After the eclectic performances on Friday at FYF Fest in Los Angeles, expectations were high for Saturday. Missy Elliott and Bjork would be hard acts to follow, but the artists of Day Two did not disappoint as they each generated a new set of experiences that differed from the night before. The gratitude the artists extended out to the crowd seemed infinite and not one set went by without a performer thanking all of the fans for their love and support.
The day began with legendary musician Jonathan Richman. The founder of The Modern Lovers (and Velvet Underground associate) played to a crowd that was an equal mixture of die hard fans and concertgoers seeking refuge from the sun. What those shade seekers unfamiliar with Richman’s unique acoustic style were treated to was a thoroughly pleasing and entertaining set. He held the audience in the palm of his hand as he sang songs in English, French and Italian. Everyone sang along to “People are Disgusting” and “I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar.”
The mood shifted and Brooklyn-based band Big Thief played immediately after Richman. Their slow indie pop combined with lead singer Adrianne Lenker’s vocals tranquilized the audience. On the Lawn Stage was multi-talented musician and producer Stephen Bruner, who is better known by his stage name Thundercat. If an observer stood far from the stage and was unable to see the monitors, that person may think it is Herbie Hancock playing. With Bruner’s remarkable ability as a bass guitarist paired with his talented keyboardist and drummer, he is able to create a soul and jazz-fusion sound that appeals to huge crowds.
Back at the Club Stage, emo band Cap’n Jazz performed their signature misanthropic tunes. Whether they were playing “Tokyo” or their cover of A-ha’s “Take on Me” any angst ridden individual was welcomed and comforted by the familiar sounds. After Cap’n Jazz’s set, groupies quickly rushed the stage to set up for what turned out to be one of the best performances of the day by Seattle-based musician Perfume Genius.
Fresh off of a new album release, Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius filled his set with flashing lights, smoke and dance moves that rival Justin Timberlake. What makes Perfume Genius such an unforgettable performer is his ability to shed any gendered norms. By doing so, he connects with the audience in a different manner. Androgyny does not rest dormant in Perfume Genius. Instead, it bursts forth like a beautiful ray of gender fluidity. At times the combination of the instrumentation and his vocals are strange. He’ll start of singing falsetto before quickly letting out a loud, animalistic scream. Next he’ll be channeling Michael Jackson in his dance moves, but then switch to something more avant-garde like Brigitte Fontaine. He shifts seamlessly between songs and dance moves, that sometimes one fails to notice the song has changed and he’s channeling something new and strangely beautiful.
“Can we do it again?” Q-Tip would ask the crowd. Based off of the crowd’s response, A Tribe Called Quest could most definitely do it again. They played to a large, mixed crowd that was made up of people from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Twenty two year olds danced and sang along with 45 year olds and different decades meshed together and bonded over their love for classic ATCQ songs like “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It.” While it was not the same without the recently deceased Phife Dawg there, the band made sure to pay respect to their friend and collaborator with his first verse on the song “Butter.”
Similar to A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu’s set was populated by fans both new and old. As she put it, she was ready for the 90s babies to “grow the fuck up” so that they could know, witness and appreciate 20 years of Badu. It was during her performance of “Me” that she gave the best advice to the 90s babies. After she sang the lyrics “Sometimes I don’t know what to say / So many leaders to obey” she raised her middle finger to the crowd. Her lyrics hold a truth and sincerity that in that moment can only be expressed through Badu’s performance.
The day closed out with the performance everyone had been talking about, Frank Ocean. Some were anxious he was going to cancel, but at 11:10 PM when the lights around the Main Stage began to flicker, the anxieties subsided and Ocean, wearing giant headphone walked out and greeted the crowd. His vocals, which could tame wild animals, gently rocked the crowd into a euphoric state. He sang “Good Guy” twice as he was unhappy with his first performance of it and apologized and thanked the crowd for their encouragement. During his cover of The Carpenter’s song “Close to You” he brought out Brad Pitt who sat solemnly as he held a cell phone up to his ear. He mostly sang from his newest album Blonde apart from the song “Thinkin’ Bout You” where his velvety vocals recreated the sound that everyone fell in love with on Channel Orange.
While the first day of FYF was all about big, visual performances and hyped up crowds, the second day was mellower and more intimate. Artists reached out and communicated more with the audience. Artists like Frank Ocean, Erykah Badu and A Tribe Called Quest continuously thanked their fans and said how much they all appreciated their presence and support throughout the years.
Frank Ocean setlist:
- Be Yourself
- Good Guy
- Self Control
- Close to You
- Thinking Bout You
- Only You
- Pink + White
- Futura Free
Photo Credit: Adam Blyweiss