While 2016 marked my first year attending FYF Fest in Exposition Park, the fest has been around for awhile and it definitely showed in the planning and execution. While I’ve attended festivals meant to elicit a transformation in its attendees, I can’t think of a festival that has transformed itself as much as “F*@# Yeah Festival” has in the past 13 years.
FYF began in 2004 when founder Sean Calson threw a small punk festival at The Echo, and he continues to book and curate the festival with the goal of introducing people to bands that they haven’t heard of or seen before.
Hard to say who hasn’t heard of Kendrick Lamar or LCD Soundsystem, two acts at the top of this year’s lineup, but FYF Fest was my first chance to see either of them live, and when I can look at a fest’s lineup and point out at least two artists that I have always wanted to see live but haven’t had a chance to yet, I know it’s a festival I need to attend.
While the expansion of an Echo-based festival founded in punk roots into a two-day festival at Exposition Park with a lineup including the one of the top hip-hop artists in the world seems counterintuitive, the experience itself didn’t feel forced or “hipster.” In fact, FYF was easily the most relaxing festival I have been to this year.
“Relaxing” feels like a weird word to use to describe attending a festival. In my experience, festivals require a lot of planning and are typically rife with mishaps the kinds of which are usually reserved for family vacations. There’s miscommunication, someone is inevitably late for everything, and little Suzy always forgets her toothbrush!
I’ve heard that the first two years of FYF Fest were plagued with the music equivalent of these mishaps, and it makes sense that whenever a festival moves to a new location and has to bring in outside infrastructure, there are going to be issues, but as of 2016, FYF has it all figured out.
The organizers know what to do in the park, and the fest seems to be running like clockwork, which might be a sign that it’s time to expand again — if everything is running smoothly, is it really a festival in Southern California?
Maybe it’s the collaboration with event presenters Goldenvoice, or maybe it’s the length of time they have been running the festival, but I didn’t notice a single misstep at FYF Fest. It was incredibly easy to get into the festival (though I’ve heard others didn’t share my experience), an incredible number of food trucks and vendors were onsite, and each stage was easy to find.
Most importantly, I was able to see each and every one of the artists that I wanted to see with very little hassle, and thus my weekend was filled with minimal techno, some punk, and, of course, a heavy dose of hip hop! While this sounds like a small accomplishment on FYF’s part, it is something that is very rare to find in a festival.
In the future, I hope to see FYF really stick to its roots of finding new artists, whether from the punk realm as they have done historically or from other genres like electronic, hip hop, and rock, but all in all, I think they struck the perfect balance between the new and emerging acts in 2016!
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