To the nearly 40,000 people who attended Fuck Yeah Fest 2015 on Sunday and Monday, the music festival still feels like Los Angeles’ best-kept secret.
In its twelfth year, FYF has flourished as the crown jewel of LA’s lively summer scene. Even with radio-ready headliners jampacked over the course of two days and massive crowds swarming into the five stages set up within the Los Angeles Memorial Stadium and Exposition Park, FYF has maintained its low-key, local ethos, an appeal that has drawn Angelenos and out-of-towners in equal measure.
In many ways, FYF is still a reflection of Sean Carlson’s punky adolescent taste — Sunday’s lawn stage was representative of the devoted underground punks who came to retain the fest’s “fuck-yeah” roots, as melodic hardcore act Title Fight and the increasingly elusive Death Grips presented multiple chances for attendees to get their mosh on.
Upon passing through the guarded barriers of the Park on Saturday, attendees expecting to run to their opening act of choice were greeted with a five-man mariachi band — a slice of local flavor for the non-Angelenos in town. Guests strolled through the precisely arranged venue, occasionally pausing to snap a picture with the massive poop and eggplant emoji blow-up statues or nab an artisanal popsicle, courtesy of Front Porch Pops.
FYF launched with a casual air. Alvvays’ set ceremoniously kicked off the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon, coupled with performances by garage-rock mainstay Mikal Cronin and an hourslong set from Horse Meat Disco.
Yet, the impending arrival of Kanye West, whose headlining set Saturday night was a last-minute addition after Frank Ocean’s abrupt withdrawal from the fest, loomed heavily over the day. Fans adorned in Yeezus tour swag lingered around the Main Stage, itching to find a shady spot to camp out for the day for his set.
And the anticipation was warranted.
West was overjoyed to be back in the public eye, sneaking a few grins and pulling out all the stops to excite the crowd. Bringing out Rihanna and Travis Scott over the course of his nearly two-hour-long set, West celebrated the best of his favorite artist: himself. “We’re gonna do a hit a minute,” West announced giddily before finishing off his set with a mega-medley of his career’s greatest hits.
Not to be outdone by ‘Ye, Run the Jewels nearly ran away with the entire night – their antagonistic yet affable set was cemented by the crowd’s chants to “lie, cheat, steal, kill, win, repeat – everybody’s doing it!” Chet Faker’s sultry croons served as a calm intermission between the two rap-heavy sets and the soulful eye of an exhaustive storm.
Sunday languished, considerably more relaxed and informal than the previous day, as attendees floated from act to act freely without the intense urgency from the night before.
Hip couples swayed to Mac DeMarco’s swoon-worthy “Still Together” on the Lawn Stage, with DeMarco’s toothy grin displayed on the Jumbotrons. Across the Park, Berkeley-based Toro y Moi’s set on the Main Stage served as a disco-hour break as the midday sunlight faded.
Even the evening’s headlining sets were more casual. “It’s time to free the nipple,” Solange proclaimed midway through her performance. Unclasping her bra and throwing it stage left, Solange celebrated female liberation, an act of rebellion that felt like a small homage to FYF’s gritty roots.
As the night drew to a close and folks began pulling up Lyft to catch a ride home, one festival-goer picked up his iPhone to reunite with his squad. Departing from FKA twigs’ mind-numbing “Congregata” performance piece, he shouted over the din of the crowd.
“Meet me by the ghost emoji,” he commanded as he flocked to the pale-white beacon. The ghost emoji marked the final destination for many weary attendees. In a way, it was a symbol for FYF 2015 itself – the last year the festival will feel like a locals-only haunt.
Contact Joshua Bote at [email protected]