Music Festival Recap | Five Takeaways From FYF Fest ’16

Photo: Scott Dudelson (Getty Images)

FYF is far from the DIY punk-centric festival started by 19-year-old music promoter Sean Carlson in the dive bars of Echo Park. Having just celebrated its 13th year this past weekend, FYF is now a major player in the endless summer music festival marathon.

FYF has become an annual LA staple that has outlasted bigger name brands like Jay-Z’s ill-fated Made in America in Los Angeles and Electric Daisy Carnival, which was basically chased out of the city after a string of drug overdoses. FYF is not without its growing pains as it finally ended its vagabond roots by finding a home at Exposition Park, which for better or worse is basically the parking lot of the LA Coliseum. Having been to FYF since almost the beginning, I’ve seen seven versions of it held over three locations.

Here are my top five takeaways from this year’s FYF festival.

1. Legit Closing Act. LCD Soundsystem I love you, but the late set time (10:50 pm start on a Sunday) was bringing me down after a long, hot weekend. All that was forgotten when the reunited dance rock headliners took the stage and dove into their “greatest hits” catalogue that never gets old. The epic set felt more like a comeback than a farewell as James Murphy and company played their songs with such craftsmanship, passion, and energy that the crowd “Dance Themselves Clean” for nearly two hours. Take note festivals who book DJs as headliners. This is how you close out a music festival. Yes, I’m still bitter about Calvin Harris. LCD’s set left you with good vibes as you were herded out into the sprawling concrete jungle with no UBERS in sight, making the lines forgivable and already having thoughts of next year’s FYF dancing in my head. 

See: LCD Soundsystem Cancel Shows To Work On New Album

2. Endless Lines. The “line from hell” on Saturday brought back painful memories of  FYF’s major fail in 2014 when ticket holders baked (not the good kind) in the hot sun for hours, while waiting to get in. Twitter was abuzz again this weekend with festival goers Tweeting their displeasure about waiting for nearly two hours to get into the entrance gates. It didn’t get much better inside as the beer, bathroom and food lines all moved with the speed of a DMV waiting room. Things seemed to run smoother on Sunday as the crowd filtered in early afternoon and late evening, but there’s obviously some room for improvement in this area.

— Mariecar Mendoza (@SFMarMendoza) August 27, 2016

3. Good Food. FYF really stepped up their food game this year. I was really excited about the pop-up booths from some LA foodie favorites (Beer Belly, Fritzi Dog, Salt & Straw), but they were oddly hidden inside the Coliseum entrance, making the more accessible and visible food trucks that much more appetizing, especially when you wanted to “eat and run” to the next stage. The best meal of the weekend was the tofu banh mi from Mandoline Grill. This vegan-friendly Vietnamese sandwich is truly is one of the best-kept secrets in LA with tender morsels of tofu on a perfectly crisp French bread and stuffed with all the daikon fixins. The sweet, spicy, sour blend perfectly paired up with the merlot from Dark Horse Wines, whose two-story wine saloon-style station offered an amazing deck view of the main stage.

Crave - Banh Mi

4. Bathroom Relief. The outdoor stand-up urinals in the men’s bathroom areas were the greatest invention since the wheel. These four-sided, plastic, portable bathrooms, which have been used in European music festivals, provided fast relief and even had a “modesty flap door” so you don’t get caught with your pants down. Pure genius. Although I might have stumbled upon their weak spot on my way out and had to scramble to find one that wasn’t overflowed.

outdoor urinal

5. Lack of EDM. FYF stood out from this year’s festival circuit with stellar headliners that aimed for a musically-versed crowd, from the avant-garde (Grace Jones) to the sure-fire crowd pleasers (Tame Impala, Beach House, Blood Orange) to the out of the box (Kendrick Lamar, imagine him playing FYF five years ago?) to the nostalgic” (Air, Saves the Day). It was an adult line-up that appealed to everyone. Well, almost. EDM, which has taken over most music festivals, was literally regulated to the back, moving from its usual spot inside the now-closed Sports Arena to the appropriately-titled Woods Stage, which was lively, but clearly lacking the usual fist-pumping kiddie crowd. The biggest “DJ” act of the festival was Moby, who is old enough to be Avicii’s dad. And, to be honest this isn’t a bad thing. Not to sound like Clint Eastwood raving about the “Pussy Generation,” but going to see actual “live performances” at a music festival you pay good money for is a bit refreshing.

Crave - FYF girls