Each year, I like to channel my early twenties and take a road trip to a major California festival. And — more than Coachella or any other West Coast gathering — I often opt for FYF Fest in Los Angeles.
I've been visiting the annual downtown L.A. event since 2010, when it used to be held at dusty park near Chinatown. In recent year's, however, the party moved a few blocks to overtake venues at Exposition Park, which is just south of the USC campus — another great setting for a weekend of killer indie, hip-hop, rock, and electronic acts.
If you didn't make it to Outside Lands earlier this month, FYF's 2016 lineup rivals that of the Golden Gate Park gathering. Here are five reasons to hop in a car (or snag a Southwest flight) and check it out this next weekend, August 27 and 28:
See Oakland's Kamaiyah in a Festival Setting
Life must be wild since the 24-year-old local rapper put out her Good Night in the Ghetto mixtape earlier this year. Most notably, she's locked in a major tour with YG, including a stop at the Fox Theatre the day after Thanksgiving, and this on the heels of her dropping the verse on one of the summer's biggest hits, "Why You Always Hatin?" Plus, her single "How Does It Feel" has taken off in the past twelve months, what with it's B.I.G.-esque rags-to-riches "Juicy" narrative and super catchy, Eightites R&B-inspired chorus. I'm interested to see her work a festival crowd; she'll be playing early on Saturday.
Ten Awesome Acts
Some 75-plus acts will grace FYF's stages on Friday and Saturday, but here are ten you absolutely shouldn't miss: Rae Sremmurd, Vince Staples (saw him at Regency earlier this year, excited to see if his set has evolved), Beach House, LCD Soundsystem (who headlined Outside Lands as part of the band's comeback-shows spree), Chelsea, Wolf, Tame Impala (who headline the Greek Theatre September 2-3), Grimes, Junior Boys, and Air (who I haven't seen in like fifteen years).
An Easy's burger, from the minds behind Eggslut. Look for the pop-up at FYF.
Serious Legit Food Options
FYF is upping its culinary game again this year, with some must-eat options. The longest line will likely be at the pop-up burger spot Easy's, from one of the founders of Eggslut. For my money, a warm bowl of vegan ramen at Ramen Hood will keep you fueled for a ten-hour festival day. But I'm also intrigued by Mainland Poke and Sunny Blue — the latter slanging stuff rice balls, also excellent festival energy fixes.
Treasure Island Preview Set by Young Thug
Atlanta rapper is a Sunday undercard, but my money is on this being one of the hottest sets of the weekend. Thug will also play Sunday during the October Treasure Island fest here in the Bay. http://fyffest.com/#!
It's remarkable how, despite putting out the most-discussed hip-hop album in recent memory, Kendrick Lamar isn't over-exposed. Perhaps this is because he's chilled out doing features, or because To Pimp A Butterfly lacked a radio-friendly single. He's not ubiquitous like Drake and, frankly, the only annoying thing he's done is sport a LA Rams bucket hat at the new SoCal darling teams' training camp. And, instead, he's more into dropping moment-defining anthems and dominant festival appearances (such has his ever-discussed Outside Lands appearance from 2015).
So, that's why me and pretty much everyone else attending the festival will be sweating his headline appearance on Saturday. Not much else to say except that I'll be posting up early for a good view, and I'll report back next weekend here at EastBayExpress.com.
Now in its sixteenth year, Art + Soul Oakland returns with a weekend of family-friendly art, music, and food in downtown. Taking place on August 20 and 21, the outdoor, all-day event features multiple stages and diverse performers. Oakland R&B legends Tony! Toni! Toné! and rising singer Samaria (whom we just awarded Best New R&B Talent in our Best of the East Bay issue) are among the headliners, but the lineup features a wide assortment of genres, including jazz, funk, blues, and gospel. Visitors can also expect a barbecue competition, food vendors, dance performances, and kids' activities. Definitely a weekend of fun not to miss! Check out the full schedule here.
Elujay's latest single, "Onetime!" is an anthem for The Town and a celebration of the blessings that come with it. The Oakland native gives a thankful shoutout to his city and his people, rapping his love over an energetic, uplifting beat.
Elujay explained that the concept of the song arose from his immense appreciation for his hometown. "I was inspired by the scenery of my city and the constant evolution of it," he told the Express.
The Future of Hip-Hop: America’s Newest Indigenous Art at Impact Hub
As hip-hop evolves from a marginalized art form to a hugely profitable, global market, many different debates have arisen among those invested in the music and culture. While some people believe that mass-marketed rap is in opposition to hip-hop’s original role as a vehicle for social resistance, others question whether a new crop of hugely popular white rappers are removing the genre from its cultural context (much like what happened to rock’n’roll sixty years ago). Meanwhile, others are merely sitting back and watching as hip-hop’s influence reaches the most privileged corners of society, including Fashion Week and the White House. Ensemble Mik Nawooj, an East Bay hip-hop orchestra, and the nonprofit Hip-Hop for Change are hosting a free conference at Impact Hub called The Future of Hip-Hop: America’s Newest Indigenous Art to explore questions about where hip-hop culture is headed. Speakers include JooWan Kim of Mik Nawooj, Khafre Jay of Hip-Hop for Change, Davey D of KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio, graffiti artist Ernest Doty, dance crew Mix’d Ingrdnts, and more. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., Aug. 13, 7:30-11:30 p.m. Impact Hub (2323 Broadway, Oakland). Free. Oakland.ImpactHub.net
On his newest single, "Where’s Black," rapper Dizzle tells the tale of the many roadblocks he faced while trying to visit childhood friend and fellow Oakland MC AllBlack while he was incarcerated earlier this year.
Since the release of her debut mixtape, A Good Night In the Ghetto, fans have been thirsting for new music from Kamaiyah.
She's given us a few brief appearances — such as her hook on YG's Bay Area-indebted banger, "Why You Always Hatin'," and her verse on E-40's new diss track, "Petty." But now, the self-proclaimed West Coast queen is back with the Cardo Got Wings-produced "How You Want It," her new single and music video.
Quick!: A few fun pics from photographer Ryan Donahue, who attended all three days of Outside Lands 2016. (Notice his affection for stick signs and POPTPOB, a.k.a. "pictures of people taking pictures of bands"). Thanks, Ryan, for sending them along!
No secret that the Muppet's house band ruled the weekend.
Never made it to the media pit for Radiohead ... but pretty close, still.
Allblack hit Oakland’s underground rap scene last year after the release of his debut mixtape, No Shame. Now, after a three-month stint in jail for a violation of probation, he’s releasing the second single off his upcoming project, No Shame 2: "Salute Me," a track that's part Oakland banger and part down-South anthem.
Since you likely haven't seen the light of day since Stranger Things waltzed into your life, we thought we would put together a list of worthwhile events happening this weekend, to try to get you off the couch. Actually, we do this every week. See below.
The new Oakland dance party Intersect seeks to center Black, brown, queer, femme, trans, and non-binary DJs and musicians, and isn’t specific to style or genre. The first edition of the monthly event kicks off at the Legionnaire on Saturday and features house and techno sets from Jasmine Infiniti, who got her start in New York City’s ballroom scene and has made huge strides for the inclusivity of trans women in the Bay Area nightlife scene; San Francisco’s Nihar Bhatt; and Oakland’s Russell Butler. Expect an evening of hypnotizing, experimental beats and lots of dancing and sweating. Best of all, the event is free. — Nastia Voynovskaya
Sat., Aug. 6, 10 p.m. The Legionnaire Saloon (2272 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). Free. LegionnaireSaloon.com
Saturn Rising (formerly known as King Saturn) is well known in the Bay Area as a dancer and performance artist. And his brand of vogue- and house-influenced dance-pop demonstrates the same detail-oriented, singular vision that's made him a popular fixture in the queer club scene as a live performer. The artist is gearing up to release his debut album, RYAN, which will come out piece-by-piece as a series of singles and music videos over the next ten months.