Why FYF Fest Is Worth the Drive in 2013

Melissa Fossum
FLAG at Punk Rock Bowling
Why should Phoenicians care about a festival that's happening nearly 400 miles away, in rival territory no less? Some of you diehard sports fans are probably groaning that we're featuring a music festival in the hometown of the dreaded Lakers, Kings, and Bruins. The short answer is My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders, and FLAG -- these bands won't tour in Phoenix anytime soon, and Southern California isn't that far away.

We shouldn't feel too left out, because it's not as if My Bloody Valentine is going to tour the rest of the United States, either, in support of its latest record, MBV.

The festival in question? Los Angeles' FYF Fest, one of the best ones going. Homegrown festivals like McDowell Mountain Music Festival are starting to hit their stride by moving to downtown locales and featuring renowned headliners like The Roots and The Shins, but the Valley of the Sun has yet to perfect the local music festival while maintaining a national appeal.

FYF Fest is a prime example of a music festival done right. After some growing pains, FYF is now in its ninth year thanks to setting itself apart as a reasonably priced, high-caliber music festival. It's also one of the few West Coast festivals to also feature comedians.

It all began at The Echo, a two-story venue in Echo Park much like Mesa's Nile Theater, both in size and the style of music featured. For the first couple of years of FYF -- originally referred to by its full name, Fuck Yeah Fest -- the festival was split between both levels of The Echo, which OFF! and FLAG frontman Keith Morris says was a bit of a nightmare.

"There were so many people in the room that there was no way I was going to make it to the stage. I would have had to crowd-surf, and that wasn't going to happen, because the people were facing the wrong direction," Morris says of his first year at the festival, when he was asked to speak between bands.

"I was at the very back of the room, so I got on my hands and knees and thought, you know what, I'm going to crawl between legs to get to the stage, and that wasn't going to work either, because there was no room to move."

In 2013, the festival is leaps and bounds more organized, setting up at five stages just minutes from downtown Los Angeles, in the heart of Chinatown. Though FYF is a bit smaller than most other multi-day festivals, the stages are spaced out enough to hear each band well while still providing an intimate festival experience.

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