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From 'chaos' to crowds of more than 20,000: FYF music festival returns to DTLA

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012, at 10:47AM
Tod Seelie

This year's FYF Fest lasts for two days over Labor Day weekend.

The FYF Fest has gone through three different names, multiple Eastside venues and a huge explosion of growth since its first show in 2004. This rock/independent music festival (also featuring art and comedy) is now in its ninth year and returning to Downtown's L.A. State Historic Park this Labor Day weekend.

Event founder Sean Carlson said he never expected to make it this far.

"I had no idea that I'd get through the first one," he said.

Carlson was only 18 years old when he started the festival in Echo Park, in the space where the Echoplex nightclub is now located. He was expecting a few hundred people to show up but was bombarded with more than 2,000.

"It was chaos," he said.

The FYF fest began with the very punk rock name -- the F*** Yeah Fest -- which has since transformed into the F Yeah Fest and currently, the FYF Fest. Carlson said he created the original festival title when he was young -- and in addition to not really liking it anymore, it doesn't necessarily jive with the show's all-ages audience, publicity needs or sponsor partnerships.

Carlson said the festival grew and took shape on its own; "Nothing was forced; everything came naturally."

But it hasn't always been smooth sailing. As with any major music festival, Carlson said, there were a lot of "hiccups" and growing pains throughout the years -- and a lot of debt.

"Its like any business," he said. "There's going to be ups-and-downs. If it's easy why do it? Why bother?"

And now putting on the festival is a full-time, year-round job, said Carlson. He said his motivation behind it is to give teenagers a chance to experience new bands they may not otherwise see, and maybe, be inspired to go out and start bands of their own.

The festival moved from Echo Park to Downtown in 2009, and this will be the first year the event lasts for two days at this location. The Los Angeles Times reports that last year the FYF Fest teamed up with promoter Goldenvoice (the company behind Coachella) and attracted crowds of more than 20,000 people. The year before the Goldenvoice partnership however, the festival struggled with food and water shortages and long lines, the L.A. Times reports.

This year's event takes place over Labor Day weekend on Sept. 1 and 2. Headliners include Refused, Beirut and The Faint. Tickets cost $89 for access to both days.

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