Photos of Mothers and Band of Skulls at the Showbox in Seattle, WA on Sunday, September 18, 2016.
All photos by Eric Tra.
Enjoy our photos of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tame Impala at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, California on Saturday, September 3, 2016. All photos by Michael Baca.
Photo: Elli Papayanopoulos for FYF Fest
By: Fiona Hannigan
Saturday at FYF Fest 2016 seemed like enough of a lineup to make the festival shine, but Sunday put it over the top. From amazing guest performances, to legendary artists showing giving it their all (looking at you Charles Bradley & Grace Jones). Father John Misty performed in typical sardonic fashion, Young Thug pumped the bass and brought the party, and Beach House spun their dreamy tunes. But these were our favorite moments of the day.
Photo: Elli Papayanopoulos for FYF Fest
A huge crowd, especially for a 2:45pm set, swarmed the Club stage for Memphis musician Julien Baker, and rightfully so. Hers was one of the most unexpectedly delightful performances of the weekend, and a great way to start off Sunday. Her heavenly vocals filled space, but with just her and her guitar, the performance was intimate and warm. Her voice carried, swooping and arching, and her guitar rang out harmonically, accompanied only by the occasional pedal and backing track. Her songs are tender, yet fulfilling, and she took the audience on an emotional journey that could make your chest ache. With just the right amount of lightness to balance it out, she was a treat to see live.
Julia Holter followed Julien Baker on the Club stage. This was her first festival in Los Angeles, she mentioned, “So good to be performing in my hometown.” It was heartfelt. Her unique musical style mixed sounds in an enchanting way, with a tight, talented band and earnest vocals. With almost grungy bass and steady beats, to more light, cascading keys and drums–not to mention the rich strings in her band–the musical layering they created made for a dynamic, rich performance. Her full vocals, despite being rather mixed back, carried the songs forward. While at some points delicate and crooning, they didn’t shy away from discord. We heard her crooning lullabies, foot-tapping songs, and experimental tracks. Playing primarily from 2015’s brilliant Have You In My Wilderness, she and her band dazzled between more sparse and simple sound to rich and layered and back again. She seemed to deconstruct the songs and put them back together again, her classical training shining. Hers was a performance with a serious edge, and a beautiful musical experience.
Photo: Laura June Kirsch for FYF Fest
Devonté “Dev” Hynes has proved himself to be an incredible talent, and never disappoints live, but he left this one to the women performers to steal the show. He performed on the Main stage, truly bringing his excellently produced work alive, but not without the help of some surprising guest appearances. Blood Orange set the atmosphere by beginning with a reading of “For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem),” the poem by Ashlee Haze that appears on Freetown Sound’s opener “By Ourselves.” He then launched into the groovy “Augustine” from the same album, showing off the great full band accompanying him.
Sparkly sounds announced the beginning of “Better Than Me,” where the audience was surprised with featured artist Carly Rae Jepsen coming up to sing. She strutted on the stage and got the crowd really dancing. It didn’t stop there. Zuri Marley sang her part with “Love Ya,” and Sky Ferreira took over to sing “You’re Not Good Enough,” (from earlier album Cupid Deluxe) raw and beautiful. When he wasn’t sharing the stage gracefully, Dev was dancing across the stage, full of earnest emotion. He was joined by yet another collaborator, the shimmering Empress Of, who took the stage for “Best to You.” The jewel beats moved the crowd, and the contagious verses had everyone singing along. Even Blood Orange had to stop and say, “Hot damn that was fine.” In between these killer guest performances, Dev shredded on the guitar, the horns and synth carried the songs forward, and the backdrop shifted between cityscapes layered with images of dancing.
After taking things to a super funky place with “You’re Not Good Enough,” just when the audience thought the amazing guest appearances were over, none other than Nelly Furtado took the stage for their single “Hadron Collider.” As they sang together, facing each other as if they were the only ones there, the crowd went wild. The dancing could not stop as Blood Orange rounded out the set with drum-heavy “Juicy 1-4,” the immediate crowd pleaser “It Is What It Is,” and the funky, danceable “Uncle ACE.” No one wanted this amazing dance party to end, and the lady power stuck with everyone throughout the rest of the day.
Photo: Laura June Kirsch for FYF Fest
James Murphy of LCD SOundsystem said it right: “If you missed Grace Jones, you fucked up.” No disrespect to Mac Demarco or Beach House (great acts whose sets overlapped with Jones), but Jones’s performance lived up to her legendary status. She moved like no one else, donning an array of elaborate costumes, backed by a phenomenal band and even her own male pole dancer: Tarzan. At one point she hula-hooped, danced, and sang for at least 8 minutes without a blink. She was empowering and awe-inspiring, and just may have stolen the whole weekend. If you don’t know who she is, look her up, and get listening.
Photo: Laura June Kirsch for FYF Fest
An enormous crowd swarmed the Main stage for perhaps the most highly-anticipated performance of the weekend: LCD Soundsystem. James Murphy and Co. kept the crowd going for almost two hours. “One of our favorite things to do at festivals is to play after the headliner. Everyone either wants to see you, or is too fucked up to go home. Tonight is kind of like that, since we got to play after one of our heroes,” Murphy said in another nod to Grace Jones. A huge disco ball turned the stage into a dance hall and some really interesting birds-eye-view camera work appeared on the side-screens. Both added a really complementary visual element to the performance. The band powerfully played through their discography, transitioning quickly as if every single song was the one everyone had been waiting for. The audience clapped along until their hands were raw, sang along until their lungs hurt, and moved effortlessly despite everyone’s tired feet from the long weekend. It was the only way to end a weekend so packed with talent.
Photo: Todd Seelie for FYF Fest
By: Fiona Hannigan
This year’s FYF fest had a lineup to write home about, and Saturday was no exception–from Hot Chip to Vince Staples, from Classixx to Tame Impala. Not to mention one of the most insane arrays of food we’ve seen at a music festival. There were a lot of highlights, but here are a few of our favorite sets that we saw on Saturday.
Peter Bjorn & John
Peter, Bjorn & John greeted the Trees stage by kicking off their set with “A Long Goodbye” off their new album Breaking Point. The air sparkled with their sunny 70s pop, and their ABBA influence rang clear. The whole band was moving vivaciously, but Peter Morén, on guitar and vocals, jumped up and down, and his contagious energy kept going the whole show. In case anyone was confused, the band members wore name buttons on their “yackets” Björn Yttling on bass and John Eriksson on drums—all harmoniously on vocals. Joined by Klaus and Freya, touring band members on percussion and keys, their endearing Swedish charisma charmed the crowd. The band moved quickly through their set list, joking, “Efficiency! Next song!” Peter floated across the stage with ease, his energy echoing through the crowd and elevating their pop-heavy new material. During the fun synth of “It Don’t Move Me,” he disappeared into the crowd effortlessly, only to return invigorated.
After a few more deliciously danceable songs, mostly from their new album, the moment much of the crowd had been waiting for arrived. A song “ten years old, not yet a teenager” Peter laughed. “We’re going to sing together” he said, as they launched into their 2006 whistle-laden hit “Young Folks.” The crowd erupted and danced like they were the ones turning 10, not the song. Freya’s velvet vocals got a hearty applause, and their whistling is just as impressive after all these years. How to follow up the song that lifted them up and has haunted them ever since? By playing the appropriate, and perhaps just as great “Second Chance,” about being stuck in the past. The funky song was the perfect sequel. PB&J (“a terrible sandwich” as Peter said earlier) rounded out the set with another return to 2006’s Writer’s Block, “Objects Of My Affection.” The steady drum march crescendoed into a phenomenal drum solo by John, matched by Peter giving his all in a fluid dance onstage. After a pretty tight show, the band let loose and rocked out, in the perfect finale—proving they’ve still got what it takes.
Photo: Everett Fitzpatrick for FYF Fest
The Oakland based rapper lit up the vine wrapped Club tent in what was one of the most fun sets of the weekend. She was preceded by hype man DJ Vision, spinning party hits in a hip hop singalong. While he got the crowd going, Kamaiyah and her backup blew him out of the water. Connecting with the audience, “Lil Ya Ya” (as she’s called) commanded the stage. Despite some sound difficulties, she navigated the festival setting like a pro. Every single song sounded like a hit. With her signature thumping, bouncing back beat keeping time, the audience couldn’t stop dancing. We were under her spell, when she called–we responded, “Go ya ya, go.” And she went for it. “Is they ready?” “I dunno” they wondered onstage, before Kamaiyah theatrically declared “I’ve been broke all my life. Now I wonder…” before launching into the anthem “How Does It Feel” [to be rich?]. While the irony of a group able to afford music festival entry singing along was not lost, the party did not stop–even when some people left early to make it to Grimes.
Photo: Elli Papayanopolous for FYF Fest
Grimes, the stage name of Claire Boucher, was also not immune to the typical technical hurdles of festival performance. Despite that, Grimes was still one of the other best performances of the weekend. She played a variety of songs, with plenty of her stellar new material. She effortlessly mixed dance pop with grungier electronic beats. She was able to lift her voice for saccharine sweet melodies, but in turn could give a deep, rough scream. The light work in the set was similarly well-executed. The dancers on the stage, two amazing women decked out in black, added a dynamic element to the performance. Grimes always brings amazing performers on stage, and Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes joined for their song, “Scream.” She is definitely someone a force to be reckoned with.
Grimes herself moved her body enthusiastically while performing, contorting her hands during “Flesh Without Blood” and driving her knees to the floor during “Go”. The fun she has is infectious. Before playing “Venus Fly,” a song from Art Angels with Janelle Monàe, she remarked “This is one of my favorite songs to play, if you’re going to dance, now’s the time, but I know it can be hard in the day time.” Daytime certainly didn’t stop the crowd from moving.
One of her other talents is her technical skill, and any difficulties simply showed that it took a lot of moving parts for her performance to come to life. In the beginning, she untangled a microphone from her top in what she called “The most ridiculous wardrobe malfunction ever.” Close to the end of the set, she had to keep checking in about the sound. Despite it being off for some parts, she forged ahead, knowing the songs and the technology so well she sounded flawless and skillful. These many layers and her raw energy are what make seeing Grimes live so visceral.
Photo: Anastasia Velicescu for FYF Fest
While Lady Gaga was walking across the stage during Tame Impala’s set, Kelela was blanketing the Trees stage with her enchanting and intoxicating sound. One audience member described it as “angular and sensual.” The velvet sound of her Hallucinogen EP was brought to life and took flight in a transcendent music experience. Her performance felt intimate and grand at the same time.
Bigger than life on the Mains stage, Kendrick Lamar played his first hometown performance since November 2015. This absence only increased the electric connection between him and the audience. He really brought his all for LA. He didn’t hold back and performed a variety of songs, new and old, radio hits and deeper tracks. He compelled the audience to dance like their lives depended on it, and at times to sway and nod, filled deeply with his sound. He opened to literal bursts of fire with the thundering “untitled 07” from 2016’s “untitled unmastered” as the crowd became a thriving single organism, moving to the beat. Accompanied by an amazing full band and a screen backdrop where political imagery flashed (both pointed and even fun at times), Kendrick’s performance was full and majestic as he rhymed with swagger and skill. There were amazing appearances–Isaiah Rashad came out for “Free Lunch” and Jay Rock reprised his verse on “Money Trees”–but the show was really about Kendrick and his city. After giving a rare festival encore, pairing the jamming hit ”Alright” with ” A.D.H.D.” from his first album, he shouted his love for L.A. and closed out Saturday (except for the night owls swaying to Explosions in the Sky or dancing to the Hot Chip or Moby DJ sets).