Despite the grueling 30-minute trek between sets and the masses of sweaty bodies kicking up dust while running from stage to stage, FYF 2014, held on August 23 and 24, was a successful and memorable festival.
Visitors were exposed to a unique mix of various genres, from hip hop, heavy rock, experimental punk, to electronica, including headliners Phoenix and the Strokes and performers such as Haim, Flying Lotus, Little Dragon, Earl Sweatshirt, and Jamie XX. As one of the largest non-corporate local festivals featuring upcoming independent bands, FYF is different than other festivals like Coachella or Outside Lands.
The indie music festival has come a long way from its beginnings a decade ago. Initiated by Sean Carlson, a promoter from Torrance, FYF was originally held in 2004 at Echo Park venue the Echo to showcase emerging local artists. From 2009-2013, FYF was held at the LA Historic State Park, and this year the organizers tested out the Los Angeles Sports Arena and Exposition Park area.
“It was an amazing experience to kind of have a playlist of performers that can’t be found in other music festivals,” said Granada Hills Charter High School senior Eileen Lee in an interview with JSR. “The atmosphere was great, the Sports Arena made way for some really crazy visuals, and overall, it was great to discover all these hidden artists.”
However, as with any expanding event, FYF was not without some difficulties.
On the first day, people stood in entry lines for up to three hours, the Sports Arena overfilled due to the closing off of some seating areas, and sound and display difficulties prevented music fans from fully enjoying the live performance experience. Some attendees complained that security had confiscated their reusable water bottles.
There were enough problems that Carlson and the FYF team sent emails to all the attendees after the festival to apologize for the technical difficulties, saying, “I know a few of you may not have plans to come back but hopefully in the future you will hear about how smooth things have become and will change your mind.”
Nevertheless, some fans overlooked the faults, focusing instead on the several improvements this year, like the inclusion of a strobe light-filled indoor stage at the Sports Arena, and the creation of an FYF phone app with maps, schedules, and a notification function for upcoming performances.
On the second day, the organizers fixed many of the issues from the first day within a short 14 hour timespan by opening the second floor of the Sports Arena, passing out free water bottles, fixing the display screens, and minimizing traffic in entrance lines.
Though the venue had its downsides, including the long distance from stage-to-stage and the terrain that kicked up mounds of dust with every rush to stage to stage, the festival was so successful that the California state is looking to renovate the park to accommodate to more large scale events like FYF.
Therefore, despite some worries that FYF is losing its original “raw, undercut indie vibe,” as mentioned by some Facebook users on FYF’s official Facebook page, FYF braved through its growing stage and fans are anticipating next year’s festival.
“If anything, appreciation for these emerging or established indie bands is growing, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that FYF might be adapting some aspects of bigger festivals like Coachella,” Lee said. “The growing popularity is actually pretty awesome because these artists are getting exposure, and it’s local! I don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to a desert to enjoy a collection of great artists.”