Two weeks after his former festival HARD Summer took place, Gary Richards brought his new baby All My Friends 2018 to the heart of downtown Los Angeles this past weekend.
Taking place at ROW DTLA, the festival brought together hip-hop and electronic music, as well as a mostly adult contingency of ravers. As I looked around, there weren’t a bunch of 19-year-olds on way too much molly, people seemed to mostly have their shit together — except for the girl we saw pick up a handful of french fries off the ground and eat them.
Headlining the festival were RL Grime on Saturday and Jamie XX on Sunday, with highlights including performances from M.I.A., Jhene Aiko, Moon Boots, Pete Tong, and several more. We’re here to recap the best and worst of the first-year festival. Check it out!
BEST: Stage production
You can usually count on boutique first-year festivals to offer a bare bones experience production-wise, but considering Gary Richards’ experience putting on first-tier electronic festivals, I should’ve known better. The visual production of all three stages was pretty epic, most notably at the FriendZone stage that was tucked in an alley between the old American Apparel building and a parking garage. It also happened to be the most consistently packed stage every night.
BEST: Jamie XX proves headliner status was well-earned
I saw Jamie XX the previous weekend at Outside Lands 2018 deliver one of the best sets of the weekend. At All My Friends 2018, he delivered another powerhouse set, this time leaning heavier into acid house than the previous weekend. He kicked his set off with a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, starting on a high note. It was clear by the size of his crowd that a lot of people came to AMF Fest specifically to see Jamie XX, and he delivered satisfying builds throughout his set.
WORST: Empty crowds until the sun went down
One bummer is that experienced ravers don’t really turn up to the rave until it’s dark outside. The festival didn’t even start until 4 PM, but nobody really showed up until many hours later. That meant the earliest performers were playing to crowds of less than 100 people from the looks of things. Also, the forced beer garden experience meant people that were in the fest but wanted to drink had to stand far away from the stage, another letdown. It’s hard to catch the right vibes when you’re dancing alone!
BEST: M.I.A. brings the crowd on stage during “Boyz”
M.I.A. is a damn legend, and midway through her set she brought a bunch of people on stage during her classic anthem “Bad Girls”. Sure, everybody on stage had their phones out and weren’t fully digesting the moment (hard to blame them when you have a chance to snap an on-stage selfie with an icon), but the energy translated into the crowd. Even funnier was I looked up on stage and saw my friend Vanessa who I didn’t even know was at the festival. M.I.A.’s set was pretty dope, though I think the part of the show where she complained about the sound and false started “Paper Planes” a couple of times was staged — as to emphasize her rebellious personality.
BEST: Soul Clap brings the grooves to highlight Saturday
Gucci Mane wasn’t really my vibe Saturday so I went to check out some of Soul Clap on the BFF Stage. The Boston duo brought some soulful grooves to the festival, the kind of niche electronic booking that separates All My Friends 2018 from the more mainstream-EDM flavored SoCal festivals. There was some funk to the set, which is the kind of stuff right up my alley. It kept you dancing, even as you were downing some dumplings.
WORST: Sound bleed
There wasn’t a ton of space to fit three stages, which meant there was bound to be sound bleed. I was in basically the front row for Jamie XX and yet I could still hear the untz untz from Chris Lake’s set over at the Friendzone Stage. It kind of takes you out of the element a bit when the sound bleeds over. It wasn’t super prevalent, but enough to put you out of it for a second.
Overall, I had a blast in my time at All My Friends 2018. My only hope is that the festival did well enough that they’ll consider bringing it back next year. Considering FYF Fest was canceled this year, Los Angeles needs a true city festival so we don’t have to drive to San Bernardino or Fontana for a legit one. Let’s cross our fingers they bring this one back.