Smith Westerns and Comedy Stage - FYF Fest - September 3, 2011
Ben Westhoff Smith Westerns
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FYF Preview: Keith Morris of OFF! Speaks on Friends and Foes
Comedy Stage and Smith Westerns
Los Angeles State Historic Park
September 3, 2011
Better than...last year's FYF Fest.
Attendees of FYF 2010 complained of interminable lines, insufficient porta potties, and a lack of water. This year's fest ran more smoothly, however. Getting inside was easy; closing off Spring St. to traffic proved a big help, although parking proved to be near-impossible. Fortunately we were able to find a spot in a Chinese market's lot; for cover, we copped a bag of bean sprouts on the way out.
Smith Westerns came on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, before a large crowd. I'm a fan of the group, but it was shocking to see how young they looked in person. They appeared even younger than the crowd, many of whose presence must have saved their parents money on daycare. Not that it was always easy to see the band members' faces. There was a light wind, so lead singer Cullen Omori didn't spend much time with his long dark locks not in his face. (Don't they have rubber bands in Chicago?)
Super melodic music doesn't always work in a live festival setting, with the elements and the speaker systems often obscuring the textures, but that wasn't the case here. The sound quality on "Leonardo's" stage was first rate. (Not so, however, for The Olivia Tremor Control on "Donatello's" stage. The band sounded off, but that may have been their playing itself rather than the equipment.)
Ben Westhoff This pretty much summed up the demographic
"I was backstage crying, getting ready to play this one," said Omori before Smith Westerns performed "All Die Young." I seriously doubt he was being sarcastic, because A) the lyrics to the track include lines like "I don't know if you mean you are the one to love" and B) you usually don't discover sarcasm until, like, high school, right?
I kid because I love, and indeed the folks watching were all clearly obsessed as well, though that doesn't mean we were giving any outward indications. Indie rock shows are all about showing restraint. Fans of the genre are genetically incapable of dancing since birth, after all, but that doesn't mean we're incapable of deep feelings. Quite the opposite. So we're stuck, bursting on the inside but paralyzed with self-consciousness, worried that if we so much as awkwardly sway those nearby will judge us. (They will.) Even mouthing along the words is considered a rather ostentatious display of emotion.
In any case, before ending on "Smile," "Weekend" and "Dye The World," Omori announced that the band were about to launch into their "money-making set," but, c'mon, they're surely already thousandaires off of that Pitchfork money, which is a king's ransom when you're still on your parents' insurance.
Set list and comedy stage review below.