A lot of talk this week about the FYF Fest has focused on the lines. And, without a doubt, there were plenty. Both outside trying to get in, and inside trying to get food or a drink. The line for the water fountain was particularly disturbing. Oddly enough, the bathroom facilities were plentiful. Lessons must be learned, and founder Sean Carlson pledged to make improvements in an email he sent out a few days after to advance ticketholders. But the reality is that first-time festivals (although FYF has been around for a few years, it never has been held in this kind of setting) are always plagued with logistical issues despite the best efforts of their organizers. I expected this kind of mess, and shelled out $ on a VIP pass in hopes of avoiding it. It was a good decision - I dealt with no lines.
Despite all the problems, the people I saw were having a good time, and the grounds were a nice fit for the event. It was a great escape to be in the middle of LA, not on the streets, under the stars, listening to pure unadulterated noise. And this festival brought the noise. I arrived in time for LIGHTNING BOLT, a drum/bass two-piece from Providence, RI. I knew they had a following after I made the mistake of showing up without a ticket for an Echo show years back. The line to get in that night was wrapped around the block. The FYF crowd was no less enthusiastic, so much so that there were warnings before the show started that if it got too crazy the fire marshals would shut it down. The drummer then put on some kind of stocking with a mic jammed in his mouth like a ball gag, and chaos ensued. The mix was rough, all bass with little drums or vocals, but the kids crowdsurfed on boogie boards and on their feet until the band was cut off mid-first song. After people finally understood the marshals were serious, they moved back, the band resumed, the mix came together, and then it all ended way too soon. The experience left me longing to hear their new record, Earthly Delights, set to be released on October 13th.
On to TORCHE, who were plagued by their own sound problems. Bassist Jonathan Nunez blew his bass head early on and the band could never recover. Without the full force of his low end, TORCHE was like a weakened animal. Steve Brooks looked uncomfortable up there, a far cry from the lovefest earlier in August at the Knitting Factory. The show culminated with fan favorite "Tarpit Carnivore" but ended unexpectedly when Rick Smith somehow lost all his drumsticks. Brooks summed it up nicely: "Thanks, this is our best show ever." If TORCHE has crossover appeal, this was not the show to find out. And I was left to wonder if this band will ever reach its potential wihthout replacing ex-guitarist Juan Montoya.
Then it was time for CONVERGE. Quite simply, they destroyed, and the fire marshals were nowhere to be seen. Words cannot describe, but this video can:
They return to LA on November 19-20 with High on Fire, Mastodon and Dethklok at the Palladium, leaving enough time for their new album Axe to Fall to fully penetrate our skulls.