This year’s FYF Fest, Los Angeles’ annual indie music glorious shit show, was the highest of highs (Kanye, and Solange—holy shit, so good) and the lowest of lows (port-a-potties, feet literally peeling off in my shoes because I’m old and fat and walking is hard). However, the one act that I was the most stoked about was finally seeing President Obama’s biggest fan, Morrissey, in person.
As someone who was once a teenager with mounds of disgusting feelings, I spent many a warm summer night hauled up in my room sobbing along to the entirety of The Smith’s Meat Is Murder album. (It’s probably the reason I’m a bleeding-heart vegan with a shitty attitude and somewhat terrible ‘50s-inspired fashion sense.) (Help.) And while some bozos might argue that the appeal of The Smiths rests largely on the talents of guitarist Johnny Marr, I don’t really care? Because Morrissey is fucking Morrissey—a spectacle bar none with the voice of an angel and enough charisma to make up for his many bigmouthed gaffes.
At Sunday’s fest, I spoke with Afrand, a Morrissey fan who traveled from San Diego to see him. She summed up what attracts so many to his legions. “He’s well-read, poetic, and intelligent. But most of all, I connect to his lyrics. I love and respect him greatly for their candor and complete emotional bravery. He’s honest about celibacy, loneliness, depression, the pain of wanting and not finding love or physicality with others. To fans who have experienced the same struggles and emotions, his words are instantly recognizable as true in a way society as a whole does not understand, even today.”
That’s real, friends.
Because of what Afrand said and also because of my experience with the Morrissey fans in my life (hi, nutters), I had such high hopes for their exuberance at the fest. I wanted full-on greasers, girls in trumped-up pompadours. The crowd was tamer than I imagined, especially after coming from the mosh pit at fucking Mac DeMarco—who, by the way, had the most unchill crowd situation of any show I went to, by far. I was roughly 15 rows back from the stage and I was still thrown around like a meatball in a bowl of mama’s spaghetti. Let me remind you that Mac DeMarco is basically Jimmy Buffet for people born in the ‘90s. But I digress.
All that said, I did see some sassy stuff from my fellow audience members.
Before Morrissey fired up the show, I talked to this (ridiculously nice) man who was pretty greased up. (Is that an expression?) When I asked if he was a big fan of Morrissey, he said no, he didn’t think so. He elaborated by saying he only saw Moz when he came to town or was pretty close to town and when I was what “close to town” meant, he said, “not out of the country.” He also told me he’s been to some Morrissey conventions, but no. Not a huge fan.
Then, there was this adorable woman who has seen Morrissey over 50 times. When her friend told me she’s like a Deadhead, but for Moz, I expected fisticuffs for the many layers of wrong. However, this lady fully copped to it, and even struck a pose:
Other than that, people were laid back, just wearing Morrissey and The Smiths t-shirts and talking about hacky sack or Burundian politics or whatever. No bigs.
But I knew this was the calm before the storm, and as soon as the music changed slightly, the crowd knew it was go time. I laced my shoes around my puffed up feet and said a serenity prayer for my dogs. They were barking, but I needed to stand my ground when the swell of humanity pushed for the stage. And that’s exactly what happened:
But I was able to stay in (pretty much) one spot and before I knew it, Morrissey took the stage. Only when his fans laid eyes on him was only the slightest amount of raucous brought. Case in point: one rammed into me so hard (for me; I’m weak) that it almost knocked the phone out of my hand! It’s true, but pics or it didn’t happen:
And then this dude started fist pumping, and that’s when I knew it was really on.
I get it. I do. Because when Morrissey came out wearing what I can only describe as something suitable for a Spock impersonator drag king, the 56-year-old marked his territory immediately. He launched into The Smith’s “The Queen Is Dead” (one of the few Smiths songs of the night), and his voice was as smooth as the butter he no longer consumes. I want it to give me a hug and then let it sing me a bedtime lullaby. What I’m saying is: I get the appeal.
As for the rest of the crowd, there were the usual suspects and a few fun weirdos. I saw some classic homemade Moz-wear:
This mask stared at me for like five seconds too long. (So, about five seconds.)
This man clutched a light ball for almost the entire set:
Other than that—the crowd wasn’t as intense as I was hoping for. I don’t know what I thought I’d see, but I definitely thought it would be unhinged. I guess the Morrissey face mask might count? Maybe?
Or maybe, as Afrand said, “The people who connect to Morrissey tend to have qualities that, as I said, society doesn’t glamorize or discuss openly—depression, loneliness, celibacy—and so I think people really latch on to this figure who is saying what so many people can’t admit to others or don’t see represented in popular culture.”
And perhaps those types of people can express themselves in interesting clothing choices but deep down, they’re just big ol’ (vegan) cream puffs, just like the Mozzer himself.
Images by Laura Beck.