Photo: Mark Horton (Getty Images)
FYF Fest is the last lap in a seemingly endless music festival marathon so grab that water bottle, and don’t crap your pants like that (poo)r Olympic marathon walker.
First and last important tip: The good news about FYF Fest is that it’s spread out (shorter lines, better stage views). The bad news is that it takes forever to get from one place to the next (sore feet, heat stroke).
So maximize your time and plan ahead for what you want to do and who you want to see. The lineup this year is FYF’s bravest in a long time, going back to its indie roots with lots of up-and-comers who’re beloved in their genres, but not mainstream (Julia Holter, Vince Staples) and polarizing headliners like Grace Jones and Young Thug. Here’s a handy FYF Playlist for Day 1 of can’t miss acts.
Head Wound City – 5:30 on the Club Stage
Head Wound City kick a combat boot through the paper thin “punk is dead” banner with hard knock tunes that “gear you up for a bit of the old ultra-violence” (as in Clockwork Orange, not Lana Del Rey). The American “noise-grind” supergroup consisting of Jordan Blilie and Cody Votolato of The Blood Brothers, Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian, both from The Locust and Holy Mola, play their post-modern punk at light-speed, spitting in the face of nostalgia with on-target songs that hit you where it hurts.
Grimes – 7pm on the Main Stage
The Canadian experimental pop pixie burst onto the scene with 2012’s Vision, but wasn’t quite ready for her close-up when she tossed an entire album’s worth of material that started and ended with the single Go. Instead of giving up, the multi-hyphenate studio gear head came back with a vengeance with the post-modern electro-pop classic Art Angels that can best be described as ADD music that’s more layered, colorful and out there than her stage outfits.
Junior Boys – Sat: 7:25 on the Club Stage Hamilton Ontario-based Junior Boys play synthesizer-driven techno-pop that’s hard to pin down, but easy to nod your head to. Call it post-disco, arty synth pop, minimal techno, U.K. garage or 21st Century blue-eyed soul, whatever — its easy to consume at its core. Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Diadems make fun, feel-good festival music (think Holy Ghost or Postal Service) to get your hydration situation on.
Air – Sat: 7:55 on the Lawn Stage
For all their critical and cult acclaim, Air has always been in the shadows of fellow French electronic duo Daft Punk. Whereas the “Get Lucky” hitmakers draw headlines with every move (they’re in the studio with The Weeknd), Air is best known for their soundtrack work on Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides.” Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît make mood Moog music that they describe as “slow motion music.” That’s an apt description as their songs are emotive without words; fine crafted and stunningly gorgeous. This is a must-see show as Air haven’t landed stateside for half-a-decade and watching a hopped up festival crowd’s reaction to “Playground Love” will be worth Snapchatting.
Tame Impala – Sat: 9pm on the Main Stage
Tame Impala broke out of the tired “psychedelic rock” mold with a breakout album, Currents, that included the song of 2015 — “Let It Happen.” The Australian rockers led by the musical genius of Kevin Parker are old souls, who reimagine classic rock and vintage pop with retro-futuristic sounds powered by swirling synth sounds and driving percussions that can swoon and turn up for eight-minute space odysseys or three-minute radio-friendly singles.
Kendrick Lamar – Sat: 11:15 on the Main Stage
Kanye West may get the headlines, Drake the memes, but Kendrick Lamar is the people’s champ of hip hop. Lamar has been bringing intense, complex songs for years under Dr. Dre’s tutelage, but Compton’s finest living rapper (RIP Eazy-E, sorry Ice Cube) became a mainstream star in 2015 with his third album, To Pimp a Butterfly, that racked up Grammy wins and top of the chart sales. Lamar is now a leading voice on and off the stage. A rare hip-hop performer whose live show transcends his master crafted studio work, feeling more like a free jazz performance with him as the Master of Ceremonies rather than just a regular MC.