The build up to this year’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles was dominated by talk of Frank Ocean, who pulled out of his headline set just a few days before gates opened. Kanye West was quickly ushered in to replace the R&B enigma, slotting into a bill that also included sets from a returning Bloc Party and a snarling Morrissey, not to mention surprise appearances from Rihanna and Lorde. Here’s NME’s round-up of the best acts from across the weekend.
Bloc Party, Lawn Stage, Saturday, 9:50pm
Kele Okereke walks onstage wearing garish green shorts and a huge grin. “Good evening Fuck Yeah Fest, my name is Frank Ocean… Nah not really!” Bloc Party’s frontman seems in high spirits, and well he might: his new look band are in California to preview material from their upcoming fifth album. With ex-Menomena bassist Justin Harris next to him and new drummer Louise Bartle behind, Kele ensures Bloc Party’s last American date of 2015 goes with a bang. Cuts from ‘Silent Alarm’ (which celebrates its tenth birthday this year) follow a driving, unnamed new song, and by the time they get to closer ‘This Modern Love’, the shirtless locals down the front are bellowing every word.
Kanye West, Main Stage, Saturday, 10:45pm
Right from the opening thunder of ‘No Church In The Wild’, emergency headliner Kanye West is running around the stage manically, demanding than maximum energy from the crowd. Wearing a hulking chain round his neck, he powers through ‘Cold’, ‘Black Skinhead’ and ‘All Day’ before pausing during an emotionally-charged ‘Runaway’ to announce, “I’ll need to stop because I’ve been known to do this song for 40 minutes, and I have 10 minutes left. But I still have ten years of motherfucking hits for you guys, so we’re going to do a hit a minute!” As he launches into ‘FourFiveSeconds’ Rihanna emerges from the front row to sing the chorus. The countdown continues with ‘Touch The Sky’, All Falls Down’, ‘All Of The Lights’ (with a final Rihanna guest appearance) and ‘Good Life.’ The wall of spotlights fixed behind the rapper shine one last flare into the audience, the stage goes black and Kanye exits leaving thousands of fans stunned.
Purity Ring, Lawn Stage, Saturday, 12:00am
Purity Ring’s closing Lawn Stage set begins in total darkness, with Corin Roddick’s trap beats reverberating over the crowd. Suddenly, Megan James’ delicate vocals break through the noise. Lights that hang like vines from the top of the stage obscure the singer, but her voice connects instantly. Her emotion hits the chest as hard as the bass during the slithering ‘Flood On The Floor’, and the Toronto duo ensure a pulsating end to FYF’s opening night.
Morrissey, Main Stage, Sunday, 10:30pm
It doesn’t take long for Morrissey’s headline performance to veer towards controversy. After ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and ‘Suedehead’ prove a predictably electric opening, an excited fan rushes on stage and grabs Moz round the waist during ‘Alma Matters’. As security guards step in to remove her, the singer grunts disdainfully. The bouncers are in his crosshairs again during ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’. “It’s like I’m singing to security,” he says, “Hello security. Did somebody sneeze? Why so much security? Can at least 50 of you go away please?” There’s room, of course, for his usual Royal Family-baiting images, which flash up on screens alongside shots of police beatings. After urging the faithful not to vote for Donald Trump as President, he finishes with the inevitable flourish of The Smiths’ ‘What She Said’. He’s as riveting as ever.
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FKA Twigs, Lawn Stage, Sunday, 11:30pm
Tahliah Barnett emerges for her Lawn Stage headline set in a silk dressing gown, but her performance is anything but sleepy. The 27-year-old jerks around so much during the unsettling rattles of ‘Water Me’ and ‘Pendulum’ you wonder how she can even sing, let alone maintain such crisp vocals. The bass is heavy and constant and, as dancers writhe alongside her, she removes the kimono to reveal a leather corset. The tangle of limbs and shiny black and red material suits the irregular beat of ‘Glass & Patron’ (from recent surprise EP ‘M3LI55X’) but Twigs saves the best for last, bombarding us with a breathtaking ‘How’s That’.