Ever since Street Scene went bankrupt after its final two-day festival in 2009, the long-term future of music festivals in San Diego has been in serious doubt. In fact, CityBeat even published a feature on whether or not it's plausible to even have a large-scale festival within our city limits. Despite that setback, however, more effort has been put into putting together more festival events in San Diego.
Those events range from the Adams Avenue Street Fair, which just released its lineup for 2013, and the upcoming Golden Hill Street Fair to acts that feature larger numbers of national and international touring acts, like IndieFest, which took place last weekend, and San Diego Music Thing, which follows the SXSW example of holding a large number of showcases in various indoor venues.
A music festival has yet to crop up in San Diego with the same kind of clout as Coachella and probably never will—at the very least that would require an expanse of available land that you'd probably have to drive to East County or farther to locate. But if you ask me, the real festival to emulate is FYF Fest, which takes place in Los Angeles on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24 and 25. Smaller than Coachella, but generally with a much more impressive lineup, FYF has grown from a small DIY show in 2004 into the two-day extravaganza it is now. Luckily, it's only a couple of hours up the freeway from here, so chances are, quite a few CityBeat readers are already planning on being there. So, for those who'll be making the road trip, here are our tips and recommendations for the weekend.
Saturday, Aug. 24
Mikal Cronin: Cronin's new album, MCII, is one of the best albums of this year, balancing Big Star-style power pop with Elliott Smith-like chamber pop. It's exactly the kind of salve needed to soothe the mid-afternoon L.A. burn.
Charles Bradley: Charles Bradley is playing in San Diego this weekend (his show at the Belly Up on Friday is our PLAN A), so you might even have the opportunity to see him twice. In any case, a veteran singer and performer with some serious James Brown-style grooves, Bradley is likely to steal the show from many of the youngsters.
The Breeders: This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Breeders' 1993 album Last Splash, which might make you feel old. The record has aged incredibly well, and I, for one, wouldn't pass up the opportunity to hear Kim Deal & Co. rip through classics like "Saints," "Divine Hammer" and "Cannonball."
The Locust: In one of only two U.S. appearances this year, San Diego's spastic noise-core terrorists are likely to provide one of the loudest, gnarliest sets at the festival. Don't miss it.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were scheduled to play Del Mar this Friday but ended up canceling at the last minute. The reason hasn't been explained, but there's a rumor that a contract with Goldenvoice might have been the source of the conflict, Goldenvoice being the promoter of FYF. In any case, they're still the headliners at the fest, and are sure to put on a high-energy, theatrical set.
Death Grips: There's a chance Death Grips won't even show up, which is what happened at Lollapalooza recently, ending in some good old fashioned destruction. I'm more inclined to recommend seeing them based on the kind of chaos they create musically, but, hey, if someone decides to tear up a drum kit, again, then that should be a memorable experience.
Sunday, Aug. 25
Mac DeMarco: At SXSW earlier this year, I watched Mac DeMarco tear through some surprisingly on-point covers of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" between tracks from his outstanding 2012 album, 2. That's just the tip of the iceberg as far as DeMarco's stage antics go, but his dreamy pop music is the real reason to check him out.
Chelsea Wolfe: Chelsea Wolfe's gloomy doom-pop works much better when it's dark, so the mid-afternoon time slot she's in won't be doing her any favors. But her beautifully ominous tunes might just bring some heavy clouds in to make up for it. Her new album, Pain Is Beauty, says it all in its title; get ready to feel good while you feel bad.
Yo La Tengo: Yo La Tengo have been playing music together far longer than the vast majority of acts on the bill, which is all the more reason to clear out some time to see the New Jersey trio firsthand. Though they most likely won't be bringing along their Wheel of Fortune, they will be bringing some great indie-rock tunes.
Baroness: If you were hoping to see Baroness at The Casbah this weekend, well, you're too late. The show is sold out. And with good reason—the Savannah-by-way-of-Philly metal band is one of the most dynamic contemporary rock bands in America. Until earlier this spring, they hadn't toured in a year, due to a bus accident in the UK—which frontman John Baizley discussed with CityBeat in this week's feature. This is a great way to welcome them back.
Solange: Beyoncé Knowles' little sister might not have quite as much name recognition as her big sis, but she's more than proven her worth through jams she's released on records like 2012's True. She provides a welcome break from loud rock music on Sunday night and is likely to turn the place into a massive dance party.
My Bloody Valentine: I'll go on record as saying that My Bloody Valentine is the loudest band I've ever heard live, and if you've ever heard their "You Made Me Realise" noise outro, you know exactly what I'm talking about. But the shoegaze legends aren't strictly about causing tinnitus—they built their reputation on great songwriting, as well, and this time around, they've actually got some new ones to add to the setlist.