Six acts you can't miss at Fmly Fest
As far as marathon music events go, L.A. locals would be hard-pressed to find a more physically draining, aurally diverse experience than Fmly Fest. The festival, encompassing more than 45 bands and solo acts over two days at two different locales, is a cross-pollination of artists from all over the city.
The event is the brainchild of Cameron Rath, founder of Fmly, a tight-knit organization specializing in D.I.T. (do-it-together) community music and art events in various parts of the country. It's an offshoot of the Fmly Ride, an open, monthly bike ride/band bonanza that hosts as many as 300 cyclists on a trail of mini concerts at random, makeshift stages around Mid-City. Usually, all that's needed for a show is an open slab of concrete for a stage and a place to fire up a solar-powered generator for the amps.
Fmly Fest provides almost the same experience, only at two stationary venues with two main stages and a couple of smaller makeshift venues. The celebration begins at 3 p.m. Thursday and carries on until well past midnight Friday. In addition to the bands and solo acts, there will be community workshops presented by Lincoln Heights venue HM 157, Pehrspace programmer Sean Carnage and others.
There's a lot to see and hear. And if you don't plan on hanging out for 10 hours each day to catch everything, there are at least a handful of acts each night that definitely qualify as "unmissable." In an effort to help you help yourself, we've jotted down a list of six acts that provide all the essential ingredients for a potent Fmly band: copious amounts of indie cred, an intriguing artistic style and a dash of sweat-drenched nihilism. All the details of the festival are available on the Fmly site. To check out our cheat sheet, read on.
DAY 1 -- Thursday
Catnap (1726 N. Spring St., Los Angeles)
1) So Many Wizards/Twin Steps (battle), 9:35 p.m. @Stage 1
One of the main pillars of Fmly Fest is the mini battle-of-the-band match-ups. The second aural slugfest of the night is between Long Beach's self-described bedroom pop outfit So Many Wizards and Oakland's melodic, post-punk shriekers Twin Steps. Two very different styles to be sure, but both are capable of whipping up a mix of reckless and tender energy that seems likely to end in one big group hug. And after all, isn't that what this whole Fmly Fest thing is about?
2) Pangea/TRMRS/Fidlar (round robin), 12:05 a.m. @ Stage 1
Few things inspire an altruistic human connection more than the ability of bands to share space onstage. Which is why round-robin sets, featuring three or more bands playing rounds of one song each, tend to find favor with the Fmly Fest crowd. The riff-riding thrash punk of Fidlar is sure to show itself as band members trade songs with Costa Mesa four-piece TRMRS and L.A. favorites Pangea. While each band has is own slightly different brand of punk passion, you're basically there to watch (and hopefully partake in), the craziest mosh pit of the night.
3) Kid Infinity, 1:15 a.m. @ Stage 2
Assuming there's any power left in your generator, we advise you to get in on the trashy, electro club rap vibes of Kid Infinity. As Fmly's resident hip-hop veterans, the duo of Nathan Huber and Ryan Pardeiro come prepared with tight flows and light shows and a party that will be a major shot in the arm to those reveling in the waning hours of Day 1 of Fmly Fest. As in the lyrics found on "The End Is Never Now," the duo's message is definitely inspired by the ethos of the Rath's Fmly organization: "Take all that wasted trash, it's not nothing/Build it into something fresh that means something."
DAY 2 -- Friday
Chucos (1137 E. Redondo Blvd., Inglewood)
1)VerBS, 7:20 p.m. @ Stage 2
VerBS co-founded the respected hip-hop crew Swim Team, but his creative contribution extends beyond his deft lyrical chops. The founder of buzz-worthy hip-hop monthly Bananas in Leimert Park, the Culver-City-based rapper is true definition of a trooper when it comes to representing hip-hop at Fmly Ride events and bringing banging beats to a fest often dominated by distortion.
2) Messy Sparkles, 9:40 p.m. @ Stage 2
It's rare to associate the state of Arkansas with anything that sounds even remotely tropical. That is until you get a taste of Messy Sparkles' island-inspired dance pop. This solo project from electro artist JD Paul is built around a mix of drum samples, loops and keys that transports you from the stuffy living room of a house party to a dance hall in balmy Barbados. Given Fmly's ability to transform parking lots into party zones, it seems that this out-of-town artist is a perfect fit for the fest.
3) Vacation Dad, 10:50 p.m. @ Stage 1
There are plenty of solo acts at Fmly Fest that are well worth your time. But few on the bill seem willing to conjure up a wider swath of emotions in their music than the L.A. act Vacation Dad. The solo venture of Andrew Thacker Todryk, co-founder of boutique label MJ MJ records, Vacation Dad is a mixture of woozy electronic psychedelia, contemplative pop and mosh pit-inducing noise. And though it rocks at a slower pace than most of what you'll find in the world of hybrid garage bands, it nevertheless feels very of-the-moment in the L.A. music scene.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: Cameron Rath, center in yellow, is among the bicyclists making their way to the next stop of the monthly Fmly ride in Los Angeles on July 3, 2010. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times.