Now that we’re more than halfway through 2017, virtually every major music festival lineup has been announced, and of all those, Los Angeles’ FYF Fest stands out as the most compelling because of sheer sonic variation – Nine Inch Nails, Björk, Frank Ocean, Iggy Pop, Missy Elliott and A Tribe Called Quest top a bill, arguably the year’s overall best, as diverse as its home city’s sprawling population.
The epic roster ushers in the event’s 14th consecutive year and 4th anniversary, July 21-23, at the Coliseum-adjacent grounds of Exposition Park, and will mark the first time FYF (formerly “Fuck Yeah Fest”, if you were still wondering) expands to three days. Yet, though it’s now technically as lengthy as Coachella (its sister festival by way of shared producer Goldenvoice), a schedule with later start times and relatively few overlaps reveals a smarter game plan: expand the timeframe, but book a number of artists comparable to years past, meaning fans experience far fewer conflicts than virtually any other fest of this caliber, and thus get the most bang for their buck.
Still, there are a few touch choices for those attending, and not everyone may be familiar with all the fest’s must-see acts, so we’ve compiled this list of those who deserve a big, affirmative Sharpie circle scrawled around their names on your schedule:
Friday, July 21/ Main stage, 8:50 p.m.
The enigmatic Icelandic singer-songwriter hasn’t released an album since 2015’s Vulnicura, but in the meantime, her knack for supremely innovative live shows hasn’t ceased in the slightest. Between introducing the dazzling virtual reality ‘Bjork Digitial’ experience at several festivals and performing with a full orchestra at the end of May in Los Angeles, Björk has indicated that any creative approach will be fair game for her imminent return to the City of Angels Friday on the main stage. A performance alongside frequent collaborator Arca (scheduled to play Saturday with Jesse Kanda) seems likely, but the rest is anyone’s guess. Regardless, an original fest production from Björk is practically guaranteed to be a transformative experience.
Friday, July 21/ Trees stage, 10:20 p.m.
If anyone reading this was present at FYF Fest 2014 when a freshly reunited Slowdive performed on the Lawn stage during a breeze-blessed, fiery sunset, you don’t need me to tell you how magical their Friday evening set on the Trees stage is likely to be, especially with new material from self-titled comeback album – their first full-length since 1995 – in tow. Resplendently loud, fresh-outta-the-box shoegaze – make sure to squeeze some in between Bjork and Missy Elliott!
Friday, July 21/ Main stage, 11:15 p.m.
With only a small handful of live appearances under her belt over the last seven years, a full-on fest performance from Missy Elliott is worthy catching solely for its rarity. But her Friday night headlining set – scheduled to close the main stage following Bjork – is sure to surpass mere novelty. With an arsenal of chart-topping hits from the past 20 years featuring other R&B and rap superstars such as Eve, Ludacris, Pharrell Williams and Nas, to name a few, her show should be a surefire party with the potential to impress by employing a parade of surprise guests.
Saturday, July 22/ Lawn stage, 7:30 p.m.
Since releasing sophomore album A New Place 2 Drown under his given name, Archy Marshall, at the end of 2015, King Krule has only played a couple of Stateside dates. Though his songwriting style – heavily influenced by traditional and hip-hop-based jazz elements – often comes off as disparate, the intricacies of his riffs and incomparable quality of his voice translate into an arresting live experience, sure to evoke transcendent feelings for fans of thoughtful music during his Saturday sunset spot on the Lawn stage.
Saturday, July 22/ Club stage, 10:15 p.m.
Fourteen years have passed since Sleep released their 63-minute, one-song album Dopesmoker, the ultimate ode to marijuana that re-solidified the trio’s status as the most definitive stoner rock band. Of course, the appeal of their doom metal transcends the world of potheads, so heavy music fans of all stripes should be stoked (no pun intended) that their turn on the intimate Club stage – an interesting but potentially perfect choice for this act – might yield the Stateside debut of new material, a likely scenario given recent reports of a new album (title TBA) coming out this year.
Saturday, July 22/ Trees stage, 10:25 p.m.
After 13 years away, the Faint have rejoined the roster of seminal Omaha record imprint Saddle Creek (of Conor Oberst and Tim Kasher fame) to release a double-album career retrospective Capsule: 1999-2016, which showcases the most renowned of the electro-punks’ five albums put out during that period, plus two new tracks. Presumably, that means their Saturday night set on the Trees stage will play out like an ultimate best-of set, reminding FYF’s older attendees just who helped usher in the dance-rock wave of the early ‘00s, and will hopefully give some younger attendees an arsenal of new-old tunes to groove to in the process.
Saturday, July 22/ Trees stage, 12 a.m.
Within the last four years, this Chilean-American composer and electronic artist has put on two FYF Fest performances that are now the stuff of legend. The first, with Darkside in 2014 for one of their final shows, ended with the epic smashing of the wormhole-producing mirror used throughout his and Dave Harrington’s shows, and Jaar’s solo set the following year was hailed by many as the weekend’s most impactful, beating out Kanye West, Solange, Death Grips, Morrissey and FKA Twigs. Don’t let his typical slow-burning start fool you – it will be well worth it to stick around to witness the ways in which soundscapes and visual schemes unfold Saturday on the Trees stage, which will surely pull heavily from 2016’s Sirens, plus plenty more from his vastly varied catalogue.
Sunday, July 23/ Club stage, 4:25 p.m.
On his latest album, 2016’s The Party, Canadian singer-songwriter proves his prolific penchant by playing every instrument recorded – guitar, bass, drums, clarinet, piano – save for the strings. You shouldn’t, however, expect some egocentric multi-instrumentalist wizard trying to impress with intricate loops to fill out his fragile yet full brand of folk Sunday afternoon on the Club stage. Instead, prepare to be spellbound by an impressive gang of accompanying players enlisted to help his introspective lyrics soar – he’s got two clarinet players, ya’ll.
Sunday, July 23/ Lawn stage, 7:20 p.m.
Based on some of his comments about the end of the Stooges during a 2016 tour with members of Queens of the Stone Age under the moniker Post Pop Depression, it felt like maybe we were witnessing the final live appearances from the Godfather of Punk. But no, Iggy Pop has forged onward with plans to play fests through the end of the year, his set lists seemingly designed to celebrate every era of his storied, 50-plus-year career. Though, at age 70, who knows if this will be his final L.A.-area gig – we certainly recommend reveling in the opportunity to get rowdy in the pit with him Sunday night at the relatively intimate Lawn stage.
Nine Inch Nails
Sunday, July 23/ Main stage, 10:45 p.m.
Each time Nine Inch Nails resurfaces after long breaks, they appear more determined than ever to completely engulf and stimulate the full range of human senses with a stunning production and set lists that uphold the countless stories told about unstoppably powerful, wall-of-sound live shows. So, given that their Sunday night fest-closing spot on the main stage marks the first public appearance since 2014 – plus the fact that frontman Trent Reznor hinted about the release of new music with a July 7 Tweet, “NEXT WEEK,” – it’s a no-brainer that you’ll wanna soak up every moment of this sure-to-be-fantastically loud fest finale.