Tag Archives: exposition park

FYF Day 2: Backstage By Mistake

Floppy felt hat -- check. Unitard -- check. Cut off jean shorts -- check. Exposed philosophical tattoo -- check.Ah, Sunday. Sweet and calm. A day of rest, relaxation, and maybe some light worship.

I start with a shot of whiskey. I’ve got a big day ahead of me. I have to keep my wits about me. Be light on my feet. I’m about to enter a gated area with thousands of anemic teenagers.

But I’m going to take it easy today. Tomorrow is Monday and I’ll have to be back at work. Besides, I’m too old to really lose my shit on a Sunday night and then drag myself into the office five or six hours later.

So I have another shot of whiskey and then a beer, and I think I’m basically going to take it easy from this point on. Just needed a little something to put the wind in my sails.

Today we drive to Exposition Park because it’s a casual Sunday and the likelihood of being too impaired to drive, six or nine hours from now, is not great. But because we are driving, that also means we have to park.

What I missed yesterday is the staggering poverty that surrounds all the dudes with top heavy flat tops and beards that are rich with whatever is in beard oils. We cruise down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and it looks like every over MLK Jr. Boulevard in America – fucking ghetto. The first two lots we see are thirty bucks to park in, so we pass, thinking we’ll find a cheaper lot.

RIP, yo.

There’s an open spot in front of a gravesite/memorial, complete with the Virgin Guadalupe candles from the grocery store. I don’t know if the spot was left open in “Memory Of” or simply because no one else is willing to park right in front of where someone was recently shot, but I’m happy to take it. I stride north on Vermont and I get catcalled by a small black man who is sitting on the curb drinking a Clamato Budweiser. He thinks I’m a handsome woman. He says so.

We pass two liquor stores and probably the most packed Carl’s Jr. in America. I don’t know if it’s packed because of FYF, or because it states clearly that they accept EBT. However, you can’t go through the drive-thru. EBT is only available inside.

We glide into the festival. There are no lines to speak of. The result of which is people are drinking their contraband at a much faster rate. Sweaty teenagers chug handles of vodka paired with Simply Orange in broad daylight. Guys with neck tattoos take pulls of something brown out of a Crystal Geyser bottle. They wince and offer me some. For some reason I say no. Which is weird because I’m eating a Balance Bar, which is disgusting in its own right, but almost impossible to consume without copious liquids. Regardless, I survive the Balance Bar. I also survive the sort of heavy groping from security that some people are willing to pay good money for in massage parlors.

We get inside and make our way to the Main Stage just as Mac DeMarco is starting. He’s wearing a toque, as I believe they call it in his homeland, and strumming along, making jokes about how much he loves New York City and how he’s so happy to be here.

white people

Later on, Blood Orange comes on stage and I’m shocked that they’re old and they play instruments. Lately, I’ve become accustomed to just watching teenagers spin knobs and dance. But the novelty of a band that plays actual instruments wears quickly. The sun is setting behind them and from my vantage, they could be playing doubles ping pong for all I can see.

Festival goers gain momentum as the sun drops. I see a pregnant woman dancing two feet from a girl who is taking key bumps and refusing to share with her friends. She’s dancing aggressively, even though at that exact moment, Tanlines isn’t playing a song. They are actually just talking, sans melody, about how much they like LA or this festival or something else that’s unmemorable. This is the problem with “doing it for the fans.” The fans aren’t actually listening. They’re hoarding their coke. They’re getting ready to go into labor.

We end up following a guy holding a sign that says “Here”. I follow him because he’s easy to spot. However, he’s not easy to follow. The route is behind food trucks and between trash cans. At one point there is some shuffling between the hood of a truck and a pillar that anyone with a waist size larger than 33 would not have fit through. We continue to follow the guy to the gate of the Arena where we are squeezed like toothpaste through turnstiles. Everyone is talking about getting crushed, toppled, stomped to death, this fear is common I learn pressed against panicked strangers. I’m wondering if they sell beer inside.

Apparently, I’ve wondered this aloud because a woman turns to me, and says that they do. She gives me detailed directions, but the current of humans pushing inside takes me where it sees fit. This happens to be the lower level beer garden.Darkside

The area in front of the stage is packed, but where I’m standing is spacious. Plenty of elbow room. So much in fact that a couple aggressively make-outs right next to me while moving their hands around as if they are search for a door handle in the dark. I admire how much this couple loves each other. The guy takes his shirt off, then takes a step back so she can have a look. She squints her eyes, shrugs, then walks away. His buddies come over and slap him on the back. They tell him he had a good run.

The Darkside puts on a good show, but as the set wraps up, the pressing issue is there aren’t any bathrooms. This seems odd for a place that dispenses liquid, but I’m no Event Planner. We decide to leave. I make my way to an exit, but get denied, so instead I walk past another security guard just as the show is breaking. My friends follow me and when they catch up, they inform me that we’re backstage. I crane my neck, and there in fact, right in front of us is the stage, and we’re definitely behind it.

We decide to further press our luck, but we get denied access to the next level of security. But we’ve got nothing else to do, so we open another door and there’s Nicholas Jaar and the Darkside band, hanging out, drinking water in the Green Room. We debate joining them, but then a security guard demands to know how we got in, and then ushers us outside.

tanlines

He sends us out and into the Artist Area with all of the bands trailers. We walk past band members of The Strokes, Tanlines, Blood Orange. It’s a little confusing because we thought we were getting kicked out. Instead we’ve been upgraded.

We end up drinking ciders, which are disgusting but free. And then I’m taking a pull of mescal with some guy who is handing me his business card. It’s all interesting enough, but we came to watch some shows. We did not come to stare at dudes in bands play with their phones while girls take selfies next to them.

We leave the Artist Area and walk through another set of security. We tell each other that we had a good run. It was fun. Then we realize we’re not in the general population, we’re in the VIP beer garden. The VIP Area is now seemingly endless. There’s no way out. Rather than fight it, we accept it and get some of the same beers they sell the regular folk at the same prices. It does not feel VIP, except for the girls back here are prettier and everyone’s eyes are super dilated. People seem friendlier and they seem to talk a lot faster. We’re among friends here.

As it’s Sunday, I’m supposed to already be gone. But now the last band of the night is on stage. Eighty-five percent of the festival going population is wearing a black shirt with the chrome logo of this band from 2002. The shirt is so ubiquitous (except for in VIP where it is entirely absent) that I think they must’ve given it away for free outside of the gates. Or sold it at Target when all of these kids were in middle school.

Yet, here I am, still watching them. Still drinking beer after beer on my casual Sunday night, which according to a stranger’s phone – mine died hours ago – is actually now a casual Monday morning. But everyone around me is so happy. They’re overflowing with endorphins, smiling, fist pumping, dancing while they stare at their unseasonable boots while gritting their teeth, and listening to a band whose last hit came a decade ago.

As we depart, and I’m inhaling a slice of pizza in the Monday morning twilight, I think, I should be thinking something deep and philosophical right now – about youth, the appropriation of indie music, the uniformity of haircuts, the predictably of an evening with drugs, teenagers and dudes singing over drum machines. But instead, I’m thinking about how even though it’s burning my mouth, I’m still eating this pizza.

Leave a comment

Filed under De La Moda, Uncategorized

FYF Day 1: A Quiet Afternoon in Exposition Park with 50,000 Teenagers on Molly

The kids are on drugs

FYF: Day 1

Our Lyft driver doesn’t speak a word of English. He also has no idea how to follow the directions on his phone. What he does have going for him is a picture of a boy, presumably his seven-year-old son, gripping a basketball ball with the words “Keep Out” written underneath.

The man, who is in his forties and has a tongue that won’t move in the ways the English language does, grunts, points out signs, and misses turns. Which is to say, we take the scenic route to Exposition Park. Upon arriving, our driver uses his little hands and his little feet to abruptly turn and stop the car in a crosswalk that feels only slightly safer than being let out in the middle of the intersection. We thank him and I give him a five star review.

We get some bad advice from two oiled up teenagers who look anxious to fist each other, and then we end up waiting in a line that wraps around the street and blocks an intersection. The line has overflowed from the sidewalk into Figueroa, and I swear one of these South LA drivers in an unregistered Buick is going to death by vehicular manslaughter an art school kid from Costa Mesa. It won’t be a huge loss.

A cop pulls up and on an airhorn, he tells the line that there’s another entrance on Vermont and there’s no line over there. Suddenly tens of people start running, then hundreds, eventually there’s a thousand of us moving up the block, stomping to death all signs of plant life.

Human cattle

Among the stampede are tall and skinny white guys. Every one of them is twenty-years-old with thin wrists and teeth stained exclusively by Blue Bottle Coffee. The white girls all wear the same floppy, black felt hat. They’re in jean shorts that the bottom half of their ass drops out of with each stride, and the sleeves of their t-shirts have been tailored to accentuate side boob and often the tattooed quotes on their ribcage. They are all very skinny.

A large swath of Hispanic teenagers are wearing black t-shirts featuring punk bands that broke up before they were born, black jeans that look painted on, and leather jackets. The Hispanic girls are dressed like pin-up dolls. They’ve spent hours perfecting their make-up, which in this heat looks like a landslide coming off of their faces.

There are Asian guys wearing short-sleeved collared shirts that fit well and prominently feature dozens of fish. I don’t know why, but this shirt is incredibly popular. The Asian girls also wear floppy felt hats, jean shorts and crop tops. Their color palette is more muted. There’s emphasis on black.

I rush into the Arena, surprised to find out that at an outdoor festival, Chet Faker is playing where I think USC’s basketball team plays. I make my way to the bathroom where I take a piss in a trough that spits back at me, leaving everyone’s shorts with the effect that they’ve just urinated from on themselves from pocket-to-pocket, and knee-to-knee. Two guys sidle up on each side of me and we all pee into the Niagara Falls of Troughs.

The guy to my left peers in front of me and says, “Looks like we’re on the same Pee Schedule, man.”

Before, I can answer, the guy on the other side of me says, “Haha. I know, right?”

They continue to talk over me, over roughly forty-eight ounces of Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist IPA that I’m sending back to the LA River, or probably a Dasani bottling plant.

“So,” he says to his buddy, “You feeling it?”

“Yeah, man. It’s mellow, but I’m definitely feeling it. Like—” They both nod knowingly, because they both, well, know.

I leave the bathroom, jealous. Then join my party to watch Chet Faker. It’s so dark inside that it takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. The room is thick with smoke and smells like a locker room that is doused in aerosol sunscreen, pot, whiskey, starched cotton and hair balm.

Chet Faker

After that, we lose hours in the beer garden with Little Dragon and Slowdrive in the background. I see a friend who just returned from two months in Asia, and he convinces me in seconds that I need to stop what I’m doing, like fucking immediately, move to Vietnam and never come back.

Several more hours are lost. It’s a lame block of bands. Who am I supposed to go see – fucking Interpol?

Then I’m on The Lawn for Grimes. Thousands of people are having a great time, but all I can see is a girl with blue hair, wearing her dad’s t-shirt and dancing like an early nineties R&B back-up dancer. Which I’m sure is exactly the look she’s going for, but coupled with pre-recorded vocal loops, I’m not interested.

Grimes

By now, the crowd is sweaty and brooding and drunk. If everyone here weren’t gluten free, fists would be flying. I’m ready to bail.

We board a super packed train to downtown that is made up entirely of twenty-one year olds white dudes with scraggly beards wearing brand new Vans. I hate all of them. 

Standing in the middle of our train is a tall girl, dressed like a frumpy substitute teacher. She announces to all the passengers that she’s tripping balls on molly. And that this train is a bad place to trip balls. And she’s on molly. And is anyone else on molly? She says molly eighty-seven more times. Then she announces there’s going to be a party in her suite at the Ace Hotel. Room 716. Everyone is invited.

But instead of thanking her for this bizarrely generous invitation, everyone takes out their phones to record her talking, while repeating what she’s said back to her. Because no one among us regards her as a human.

We exit the train at Seventh and Figueroa, and the frumpy substitute teacher on molly beats us up the stairs. She’s alone, walking quickly, taking the wind out of the sails of jealousy that I had for anyone who was younger than me and fucked up out of their mind.

Of course, that doesn’t last long. We catch up with her at the crosswalk where she turns to us and says, “There’s a party at the Ace. You should come.” We agree, and then she asks if we’re on molly. We say yes because we don’t want to disappoint her and she leads us room 716.

At first there are only ten of us, but it’s an open bar and people slowly drizzle in until it’s completely packed.

The party is actually still going. The substitute teacher is passed out now, but they’re bringing us breakfast. We’ve charged it to the room. You’re welcome to come. The substitute teacher on molly said so. We’re in suite 716.

Leave a comment

Filed under De La Moda, Uncategorized