I managed to time my brief interval in Los Angeles on this US tour to the landing of FYF Fest, featuring Guided By Voices, Explosions in the Sky, and the Descendents. On paper, this sounds like a no brainer, but there was the festival’s history, in which last year’s fiasco (many angry reviews here if you scroll down) left festivalgoers thirsty, hungry, needing to pee, and generally pissed off. Which, you know, I could find better ways to spend a Sunday in LA than perpetually grumpy.
But: the band that produced one of my ten-most listened albums of all time (EitS’s THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE). A band that I love so much that I formed my first and only tribute band with some friends (Gelatinous Bleary Vampires being that band). And The Descendents, an absolutely legendary group that I’ve never paid as much attention to as I should.
Plus a schedule that included: OFF!, The Dead Milkmen, Death From Above 1979, The Weakerthans, Cults, Japandroids, Broken Social Scene, Olivia Tremor Control.
So I arrived at a dusty site in central LA with my friends, and hoped for the best.
Herewith, what I would have tweeted if I had had a phone that could have Tweeted without me spending a bajillion dollars.
3:52 PM – “OFF! is the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings of SoCal hardcore. For better and for worse.”
4:10 PM – “This breeze and sand is really abrading my eyeballs. Even with sunglasses on. Ugh.”
4:25 PM – “Does Japandroids sing on-key on record, or is singing off-key their schtick? Pity; they’re pretty amazing otherwise.”
4:28 PM – “I can barely tell when people sing on key, and even I cannot deal with the voices of Japandroids anymore. Olivia Tremor Control, here we come.”
4:35 PM – “FINALLY! For ages, I never got Olivia Tremor Control, but these Beatlesesque melodies are amazing!”
4:47 PM – “Oh, that’s right. OTC also does six-minute drones that induce tedium. Where’s the beer?”
4:49 PM – “Walking from long beer line to short beer line. Cults in the background. I thought I hated them but actually they’re pleasant. Maybe I mixed them up with EMA.”
5:02 PM – “Ah, beer. Strange Boys playing in the background. Pleasant, garage-rocky, undistinguished.”
5:10 PM – “Those kids smoking pot from a pipe next to us must be, like, 12.”
5:33 PM – “The Weakerthans better play ‘Our Retired Explorer‘.”
6:15 PM – “The Weakerthans just blew away everybody else by a large margin, even though they didn’t play ‘Our Retired Explorer’.”
6:27 PM – “This No Age band is pretty good.”
6:38 PM – “Every song by No Age sounds exactly the same. I mean, it’s a good song, but: still.”
6:45 PM – “Let’s stay for Four Tet.”
6:54 PM – “Oh, boy, a guy with a laptop. Let’s get dinner.”
7:40 PM – “Well, if I had to wait in line 40 minutes for an average cheesesteak, at least having Broken Social Scene for a soundtrack is a good palliative. I don’t know their records, but they’re a great festival band. All big parts, all the time. Plus a Modest Mouse cover!”
7:58 PM – “Skipping Girls to go get as close to the stage for GBV as possible.”
8:25 PM – “And here is GBV”
8:36 PM – “Shit. This is kind of actively disappointing. Second guitar is loud and arbitrary, Drums are slow and lost. Maybe the worst of the 7+ gigs I’ve seen.”
8:45 PM – “Except for the fact that that version of “A Good Flying Bird” BLEW MY FUCKING MIND.”
8:49 PM – “Wow. Fight just almost broke out next to me because burly guy was pissed thin annoying guy put girl on his shoulders and blocked everyone’s view. His defense: ‘but it’ll look awesome on the DVD!’ People. Are. Idiots.”
9:00 PM – “Okay, everyone, including me, is in the GBV groove now. But Weakerthans still win the day.”
9:20 PM – “Oh yeah, my eyes feel better now.”
9:43 PM – “Oh, that’s right. I basically have never listened to the Descendents ever.”
9:47 PM – “This is simultaneously awesome and not that interesting.”
10:03 PM – “They just brought a bunch of kids onstage to help them recite the All Commandments. That’s pretty cool.”
10:20 PM – “OK, fun, but time to go get a good position for Explosions in the Sky.”
10:45 PM – “I can’t remember names to save my life, but this first song is off THE EARTH IS NOT A COLD DEAD PLACE and three notes in it’s already the best thing at the fest.”
10:57 PM – “So apparently the reason that EitS are huge is that they’re a makeout soundtrack for douchebags. Sigh.”
11:05 PM – “Oh, fuck it, I can’t stay bitter and cynical. This is fucking gorgeous. There’s the silhouette of downtown LA in the distance, with the moon hanging over it, and I feel less alone in the universe. What the hell else can I ask for from music?”
11:40 PM – “That’s over too soon but was fucking beautiful. I guess I’ll go see what I can of Dead Milkmen (per my cousin’s request to ‘see a Dead Milkmen song for him’.)”
11:50 PM – “OK, I was not expecting to see the Dead Milkmen do a cover of Sonic Youth’s ‘Death Valley 69′. This is kind of amazing, even though it tells me nothing about what the rest of the show was like.”
11:55 PM – “Death From Above 1979 – 3rd duo of the day. Aggressively tedious. Eating a piece of pizza and drinking lemonade.”
12:03 AM – “So. Everything ran on time. Short lines for most things except food. Dust was annoying but overall, could have been a lot worse. Thank you, FYF Fest.”