I went to the third Fuck Yeah Fest, in 2006, four months after I moved to Los Angeles. I went to the fourth one, too. At the third one, the still-ascendant local kids Silversun Pickups might have been the biggest draw, but clearly it was the punks' three-day weekend: The Circle Jerks, Erase Errata, and No Age all performed. It was Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris (Black Flag, Off!) who helped a bored 18-year-old Torrance, California upstart named Sean Carlson start the festival in 2004. In 2011, the FYF group -- by then four core people and a handful of part-timers -- partnered with promoting giant and AEG acquisition Goldenvoice. The FYF Fest I went to this past weekend bore little resemblance to the scrappy Echo Park gatherings of nearly a decade earlier.
Sure, there were still enterprising sidewalk hot dog vendors outside the site, but this time there were 20 times as many -- literally, from two to about 40, beating out even the impressive number of informal-economy carts outside a Hollywood Bowl show on a summer Saturday night. This time, instead of the Echoplex's bar, there were multiple beer gardens, and booth setups by Bulleit Bourbon and Ketel One Vodka. And the bands' name recognition factor had shot up exponentially: headlining acts included The Strokes, Interpol, and Haim, all of whom the average hip suburban dad has at least looked up on Shazam.
Some entities just shapeshift, and that's fine. Sting went from The Police to doing Renaissance lute music. Elton John transitioned from "The Bitch is Back" to "Circle of Life." If FYF Fest's sellout (let's call it what it is, not judge, and move on) means the playing field has re-opened to small, homegrown festivals with local reach, I look forward to seeing what the young promoters of tomorrow come up with.