Once a scrappy underground event dedicated primarily to hard rock, the FYF Fest continues to grow in size and stature — this year expanding from two to three days and attracting a diverse bill that includes a heavy dose of adventurous artists.
Over the course of three days at Exposition Park, FYF will host, to name a few, sonic experimentalist Bjork, R&B risk-takers Frank Ocean and Solange, and hip-hop architects Missy Elliott and A Tribe Called Quest. Produced by Goldenvoice — the powerhouse behind Coachella and the new Arroyo Seco Weekend — past FYFs have drawn more than 40,000 attendees.
This year’s event is also taking a large step to grow in national prominence, with select evening sets to be live-streamed via Twitter. As of press time, single-day passes for Friday ($109) and Sunday ($125) remain, as do some three-day passes ($329).
Below, Times music writers August Brown (AB), Gerrick D. Kennedy (GK) and Mikael Wood (MW) rundown some of the must-see acts.
Set time: 8:50 p.m. Stage: Main
Björk fans in Los Angeles haven’t had to wait long to see the Icelandic singer, who just performed in May at Disney Hall. (Last weekend she could also be glimpsed improbably making the rounds at Dodger Stadium during the Classic West festival.) But the Disney show featured Björk in collaboration with an orchestra that sapped some of the energy from her intensely emotional music. This time she’s likely to fare better backed by Arca, the adventurous Venezuelan producer with whom she made 2015’s dramatic “Vulnicura.” (MW)
Set time: 10 p.m. Stage: Club
This Austin, Texas-based instrumental outfit will play FYF just days after two of its members, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, received an Emmy nomination for their title theme for the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Like that lush but unsettling ditty — with its clear echoes of classic soundtrack work by Vangelis and Giorgio Moroder — the music on Survive’s 2016 album, “RR7349,” sets shapely melodies against 1980s-style synth textures that feel hopeful and dangerous at the same time. (MW)
Set time: 11:15 p.m. Stage: Main
A dozen years have passed since the last time Elliott put out an album. The wait has been excruciating. Why? Because Elliott’s true mastery is her wild imagination, and there are few in hip-hop as innovative and eccentric. Since arriving 20 years ago with the instant classic “Supa Dupa Fly,” Elliott has moved us with her quirky, eye-popping — and often mind-boggling — visuals, sticky hooks and exuberant beats. Watching her is a must. (GK)
Set time: 11:45 p.m. Stage: Outer Space
If Nine Inch Nails doesn’t quite slake your thirst for bone-snapping electronic noise at FYF, dip over to Hauff’s nightcap set for equally severe, tastefully soldered savagery. The German techno and acid-house producer is an analog-gear devotee, and she knows how to flog a circuit board until it begs forgiveness. But her end results are still otherworldly and danceable. (AB)
Set time: 12:25 A.M. Stage: The Trees
This shadowy Toronto vocal and production duo had the great luck (but difficult problem) of coming to light on what might be Drake’s best song, “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” The act’s slinky, melancholic R&B will forever be attached to that song, but after finally releasing a debut full length last year, Majid Jordan is on its first full tour and asserting itself as a force all its own. (AB)
Set time: 3:15 p.m. Stage: Club
This lovably eccentric singer and songwriter is probably more familiar these days to moviegoers than to record buyers: Richman’s classic “Egyptian Reggae” is featured prominently in Edgar Wright’s ultra-hyped new car-chase caper, “Baby Driver,” while his latest album, “Ishkode! Ishkode!,” was released by a tiny label run out of a Cleveland record shop. Yet Richman, who typically performs his gentle folk-pop tunes accompanied only by a drummer, maintains a devoted cult. Expect lots of singing along here.
Set time: 5:30 p.m. Stage: The Club
The young New Yorker Destiny Frasqueri is completely uncompromising onstage (she allegedly got into a fracas with a harassing fan at a U.K. show). But she’s also generous on record, and her mix of high-spirited rapping, velvety ’90s R&B touches and heavy-lidded trap productions looks to only get better as she gets a wider audience. (AB)
Set time: 6:20 p.m. Stage: Trees
The first introduction many of us received to Chicago poet and rapper Noname was courtesy of her verses on Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” and her scene-stealing appearance with the artist on “Saturday Night Live.” Her debut mixtape, “Telefone,” is an essential listen that weaves jazzy R&B and hip-hop. Released last year, the enchanting and intimate collection waxes on relationships, family, addiction and police brutality. Like many young emcees coming out of Chicago, the city’s violence is reflected in the music, but Noname tackles loss and survival with a refreshingly sunny optimism. (GK)
Set time: 6:25 p.m. Stage: Club
Part of the same Midwestern emo scene that produced the Promise Ring and American Football, Cap’n Jazz released a single album in 1995 then promptly broke up, only to see its signature approach — noisy but melodic, combative yet proudly vulnerable — adopted by a host of bands that found far more commercial success than Cap’n Jazz ever did. The group reunited for a handful of shows in 2010; now it’s back for another round. (MW)
Set time: 11 p.m. Stage: Main
Days before the 2015 installment of FYF was due to begin, Ocean canceled. Kanye West stepped in to replace him as fans worried the enigmatic crooner’s comeback had stalled. Last summer, after years of whispers, Ocean returned with not one but two projects: visual album “Endless” and his official album “Blonde.” Contemplative, free-flowing and minimal, the records were almost overshadowed by label drama and his lack of conventional promotion. Fans have been on edge as Ocean pulled out of a handful of festival appearances this year, but of late he’s been keeping his commitments. (GK)
Set time: 2 p.m. Stage: Outer Space
The record for longest-ever planned FYF set has been achieved, and will likely be unrepeatable. This San Francisco DJ and label-owning crew (whose sounds hark back to the glory days of Patrick Cowley and Sylvester’s sexed-up electro-disco) will be manning the Outer Space stage for 10 hours on Sunday — the whole day, start to finish. You could stick it out for the whole shift and have a great time, but we suggest punctuating your day with its sweaty euphoria. (AB)
Set time: 7 p.m. Stage: The Woods
It’s a rare artist who can title his album “The Best” and have it come off as a no-nonsense statement of fact. But Omar S. is one of those old-guard techno dons who wears the confidence of someone who helped invent a culture. Anyone will feel like a million bucks after a cut like “… I’ll Buy Another One!!!,” but he has a tender side too: “Heard’ Chew” has the melancholy of Motown. (AB)
Set time: 7:45 pm. Stage: Trees
It makes sense that Mura Masa opened his self-titled debut album with the sounds of a city bus. The young producer is a traveler and his exhilarating collection of genre-melting music shows he refuses to be tied down to any one style. He tackles electronic pop, garage, hip-hop and calypso — and that’s just the first few songs on the album. From a euphoric house jam with R&B singer Nao and flirty dance grooves with Charli XCX and Bonzai, not to mention louche bangers with ASAP Rocky and Desiigner, he’s got something for every taste. (GK)
Set time: 8:25 p.m. Stage: Main
Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” was more than an album. Arriving as debates on race relations and law enforcement were a flashpoint in a divisive presidential election, the singer’s confessional autobiography on being black in America provided a much-needed salve. This was the first time many saw her outside of the shadow of her megastar sister Beyoncé — a shame, considering Solange has been putting out eclectic records since she was a teen. She’s been selective on where she performs, opting to present at museums and festivals, and her FYF performance is a full-circle moment: she first previewed the album here in 2015. (GK)
Nine Inch Nails
Set time: 10:45 p.m. Stage: Main
Following a three-year break from touring, Trent Reznor’s influential industrial-rock band is playing live again this summer, and it’s returned to the road armed with new music. In December, Nine Inch Nails released “Not the Actual Events,” a blistering EP that suggested the frontman had been through some things since his previous disc, 2013’s relatively sensual “Hesitation Marks.” A second EP, “Add Violence,” is due Friday. (MW)
Please consider subscribing today to support stories like this one. Already a subscriber? Your support makes our work possible. Thank you. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 99 cents for the first four weeks.