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Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

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fyf banner 2 e1346708701682 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

“The smog was heavy, my eyes were weeping from it,
the sun was hot, the air stank, a regular hell is L.A.”
-Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Hours later, I’m still sneezing dust. Bits of dirt remain caked on my scalp. My feet scream and ache from the loose pebbles or jagged shards of mulch that crept into my shoes all weekend. Skin’s on fire, eyes feel dull, and head is weak — they don’t make it easy in Los Angeles, CA.

Since 2004, Sean Carlson has hosted the “best weekend of the summer” for those in the City of Angels. FYF Fest, originally titled Fuck Yeah Fest prior to 2009, showcases the elite talent circulating within the indie and alternative market. What once was held at Echo Park’s Echoplex has now become a full-fledging outdoor festival that takes over Los Angeles State Historic Park for two days. It’s one long line of stages, tirelessly pumping out music for 12 consecutive hours each day.

What’s remarkable about Carlson’s venture is that there’s little to no corporate presence. The stages lack branding — in fact, last year the four were named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — and whatever companies do appear are local and fitting for the scene, with the slight exception of this year’s Red Bull station. Vintage clothing, used records, funky eyewear, or non-profit organizations litter the festival’s makeshift market and countless festivalgoers take advantage. Strong attention is also given to the city’s diverse food truck population and each day new trucks load in.

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Photo by Summer Dunsmore

It’s a damn brutal weekend, though. Compounded by endless heat and mischievous dustings, the two day’s large-scale hours (noon to midnight) tears apart the body piece by piece. It’s ridiculous complaining about perfect weather and a healthy schedule. However, around the eighteenth hour of the weekend, when your body starts pivoting and shutting down, the only artist that sounds remotely viable is Aloe Vera.

Admittedly, the festival takes all of this into consideration. Multiple tents were erected this year for shade, misting centers were scattered about, and just about everywhere vendors could be heard selling affordable water. There was even an area where a few guys were shooting cold air at passersby. In other words, as long as you didn’t get all Christopher McCandless on everyone, and you took full advantage of the amenities, you sneaked by with maybe a sunburn.

All weekend festivalgoers called FYF a “mini Coachella” and, in a way, they’re right. Except, there’s something still young and seemingly underground about its character. Carlson has effectively claimed a stake in the land, a piece of the pie if you will, and one might argue it’s a bolder, more thrilling taste. Refused, The Faint, Beirut, and M83 were all top-billed headliners this year and yet it still felt like a national event. Technically, it already is.

fyf ted maider 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Ted Maider

That’s something to appreciate and cherish. In an industry that’s flooding — seriously, try and name a state that doesn’t throw a music festival — it’s always exciting to see one that’s sailing on high seas. FYF is and if Carlson keeps his guns close, it’s unlikely he’ll stop throwing the area’s best summer soiree. One last thing to consider: For a city so hellbent on access and exclusivity, isn’t it a fucking relief to find something so trendy that’s accessible by anyone? Even you?

P.S. Does anyone know what that weird mushroom cloud was on Sunday afternoon? Spooky.

-Michael Roffman
President/Editor-in-Chief

Saturday, September 1st

the orwells 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

The Orwells – Spring St. Stage – 12:25 p.m.

Chicago’s youngest export — seriously, we’re talking late teens — kicked the rooster by cooking from a peppered batter of Detroit flavors (MC5, the Stooges) and UK aftertastes (The Fall, Wire). “Thanks for getting up early everybody,” lanky, Dee Snider-haired frontman Mario Cuomo remarked. The ample crowd, littered mostly with similar teenagers, split their brains during the post-punk finesse of “In My Bed”, which bubbled softly over the California locals. They’ve yet to shed their baby faces, but Cuomo’s pack of rascals would be the envy of any college graduate guitarist sulking over tabs for Elvis Costello and The Jam. -Michael Roffman

soft pack 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

The Soft Pack – Main St. Stage – 1:30 p.m.

Three years later, Soft Pack‘s Matt Lamkin has a rare case of Morrisons. He’s pure Jim on the outside, but a well-advised Van in the guts. It’s a choice move, though, evolving the band’s more traditional pop punk to something agreeably mature and everlasting. Eschewing past any oldies, including “C’mon” or “Answer to Yourself”, the San Diego outfit punted half a dozen new tracks off their forthcoming LP, Strapped, due September 25th. “Head on Ice”, “They Say” and “Tallboy” thumb through a myriad of influences, from Dire Straits to Costello to the aforementioned Van Morrison. Saxophonist and keyboardist Tony Maimone shuffled this new deck by injecting ’70s FM soul into scorching tracks like “Bobby Brown” and set closer “Captain Ace”. When they offered up a crinkled rendition of their first single, “Bright Side”, the changes became deafening. -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Moonface – Main St. Stage – 2:30 p.m.

“We’ve never played in LA before,” Spencer Krug admitted, “it’s typically beautiful outside.” Quite astute. The unforgiving afternoon sun sure looked nice, but really only melted away any hopes to stave off dehydration. Nevertheless, Moonface with Siinai brought the proverbial clouds. Opening with last year’s eight-minute synth tornado “Fast Peter”, Krug wasted no time segueing into other electronic storms like “Quick Fire, I Tried” or “I’m Not the Phoenix Yet”. Whether he’s anchored to his console or meandering aimlessly with his mic, the multi-outfit leader is a surreal figure to behold, whose real theatrics lie strictly in those signature vocals of his. A nail-biting cut of “Headed for the Door” zigzagged through a maze of layers, which included a frantic reading by Krug of an unidentified book. It all felt very collegiate, but also slightly rewarding to what was apparently the hippest crowd at FYF all day. “We’re looking at a sea of sunglasses,” Krug observed. “A crowd of cool.” -Michael Roffman

two gallants 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012
Photo by Cap Blackard

Two Gallants – Main St. Stage – 3:30 p.m.

Crunchy country alternative — or, alt-Americana according to our own Mike Madden — can be a cyclical genre to absorb. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel do it well, though. Strangling an admirable afternoon crowd, the two tinkered through past favorites like ”Despite What You’ve Been Told” or “Nothing to You” but mostly brandished a truckload of new material off their first full-length in five years, The Bloom and the Blight. “Ride Away” and ”My Love Won’t Wait” wafted about with that new car smell, exuding just enough rust to keep things consistent. It’s easy to get lost in this stuff, especially if you’ve ever spent a feverish season shacked up with Saddle Creek brands — and really, who hasn’t? -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Cap Blackard

The Eric Andre Show – Broadway St. Stage – 3:35 p.m.

FYF’s afternoon comedy lineup was a mixed bag where the strange reigned, and the more traditional stand-up fell flat. The show was well-hosted by Greg Barris who regaled the crowd with a fun game you can play in the shower if you’ve got a farmer’s tan and other stories. First performer Jim Hamilton served up lackluster wordplay to minimal audience appreciation. Following him, the awful-on-purpose funnyman Neil Hamburger killed. In between phlegmy coughs he berated FYF (“like Woodstock ’99, except with more sexual assaults”) and the whole of the music industry from Dinosaur Jr. to Crosby, Stills, & Nash (“the worst part about being gang-raped by [them] is their three-part harmonies”). Then, Leo Allen (Comedy Bang Bang) delivered some decent laughs on the perils of going to a pet store post-breakup, but he was overshadowed by the weirdness he was sandwiched in-between: Hamburger and headliner Eric Andre.

eric andre show cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

Eric Andre’s Adult Swim television show is a surrealistic force to be reckoned with in the world of late night talk shows. It turns out it holds up pretty well in the middle of the day, too. The show featured the first live appearance of the house jazz band, chaos, destruction, a musical guest (show favorite, Evangelos), a faux celebrity appearance (“Russel Brand”), and, yes, a real celebrity who has no idea what they’re in for (the Octomom). Andre’s co-host for the afternoon was Byron Bowers, who opened the show with a short but exceptional routine which saw him using the mic stand to illustrate how a black wizard would ride a Nimbus 5000. Then, Andre ran through the audience screaming to make it up to the stage and proceeded to beat his desk apart with a baseball bat. The desk was replaced, only to be crushed again in the midst of interviewing Octomom, at which point Andre poured milk on himself, stripped down to novelty underwear, and started a mosh pit. The crowd licked it up. -Cap Blackard

the vaselines cap blackard 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

The Vaselines – Hill St. Stage – 4:55 p.m.

The Scottish alternative rockers were one of many legacy acts on Saturday, but probably the oldest by far. No difference: Eugene Kelly and France McKee gelled with timeless chemistry that was at times charming and also ultimately forced. Recent material like the much too self-aware “I Hate the 80s” or the all-too-Pixies-like “The Devil’s Inside Me” stumbled about — probably because 2010’s Sex with an X is unremarkable to begin with — yet it was their personality that saved the set. “I’ve just noticed that Franny has her fuck me shoes on,” Kelly observed, to which McKee spit back, “I had my fuck me shoes on last night and nobody seemed to notice.” This lead into one of the afternoon’s most choice moments: a pitch perfect rendition of ”Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” just as the sun petered over the city’s skyline. Is it any surprise they followed that with “Molly’s Lips”? The guy in the Nirvana shirt (because, really, there’s always a guy in a Nirvana shirt) probably enjoyed that double-decker surprise. -Michael Roffman

future islands 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

Future Islands – Hill St. Stage – 6:05 p.m.

Future Islands‘ frontman, Samuel T. Herring, delivered the most incredible performance of the day. Herring’s on-stage presence is absolutely Shakespearean – body clenching, dancing and swinging – owning his lyrics with and uncanny passion, accompanied by the band’s album-perfect backing. Whether singing his mystic-tinged words or barking like Tom Waits, Herring exuded a jovial and loving aura. It was awe-inspiring, and what’s more, they started early to make time for more songs. What gentlemen. -Cap Blackard

chromatics cap blackard 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

Chromatics – Spring St. Stage – 6:35 p.m.

Johnny Jewel’s first brand of the weekend enjoyed the luxury of performing to another National Geographic-worthy sunset in Los Angeles. The very chic Chromatics returned to FYF in true form, strutting in with “Tick of the Clock” which morphed seamlessly into Kill for Love‘s midnight marauder of a track, “Lady”. Vocalist Ruth Radelet never once tried to push the crowd, weighing heavily on her icy vocals to impress. They did, especially on spacey flair like “Kill for Love” or “Back from the Grave”. It helped that her suport twinkles with talent. Drummer Nat Walker treated his drum kit like a makeshift command center, exercising each track with thoughtful percussion, while guitarist Adam Miller needled through Jewel’s layered atmospheres. To close out the set, Radelet channeled Kate Bush (“Running Up that Hill”) and Neil Young (“Into the Black”), smirking with delight at the thousands that stuck around. Sure, she kept stoic through and through, but that smile could sell anyone on Italo disco. Then again, so could Jewel’s glittery tears. -Michael Roffman

james blake 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

James Blake – Spring St. Stage – 7:50 p.m.

It’s official: James Blake can never tour alone again. Supported by guitarist Mark McAnchens and percussionist Kevin Andros, the UK singer-songwriter, producer, and post-dubstep pioneer amassed one of the largest crowds at the Spring St. Stage. Opening with an amped up rendition of “Unluck”, Blake orchestrated such a forceful energy that some nearby festivalgoers remarked that they were choking from the warbled bass. “Thanks for coming out in such force,” he smiled and continued on.

An emotional hour followed with Blake running through most of last year’s eponymous full-length debut. The erratic breakdown on “I Never Learnt to Share” torched many hairs, while the reflective nature of “Lindisfarne I & II” scored many Hollywood kisses under the city’s looming moonlight. Blake appeared distressed he had to end things early, but that’s just the nature of a festival set. Still, he was arguably one of the night’s true headliners, and anyone who witnessed “The Wilhelm Scream” knew things weren’t ever going to peak after that. -Michael Roffman

tycho fyffest ted maider 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Ted Maider

Tycho – Broadway St. Stage – 8:45 p.m.

I saw Tycho in San Diego, CA three months ago, and it was a strong show – the band was precise, doctoral, the setting and mood were right. However, something was off on Saturday at Broadway St. Stage, aka “The Tent” – the music of Tycho seemed too laid back for that stage, perhaps to be better enjoyed at Spring St. where it could get the acoustics and stage lighting it deserves. Still, hits like “Dictaphone’s Lament” and “Adrift” were inherent crowd pleasers, and Scott Hansen and Co. had an overall good showing at the festival. -Summer Dunsmore

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Quicksand – Spring St. Stage – 9:10 p.m.

Walter Schreifels always sounds good. He’s been a veteran of the post-hardcore scene for some three decades now. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see that Quicksand‘s reunion gig went according to plan. Towering Marshall stacks lined the Spring St. Stage, where a very male-centric crowd gathered around to bang their heads and shake some memories of the lazy ’90s. On target, Schreifels jarred their thoughts with set openers “Omission” and “Unfulfilled”, two tracks that date back to their 1990 eponymous EP. Schreifels received full support from guitarist Tommy Capone, drummer Alan Cage, and bassist Sergio Vega, who all made sure classics like “Thorn in My Side” and set closer “Landmine Spring” were pitch perfect.

Here’s Quicksand’s dilemma, though: Unlike, say, Refused or similar legacy acts, this New York outfit’s genre hasn’t exactly birthed anything to champion in recent memory. This relegates Quicksand to a specific time and place where post-hardcore was something still unique and not dilapidated and shrunken by FM radio. The early aughts weren’t kind to this genre, and as a result, it’s left an irritating aftertaste. Regardless, it was nice to catch them, and they fully delivered, but it pretty much stops there — at least for me. -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Ted Maider

M83 – Main St. Stage – 9:25 p.m.

Anthony Gonzalez and M83 are on maybe their fourth or fifth U.S. run in support of last year’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Yet they still manage to surprise and influence even the most cynical passersby. Having never seen M83 in-person before — despite countless chances — I was beyond curious to check into their set at FYF. No surprise: They lived up to the hype, conducting orchestral, triumphant versions of their signature anthems onstage. Mandatory jewels like “Reunion”, “Graveyard Girl”, or the psuedo-religious experience that is “Midnight City” met many of the crowd’s innate demands, but Gonzalez offered up a unique hat trick by unlocking his Tron:Legacy remix of “Fall”. The crackling, thunderous theme only enhanced what was already a dynamite set, topped only by the predictable, but no less rigorous finale of “Couleurs”. It’s a sweeping, pummeling, and emotional closer that works off the band’s contagious chemistry and, really, everyone needed to be quarantined shortly following. -Summer Dunsmore

refused fyf 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Ted Maider

Refused – Main St. Stage – 10:55 p.m.

There was a time, not so long ago, when only a certain sector of people knew about Refused. Now, they’re everybody’s favorite hardcore punk band, and their twenty-something year old songs pack a bigger punch than ever. Headlining FYF doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve “made it,” but it certainly means you’re well-respected within the punk community, and you can put on a spectacle of a performance. Keyword: spectacle. Consider the set’s opener, the deadly and intimidating “Worms of the Senses”, in which the crowd exploded and crowd surfers popped up like whack-a-moles.

The band quickly maintained this energy with “Rather Be Dead” and “Liberation Frequencies”, to which singer Dennis Lyxzen spent the duration of these songs swinging his microphone like a mace. What’s more, he decided to climb all the staging and amplifiers, only amplifying the insanity. It’s a performance like this that lives up to the top-tier fury sealed within 1998’s landmark album, The Shape of Punk to Come, and explains why they headlined FYF. Really, what else could have followed that M83 set? -Ted Maider

Sunday, September 2nd

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Allah-lahs – Main St. Stage – 1:00 p.m.

On that dusty noon, the Allah-Las were like an oasis in an urban desert. Opening with the title track from their EP, Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind), the California natives played easy-going, psychedelic jams for a crowd sweating and swaying to the beat. The all-instrumental “Sacred Sands” – a song that begs any crowd to yield to its sound – was the highlight of the short, but groovy, set. They also played “Catamaran” and “Long Journey” from the EP, in addition to some new tracks that left fans in anticipation for the band’s full-length. -Summer Dunsmore

wild nothing 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

Wild Nothing – Hill St. Stage – 2:45 p.m.

“You’ll have to forgive us. We tune a lot in our fucking show and it’s especially hard in the sunlight,” Jack Tatum meekly stated. The sun was blinding, but fitting for his dreamy, romantic work, despite the title of his new LP: Nocturne. The album’s opening track, “Shadow”, tugged at the proverbial curtain, which really fell wayside once “Golden Haze” galloped soon after. “Only Heather”, another Nocturne track, lifted several feet, while “Chinatown” was all too fitting given the park’s location. A bright mix between The Cure or Dream Academy alongside more recent acts like Real Estate or Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing excels in capturing those dance hall moments of the past, when things were pretty simple. It sure felt that way Sunday afternoon. -Michael Roffman

david cross 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

David Cross, Garfunkle and Oates – Broadway St. – 2:45 p.m.

Sunday’s afternoon comedy was decidedly more conventional than the previous day, and a solid show of comedic force. Musical comedy duo Garfunkle and Oates took the stage and performed three songs. Their sharp harmonies and bitter words delivered killer laughs and their cunning mixture of crude, cute, and insightful won over the audience fast. Their set consisted of “The Fade Away” (how California girls dump guys), “29 and 31” (youthful hope versus crazed desperation), and a new song, “God’s Loophole”, about saving vaginal virginity for marriage, but keeping your backdoor open for business. The chorus “fuck me in the ass because I love Jesus,” really spoke to the crowd. Brendon Walsh took the stage next and performed crowd-pleasing jokes about 9-11 and readings of letters he’d sent to Scotch Magic Tape and Garden Burger in the late ’90s. Brent Weinbach was the weaker performance of the show. His awkward corporate speaker demeanor was intriguing, but fell flat with the audience, as did many of his more experimental jokes.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Comedy headliner David Cross hit the stage just as a band on the Spring St. Stage started. He’d come with a visual presentation prepared, but the projector’s bulb had broken and the fest couldn’t provide a replacement or a good solution. Between that and the blown assurances that he wouldn’t be competing with concert noise pollution, Cross started the show on a bitter note. But after putting those hindrances aside he jumped into a full set. Tales were told about brilliant tattoo ideas he’s had (“do not see Memento”), the problem with our generation (“My name’s Lucien and I make artisanal rubber bands”), and the true story of him receiving a colonic (“don’t ever do it”). Cross’ ease on stage and conversational dynamism kept the humor coming – it’s easy to see why he’s a master of his craft. -Cap Blackard

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Aesop Rock – Hill St. Stage – 5:00 p.m.

One of the few rap acts present at FYF, Aesop Rock was a genuine respite from the weekend’s distortion and reverb. Spitting alongside his Hail Mary Mallon colleagues Rob Sonic and DJ Big Whiz, the three powered through a medley of favorites, including the group’s highly addictive single “Smock”, off last year’s Are You Gonna Eat That?. Rock and Sonic complement each other well and surprisingly spend little time working the crowd too much. When they do it’s never disruptive and always with finesse. As Sonic delivered a “never before heard jam”, likely off his forthcoming album Alice in Thunderdome, Rock hyped the crowd as if each direction was a natural part of the song. They’re also hilarious together, whether it’s playing games with letters or cutting off people’s hair. Yeah, that last part isn’t fiction; during “Racing Stripes”, a barber shaved a reluctant participant’s head on-stage. He looked like a monk afterwards, but he was “the heart of LA”, according to Rock. Your move, Supercuts. -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Dinosaur Jr. – Main St. Stage – 6:40 p.m.

There was something eerily beautiful about Dinosaur Jr.‘s set at FYF. As the sun drunkenly fell behind the distant hills, piercing rays of light masked the entire Main St. Stage. so that J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph were simply three loud shadows. Depending on the angle, one could catch Mascis’ hair burn to a lush gold as he patrolled through the equally sentimental “Thumb”. Despite a new album around the corner (I Bet on Sky, due out September 18th), the Amherst, MA trio kept things rooted in the past, serving up hits like “Out There”, “Feel the Pain”, and their now iconic cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”. No complaints, but it’s always a thrill to hear how Mascis handles the new tracks live. We’ll just have to wait for the season of the pumpkins. -Michael Roffman

fyf 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Ted Maider

Glass Candy – Broadway St. – 7:00 p.m.

Johnny Jewel returned Sunday night to really cut loose. Those who weren’t feeling Chromatics’ refrigerated sounds Saturday evening certainly warmed up to the dance party Glass Candy hosted. There’s still a vintage quality to Jewel’s work here, but its thick bass lines and flowery synth lines sound stripped from Club 54 rather than its dark city streets outside. Frontwoman Ida No is also the direct antithesis to Ruth Radelet and it’s all in her wiring. “If life was crowd surfing, life would be all good,” she exclaimed before “Warm in the Winter”, cementing her decision on the topic, to which she later dove in. Exciting stage presence is one thing, but it all circles back to Jewel’s ability to switch gears. This snapshot was enough to prove he could potentially throw his two cents at any electronic festival worldwide. -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Cap Blackard

Desaparecidos – Main St. Stage – 7:55 p.m.

It’s wild how timely Conor Oberst’s Desaparecidos is in a year where Japandroids’ Celebration Rock or Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory sit high on critics’ top favorites lists. When the initial notes for “Greater Omaha” rang over the field, thousands screamed in delight and several clawing hands tried desperately to reach the Saddle Creek supergroup. It was as if every soul released ten years of angst just at the sight of seeing them.

Quite a sight, too. Sporting greasy, straggly hair, a smoker’s beard, and his Vietnam veteran’s best, Oberst looked less like the tear-dropping songwriter in recent years and more like a heroined out Eddie Vedder. With strong support by bassist Landon Hedges, guitarist Denver Dalley, keyboardist Ian McElroy, and drummer Matt Baum, Oberst cracked open his rib cage over each track, sweating through a never-ending parade of past favorites, including heroic renditions of “Man And Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)”, “Mall of America”, and “Survival of the Fittest/It’s a Jungle Out There”.

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Photo by Cap Blackard

There’s a reason Oberst dusted off this outfit again: We’re in election year. While Bright Eyes’ political material has always been urgent in its ways, Desaparecidos’ rallying distortion and engulfing reverb paints Oberst as a manic and aggressive activist. The group’s sole full-length, 2002’s Read Music/Speak Spanish, is layered with lyrics that speak much louder today and it’s no surprise their newer material is just as damning. Midway through the set, Oberst broke his silence to discuss their new tracks: “MariKKKopa”, “Backsell”, and an untitled ode to Bradley Manning.

“Anytime a government segregates a population, they need to be called out on it — with great anger,” Oberst declared prior to “MariKKKopa”, specifically about the immigration issues in Arizona. They later followed this demonstration of sorts with a slick cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs”. It was loud, it was gritty, and it was everything rock ‘n’ roll should be. -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Summer Dunsmore

Nicolas Jaar – Broadway St. – 8:15 p.m.

I anticipated a live set by Nicolas Jaar on Sunday night just as much as I looked forward to James Blake’s set on Saturday. Both are musical anomalies in their own right, constructing abstract and experimental layers and tones that either find their way in a live performance or get lost in a bed of synths and racing analog. And though I left Blake’s set more than satisfied, I was torn by Jaar’s set – playing little if anything from his brilliantly conceived debut, “Space Is Only Noise”, he started the performance with a loose rendition of “Colomb”, sounding lost and disorganized all the while. After two songs like this that were beleaguered by a confused sound, Jaar, accompanied by a bass guitar player and a saxophonist (who also managed their own analogs and mixers), finally found his way and started producing the dance beats that the crowd yearned for. -Summer Dunsmore

yeasayer cap blackard 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

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Yeasayer – Main St. Stage – 9:10 p.m.

With Fragrant World a little over a week old, the Brooklyn troupe opened their set with its lead single, “Henrietta”. Beneath what appeared to be a steel replication of the Aggro Crag from Nickelodeon Guts — by far the most complicated stage set up of the weekend — Chris Keating weaved in and out of the track’s reggae beats, made even thicker live by the band’s expansive percussion. (Seriously, Stewart Copeland would have a field day with that setup.) This led straight into an ambient mix of All Hour Cymbals single “2080” and another Fragrant track, “Longevity”.

Following this, Keating introduced special guest Kishi Bashi, who performed earlier that day on the nearby Hill St. Stage. “Play the strings for East Los Angeles,” Keating asked of the acclaimed violinist. “Play the strings for Venice.” Here’s where the pain settled in: During their halcyon re-imaging of “O.N.E.”, the minutes inched closer to the start of Twin Shadow’s set. Whoever thought it was a cute idea to put the two up against eachother should be slapped. Granted, it was really the only Sophie’s Choice of the weekend, but it still hurt to walk away from the widespread dance party. -Michael Roffman

twin shadow 2012 cap blackard Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Cap Blackard

Twin Shadow – Spring St. Stage – 9:35 p.m.

Nobody looked happier on stage all weekend than George Lewis, Jr., who started his set off by screaming, “I fucking love this city. I just moved here.” To celebrate, he gave his new neighbors exactly what they wanted: “Five Seconds”. Confess‘ firecracker single elicited a quick singalong and gushy dancing from couples dispersed throughout. Perhaps he was fighting off a bug, but his vocals felt more like used velvet than his traditional silky tones. On follow up tracks “Beg for the Night” or “Golden Light”, a few lines felt a tad underwhelming, but his on-stage mannerisms and off-the-cuff inflections made up the difference. They added to his overall character as the hapless romantic, who makes love and heartbreak cinematic in song form. One true mark of this character surfaced during a stop and go performance of “I Don’t Care”. At each pause, Lewis, Jr. couldn’t help but sneak a smile or two before diving back in. Fucking suave, man. -Michael Roffman

american nightmare ted maider 2012 Festival Review: CoS at FYF Fest 2012

Photo by Ted Maider

American Nightmare – Spring St. Stage – 9:40 p.m.

In the years since their 2004 break up, Boston’s American Nightmare (or Give Up the Ghost) has only found more sustenance. Some fans honor the band by tattooing the AN Angel on their bicep, other veterans contribute to the band’s mythos by preaching about their past live shows in a psuedo-form of oral history. So, was the hype all in vain? Definitely not. Granted, Wes Eisld can’t scream like he could a decade ago, but that was always only a part of the act. What remains is the fan’s apocalyptic energy and the simple fact that American Nightmare cannot (and will not) put on a bad show.

For their nighttime set at FYF, American Nightmare opened with the classic two-slam concussion of “It’s Sometimes Like it Never Started” into “Love American”. In a flash, the nostalgia-hungry crowd erupted into a unmerciful mosh pit, leaving crowd surfers to get tossed away in lieu of a circle pit that spanned the majority of the crowd. Everybody was screaming right along with Eisold, and kept their middle fingers high in the air through and through. The band, too, never slowed down, playing classics like “Hearts”, “Protest Song #00”, and an intense closer of “Farewell”.

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Photo by Ted Maider

In 2003 in Boston, some might have argued American Nightmare were one of the only bands that mattered. Now, hardcore enthusiasts argue the same thing, and judging by the fact this was one of their largest shows, one might agree it’s the truth. -Ted Maider

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Photo by Cap Blackard

The Faint – Spring St. Stage – 10:55 p.m.

It’s been four years since The Faint released its disappointing fifth full-length, Fasciinatiion, but the Omaha collective returned to open arms on Sunday night. Pegged with the task of closing out the festival, the once Saddle Creek mainstay turned a coin and exhibited a tight-yet-reckless chemistry that seemed to scrape away any negative connotations previously inflicted. Looking like Paddington Bear at Manchester’s Hacienda, frontman Todd Fink kicked off the set with a whimper: “Hello, we’re The Faint”.

What followed, however, was a violent wave of fuzz, bass, distortion, and sticky percussion that ignited with “The Unseen Hand” and came to a sweaty, voluptuous conclusion with “Agenda Suicide”. In between, The Faint hammered through their discography, touching upon songs both new (“The Geeks Were Right”, “Mirror Error”) and old (“Worked Up Sexual”, “Desperate Guys”). Given the carnivorous crowd, it’s probably best they skipped “Dropkick the Punks”, but c’mon, how fitting would that have been? -Michael Roffman

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Photo by Gary Copeland

Stay tuned for our continued coverage of FYF Fest 2012 presented by Seagate. This includes expansive photo galleries and exclusive video interviews with Yeasayer, Bradford Cox, Cloud Nothings, Liars, The Soft Pack, Cursive, and many more.

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