Day three, the last day of FYF Fest 2017, was a continuous stream of unforgettable performances. Whether it was Little Dragon, Solange or Nine Inch Nails, the lineup was stacked and the sets were just as unforgettable as the names attached to them. Solange and Nine Inch Nails ruled the day with visually stunning and charismatic performances, but other strong shows from Little Dragon and Chicano Batman carved out a place for themselves at FYF Fest.
During Chicano Batman’s set at the Lawn Stage, the breeze picked up and lead singer Bardo Martinez asked the audience to lift up their hands and thank the sun. This loving and appreciative energy permeated the entire performance. When they sang “Angel Child” or “Freedom is Free,” their blend of funk and tropicália overwhelmed the crowd — even though it was hot and humid, it did not stop them from dancing. Forty-five minutes was not enough time for this LA-based band, but they used up every minute to showcase their musical abilities and entertain the crowd in the process.
Ty Segall played shortly after Chicano Batman, and any listener familiar with Segall knows that a show of his will never be dull. He and the rest of his band came out with fuzz pedals ready and played one of the loudest sets at the festival. At some points, it seemed as if the band were unaware that the audience was there and would jam out for extended periods of time. When they played “Finger,” Segall and the rest of the band each took turns playing their own instruments while the crowd watched. It was as if the audience stumbled in on them during a jam session and everyone just happened to be lucky enough to witness it.
The polar opposite of Segall came in the form of electropop band Little Dragon. This Swedish group has been releasing music since 2007, but some of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with their work. Those who had not heard of the band were quickly converted when lead singer Yukimi Nagano appeared on stage with a giant, red veil delicately draped over her face and torso. Their incorporation of unusual instruments on “Sweet” or synth-pop resembling The Cure on “Ritual Union” proved that not only could someone dance to these songs, but also uncommon instruments like the xylophone did not have to be substituted or removed entirely.
Punk rock legend Iggy Pop brought the festival to a whole new energy level. He opened with The Stooges’ classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and, in true Iggy fashion, he played without a shirt on and danced wildly around the stage. He quieted down and asked the crowd, “I’m a hitchhiker, wanna pick me up?” and then proceeded to sing “The Passenger,” for which audience participation was highly encouraged. The silhouettes of the sweat-drenched crowd surfers glided over the crowd as he sang “Lust for Life” and “Search and Destroy.” Pop ended with “Mass Production” and still ran around the stage with the same amount of energy as when he first walked on.
One of the most talked about sets of the evening was Solange. While people may know her best as Beyonce’s sister, Solange has been carving out a place for herself in the world of music since the early 2000s. Her album released last year, A Seat at the Table, received widespread acclaim and after her performance it was easy to see why. The stage itself was impressive and when her band and dancers walked out and took their places, the setup looked like a scene from a Kubrick movie. Solange filled her set with songs both old and new, including “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work,” “Don’t Touch My Hair” and even The Proud Family theme song from the animated Disney show of the same name. When she performed “F.U.B.U.” the entirety of her band, which included trumpet, saxophone, guitar, bass and tuba players, formed a conga line and played their instruments and danced, while she sang. Whether it was her Minnie Riperton-esque vocals on “Cranes in the Sky” or the fact that she choreographed the entire performance, the crowd was sure to drop the notion that she’s just Beyonce’s sister and see her for the talented artist that she is.
A festival staple who have played FYF Fest before, Run the Jewels opened to huge cheers and a crowd that, despite their fatigue, rallied for Killer Mike and El-P. They opened with “Talk to Me” and performed under the two suspended hands showing the band’s trademark sign. Run the Jewels released their new record Run the Jewels 3 at the end of last year and most of their songs from this set were from that newest release. There were a few older songs peppered in with the new ones and when they played “Lie, Cheat, Steal” the crowd jumped up and down in excitement. On “Love Again” they had help from original Three 6 Mafia member Gangsta Bo. They then closed with “Down” accompanied by Joi.
The final act of the evening was Nine Inch Nails. The band had not toured in three years; their new EP Add Violence (which followed the late 2016 release of the Not The Actual Events EP) was released only a couple of days ago on July 21st, making it reasonable for the band to tour again. Before the band came out, dense smoke flooded the stage and flashes of strobe lights flickered across the crowd. Trent Reznor emerged and opened with the song “Branches/Bones.” That melded into “Wish” where the crowd raised their fists and jumped along to the guitar and drums. One of the best songs of the evening was their cover of David Bowie’s “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” Reznor prefaced the song by saying how much he missed Bowie and after his death they got permission to re-tool the song. They played their version, which had a steady thrum of ethereal piano and vocals from Reznor that got some listeners choked up. They played other favorites like “Closer” and “The Hand That Feeds” before closing out the set with “Hurt.” Despite how aggressive the music sounded, there was a wave of calm and camaraderie that washed over the crowd. It begged the question: What is it that makes their music appealing to people of different ages, backgrounds, beliefs, etc? There are universal themes that all people can relate to, whether they are themes of sadness, violence or desire, and Nine Inch Nails are able to put our emotions into words and music when those feelings are otherwise indescribable. There is a darkness to their material that all humans who have emotions can relate to. It felt as if the entire weekend had led up to that performance, and the importance of this band was not lost on the crowd. Instead, they embraced it and held onto it from start to finish.
Nine Inch Nails setlist:
- Less Than
- March of the Pigs
- Something I Can Never Have
- The Frail
- The Wretched
- Copy of A
- Gave Up
- I Can’t Give Everything Away
- The Lovers
- The Great Destroyer
- Burning Bright (Field on Fire)
- The Hand that Feeds
- Head Like a Hole
Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat