On the final night of this weekend’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles, there was a moment that seemed to signal the upstart festival’s reluctant yet inevitable maturation: multi-instrumentalist and indie-rock pin-up boy Zachary Condon put aside his ukulele and politely toasted the crowd with a glass of whiskey. His brass collective known as Beirut then launched into another of its earnest indie-rock tunes, punctuated by a buttoned down brass section and, um, that ukulele.
It doesn’t mean FYF is gradually turning into your parents’ — or grandparents’ — indie music festival. It does mean FYF continues to widen its musical horizons.
The decade-old festival is still awash in skinny black jeans, Black Flag patches and chest-thumping hardcore bands. But it’s also offering more and more acts (the festival expanded to two days this year) to whip up dance floors, as well as mosh pits.
That includes dance-friendly indie rock bands like Yeasayer and M83, to a host of electronic bands and DJs that range from the sleek ’80s-influenced synth rock of the Chromatics to the hardcore techno noise of Black Dice and Gold Panda.
But FYF’s signature fashion statement, the bandana (or white surgical masks), were still in abundance. That’s because a larger percentage of the festival’s 70 or so acts are still capable of inciting mosh pits capable of kicking up small dust storms. Those moments can also be among the most revelatory performances.
San Francisco Bay Area hardcore band Ceremony kept a phalanx of security staff busy by churning up waves of body surfers. At various times during the band’s 45-minute set, vocalist Ross Farrar clung from the stage scaffolding, collapsed on the lip of the stage and then abandoned the stage entirely to sing with and in the crowd.
The audience response was not always so celebratory. During the band Sleigh Bells’ bruising performance Saturday night, part of a metal stage barrier collapsed, reportedly causing one fan to be injured.
Security staff were on edge the rest of the evening, inspecting the barrier on at least one of the other small stages. News photographers were also warned that’d they’d be hustled out of the “photo pit” area between the main stage and security barrier if there was the slightest bit of trouble during that night’s closing performance by Swedish hardcore band the Refused. Stage security Sunday was noticeably more intense, even if the acts were generally much more restrained.
Sunday night’s headliners reflected FYF’s apparent mission to appeal to more and more music fans. Walk along the festival’s perimeter just south of Dodger Stadium on North Spring Street as the closing night acts were wrapping up and one could hear the blustery hardcore of American Nightmare give way to the Beirut horn section, and the bass-heavy thump of Gold Panda gave way to the Gang of Four-influenced dance punk of the Faint. FYF may be a little more “brassy” — but it’s still plenty bruising.