Downtown Los Angeles came alive in the middle of August for a weekend of beautiful weather, incredible music, and great friends. It’s the first major festival venture since Gary Richards (Destructo)’s departure from HARD Events. Inspiring a feeling of community betwixt thousands of concertgoers is not an easy feat— but he accepted the challenge and emerged victorious.
As attendees entered the venue, it was clear that Richards’ deep knowledge of event production and management had translated through. Ample, friendly security allowed for comfortable and quick entry to the venue nestled into ROW LA. Upon entrance, a variety of dining options; to the right, a beer garden, seated conveniently across from the BFF stage on the left, where folks could grab a Deep Eddy Vodka Lemonade and catch Thee MIKE B kick off the day.
Tall, color LED signs towered in multiple locations in the venue, displaying points of interest and the artist schedule, ensuring that attendees were well informed of what was around them at all times.
Venturing deeper into the venue, the path splits off to either the main AMFAMFAMF stage, or tucked a bit further away, the Friendzone stage, hosted by Space Yacht. Along the walkway to the Friendzone, there were art installations displaying “AMF”. There were ‘chill zones’ conveniently located in the shade of the surrounding buildings, complete with turf and ample seating so fans could cool off and relax, while still catching the music. The Friendzone evolved into the gathering place for friends— even in the early hours of the day, groups were seen excitedly greeting and taking pictures, many of them sporting homemade AMF merchandise. One attendee devotedly had the AMF logo shaved into the back of his head. Even Gary Richards himself showed up to one of the meet ups for photos, hugs, and dancing. By 6pm, the area was packed as CHRIS LORENZO took the stage and things started to heat up.
Back at the AMFAMFAMF stage, earthlings received an outerwordly transmission from Barclay Crenshaw, who delivered a hip-hop, trap-infused set. A longtime friend and supporter of DESTRUCTO’s ventures, Crenshaw was a notable addition to the lineup.
Next to AMFAMFAMF, a second beer garden was seated to cater to thirsty 21+ attendees. In addition to beer, wine, and liquor options, there were additional places to sit and relax, with activities setup such as Cornhole, a Deep Eddy Vodka tent with further drink options, and even a Lagunita’s tie-dye tent. However, in order to tie-dye a bandana gratis, a mini talent show was required. Folks were seen singing loudly, showing off their shuffling skills, or even performing handstands.
As the sun started to set on the first day, the venue came to life. Lasers stretched from the Friendzone out to the middle of the grounds, the stages shone against the downtown buildings, and a barrage of glow emerged amidst the crowd’s lighted accessories. Destructo himself took the stage for an hour and a half journey through music new and old, captivating the Friendzone stage.
RL GRIME kept the energy alive to close out the AMFAMFAMF stage on day 1, where attendees were treated to a lightshow of lasers, fog, pyro, and fireworks. RL’s set catered to his newly-released album, Nova, mixing tracks in alongside inspiration from Nero, Flume, and even Rezz.
On the way out of the venue, MOON BOOTS played an ethereal closing set on the BFF stage, which was affixed with LED panels both inside and out. The BFF stage appeared to float amongst the crowd in the dark, and was one of the most unique additions to the event.
Day two invited an even larger volume of attendees than the first, with a noticeably larger crowd in attendance in earlier hours. Phlegmatic Dogs, a Russian duo part of the Night Bass family, captivated The Friendzone for a fire-fueled power hour. GOLF CLAP continued on to infuse the club-house atmosphere until WAX MOTIF hit the stage to deliver more Bass goodness. Much to the excitement of the crowd, Destructo popped up to say hello during Wax Motif’s set too. ANNA LUNOE commanded the atmosphere of the Friendzone later into the evening, emotionally thanking familiar faces over the mic mid-set for the years of support. She took the time to highlight up-and-coming artists to watch out for, setting the stage for the younger generation of aspiring DJs and musicians alike. The second day’s special guest was Dirtybird favorite JUSTIN MARTIN, followed by CHRIS LAKE, whose immersive set delighted fans with new music.
Back at AMFAMFAMF, another act not to miss ARMAND VAN HELDEN. A dance music legend since the early 90’s, he invited the sunset of day two in with the classics, disco, and classic tracks from Duck Sauce. One fan remarked how special it was to hear the 2004 hit “My My My” live.
Following Armand was Grammy-nominated M.I.A, whose theatrical stage presence complete with props and dancers encapsulated performance art at its finest. To complete a perfect weekend at All My Friends Music Festival, was the English musician JAMIE XX. An attendee gushed about Jamie XX’s live mixing skills using physical vinyl pulled from a crate, in conjunction with perfectly-timed lights and fog to set the scene. Jamie XX’s extensive experience in both indie-pop (with band the xx) and electronic music production made him the quintessential act to close out the festival.
As the music came to a close and attendees were released back out into the streets of Los Angeles, the energy hung in the air. Some geared up for a final hurrah with Chris Lake, Destructo and friends’ at an after show, while others ventured home to prepare for the work week. After a weekend of making so many new friends, let’s hope Los Angeles and Destructo invite us all back next year.
We asked an attendee what his most standout takeaway from the event was, and he replied:
“No matter where I looked, no matter what set, everyone was dancing. It was a festival full of fans who loved the music they came to see, instead of it being the ‘cool thing to do’… I could go anywhere and be in the middle of a group of people dancing.”