The second day of the inaugural All My Friends Music Festival at the Row in downtown Los Angeles saw stellar performances, yet a few hangups hindered the show throughout the day. Yo Gotti was nowhere to be found at the show, leaving up and coming soul artist Ravyn Lenae to cover his performance. During M.I.A’s set, there were noticeable sound issues with her microphone’s volume, causing her to halt the show midway through, before resuming.
Several of the performances still remained stellar, as house legend Armand Van Helden and veteran hip-hop producer Cut Chemist tore up their respective dance floors. Relative newcomers like Phlegmatic Dogs and Ravyn Lenae also showed promise, showing the potential that the festival has to highlight newcomers in addition to seasoned acts.
Former pornographic actress and DJ Lupe Fuentes started off the fest at 4:00 pm on the Friendzone stage, bringing a posse of four female dancers clad in fishnets, lingerie and motorcycle helmets. Fuentes tossed in a variety of house tracks throughout her mix, which remained heavy and energetic throughout.
Phlegmatic Dogs, a production duo from Moscow took the stage after Fuentes, introducing an assortment of their friends throughout their set. Rather than stick to one style, they blended a variety of them mixing in some electro-house, techno and dubstep throughout and throwing down remixes of famous hip-hop tracks. Each track got heavier as their set progressed, keeping the audience who attended for the club bangers entertained as others walked off to other stages.
Filling in for Yo Gotti, R&B singer Ravyn Lenae took over the AMF stage, performing with a soul band consisting of a bassist, guitarist and drummer. A majority of her tracks were off her new EP Crush, produced by Steve Lacy of The Internet, who she gave a shout out to during her performance.
Lenae asked the audience members if they ever fell in love over the internet or if they were ever in a long term relationship, as background for the track “Computer Love.” She performed “Sticky” next, an energetic and soulful track whose chorus held a positive vibe during the performance. At the end of her set, Lenae gave a shout-out to her home town from Chicago saying that she was raised on house music or in her words “barbecue music,” before playing an unidentified house song to close out the set and leave the stage prepared for Armand Van Helden.
Starting off at 7:30, Armand Van Helden brought out a variety of his hits starting off the night with classics like “The Funk Phenomena” and “My My My,” both staples from his ’90s club hits. The AMF stage turned into a full blown house party with people stomping their feet and shouting throughout the songs vocal samples.
Van Helden later went into a few of his collaborations, playing his 2009 track with Dizzee Rascal “Bonkers” and then the Ducksauce (his famous collaborative project with A-Trak) classic “Barbra Streisand.” Throughout the set, the DJ gave nods to the audience, smiled and waved, but chose not to say a word and rather let the music speak for him. After playing through a few samples of “Witch Doktor,” he closed out with an extended version of “You Don’t Even Know Me” before waving off the crowd after a successful dance party.
Over on the BFF stage DJ Nu-Mark tore up the floor with a variety of hip-hop samples and tracks, keeping the crowd motivated. As a member of Jurassic 5, he kept to the classics playing through a variety of old hits such as the Eazy-E staple “Boyz in The Hood,” Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and the Dr. Dre classic “Xxxplosive.” Each track molded seamlessly into his set–each part only lasting maybe a maximum of a minute, they flowed together naturally. A relatively large crowd formed over to the small stage as they sang along to the hip-hop classics and danced to their own leisure.
Over on the AMF stage, British and Sri Lankan performing artist M.I.A. took the stage performing with two back-up dancers and a hype-woman/DJ with a variety of psychedelic visuals in the background as she sang, rapped and danced in traditional South Asian dress. She played a variety of songs from her vast catalog, going back to her first album all the way up to AIM with a performance of the track “Borders.”
A good amount of the set, she performed tracks off the 2013 album Matangi, which blended the South Asian musical styles of bhangra with hip-hop. She made it clear that many of these were for the “girls” in the audience, as she performed tracks off the album like “Bad Girls.” Afterward, she invited many of the female audience members on stage while she performed “Boyz,” one of her earliest hits off the 2007 album Kala. The audience members danced with her enthusiastically until the songs performance came to an end.
During her performance of the song “Pull Up The People,” the track’s beat clearly interfered with the singer’s vocals which she was noticeably upset about. “People say I get angry, but how can I help but get angry when this happens,” M.I.A stated, after repeatedly telling the sound people to turn up her mic. “How come no one did a soundcheck before I went on?”
Despite this, she went on to continue the track and perform, as Cut Chemist of Jurassic 5 took over the BFF stage where his group-mate DJ Nu-Mark was before. Cut Chemist played a variety of underground hip-hop staples such as “America’s Most Blunted” by Madvillainy, in addition to some J.Dilla.
This set showcased his skills as an old-school DJ as he spun and scratched vinyl, in addition to playing and mixing the tracks live. His audience was drawn to him, dancing like crazy throughout the small stage. He went on to play some more modern tracks such as A$AP Rocky’s “Gone for The Night” and Run The Jewels “Bumaye,” before going onto play off his recent release Die Cut to show off his skills.
Cut Chemist’s set was the night’s highlight. He clearly loved what he did, was great at engaging a crowd and great at keeping them there even as big names like M.I.A and Justin Martin performed on other stages. The DJ even took time to crack jokes and have fun with the crowd saying “My Name is Cut Chemist, nah I’m fucking around I’m Armand Van Helden,” in good fun as he later gave props to Van Helden for showing him a technique he used while mixing.
LA Leakers closed out the night on the BFF stage, throwing down remixes of Kanye West’s “New Slaves,” Gucci Mane’s “El Chapo” and the Daddy Yankee hit “Gasolina.” Their set was high-energy as the songs sampled tons of hip-hop filled with heavy trap drops.
Over on the AMF stage, Jamie xx closed out the night, playing a variety of techno and house remixes with his own unique spin. His set included house classics such as Nightcrawler’s 1995 hit “Push the Feeling On (The Dub of Doom)” in addition to a remix of the LaTour song “People Are Still Having Sex.” Two small disco balls lined up the right and left side of the stage as a large one descended toward the middle in between Jamie xx’s set as the crowd kept dancing toward the end of the night.
While certain sound issues, such as the LA Leaker’s set pouring into Jamie xx’s set toward the end of the night occurred, All My Friends looks to have a promising future. If the organizers are able to improve the sound design during the next iteration, while retaining a solid line-up which can attract a variety of audiences, the festival may be able to make itself a name for the Los Angeles music scene.