That low, collective moan going up across the tri-hipster area Sunday is the sound of aching feet, weary backs and dry mouths waking up after the first day of FYF Fest.
The kickoff at FYF's new location at Exposition Park was supposed to be exultant, as this year had far and away the best lineup in the fest's decade-plus history, and a prior partnership with Goldenvoice seemed to solve many of the fest's past logistical problems. Expo Park, with its concert-facility infrastructure and Metro access, made sense as a venue while the L.A. State Historic Park underwent renovations.
But this year had some reminders of the 2010 FYF fiasco, when fans seemed close to open revolt and founder Sean Carlson sent out an apology email after the show.
Day 1 in 2014 was marred by complaints of hours-long entry lines (which organizers tried to quell by sending push notifications to fans' phones saying they were aware of the problem), half-hour lines for food and drink, and about a mile-long walk from the entrance to the main stage, making set-hopping pretty much impossible. Other Times colleagues reported terrible lines for food and drink. One upside of being vegan: You had the delicious Pure Luck stand almost to yourself.
Sets at the Sports Arena (whose floor stage was wonderfully decked out in dance-club lighting and felt much more intimate for it) quickly reached capacity, so fans were just plain out of luck if they weren't at the front of the crush to see the Norwegian producer Todd Terje's funny and heartfelt disco. The arena was cleared out and locked off between sets, causing plenty of confusion among fans about how to get inside. Crowds counting on cutting through the concourse or using the facilities there had to go elsewhere.
If you couldn't get in the door to catch a glimpse of a quarter of the bands you paid for, that was just tough luck.
The sheer scope of the layout thwarted the fun of a music festival like this. By the time you walked a mile to your next show, navigating the pedestrian bottleneck of a reported 40,000 fans, the set you planned on seeing was half done and you felt ready to fall over.
When the doors weren't literally locked in front of you, they were metaphorically closed because of the sheer effort it took to get anywhere.
Which is a shame, because there was great music to be witnessed. Grimes elevated her bouncy and creepy electropop with a few front-of-stage dancers that gave a physicality to her airy tunes. Against Me! sounded as excellent as ever, with tunes like "True Trans Soul Rebel" and "Unconditional Love" cutting through the haze of beleaguered fans to make deep points about human identity and compassion. Phoenix's suave pop and Slowdive shoegaze grandeur were almost enough to start the night over and make Saturday finally feel like a party instead of an exhausting slog.
But then, of course, there were the half-hour lines to leave.
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