Los Angeles – Ever-growing, ever-popular, and ever-crowded, Los Angeles’ FYF Fest is now entering its 12th year in existence, and its second year at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena & Exposition Park. The 2015 edition once again features an exciting and diverse lineup of indie, punk, electronic, hip hop, and dance music. Headliners include Frank Ocean, Bloc Party, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, and of course, Morrissey.
Last year FYF Fest had some inherent growing pains that go along with increasing attendance and moving to a brand new venue (Los Angeles State Historic Park is currently undergoing a facelift). With one year of experience at the new venue, expect a much more smoothly run event; the festival’s organizers have made several promised improvements. While it is unlikely we’ll ever see another scene like the sun-scorched dust storm that Fucked Up’s set kicked up at the Spring Street Stage in 2012, there should be plenty of unforgettable moments this year.
It pays to arrive at Exposition Park’s gates early to avoid the biggest crowds and because FYF has always been known to feature some of the brightest up-and-coming talent. Angel Olsen, FIDLAR, The Allah-Las and several artists have all infamously wound up giving intimate performances to those that managed to arrive right on time. Undoubtedly there are hundreds of music fans kicking themselves for not getting up a little earlier and missing the opportunity to see rock’s most promising newbies.
Instead of focusing on the obvious must-catch “Best New Bands” at FYF Fest (Mac Demarco, FKA Twigs, Run the Jewels, Death Grips, Chet Faker) this guide instead showcases the most exciting, under-the-radar artists who will be headlining these same stages at future FYF Fests to come.
Since around 2013, Kevin Morby has focused on his solo career following successful stints as Woods’ bassist and as co-lead singer of The Babies, a band he formed with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. In the last two years he has released two full length albums, Harlem River and Still Life, on his former band’s Woodsist label. Both releases were critically acclaimed nuggets of classic folk precisely mixed with a dash of Woods-esque psychedelia. He recently performed at Los Angeles’ Teragram Ballroom, just a few miles from Expo Park, and his live show expounds on the dynamics of his recorded sound.
Melody’s Echo Chamber
The semi-eponymous Melody’s Echo Chamber is led by the French multi-instrumentalist Melody Prochet, who previously spent time in My Bee’s Garden. The dreamy, hazed-out pop sensibility heard on her self-titled debut (Weird World) fits in perfectly at FYF Fest. The follow up to her 2012 debut has an anticipated release date in 2015, so look for the band to showcase some new songs.
Listening to Alvvays’ self-titled debut for Polyvinyl Records, it is no shock that the album ended up hitting number one on college radio stations. Chock full of gradually building, C86-style indie pop gems, it seems like it will be difficult for the band to fit all of their best songs into the truncated festival set-length format. With appearances this year at Outside Lands and Glastonbury, the band likely has a handle on this issue. For a set that is sure to impress from start to finish, be sure to pencil Alvvays (pronounced “always,” for those that don’t want to lose scene points) into your Saturday FYF Fest itinerary.
Unlike their peers on this list who have released or are preparing to release an album in 2015, Savages’ last release was in 2013. Specializing in dark, noisy, and catchy post-punk the band turned heads with the 1-2 punch release of singles “She Will” and “Husbands”. While there are no definite plans for a release date of the follow up to the powerful Silence Yourself (Matador), the band has been playing new material at recent performances this year. One of Best New Bands’ 2013 Newbie Award nominees, check their Saturday set out and get a sneak peak at what the follow-up will sound like.
Purity Ring blew music fans away with their 2012 debut release Shrines (4AD), and then upped the ante with this year’s stellar follow up Another Eternity. Their artsy take on pop music, a style they brand as “future pop,” has translated well to the live stage; it’s no coincidence that they are featured prominently at the top of FYF Fest’s billboards. Stick around till the end of the day on Saturday and check out their other-worldly live sound.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
If it wasn’t obvious from the band’s left-of-center moniker, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard specialize in the kind of blown-out psychedelic punk that Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees have brought to FYF Fest stages for years. Despite existing for only around three years, King Gizzard and company have released a head-spinning six full lengths and two EPs. This seven-piece out of Melbourne, Australia know how to churn up a cacophonously good time, and their early Sunday set should get the party started in riotous fashion.
Lower Dens is a band on a roll; their third full-length was released on Ribbon Records earlier this year and is considered their best yet by fans and critics. As it is a most fitting track to be played just outside of Downtown Los Angeles, concert-goers should be prepared for a massive sing-along during the anthem-like chorus of “To Die in LA”. Considered one of the best live bands in the industry, fans of synth-driven retro pop should pencil in Lower Dens
Girlpool is a couple of young ladies who originally hail from Los Angeles, but made the big move across the country to Philadelphia earlier this year. Written and recorded well before Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker were of legal drinking age, their debut full-length Before the World Was Big (Wichita Recordings) is a fitting ode to the difficulties and complications that are part-and-parcel of entering adulthood. While this is not the pair’s first trip back to the City of Angels, FYF Fest does serve as a bit of a homecoming.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Making the rounds at some of summer’s biggest music festivals like Bonnaroo and the Capital Hill Block Party is Portland-by-way-of-New Zealand psych pop band Unknown Mortal Orchestra. With the release of Multi-Love (Jagjaguwar) in the spring of 2015, this is yet another band coming off of a high-profile release. It will be exciting to see how the heavily over-dubbed sound of their third album translates into a live festival setting.
Tobias Jesso Jr.
One indie artist having a simply tremendous 2015 is North Vancouver, British Columbia’s Tobias Jesso Jr. In a year that crooner style singer-songwriters playing heavily arranged, piano-heavy was all the rage, Jesso Jr. stood above the fray (quite literally, as he claims to be 6’7”.) Songs like “How Could You Babe”, “Hollywood”, and “Without You” from Goon (True Panther Sounds) were praised for their ability to perfectly emulate Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson without following too closely in those legends’ footsteps.