Pop & Hiss

FYF Fest 2014: Twin Peaks, Joanna Gruesome keep things reckless

After a disastrous first day, FYF struck an apologetic tone Sunday

The second and final day of the FYF Fest began with an apologetic tone.

Promoter Goldenvoice was out to make amends Sunday after a number of attendees complained of waits of up to three hours to reach the main gate Saturday. Festivalgoers who arrived early Sunday afternoon were greeted with free water and new-found organization at the entrance. 

The bulk of problems that plagued the first day of FYF were largely corrected Sunday. In its first year at the expansive Exposition Park, FYF experienced a number of growing pains that marred Saturday, chief among them the inability to get inside the L.A. Sports Arena for much of the day. That stage was located on the floor of the basketball arena, with the stadium's seating roped off. Promoters on Sunday opened up the whole arena. 

Goldenvoice chief Paul Tollett, the architect behind the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, was caught chatting with fans early Sunday in the craft beer tent, discussing how organizers pulled an all-nighter in an attempt correct any issues. Thankfully, the only recklessness Sunday afternoon came courtesy of the music, with strong sets early in the day from Chicago's Twin Peaks and the U.K's Joanna Gruesome.

Twin Peaks presents a multi-guitar, three-vocalist attack, with all the group's college-age singers channeling different shades of rawness. These are songs about being broke and breaking up, and while band members joked they could deliver 10 songs in four minutes, there's a confident swagger to the arrangements, as riffs are balanced with wayward counter-melodies, and Twin Peaks isn't afraid to add some space to its enthusiastic garage rock.

Joanna Gruesome came on strong, yet there's a sweetness amid the aggression. Vocalist Alanna McArdle can holler and growl with the best of 'em. She'll grip the microphone stand tightly one moment, and then jump back as if to challenge the amplifying device to a fight in the next. But at her core she comes across as a pop singer, balancing almost every offensive howl with a lilting, lighthearted verse. Harmonies clash with fuzzed-out guitars, and breaks in the snarl are provided by spindly, taunting guitar lines. 

While Sunday evening would be marked by sets from hometown heroes Earl Sweatshirt and  Haim, the latter of whom recently completed a two-night stay at the Wiltern, rising star Kelela impressed in a mid-afternoon slot. Her hip-hop-infused R&B is underscored by thundering dance music, and she's a powerful vocalist willing to brave the challenge of singing over apocalyptic landscapes. She may bleed club music, but one waits to see what Kelela can achieve with a full band behind her.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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