The main stage of the FYF Fest on Saturday night was a contrast in colors.
Each group's set Saturday had its merits. Interpol is one of the most efficient and workmanlike rock bands around -- its guitars a little bit artsy, it choruses often big and the look dapper but coolly detached. Phoenix, aided by additional help on percussion, was a relentlessly celebratory rush of beat-driven pop. And for a festival that awkwardly -- often frustratingly -- struggled to adjust to a new location at Exposition Park, the headliners were a refreshing dose of studied professionalism.
Interpol has been making the festival rounds this summer before the Sept. 8 release of "El Pintor," its first new album in four years. But this wasn't a set about bold new directions. Interpol largely stuck to the familiar -- be it the slicing riffs of "C'Mere" or the fire-alarm rush of "Say Hello to the Angels." Interpol's sound may be born in the shadows, and guitarist Daniel Kessler is apt to dip back into them and go in search of my high-pitched abstractness, but this an arena band first and foremost.
Few new tunes were previewed, but the ones that were gave in to Interpol's best and worst tendencies. "Anywhere" is slick and fast and in danger of becoming anonymous, but "All the Rage Back Home," in which verses and hooks are constructed out of corkscrew guitars that spun their away around the methodically-voiced singer Paul Banks, shows that the band is continuing to challenge itself on "El Pintor."
Interpol's ascension mirrors that of FYF itself. The band has maintained its independence, still recording for Matador Records, even as it's grown to festival headliner. FYF Fest, once strung together in Echo Park clubs and having survived past disasters in which the fest ran out of food, is now working with Goldenvoice, the concert behemoth behind the
With four stages spread around massive grounds bordering the
There were also headaches. The glistening dance pop of Phoenix is no stranger to festival goers, as the act headlined the 2013 edition of Coachella. So if one instead wanted to check out the bigger dance party happening at the opposite end of the festival where electronic adventurer Grimes was performing, one would have to prep for a 15-minute walk at peak crowd times.
Distressing, in that such logistical logjams did away with FYF's biggest selling point: discovery.