FYF Fest: A SoCal Sojourn

MAGNET’s Maureen Coulter will be reporting from the 2012 FYF Fest in Los Angeles.

My only other experience with Los Angeles was the time I walked down the Venice Beach boardwalk alongside a muscular, radioactive-orange man wearing nothing but a bear-claw necklace, a loincloth and Hawaiian Tropic, and then watched pedestrians leave me in the dust as I inched my car through the notorious L.A. traffic. I’m excited to be heading there again for music (the city’s pièce de résistance), which might refashion my first impression of L.A. as a polluted battleground for artists and misfits.

The FYF Fest, formerly known as the Fuck Yeah Fest, is being held this weekend at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, a 32-acre oasis plunked in the midst of ethnically diverse neighborhoods like Chinatown and Lincoln Heights. Fifty-plus performers, ranging from psychedelic pop quintet Yeasayer to punk rockers Against Me! to comedic acts like David Cross, will claim the park as their playground from noon to midnight both Saturday and Sunday, the first time FYF is stretching to two days in its nine-year history.

Previous years have featured hipster faves Matt And Kim, Broken Social Scene, Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, Dan Deacon and Girls. This year it’s French shoegaze dream-pop group M83, Balkan electro-folk band Beruit, digital noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells and English house-music twosome Simian Mobile Disco, among others. Over the past decade, theFYF has concocted its own flavor—it is the Pop Rocks/Fun Dip to Outside Lands’ Ghiradelli chocolate or Bonaroo’s Tootsie Rolls: it’s noisy and messy and tends to attract purple-haired and tight-panted Millennials, rather than arugula-noshing San Franciscan boomers or tie-dye wearing neo-hippies.

Headliners the Faint is emerging from a long hibernation, in which three members have been living the life of a garden-variety DJ: remixing others’ jams, playing small venues and dabbling in another project under the name of Depressed Buttons. Dynamic alt-rock band Dinosaur Jr, which scientists believe originated in the late Cretaceous Period (or at least prior to the birth of most FYF concert-goers), still wields the sonic power that made it popular with punk fans in the ’80s and ’90s. Those who plan to check out the enthusiastically punctuated Against Me! might be surprised to see a new lead singer: Frontman Tom Gabel has become frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, thanks to hormones and electrolysis treatments. Paul Banks, the Interpol singer whose epically monotone voice has the cinematic sweep of a National Geographic film in black and white, performs solo at the fest.

A growing trend among festivals is to have some comedy relief injected into the basic cable offerings of bass and guitar and synth, and FYF’s lineup looks like Thursday-night primetime on NBC. BJ Novak (of The Office fame), David Cross (Arrested Development) and the Eric Andre Show are sure to provide cramp-in-your-side laughs. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a California festival without the requisite vegan, gluten-free, organic and local-food vendor options. I’m pretty confident that even if I hit traffic that makes me want to munch an entire bottle of Xanax, FYF will be well worth the drive.