“Are you ready for President Trump?” Morrissey proclaimed from the stage during his FYF Fest headlining set Sunday in Los Angeles. “Please I beg you, don’t.”
Themes of political and social action ran strong through the festival’s second day of programming, as the Moz harped on issues of police brutality and animal cruelty through his performance. Elsewhere, D’Angelo called for the audience to raise its fists for the victims of police brutality before kicking into the Black Messiah standout “Charade” and leading a chant of, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” Earlier, Solange Knowles welcomed members of King, Moses Sumney and Dev Hynes onstage to close her set with a moving rendition of Nina Simone’s civil rights anthem “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”
With these sets — along with the likes of FKA Twigs, Belle & Sebastian, Thee Oh Sees, Health, Flume, Toro y Moi, Tobias Jesso Jr. and more — FYF Fest’s second day was far different than the day before. Whereas everyone Saturday had been talking about Kanye West replacing Frank Ocean as the opening night headliner, there was not such a distinct focus on Sunday.
Though Morrissey was the biggest name of the day and closed the main stage, his set was not a powerful close to the weekend. That Donald Trump comment was about he extent to which he engaged the audience, save a few thanks to the audience and nodding to his massive Mexican and Mexican-American followings, saying “gracias” as well. His set included favorites such as “Suedehead” and “First of the Gang to Die,” along with recent standouts “The Bullfighter Dies” and “Istanbul” from last year’s World Peace Is None Of Your Business. And while he did not play the biggest Smiths classics as one might have hoped, Morrissey did at least appease the crowd with “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” and “Meat is Murder,” which included stomach-turning visuals of a slaughterhouse.
Morrissey’s set had been preceded by Belle & Sebastian on the main stage, with Flume and Toro y Moi before them, leaning a bit more towards the indie rock minded crowd. But meanwhile, the supporting stage featured a solid alternative with Solange, D’Angelo and the Vanguard and FKA Twigs, bringing lively performances filled with incredible dancing, impressive musicianship and moving grooves.
It felt like a party on Sunday, as Solange noted during her set that she was going to get wasted later dancing to D’Angelo — and warning fans to not be surprised when we saw her in the tabloids Monday morning. Lorde joined Flume for the Australian producer’s “Tennis Court” remix, bringing goofy dance moves to the stage. She hung out through the night in the artists’ compound.
Now in its 11th year, producers Goldenvoice and FYF have built the once DIY festival to an impressive Coachella-lite inside the city. Though weekend passes were still available Saturday morning, there was no lack of bodies at FYF Fest. (Festival organizers would not disclose the weekend’s attendance.) Mac DeMarco — a summer festival regular at this point — attracted a massive audience for his set, while Dixon and Nicholas Jaar packed the dance music programmed Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
As the annual happening once began in a small club in Echo Park, over the years it’s grown and changed locations to take its new form in The L.A. Sports Arena & Exposition Park, now for the second year. And while each year at a new location brings growing pains (last year there were complaints over unreasonably long wait times to enter the festival; years ago at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown the festival ran out of water), its organizers have done an exceptional job of addressing those problems to make a well functioning event. As such, even if it’s in its 11th year now, this felt like the true arrival of an established FYF Fest.