Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FYF Fest 2017


This year FYF added an extra day and some new stages to their weekend festival, while injecting some Gen X nostalgia with acts like Missy Elliot, Bjork, and NIN.  Here are some highlights for this music-packed 3-day festival.
Disclaimer:  I skipped last year's FYF, so some things that might be new to me might not be new to others.
  • The entrance was moved farther down the street from the Metro stop (at the end of the block instead of halfway).  The longer walk led the herd of people down the block, split them up into smaller, more manageable lines, then moved them into a winding, Disneyland style line.  Yes, this was a lot more walking, but it definitely prevented people from having to standing around too long.  Also, greatly appreciated Vitamin Water giving out much needed hydration on the way to the entrance.    
  • One of the best things to me about FYF's Exposition Park location is still the abundance of real bathrooms with running water.  They definitely upped the convenience by opening up more this year.
  • Beach Fossils, with their lo-fi, surf style music, was the perfect first act for us to catch. 
  • BadBadNotGood sounded even better at the Trees Stage than they did a few years back in the Sports Arena.  
  • Björk was amazing live.  She came out in the usual crazy outfit and even had a string orchestra on stage!  Her voice sounded great and she had so much energy.  Hard to believe she's already in her 50s. Unfortunately, the video screens didn't seem to be working correctly as some of the coloring was definitely off.  This was remedied by the time Missy Elliot got on stage.  I heard there were even fireworks!  
  • Regretfully, we left early to go check out Survive, which was probably one of the most boring live sets I have ever seen.  Don't get me wrong, they sounded great, but it was absolutely pointless for us to be standing up front, where some of them hardly cracked a smile, slightly tapped their toes, and barely bobbed their heads.  I actually had to stifle a few yawns during the set.  There were some awkward moments where even they seemed surprised by the loud hissing of the fog machines on stage.  
  • Missy Elliot's set was an impressive retrospective of all her greatest hits. So much of her music still sounds innovative today.  I loved seeing all the behind-the-music interviews on the big screen.  I don't think anyone today even comes close to her groundbreaking music videos.  She was full of energy the entire show.  
  • I liked the idea of Flying Lotus' 3D video performance, but FYF probably could've executed it better.  He should've been at the Main stage where it's much easier to see the screen and more accommodating for larger crowds.  The 3D glasses mailed with the festival passes were an advertisement for his show, so of course the Lawn was completely jammed.  It was cool when I could actually see the screen and there was a short break in the constant stream of people walking in front of me.  He sounded great live though and I got a kick out of the Twin Peaks cover.  
  • The Drums sounded great live with their surf pop.  
  • The Faint always know how to rock a music festival and cater to their fans.  
  • Since we stayed for the entire set for The Faint, we missed the beginning of Frank Ocean's show, but apparently we didn't miss much because it turned out he was late.  Now maybe it's because I'm not a Frank Ocean super fan or maybe the set was out of context because we started in late, but I just didn't get it at all.  First, props to him for making a joke about how messed up it would be if he didn't show up to FYF the second time in a row. Second, I thought the cinematography was terrible.  The display menu was turned on and covering up the screen several times. Sometimes we would just see feet, or just the floor.  The camera was often shaky and going every which way.  We joked about how the camera guy was going to get fired or maybe that he was Ocean's 10-year-old nephew.  And we thought that was Brad Pitt on stage (we were watching from a distance), but why was he on the phone?  I kept thinking he was on a call or maybe letting someone on the phone hear the music.  I later learned that they have some sort of bromance.  Near the end of the set list, I found myself getting bored by the song choices.  When I checked reviews online the next day, I expected scathing reviews.  I was shocked that everyone thought his set was mind blowingly amazing.  It turned out that Spike Jonze had been filming the entire performance. What?!  I wonder if knowing a famous director was shooting had any influence on the reviews.
  • What a huge miscalculation on FYF's part in putting Iggy Pop at the Lawn.  Seemed disrespectful to put such a big name on a stage smaller than the Main Stage.  People were cramming onto the lawn trying to get him in their sights.  We knew we couldn't get in there so we just stood on a nearby bench.  At 70, he was rocking out harder than some of the younger acts at the festival and his voice still sounded great.  No old man voice to be found.  
  • So I usually find Run the Jewels' songs annoying, but they were actually pretty good live.  Mind changed, but only live.  
  • Nine Inch Nails left me awash in a wave of 90s nostalgia.  They've never looked so normal or sounded so good.  


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sunstock Solar Festival @ the Autry

Best things from this year's inaugural Sunstock Solar Festival:
  1. The chill vibe and crowd. 
  2. The amazing job Zero Waste Company did with keeping the Autry's grounds trash free
  3. Not Your Father's Root Beer's genius idea to get people to buy their alcoholic root beer:  buy a can at the fest and bring it to their stall to get free swag.
  4. Pacific Sky Solar's cute mascot, Loic.
  5. The Big Pink's great live performance, although sometimes a bit heavy on the fog machine.
  6. Discovering Allah-Las' psychedelic rock.  I felt like I was being transported to a summer day in the '60s with all their catchy tunes. 
  7. Kaki King's amazing set that was part light show, part live acoustic show.
  8. I never associated Wavves with Thee Oh Sees and Cloud Nothings, but they proved me wrong; they were punk rawk AF.  My friend described it best when she said "I love how they're playing like they're at The Smell!"   
  9. The fun nighttime installations.  
  10. The impressive solar panels that powered the stage.  Even though performances started running late, the lights never wavered.  
  11.  
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sunstock Solar Festival @ the Autry - Saturday, June 18

The weather will finally be warming up this weekend in LA, perfect for enjoying an outdoor music festival.  Sunstock Solar Festival at the Autry in Griffith Park will feature some great bands like Cults, Wavves, Kaki King, The Big Pink, and more.  

The festival is completely solar-powered and all profits will help fund the installation of a solar roof for Kids Cancer Connection.  Not only will you be enjoying some amazing music, but you'll also be helping the environment and a local charity.

For you music-loving parents out there, there will be activities for kids.  For those of you who come thirsty and/or hungry, there will be a full bar and food trucks.  

Tickets are $20 through Eventbrite and $25 at the door.  The festival will be located in a secluded corner of Griffith Park at the Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way. A bike valet and free parking will be available in the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot.

Doors open at 4pm and music starts at 5pm.  


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Little Mermaid @ Hollywood Bowl

I was so jealous of everyone who got to see The Little Mermaid at Hollywood Bowl on Monday because the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, headlined that night.  At least we got a small taste of her still-amazing-after-30-years voice at the show we attended on Saturday, where she was the surprise guest.  She's an infinitely better singer than Sara Bareilles, who at least looked the part of the Little Mermaid, with her long, wavy tresses colored red halfway down and wearing a sea foam green dress.  I even overheard a little girl yelling "Look, it's Ariel!"



What we didn't miss on Monday was Alan Menken's pre-show (in Monday's show he was replaced by Brad Kane - original voice of Aladdin - and Susan Egan - voice of Meg from Hercules).  On piano, Menken performed a career retrospective with songs from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies, and Enchanted, just to name a few.  I almost teared up a little, listening to the man who penned so many soundtracks from Disney Animation's golden age, when not only were the films great, but so were all the songs.  During that era, animated films saw success at the box office and on the radio.

The celebrity guests also impressed, from Rebel Wilson's sassy turn as Ursula (in an amazing black shimmery dress that I could definitely picture Ursula wearing) to Titus Burgess' exuberant performance (I didn't know he had originated the role of Sebastian in the Broadway show.  No wonder he was so good!).



Sadly, John Stamos' badly placed microphone prevented us from getting the full experience of his song, Les Poissons, but, amazingly, the audience stayed respectfully quiet so that everyone could hear him.  His hilarious stage antics made up for the misplacement of his microphone.

I hope the success of this show convinces Disney to have more of their animated films in concert.  I'm hoping for Aladdin next summer.  However, they really ought to do Beauty and the Beast to promote their new live action film.


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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman @ Hollywood Bowl

The dreams of every Nightmare Before Christmas fan came true last weekend at the Hollywood Bowl when, for the first time ever, the movie was shown with the original singers performing live and accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  When we bought the tickets, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I was just excited to hear the Danny Elfman (hello every amazing Tim Burton movie soundtrack!) sing the NBC songs live.  So, it was a treat to see and hear special guests like Paul Ruebens, Catherine O'Hara, and Ken Page (who sounds even better live, belting out Oogie Boogie's Song).  Everyone sounded great, especially Danny Elfman, and it was fun to see how expressive they were on stage while performing during the movie.  It was like getting a behind-the-scenes look at how the soundtrack was created.  

Elfman must have been on a high from all the singing and audience cheering because he ended the night with the Oingo Boingo song, Dead Man's Party, which sounded unplanned, but was a wonderful surprise.



Another surprise was Sandy Cameron, who played violin during the intermission and was an absolute badass.



The Hollywood Bowl also made that Halloween Day extra fun with candy stations for kids, and adults, to trick-or-treat their way up to their seats and a costume contest before show.  I loved seeing all the Tim Burton and Nightmare Before Christmas themed costumes.  


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