FYF Fest has found its footing in Exposition Park. The grassroots festival has come a long way since its early days at the Echoplex, and its 2017 rendition certainly delivered on the promises made by its all-star lineup. Pairing contemporary icons like Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak and Solange with legendary acts such as A Tribe Called Quest, Nine Inch Nails and Missy Elliott, many music fans had FYF high on their summer festival wish list — and for good reason.
Videos of Frank Ocean’s set set may have looked majestic enough but up close and personal it truly was an exceptional experience. People buzzed and shifted about as the intimate stage was built before their eyes in the midst of the crowd, and erupted once the man of the hour finally walked out across the long platform. Opening his monumental set with “Solo,” the home video-themed live footage on the JumboTron made the song feel incredibly sentimental, and struck a chord with many.
While kneeling to play the keys on his song “Good Guy,” Ocean opted to belt the notes at length instead of giving the crowd the accelerated version that appears on “Blonde.” Ever a perfectionist, he restarted the song after missing a high note, but he hit the mark the second time around. Past festival cancellations due to “production issues” had many worried that the crooner would be a no-show at FYF, but he certainly pulled through in spectacular fashion.
Ocean wasn’t the only one redefining the concert experience over the weekend. 3-D glasses branded with the Flying Lotus logo were mailed out with every ticket, and the experimental producer’s psychedelic set lived up to fans’ anticipation. Flying Lotus transcended music genres with reckless abandon, complete with raining eyeballs and cosmic tunnels to captivate onlookers in his turbulent world. On Sunday, Solange’s culture-infused performance put black pride on full display, from her team’s choreographed dance moves to the band of trumpeters that repeatedly marched across the stage.
A Tribe Called Quest’s landmark performance contained many sobering moments in the wake of group member Phife Dawg’s passing. Refusing to recite his verses themselves or bring out a placeholder, the group placed an empty mic at center stage while Phife’s voice played through the speakers, hyping each other up as if their fallen comrade were right there in the flesh with them. Q-Tip had announced to the crowd that it would be his final performance in Los Angeles, and his emotions fueled him the entire set as he made the most of every moment on stage.
Anderson .Paak was a must-see Friday act for many fans, as he has built a reputation as a high-energy performer over the course of his relentless tour schedule. He has been opening for Bruno Mars overseas for much of 2017, and back on his home turf he wowed fans with new superstar swagger behind the mic and on the drums. Elsewhere on Friday, BadBadNotGood’s jazzed-up set hypnotized the crowd at the Trees stage, before bringing out Denzel Curry to liven things up with “Ultimate” in his second surprise appearance of the day.
There was plenty of talent to be found further down the lineup, preluding the headliners with impressive performances. Little Dragon had the crowd dancing the entire time from the main stage, mixing material from its newest album Season High with some of their older hits. Thundercat’s funk-filled performance was also one of the highlights, showing impeccable chemistry with his band in their extended jam sessions.
Moses Sumney’s ethereal hooks entranced those who visited his set on Sunday, creating beautiful melodies while shrouding himself in a glowing blue light. He didn’t need much percussion to hold the audience’s attention, but the tented venue was bursting with energy as he built the moment with a parade of overlapping melodies. Joey Purp took the Club Stage before Sumney, and pumped up crowds throughout the set. Running through hits from his 2016 release “iiiDrops,” Purp gave it his all on stage the entire set, eventually bringing out Vic Mensa to give Los Angeles a taste of SAVEMONEY’s Chicago talent.
It was the first time that FYF experimented with a three-day lineup, and the various artists proved they were more than capable of filling the added time with worthwhile experiences. The competition with Air + Style and Camp Flog Gnaw for the best festival in Exposition Park seems to up the ante with every lineup announcement, but as FYF successfully evolved once again, there’s no doubt that it holds the crown for now.