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FYF Fest: Chromatics greet sundown with head-nodding house set

September 01, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • Ruth Radelet of the band Chromatics performs on the first day of the FYF Festival.
Ruth Radelet of the band Chromatics performs on the first day of the FYF Festival. (Lawrence K. Ho )

Portland electronic quartet Chromatics wouldn't seem to make daytime music. With songs that hum with analog bass lines, the occasional strum of a guitar and a metronic rhythm that suggests midnight drives on the Autobahn, the music of Johnny Jewel's post-disco group seems crafted for groggy, syrupy nights on the dance floor.

But as the sun was setting on the Spring Street Stage at the FYF Festival in downtown Los Angeles, Chromatics soundtracked the fading light perfectly. Fans stood facing them wearing sunglasses to block the sun at the band's back, skeptical and unwilling to totally let loose to the four-on-the-floor throb.

Best known to the public at large for its work in the Ryan Gosling film "Drive," Chromatics have faced stone-faced indie kids before, though, the kind who think letting emotion overtake reason and letting loose is a sign of being unhip. And as Jewel poked out a magnetic bass line to "The Streets Will Never Look the Same," the heads in the crowd began to move harder in rhythm, until the few thousand were agreeing in unison that the thump of slow house music played on old electronic gear was working for them.

PHOTOS: FYF Festival 2012

This post-disco/post-punk sound creeped in elsewhere at the park, where the festival will continue until midnight. L.A. artist Nite Jewel offered an equally engaging version of it, and Baltimore group Future Islands found heavy drama in hard rhythms.

The sun has set, and the volume in the park is starting to rise. Those who were hot during the day are cooling down, and you can feel the energy creeping up. Outside this press tent, Tanlines are killing it. I gotta run.

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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