Goldenvoice splits with FYF Fest founder Sean Carlson

Frank Ocean at July’s FYF Fest in Exposition Park.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Los Angeles-based promoter Goldenvoice has severed its relationship with Sean Carlson, the founder of its popular FYF Fest.

In an email sent to talent booking agents Monday and obtained by The Times, Goldenvoice head Paul Tollett said, “Effective immediately, Goldenvoice has ended its relationship with Sean Carlson. We’re evaluating our path forward as it relates to FYF Fest.”

The email, in which Tollett asked agents to direct all inquires regarding Coachella booking to him, was independently corroborated by several other agents who had received it.


Tollett did not respond to a request for comment.

Reached by text message, Carlson declined to comment.

Carlson at the age of 18 founded FYF Fest in 2004 as a punk-focused festival at the Echo, a small rock club in Echo Park.

With partner Phil Hoelting, FYF quickly grew to be a taste-making event in the L.A. music scene, eventually moving to the Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown in 2009.

The festival (and its concert promotion business FYF Presents) entered into a long-term partnership with Goldenvoice after a contentious 2010 festival marred by a drastic shortage of water, hour-plus lines for bathroom facilities, severe logjams at the gates and a general lack of shade and food.

A Los Angeles Times review labeled FYF’s 2010 edition as one of “the most frustrating concert experiences in recent memory.”

Although Carlson said in 2013 that FYF would remain an independent company after linking with Goldenvoice, the Coachella promoter has handled the bulk of the logistics and its reputation soared. This year, after landing hip-hop luminary Missy Elliott, adventurous R&B artist Solange and the return of industrial giants Nine Inch Nails, fashion magazine Cosmopolitan declared it the “best music festival” on the West Coast.

Since moving to Exposition Park in 2014, the festival has routinely attracted A-list talent such as Björk, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Morrissey.


“We have witnessed Sean grow from an ambitious punk enthusiast to a pillar/trend-setter of the professional music industry,” No Age guitarist Randy Randall told The Times in 2013, praising the event’s increasingly eclectic bookings.

FYF Presents had just a single Goldenvoice-affiliated show, Princess Nokia at the El Rey, in its upcoming calendar.

Times staff writer Lorraine Ali contributed to this report.

Follow me on Twitter: @toddmartens