It’s that time of year again. FYF Fest is happening this weekend in the city of sunny Los Angeles, California. Having the fortune of being able to go for both days, I am very excited to see a slew of artists crossing several genres, some new, some old, and some reunited again after a hiatus (with the unfortunate exception of Death Grips due to breaking up last July). Here are my 10 most anticipated acts:
10. Run the Jewels
Underground hip-hop’s dream duo of Killer Mike and EL-P make up , who dropped their critically lauded Self-Titled LP last year. They perform with the intensity and finesse that only am extraterrestrial, paranoid veteran of the rap game and a southern fried menace could. It’s pure hip-hop at it’s core, with an experimental twist in EL-P’s beats that adds chaos. The chemistry of these two guys is perfect, like Madvilliany. If you’re a hip-hop head, you might really dig this act.
After a nearly 20 year hiatus, English Shoegaze band Slowdive is back. To put it in simple terms, they make straightforward, hazy, hypnotic, and beautiful music known as Shoegaze. While not as loud, brash, and dissonant sounding as My Bloody Valentine’s piercingly loud shows, Slowdive performs a much more mellow form of Shoegaze that goes into Dream Pop territory similar to that of Cocteau Twins. It’s simple yet effective chill out music for those who want to get lost in world lush waves of sound. If your into any of the bands that were mentioned in this description or want to explore new beautiful music, you might dig their performance.
8. Man Man
Philadelphia hound dogs known as Man Man make experimental music with a blues edge, howling about past lovers and relationships with a primal, uninhibited fury. They use various and obscure instruments such as Chinese funeral horns, sousaphones, toy noisemakers, and much more over a backdrop of drum kits, piano, bass guitar, and electric guitar. While I prefer their older, much more chaotic output to their new material, they still seem to put on a great show according to what I have seen on YouTube. Experimental and even indie rock fans may want to check out these guys.
A fellow native to Los Angeles, Thundercat is a bassist that makes easygoing jazz fusion that is as technical as it is feeling driven. He is known to collaborate frequently with Flying Lotus and even perform live with him. His 2013 album Apocalypse is a great album if your into technical jazz music or just want to space out. Like his jazz fusion peers, he creates music that has a celestial, outer space tinge of weirdness to it. It’s like being on LSD or some drug similar to it, except instead of the terrifying possibility of your trip taking a turn for the worse, everything seems that it will be alright. If you are a Flying Lotus fan or are into jazz-based music, you might want to check this guy out.
6. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks is the side project of the member of critically lauded experimental group Animal Collective. Fans of Animal Collective are probably already aware of this project, but for you that are not, they make psychedelic-tinged indie pop that is inspired by goofy horror movie soundtracks and effects. They make music that while more accessible then Animal Collective’s more experimental output, still packs plenty of surprises and the more pop inspired elements of Centipede Hz or Merriweather Post Pavilion. The band is also having a brief signing session around 2:15 PM for those interested.
5. Future Islands
Without drawing focus to their performance on Late Night with David Letterman, Future Islands is an indie pop trio from Baltimore whose main draw is the unique vocal performance by Samuel T. Herring over minimalistic yet strident synth leads and bass lines, with the addition of drums and guitar. His voice is one that contains fervent energy and heartbreak, being weathered down by past stories of love, breakups, the bliss of childhood, the death of loved ones, etc. It’s these stories he narrates that take his voice from melodic crooning to grave, deep growling that rivals that of a death metal vocalist. It’s a voice that while not for everyone, is sure to please many who are willing to give this band a listen.
4. Built to Spill
Boise’s Built to Spill are indie rock titans who are known to sculpt powerful, emotional, and nostalgia ridden songs with the power of adept guitar playing and the heartfelt, weathered vocals and lyrics of leadman Doug Martsch. They are everything great about American rock music, wailing, distorted guitar leads, great songwriting, great drumming and bass lines to lead the songs. The band also carries an unwavering commitment to putting out music, as Built to Spill have been putting out great and critically acclaimed output with few flops since 1992. They also carry technical, math rock tendencies, which help add an experimental edge in the guitar playing and effects which attracts underground music listeners as well as traditional indie music fans. That being said, I feel like this is an act that isn’t too difficult to get into.
3. Earl Sweatshirt
Odd Future member and Los Angeles native Earl Sweatshirt is known to be a brilliant, dark, funny, clever, and introspective lyricist. Influenced by MF DOOM and Eminem, his debut mixtape EARL saw him rapping about rape, murder, and contained sharp witted shit talk all from a 15-16 year old, with the casual nature of his raping making it all the more startling. In late 2013, he dropped Doris, an introspective and more mature album that traded vileness for lyrics that touched on family affairs, past relationships, peer influence, and personal thoughts of self-worth and the negative world. However, this is all done with the same complicated wordplay and energy that he displayed on earlier work. This being an Odd Future show, it would not be surprising to see moshing taking place, while still containing a level of attention high enough that the audience would allow Earl to perform more solemn, mellow tracks like Chum (one of my favorites from him) and Sunday.
What’s even more exciting are the possibilities of what the show could contain. This being Los Angeles, as well as with Flying Lotus performing, perhaps he might bring out Captain Murphy, Flying Lotus’s cartoonishly villainous rapper alter ego. Maybe Tyler, the Creator might make a guest appearance. New songs might be performed. All I know for a fact is that this performance should be pretty damn dope.
2. The Blood Brothers
Seattle post-hardcore band The Blood Brothers are known to be one of the most acclaimed bands within the scene. After reuniting after a 7 year hiatus, they have promised to perform at FYF Fest 2014. The bands mathematical yet loose fury results in punk music that while containing calculated drum rhythms, bass lines, and guitar leads, is played at an intensity live to where it’s at the near point of collapsing. Johnny Whitney’s jaguar shriek of a voice just adds to the chaos, with Billy Jordan tag teaming vocals with him. It’s organized madness that’s done so effortlessly that it’s a must see for any punk fan with open ears. Expect one hell of a performance.
1. Flying Lotus
Native to Los Angeles, psychedelic, jazz influenced electronic musician Flying Lotus has been known for making twisted, beautiful, and elaborate soundscapes and hip-hop beats, He releases his music under the Warp Records label, a proving ground for groundbreaking electronic and of the past few decades indie rock, folk, etc artists. His 2012 album, Until The Quiet Comes, was one of my favorite albums of that year. The album created a dream world that felt entirely genuine and flowed very smoothly as a complete piece. During one of his DJ sets, he will remix previous material as well as songs from other artists from hip-hop, electronica, etc to create a unique experience that is as organic as it is dope. Steven Ellison, the man behind Flying Lotus has promised via Twitter that he will be bringing out Layer 3, an audio visual experience that creates a new world out of his music, for FYF Fest. At least for me, this set is my most anticipated.
So if you’re heading out to FYF Fest this weekend, remember to wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and enjoy watching your favorite artists. Happy listening!