FYF Fest at Exposition Park, a music festival packed with exciting music, long lines and brightly costumed personalities, was a Disneyland for music lovers.
The festival, now heading into its 13th year, brought indie and mainstream musical talents to the park surrounding the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Music enthusiasts prepared themselves for headliners Björk and Missy Elliott by donning swan dresses and Missy Elliott paper masks.
Indie rock singer Angel Olsen in a lime-green dress and her bandmates in matching gray suits and bolo ties filled the ground’s Lawn Stage. Audience members squished together, swaying in unison to Olsen’s soothing voice, whose mellow lyrics they mimicked. During numbers like “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Sister,” Olsen and her band delivered consistent guitar shredding and drum banging that synchronized with multicolor strobe lights throughout the set.
Björk, though not donning her iconic swan dress, still attracted the attention of more than a thousand festivalgoers with her stunning visuals, including her album wardrobe and use of different natural background landscapes like sunsets. Behind the Icelandic musician clad in a frilled red, yellow and white dress, sat an orchestra of stringed instruments that accompanied Björk’s powerful, swelling vibrato in songs like “Stonemilker” – and made audience members hesitant to leave the Main Stage.
Missy Elliott made her comeback to the American stage after a 10-year absence from the U.S., featuring a white jacket decked out with jewels, multiple hats with “Queen” and “Icon” printed on the crowns and an equally flashy microphone. Her seven backup dancers flipped and performed classic hip-hop grooves to air horns and the bass-heavy beats of her earlier material like “Hot Boyz” and her anthems “Lose Control” and “Get Ur Freak On.”
However, aside from the female performers performing with gusto, Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals were the highlight of the night. The drumming rap artist held nothing back from the Los Angeles crowd. For the rapper, there was no moment of silence. He moved from the center of the stage while rapping to sit down on the elevated drum set. .Paak rocked out on the gleaming drum kit, powerfully hitting the silver cymbals and freestyling some more energetic beats for songs like “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” and “The Season / Carry Me,” for which audience members echoed his lyrics.
Brad Pitt became a last-minute addition to the festival’s headliners as he performed alongside Frank Ocean on the event’s second day.
Up and coming rapper Noname graced the audience with bubbly jazz instrumentals and seamless rap verses. With a red solo cup in her hand, Noname welcomed the crowd with “Sunny Duet,” one of her more popular songs. Her nonchalant attitude, effortless conversation with the audience and casual stride from each end of the stage made the set feel more like an intimate living room jam than a festival set for more than 300 music lovers.
New and old rap fans alike gathered at the already cramped audience section to see A Tribe Called Quest. The rap group went back to the basics of hip-hop with old-fashioned record scratching and beatboxing. The performance was the group’s final Los Angeles performance following the death of Phife Dawg, one of the group’s rappers.
Audience members bounced their bodies and nodded their heads to the hefty drum beats of “Can I Kick It.” Later songs like “We the People….,” from the group’s most recent album, spoke about topics of racism, xenophobia, poverty and other social issues over an echoing drum beat, proving that the group’s work is as charged politically as it is musically.
Frank Ocean closed out Saturday night with a humble and dreamy performance. The R&B artist kicked off his set with “Solo,” letting fans fill in the blanks during the chorus.
Ocean’s performance felt vulnerable thanks to the semicircle of musicians sitting on simple chairs and Ocean kneeling to play his keyboard on the floor. He covered “Close to You” by the Carpenters while the camera focused on a disconcerted Pitt on his phone. “Futura Free,” filled with somber piano keys and repeating synth notes, was an airy and moving moment for most in the crowd, ending the night on a tranquil note.
UCLA alumnus Moses Sumney has come quite a way since his ScatterTones a cappella days in 2012.
The former Daily Bruin Copy contributor controlled the Club Stage with his mesmerizing, unwavering loops of falsettos on the final day of the festival. The singer opened his performance with “Worth It,” a slow number which he built up with a looping device to orchestrate a simple yet impressive culmination of singing and beatboxing.
The gradual crescendo of sounds and flowing vocalizations that characterized his opening song continued throughout his set in other numbers such as “Lonely World.” Dressed in black, Sumney and his band appeared on the stage as shadowy figures surrounded by mist, standing out against the red and blue lights.
Over at the Main Stage, Solange demonstrated that simplicity should not be underestimated. Her simple red jumpsuit and geometric background allowed audience members to focus on her groovy music. The R&B artist sang an array of soulful numbers, such as “Cranes in the Sky” from her most recent album “A Seat at the Table.” During the song, her backup dancers synchronized simple, linear arm choreography and wing-like moves to the snare beat of the drums and her belting voice.
Solange closed off her set with the energetic song, “Losing You,” where the harmonies of all the singers on stage rang out over the fast percussion, leaving the audience in an excited craze.
Following Solange’s performance, rap duo Run the Jewels, made up of Killer Mike and El-P, walked onto the Lawn Stage to Queen’s “We are the Champions.” The duo’s own rap lyrics, for songs like “Call Ticketron,” were rowdy, encouraging frenzied dancing in the crowd, and the two members shared smiles on stage as they hyped each other up.
Before starting their last number, the members urged their audience to reach out to others if they were going through a tough time, dedicating their closing song “Down” to the late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington.
The festival’s final headliner, Nine Inch Nails took on the festival with full musical force, shredding through 18 songs after threes years of not performing live. They opened with “Branches/Bones,” giving the audience an idea of what was in store with fast drum beats and intense guitar strumming.
The band’s song, “Closer,” with its funky bass and quickly ticking cymbals, pulsated with the stage’s purple strobe lights, making audience members bang their heads and jump up and down. Putting aside the strobe lights and showy guitar shredding, the band closed the festival with their toned down yet eerie cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” bringing the festival to a cathartic end.