking us out, fucking thanks, Fuck!" Just as you want your punk heroes to be. "Repo Man" cemented Pop's status as the Godfather of Punk, and "Search And Destroy" smashed that cement - and the mic stand Pop seemed to be mad at. The almost-ballady "Gardenia" was something special, but even that appeared to require moshing. "TV Eye" led right into the last song, "Mass Production" that was so hair-raisingly hardcore, it left Pop limping off the stage, beating his bare chest like the warrior he is, but not before thanking the people in the pit - who damn well deserved it. Phew!

The sun was now almost fully set, and the night was just starting, if you can believe it. There was really no time at all for us to slack. We barely stopped to eat, there was so much music to see, and we didn't probably see half of it. I don't know how the big drinkers and druggers do it ... I almost felt like I needed workout clothes on just to get places in time! So, we ate on the run and listened as we chewed.

The mad rush to the Main Stage to see Solange was now on, and the VIP area was already fully packed by the time I got there. Solange seems to have her own Bey Hive, as the screams were high and shrill from the very start. The set was lit all red, with geometric shapes giving it all a very 70's variety show vibe. When Solange and her backing band and dancers took the stage - all in extra-tight, red outfits - the crowd went into actual hysterics.

They began with "Rise" from her seriously good album from last year, A Seat At The Table. It was all very artistic, and modern dancey, showing that Solange, like Björk and Missy Elliot from Day One, will do whatever she wants in the name of her art. And good for her, because it's awesome.

Solange choreographed and wrote it all, and even the backing brass band, in their rash-guard tight tops, got down with the dance moves - while playing their instruments. Impressive. Solange introduced "Cranes In The Sky" by saying "I want you all to sing it away", and that kind of summed up the weekend for me. A massive group coming together to sing away all the troubles and hard times we've all been going through, to release it and find peace - together. It was pretty emotional for an already emotional gal like me, and I assure you, I was not alone. When Solange ventured into the crowd to sing "F.U.B.U.", a woman singing with her had tears streaming down her face. "This shit is for us!" And you felt it.

Each time Solange did a spazzy dance move with a totally straight face, the crowd went insane. When she turned around and performed some impressive twerking, they downright lost their shit. I'm fairly new to Solange's table, but have had mad respect for her ever since she kicked the shit out of Jay Z. This girl has your back, and she made that clear in every number she sang. "How many of you have got the tree leaf out there?", asked Solange. Um ... I think everyone. No one was feeling any pain, unless it was in your feet after three solid days of non-stop rocking. But who cares? This was all well worth it.

"I wanna see y'all jam! When this beat drops, I want to see you all breakdance!" "Locked In Closets" hit, and I'm not kidding when I say that front to back, side to side, we all DANCED. It must have looked so rad from above, because it wasn't just bouncing, there was full-on choreography going on in the crowd. People MEANT it. After their bow for that one, Solange laughed and said,"I had to make sure my wig was still on, I felt a shift!" Because she was going for it, dancing full-tilt so hard, she even threw in a little Morris Day funky bird move.

"You guys have been a part of my journey, thank you for letting me experiment and explore!" Massive cheers, because everyone WANTS her to explore ... look what you get! We got "T.O.N.Y.", "Junie", and "Losing You", and that was that ... until Solange was back, huge brass band and all for "Don't Touch My Hair" and an outro of "Rise" that found Solange freaking all the way out, on her back, flailing her legs, doing jumping jacks, going OFF ... only to get up and walk calmly off the stage, hands clasped behind her back as her superfans tried to pick themselves up off of the ground and pinch themselves. Wow. Solange is a true artist, and I can't wait to see what she gets up to next.

What we got up to next was Run The Jewels! We got back to the Lawn stage just in time to see Killer Mike and El-P take the stage beneath their giant pistol and fist logo to Queen's "We Are The Champions". The crowd was huge, and all of them were stoked, as the pit got going from the second they kicked it off with "Talk To Me". Everyone was jumping up and down, all the way back to the VIP area, a long, long way off. "Let me hear you say motherfucking YEAH!" said Killer Mike after that one, and we said it LOUD. Killer Mike is a good dancer, and I like him even more now than I did when he first came on my radar as an avid and erudite supporter of Bernie Sanders. His nickname is very apt - he IS Killer.

"Blockbuster Night Part 1" was awesome, and at its end, El-P said, "Holy shit! It's an amazing thing that you're spending time with us!" We thought exactly the same back. "Call Ticketron", "Oh, My Darling Don't Cry", and "Hey, Kids" ruled it, and Killer Mike also thanked the pit, saying, "The Pit is the shit!" And it was. Pure, raw energy and the power of hard rock, man. It was something to behold. "Stay Gold" and "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)" killed it so hard, and then I had to head off to try to get close of Nine Inch Nails, but not before I heard RTJ's guest lady rapper, Gangsta Boo, yelling, "I say pussy, you say power!" Pussy! Power! Yep.

The crowd was already drone-worthy over at the Main Stage, but I was lucky that Paul had already gone over there to secure us a spot on the very front rail. The anticipation was building by the second, as was the audience. As was the photo pit. HUGE. As it should have been, for Nine Inch Nails' first show in three years!

The bright lights suddenly went on, the smoke machine blew like crazy, and there was Trent Reznor in his black leather and shades, busting right into "Branches/Bones" from their brand new Add Violence EP with the ferocity of these very times.

The instant they began playing, you realized how vital this music is to now, and how much they've been missed. The music is dark, it's ominous, it's hard, it's heavy, and it goes the fuck off! The power of this music is nothing to mess around with, and the pit in the center looked increasingly dangerous the further down the setlist we went. Yikes.

                                                                                                                    Photo: Josh Bagel Klassman

"Wish". "Less Than." "March Of The Pigs". All pure rock of the hardest kind. They slowed it down a minute or two for the gorgeous (but still dark) "Something I Can Never Have" from Pretty Hate Machine, but then it was right back to the superspeed. "The Frail". "The Wretched". Then it was a full on singalong for "Closer" and its "I want to fuck you like an animal" chorus. Nine Inch Nails fans mean business, and all of them were out of their minds. So were people seeing them for their very first time - they were that good. Guitarist, Robin Finck, tore through each song with blazing prowess, and reminded one of Halloween's Michael Myer's if he was sick at guitar.

Atticus Ross held it down on the bass, and you had to stop and think about how much he and Reznor have seen and done in their long careers together. They've created one of the most serious bands ever, and their music served as a majorly cathartic release for everyone gathered there in front of them.

This is the kind of rock that makes one let loose with total abandon and just FEEL it. They did a cover of David Bowie's "I Can't Give Everything Away" that was both heavy and touching, as Reznor said, "We've been away three years, watching as the world has gone crazy." Well, now they're here to help. Thank goodness.

It never let up and a breakneck pace led us through "The Lovers", "Reptile", "The Great Destroyer", "The Hand That Feeds", and a monster "Head Like A Hole", killing it all the while. It was honestly outrageously good, and that is unanimous. They returned for an encore that was "Hurt", which was probably good, because the slower pace most likely prevented speeding and reckless behavior on the way out ... a little cool-down was needed. The applause raged on, but that was the end of FYF Fest 2017, and it was something else.

As good as it all was, the fact that they had exactly ONE exit for the entire grounds was insane. The artistry of this festival is perhaps the best booking I've even heard of in a long while, with such cultural and musical diversity that it nearly boggles the mind that it's all on one bill. That creative mastery is dampened, however, by some really, truly mind-boggling logistics that make no sense at all, and really need to be sorted out if they hope to have the longevity and success of other, more seasoned festivals (that always have more than one exit, for God's sake). It took a long while to get out of there, and thus gave us time to reflect ...

Our consensus was that the best new live discoveries for us were Thee Oh Sees (by far), Built To Spill, and Ty Segall. The best, period, for us were Björk, Missy Elliot, A Tribe Called Quest, Iggy Pop, Run The Jewels, and Nine Inch Nails. All of whom absolutely KILLED. IT.

Thank you to FYF Fest 2017, and to Juice Magazine - for letting us share the rock!

Fuck Yeah.

*Photos by Paul Gronner Photography (unless otherwise indicated)

No comments:

Post a Comment