Scruffy DIYers, snazzy art punks, and other assorted miscreants converged this past Saturday at the Los Angeles State Historic Park for day one of FYF Fest. Festival cofounders, Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting have been brandishing their unique blend of the underground for nearly a decade now. This year’s revelries included live screenprinting, Sailor Jerry swag and giant sunglasses art pieces encouraging fans to tag at will. Check out some of Saturday’s highlights/lowlights.
FIDLAR– These wake bake n’ skaters made no qualms about their preference for cheap beer and good weed. Burger bitches and Burger boys (as they affectionately call themselves) kicked up plenty of dirt chanting along to anthems about late night Del Taco stops and chicks with spliffs. FIDLAR play with the delinquent bravado of early Beastie Boys. Even if their songs are a bit juvenile, they get by on DGAF charm and always attract a crowd of fun loving misfits.
John Maus– Wearing his trademark oxford button up and jeans, John Maus looked every bit the philosophy professor that he is. Maus’ shows are normally more like performance art for ravers than an actual show. Because he doesn’t have a backing band (much like Ariel Pink’s beginnings) the dude is really a one man show. Armed with nothing but a mic, Maus relies on the infectious energy of his voice and stage antics to hype his fans. But it was painfully obvious that he was lip syncing and more than a few disappointed fans walked out on the set. It is indeed odd that Maus would pull something so audacious at such a marquee event. Maybe he was sick, but don’t expect to see this guy back at FYF anytime soon.
Redd Kross– Brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald proved that 40-somethings can still rock with the best of em’ and played a mixture of some of their classic Southern California hardcore hits and new material from their first album in 15 years. The punk legends haven’t lost any of their tongue-in-cheek approach and frenetic stage presence. Graduating from three chord riffs to a mixture of garage punk and powerpop, Redd Kross have managed to remain relevant and refreshingly modern.
Cloud Nothings– These Cleveland kids make the kind of music tailor made for post-graduation angst and the despondency of losing the American Dream. Dylan Baldi screeched along wildly with the wall of grunge guitar wailings of his more than worthy counterparts. Cloud Nothings owned the stage with epic, seven plus minute instrumentals executed with all the sonic precision of a band that’s worked with the legendary Steve Albini. “Wasted Days” was the nine minute highlight of the day and set the mood perfectly for Fucked Up’s set afterward.
Hot Snakes– Hot Snakes aren’t the kitschy garage pop acts that have polluted the airwaves in recent years. Instead theirs is a brand of authentic rock n’ roll in the form of Stooges era raucous good times. Drummer Mario Rubalcaba slayed on the drums as fans stomped dust devils into oblivion and Rick Froberg howled into the sunset. Hot Snakes reunited in 2011 after a 6 year hiatus and have been shaming younger musicians ever since with their ceaseless energy and sheer loudness. The two are legends in their own right and just the sort of ambassadors of DIY punk that make festivals like FYF possible.
Refused– This esteemed reporter made the mistake of taking a phone call outside the festival and was not allowed back in to see what was sure to be one of the most storied performances in FYF history. Seeing them through the chain link fence was at least entertaining enough to write about. It’s no secret Refused are back on tour for the first time since breaking up in 1998 and the dapper Swedes are making certain no one forgets the breakneck speed and blistering precision of The Shape of Punk to Come. In a legendary set that included a Stooges cover, nods to the full moon and an insatiable crowd, Refused sounded every bit as young and vibrant as when they first stepped into the scene. Anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed the intensity from the frontlines should cherish the fact that Saturday may have been the last time they’ll ever play in the U.S. again.
Words: Brian Noonan
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