Everything I ate and drank at FYF Fest, and more about what made this LA concert the best in the world.
How do you one-up yourself? FYF Fest has been teaching a master class in getting better every year by not only raising the bar on star caliber (Brad Pitt!) but also featuring some of the best local eateries in town.
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Sleep and Monster Fries
Landing a music festival is something that usually happens after you blow up. But FYF is famous for featuring stars, and putting them on the map.
While LA giants like Kogi, Beer Belly, and Locol dominated the headlines, the sleeper hit of the festival was Monster Fries: perfectly crisp, garlicky fries under a pound of pulled pork that keep your face adjacent to the plate until they are gone.
The perfect musical pairing? Doom metal masters Sleep who filled The Club stage with a heavy fog of smoke and a wall of noise that should put this band high on your metal live show to-do list.
Head bang, chew, repeat.
Solange with a Side of Charcoal Ice Cream
Watching Solange rock the house with a perfectly choreographed set (all in red with synchronized hair flipping) was a spiritual experience. As in: people wept openly on all sides, quietly wiping their eyes with disbelief.
Pair with another culinary come-to-Jesus moment that caught all of the uninitiated at FYF by surprise: Little Damage’s charcoal ice cream cones. Black, swirled soft serve sat atop black waffle cones, but tasted like delicious cinnamon horchata.
It was one the festival’s most-Instagrammed snacks. And, standing in the perma-crowd in front of their stall, I nearly came to tears myself as I plowed through my second cone.
Cherry Glazerr and a LOCOL Cheeseburger
FYF Fest loves music of all kinds, but Los Angeles has a special place in its hearts for hometown favorites like rock trio Cherry Glazerr, who rose to fame while still in high school. On Sunday, they rocked the stage with their no-frills guitar rock to a lawn full of Los Angelenos.
Pair with another local hometown favorite, LOCOL. Their cheeseburgers are fried crispy and they come topped with cheese and LOCOL’s favorite special sauce, no frills necessary.
NoName with Shrimp and Grits
Wordsmith Fatimah Warner, better known as NoName, proved that she’d come a long way from her Acid Rap and commanded the stage, proving with her storytelling lyrics and on-stage charisma that she’s a star in her own right in front of a packed (and singing-along) Lawn audience.
Pair with a meal from My 2 Cents’, another interactive experience. They offered up friendly chats, a ton of personality, and a gourmet version of shrimp and grits in a sauce so good I was tempted to Google the restaurant’s address with hot bowl still in hand.
Missy Elliott and The Kitchen Sink
Beer Belly is an LA joint known for decadent mashups like deep fried Nutella-battered Oreos and burger patties made with duck and bacon.
At FYF they outdid themselves by putting all of the culinary shenanigans in their repertoire in one dish: The Kitchen Sink. This pile of fries comes topped with two kinds of house-made cheese whiz (regular and pizza), mozzarella, bacon, pepperoni, jalapenos, and duck confit.
Pair with Missy Elliott’s epic performance on Friday night: a mashup of all of her best hits, about a dozen costume changes, plus a mini doc about her best videos to date in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of her first album.
INSIDER TIPBeer Belly is a Cali music festival regular, and their Kitchen Sink Fries are a festival-only menu item. But, at their brick and mortar location, they have death by duck: French fries fried in duck fat with crispy pieces of duck confit sprinkled on top.
Erykah Badu and Omusubi
Omusubi is a traditional Japanese rice ball, wrapped with Nori, invented in 18th century Japan. Omusubi plays on four centuries of history to bring you the perfect portable festival snack packed with your choice of delicious beef, pork, or vegetable fillings.
Pair with Erykah Badu, a psychedelic soul singer, invented in popular culture with the 1997 album Baduizm, which Badu designed with 20 years of history in mind: “I wrote it for you 90’s babies,” said Badu, “I’ve been waiting this long for ya’ll motherf***ers to grow up so we can have this conversation.”
All the 90’s, 70’s, and 80’s babies sang along as Badu Dj’d her set from inside a pyramid of smoke and laser light for one of the best shows of the night.
Flying Lotus with Macaroni and Cheese Pizza
The trippiest moment of FYF Fest came courtesy of Flying Lotus, who DJ’d his set from inside of a giant lotus while the crowd watched a 3D laser show projected out over the audience to show us all the closest you can get to feeling like you’re on drugs without actually taking any.
Pair with FYF Fest’s stoner-iest menu item: cheese pizza with macaroni and cheese baked on top of it, which was suspiciously popular in a festival that officially states “NO drugs or drug paraphernalia as number 10 on its long list of “NOs” somewhere underneath “NO chains or chain wallets.”
Iggy Pop and The Sumo Dog
No one has more energy on stage than Iggy Pop, circa whenever. The only meal at FYF Fest that can set the crowd on fire like Iggy Pop’s unstoppable, shirtless energy when performing his (and The Stooges’) hits is the Sumo Dog: a foot long all-beef dog with spicy beef chili, Togarashi cheese sauce, two different kinds of wasabi, plus jalapeno and baby bell peppers topped with miso cabbage slaw and spicy mayo.
Bonus points for eating it while humming I Wanna Be Your Dog. Keep a glass of water nearby.
Bjork with Vegan Cauliflower
Bjork rocked the stage at FYF Fest with a live DJ, live ensemble, and trippy visuals all from inside a cocoon of taffeta and an ethereal green mask. The unique energy that is Bjork live is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives.
Pair with another equally off-center LA dish everyone should have at least once: Buffalo cauliflower from omnivorously-delicious vegan eatery Sage. Try it on a lark, plan on having one bite, eat the whole thing, order it next weekend and repeat.
Nine Inch Nails with Pizza-Topped Burgers
Despite having performed only once in the past three years, Nine Inch Nails closed out FYF Fest 2017 with a near-perfect performance. They played a few new songs and some classics before giving everyone feels with a cover of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” by David Bowie. Said Trent Reznor, “I asked if we could take on his songs and rework it off his ‘Blackstar’ album. It’s helped us with the loss.”
Pair with another sad moment from FYF Fest: Meatzilla’s famous hamburgers with pizza buns. They were supposed to be the most-talked about meal of the festival, but searched as I might I (or anyone else) couldn’t find them.
Frank Ocean (and Brad Pitt) Paired With I Need A Drink After This
Frank Ocean must have felt really bad about ditching FYF Fest in 2015. Because this year he made up for it by serenading Brad Pitt who appeared on the jumbo screen and talked on the phone while Ocean sang covers of the Carpenter’s song “Close to You” and Stevie Wonders “Never Can Say Goodbye.”
Brad Pitt was not actually on stage but somewhere just off-stage. Spike Jonze was on stage though, sending everyone buzzing wondering if there’s a new video project in the works.
Pair with anything from FYF’s local and artisanal craft beer and wine garden, because after that cool mix of old and new hits, you’ll need a drink.