Back in the days when I used to go to the library and rent albums in order to build my music collection, Refused were one of my gem punk discoveries (up there with Scatter the Ashes.) And when I saw that they were on the poster for this year’s Coachella, I flipped.
Here are some times when I have listened to SebastiAn. They are fairly random.
Mowing the lawn back in 2007 when I first discovered the Ross Ross Ross EP. He made some of the only music that had dynamics mad enough to be heard through my headphones over the lawnmower’s engine.
Waiting anxiously for the Daft Punk Alive 2007 show to begin. He opened alongside Kavinsky. It was a great set, but a great set doesn’t really compete when the GREATEST SHOW IN THE WORLD is coming on in a couple hours (and after Ratatat, who also opened the show.)
Walking around Vienna this summer. His new album came out with relatively little hype (then again, I had relatively little computer access this summer), and I remember being surprised when it showed up in my feeds. It’s a good album. Will totally blow out your eardrums if you let it.
Really hope I can catch his set at Coachella this year. I feel like I might have caught a bit of him at Coachella before, maybe during an Ed Rec block of time in the Sahara, who knows…
According to the new @PortisheadClub Twitter account, there’s a possibility of Portishead playing at the 2011 edition of Coachella! This is too much for me to handle. The triple knockout of Kraftwerk, Portishead, and Prince in 2008 comprises what I consider to be the best night of music I’ve ever experienced.
Update: So whoever is running that account is claiming to have confirmed that No Doubt, The Strokes, and Soundgarden are also playing Coachella this year. This sounds like a long-shot in my opinion.
Hello everyone! Coachella was two weeks ago, and as this is the last week of the semester, I’ve been overloaded with homework and group projects as of late. Today I finished a project a little earlier than expected, so I finally got around to writing this first of three (or four) posts on Coachella 2010! It was an amazing year, and here’s the first little bit of it. This review covers what I saw of Kate Miller-Heidke, Alana Grace, Jets Overhead, Baroness, DJ Lance Rock, Sleigh Bells, Perry Ferrel, Proxy, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Passion Pit, Them Crooked Vultures, LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Fever Ray, and Jay-Z:
Whoever made the executive decision to put Kate Miller-Heidke first on the very long list of artists playing at Coachella this year made the right choice. She was by FAR the best opener since I’ve been going to Coachella (2007). Her music was pretty simple folksy pop – it was just her with a keyboard and her husband with a guitar up on stage – but her voice was incredible! Every once in a while, she’d flip a switch and this operatic voice would kick in. She used her voice to perfection and didn’t overdo the novelty of it. The Gobi tent was packed for being that early in the day, and the crowd was eating up everything she was giving us. This was an amazing start to the Coachella weekend.
Wow, how’d I decide to catch this?! My friends and I walked over to the Outdoor Stage, sat down for a song and a half, and then promptly left. As we were leaving, a friend mentioned that it sounded like a horrible Flyleaf cover band (because that’s exactly what the world needs more of.) Truer words were never spoken.
Don’t have a ton to say about this band. They were good. The lead singer has a nice voice, and he can hit some pretty high notes. That’s about it.
First metal band of the weekend! I don’t think I’ve caught much metal at Coachella in the years past, but I made sure to change that this year. Baroness was a great start to the day (this was where I started seeing bands I was familiar with.) They shredded through their set. Unfortunately, they had some sound troubles with an amp about midway through, but they fixed it and trekked on. They’ve been getting some great press as of late and for good reason. These guys play sludgy progressive metal like nobody’s business.
DJ Lance Rock
Are you familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba? No? It’s a kid’s TV show on Nickelodeon created by one of the guys in The Aquabats, and it’s pretty great! DJ Lance Rock is the main character of the show, and this year at Coachella, he brought along all of his friends from the show: Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex. I wouldn’t have caught this show if it wasn’t for some of my friends back at home texting me that I couldn’t miss it, and I’m glad I didn’t. It was totally immature and playful, but it was fun. In summary, it was a bunch of people far too old to watch the TV show singing along to songs like “Party in my Tummy”, “I Like To Dance”, and “Get The Sillies Out.”
M.I.A.’s label Need Records has been collecting a pretty interesting roster lately, and part of that includes Sleigh Bells. This duo consisting of Derek Miller on guitar and Alexis Krauss on vocals is one part The Kills, one part M.I.A. (imagine that), and another part Atari Teenage Riot. These guys are loud, raw, and want to rip your face off (in the nicest indie rock sort of way.) I enjoyed their set overall. Krauss has a very strong stage presence, and she loves to scream. Their songs are all pretty short and speed along mixing killer distorted beats with killer distorted guitar riffs. The only thing to watch out for with this band is repetitiveness.
BTW: the band just released their first song today. Check it out over at Pitchfork. I think my notes will make perfect sense after listening to this song.
So I put this picture up for Perry Ferrel for a reason: it perfectly summarizes what I saw. I walked into the Sahara for a last 5 minutes of the set, which was enough time to catch a horrendous remix of Superhero by Jane’s Addiction. I know Perry is the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction, but how someone could ruin their own creative work like this is beyond me. It was pretty bad. It ended with some stupid remix of an infomercial for a chopping appliance.
My first serious set in the Sahara tent of the weekend started with Proxy. I’d liken my relationship to this set in the same way that I approached Erol Alkan’s set in 2008. While I knew one or two songs and had an idea of what his sound was, I didn’t know too much else. Regardless, he tore the place down. His songs have these sick synth/bass lines that rip everything apart. I don’t mean that in a Justice/distorted sense; I mean that his synths are incisive and sharp. It’s a pretty unique sound that really only lines up with what Boys Noize and the Boysnoize Records crew is doing (makes sense that he’s on the label.) The tent was going crazy throughout the whole set. Someone smuggled in a blowup alligator, and people were crowd surfing with the alligator the whole time. Some people have said that the Sahara’s volume was down during this set. Maybe they are right. I don’t really remember that.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Time for metal show #2! When the lineup for this year’s Coachella came out, The Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP) was one of the bands I was most excited to see on the list. I’ve heard so much about their live shows, and I’ve wanted to go to one for a while. For those who don’t know, DEP are about has hardcore as you can get. Their music is insane. They’ve got a singer who can power through every song while screaming at the top of his lungs the whole time, time signature changes happen about forty times per song, and everything they do feels like a runaway train is about to crash and burn. But somehow they keep it on the rails.
Their live shows are known for their intensity and violence. This reputation has spread in part because of a little YouTube video in which vocalist Greg Puciato runs offstage and into the crowd, well, he more runs onto the crowd. He quite literally runs out, stepping on the heads of the audience. Crazy.
Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I don’t think feet met anyone’s head this year at Coachella, but the show was just as intense. After fixing some early mic problems, DEP sped through their set. Like any good metal show, a pit opened up early on, and kept going at a pretty full force throughout the set. I was surprised at just how many people in the crowd knew the lyrics to the DEP songs. I’m familiar with what some of the songs sound like and how they progress, but I have never been able to understand a single thing said in the songs. I guess I’m just not that hardcore of a fan Near the end of the show, Puciato decided to climb the stage structure and hang upside down by his knees for a while. It was a great show to say the least.
Passion Pit… So I think I should start of by saying that I do not love Passion Pit. I think that they have written some great pop songs and that they’re pretty good at picking the best parts of today’s electro/indie/pop scene and making it their own. My problem with them stems from their singer. I cannot get past his voice! I find it grating and imprecise and unnecessary. And when you sing entirely in falsetto, you should be none of these things.
Other than the singer’s voice (which sounded the same live as it does on record), Passion Pit put on a great show this year. They were lucky enough to get Friday’s coveted “sunset at the Outdoor Stage” slot., which should have been given to Grizzly Bear, but I digress. I really enjoyed their light show, and all of their songs were executed spot-on. I had a good time dancing with the crowd throughout the set, and loved when they played Sleepyhead – my favorite song of theirs. So maybe I’m not the best person to ask about a Passion Pit show, but I still think that they did a good job translating their material live.
Them Crooked Vultures
What can you do when you put three rock legends together into one band? You can rock pretty fucking hard, that’s what. And that’s exactly what Them Crooked Vultures’ Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), David Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) did on Friday night on the Main Stage.
I haven’t really given their debut album the time it deserves, but after the few time I’ve gone through it, I’ve been left with the impression that, while there are some great songs on it, nothing really matches up to the greatness of its members’ previous bands. And while I still believe this to be true, it does nothing to take away from the fact that this show was amazing. I mean, this is the kind of music that the Main Stage was made for (same with Muse, who you’ll read about later.) Their sound is simply really loud rock that is both pummeling and sharp. Grohl is perfect on drums, Jones can somehow play every instrument known to man, and Homme’s vocals are as solid but haunting as ever.
Of all the artists I was excited to see at Coachella on Friday, LCD Soundsystem was my #1. They’ve toured a ton in the past, but I’ve been stupid and missed all of their past shows. This year, their first year on the Main Stage, they turned Coachella into their own disco complete with an oversized disco-ball.
I absolutely loved this show, but it was way too short. When a band has songs that are about 7 minutes long, and they have three full LPs out, at 50 minute set won’t suffice. From the outset, James Murphy let us know that it was short, and that they were going to play a much as they could. Murphy seemed sort of blown away at the fact that he was playing the show, but that just made it all that much better. The emotion that comes through the repetitive nature of LCD’s rhythms and the extraordinarily pointed lyrics in every LCD song really made this a special performance.
I know some people object to Murphy’s vocal style that at times becomes spoken-word, and others don’t really latch on to the LCD song structure, but I’m thankful not to be one of those people. To be honest, I cried a little during All My Friends. I mean, I knew I would; I do nearly every time I listen to the song. But it became so much more alive Friday night. They played a great mix of old songs and new songs (two new songs back-to-back as a matter of fact), but at the end of the set, they had to cut out two songs (presumably Daft Punk Is Playing At My House and North American Scum). They closed with Yeah (Crass version) and New York I Love You. I mean, they have so many great songs that any setlist would blow me away, and I loved this show. Loved this show.
For those wondering, here’s the complete setlist: Us v. Them, Drunk Girls, Losing My Edge, All My Friends, I Can Change, Pow Pow, Yeah (Crass version), New York I Love You
I was in transition at this point, but I caught the end of Run and saw (and danced to) A-Punk. I’ve seen ’em a few times before, so I didn’t feel too badly about missing them this time around. They sounded great as always.
I finally get to write a review for Fever Ray. I saw her/them last October at the Henry Fonda here in LA, but I never got around to writing anything about it.
Let’s start with me saying that Karin Dreijer Andersson is (in my mind) one of the most creative people right now. She and her brother Olaf (collectively known as The Knife) make music that is haunting and dangerous and bone-rattling and like nothing else in existence. Shit, the fact that I missed Jay-Z to see this show for the second time should tell you how much I love her music. But the music is really only one aspect of the greatness that is Fever Ray. The second part is why I was in the Mojave Tent Friday night at Coachella: the live show.
The live show is the embodiment and physical realization of Fever Ray and the world in which it exists. Take a look at someofthesephotos. Fever Ray is this mystical experience that might look like Halloween but more closely resembles some pagan cult. I’m having trouble finding words to describe how great it was to see the live show again and to hear the organic sounds coming from the incredible sound system that exists at Coachella. I honestly think I had my eyes closed for a quarter of the set because I was so lost in the music.
So the show was incredible, again. I really hope that Karin produces more material as Fever Ray, or that The Knife comes out with another proper LP (I know they have the opera soundtrack, and it’s great, but I want a studio album dammit.) Another thing that was awesome is the Fever Ray fans that turned up for this show. Because it was against Jay-Z, the people who were in the tent were fully committed to Fever Ray. There were even some people who brought their own homemade masks and wore them during the show. I saw one that resembled The Knife’s crow beaks. Fans are awesome, and it really makes a show when the people surrounding you are as invested in the music as you are.
Setlist: If I Had A Heart, Triangle Walks, Concrete Walls, Seven, I’m Not Done, Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel cover), Now’s The Only Time I Know, Keep The Streets Empty for Me, Dry and Dusty, Stranger than Kindness (Nick Cave cover), When I Grow Up, Here Before (Vashti Bunyan cover), Coconut.
Sadly, because Fever Ray was on at the same time as Jay-Z, I did not catch his entire set. But that’s OK for two reasons:
1: I saw him earlier this year in New Jersey as the All Points West festival. It was an amazing show.
2: I DID see the encore which featured Beyonce singing Mr. Hudson’s part in “Forever Young.” This is one of those things that makes Coachella special. Yes, we get great headliners and subs. And yes, we get unique acts that no other festival has. But when you put the biggest rapper and biggest pop star on the same stage in the middle of the desert, magic happens. Magic happened Friday night with Jay-Z and Beyonce.
While I write up my posts for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, here’s something to tide you over. I wasn’t able to see Sly Stone on Sunday, but from what I’ve read, I missed quite a show! Not that it was full of music or anything…
This had been the rumor, and suddenly it was true: the original Family Stone back together again. But the original band included Sly, and Sly wasn’t playing along. “Fuck rehearsal,” he said, sitting behind a keyboard at the front of the stage.
This post by Ben Greenman at The New Yorker summarizes his experience watching the webcast of the “performance” in pretty entertaining detail. One of the guys who I went to the fest with mentioned that this might happen, that Sly is known for pulling this stuff. But I just brushed it off thinking back to how everyone doubted Aphex Twin would actually come in ’08, but he showed up and gave us quite the sonic pummeling. Looks like my friend was right.
“They tried to make me do the Oscars, I said ‘No, No, No’.” Of all the banter M.I.A. threw into her hour-long set on the Main Stage at this year’s Coachella, this was probably the most pointed. When Amy Winehouse dropped off the lineup because she couldn’t get a Visa to the United States (surprise, surprise), M.I.A. was quickly announced to be her replacement. In my mind, there could be no better choice. I’ve missed the chance to see M.I.A. twice now, and I made sure not to pass her up again.
I’ve been an M.I.A. fan since Arular came out, and likeeveryoneelse, Kala was one of my favorite albums of 2007. I know all the words to all her songs (well, at lease those that are audibly decipherable). You can imagine my disappointment when I found out that there aren’t as many people like me as I thought. Apparently, tons people are willing to stand around for an hour to hear one song. I really hope that the masses can get over “Paper Planes” and realize the true genius in all of M.I.A.’s songs.
Aside from that, the show was one of my favorite all weekend. Six neon glow-in-the-dark dancers started things off and led right into M.I.A.’s entrance at a podium rapping “World Town.” The party went on from there as she flew threw Rye Rye’s new song “Bang”, “$20”, “Boyz”, “Bingo”, “Sunshowers”, “Pull Up the People”, and “Galang”. A perfect set list.
Also included in her set was “Bird Flu”. Last year, M.I.A. only got through six songs in the Mojave tent because she wanted people to get up on stage, but the security guards thought otherwise. This year, she would get people up if it was the last thing she did. She called out, “I’ve already been banned from Coachella once, let do it. Hey hey, let ’em up! Let ’em up!” And something clicked in my brain.
In short, I jumped over the center barrier, ran as fast as I could towards the stage, got body checked into another barrier by a 300 lb. security guard, ran so as to not get thrown out, and jumped over another barrier back into the crowd. I didn’t make it onstage, but I did make it to the front row of the show. To those people who did make it onstage, good on ya; I hope you enjoyed yourself. I know I enjoyed my fleeting moment of excitement.
After “Bird Flu” came “Paper Planes.” And of course the crowd went wild for the one song they’d heard on TV and on the radio. While I’m still bitter that M.I.A. hasn’t received the mainstream success she deserves, I’m appreciative that anyone knows her music at all. It’s not everyday that a Sri Lankan girl with paternal ties to the Tamil Tigers makes it onto American radio waves.
I had a great time during M.I.A.’s third Coachella performance, and in the end, that’s what counts. That being said, if you ever go to one of her future shows, please listen to some songs that aren’t “Paper Planes” before heading out.
Heading back to the polo fields after an exhausting Friday, we knew that we’d be in for a treat on Saturday. From my standpoint (and that of many others) it was the strongest day by far. After the peanut butter sandwiches and water-bottles were loaded into the backpacks and the sunscreen amply applied, we trekked back to the pat-down lines and started Coachella Day 2. Here are the links to the different shows we saw on Saturday: Institubes, the Teenagers, Uffie feat. DJ Mehdi, Dredg, Boys Noize, Erol Alkan, Hot Chip, Portishead, Prince.
Institubes (Para One, Orgasmic, Surkin)
A record label full of electro DJs is always a nice way to start a chock-full Coachella day. One nice thing about getting to Coachella near to opening (aside from the short lines) is that you have the ability to lay down in the tents and just listen to music. No more worrying about keeping your spot. Para One, Orgasmic, and Surkin served up the Institubes flavored electro for about an hour and a half, but I didn’t stay for the whole time, I had other stuff to get to.
I’d say that I was pretty excited to see The Teenagers. The new album is interesting. It’s not really full of songs, but I can’t think of a good noun to apply to what they make. Too bad this sounded like crap. Maybe it was because I was sitting at the back of the tent, but the boring backing tunes with the annoying/incomprehensible voice didn’t make for pleasent listening. But this is Coachella where music is everywhere all the time, so I left.
Uffie feat. DJ Mehdi
Leaving The Teenagers for Uffie & DJ Mehdi was a bad idea, but it was my only choice. Uffie really is the odd girl out on Ed Rec, and she sounds like crap live. She isn’t much of a rapper, and there isn’t any stage presence. One thing that was interesting was the guys running around the stage with Uffie and rapping along with her. Don’t know who they were, but I hope that they don’t try to ride up with her, they won’t get anywhere.
Talk about a stark change in pace. Dredg was the fresh gust of wind that I needed, and their show was one of my favorites for the weekend. I was introduced to Dredg about a year ago, and I’ve been hooked on their progressive rock style ever since. The lead singer of the band has an amazing voice, but I was worried that it would be a studio voice and he’d be all over the place live. Not so. I couldn’t have asked for a more solid performance.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t too many people watching the show at the Outdoor Stage. This is Dredg’s first year at Coachella (performing at least) even though they have 4 LPs already out. They really do deserve more attention than they get; they just don’t have a marketable edge even though their music is amazing. I hope that their upcoming album stays true to their honest sound, they’ve been at it for a long time and I hope they get a break soon.
Beginning my last 2008 Sahara Tent run was Boys Noize, and I was fully prepared to have my face melted off. After the best DJ set of the weekend, it sufficiently was. I find it really interesting how France has such a firm grip on electro right now with Ed Banger and Institubes throwing out DJ after DJ, and here we have this single German guy who’s killing all of their efforts. I don’t mean to make it sound like a war of sorts, but Boys Noize is the dictator of all things electro right now.
His set consisted heavily of material from his album Oi Oi Oi, but he threw in some Bloc Party and Daft Punk for size. I must say that his remix of Feist’s My Moon My Man is one of the best remixes (more like a re-interpretation) that I’ve ever heard, and I was so glad that he played it during his set. He did his trademark move where he puts the headphone-strap over his eyes and continues DJing a few times. All in all, it was just a electro set to rule all electro sets.
I don’t know too much about Erol Alkan other than he doesn’t tour in the US too much, so it was pretty cool to see him here. Following up Boys Noize is no easy task, and considering Alkan didn’t really play any recognizable songs, I think of his set as a way to wind down from Boys Noize. It was a pretty high energy show, but you can’t really top the best. I enjoyed the show, but I was really waiting around for Hot Chip.
I saw Hot Chip last year at Coachella for the first time, and they blew my socks off. They have such a high energy show that it’s impossible not to love every moment that they are on stage. Lets consider a few things that changed this year from last: 1) Sahara Tent baby! 2) New album out 3) Later set time. All of these things contributed to an great performance that (by my standards) topped last year.
I think the biggest component of their live show that made it so incredible at Coachella is that they have a ton of material to play and a very short time to play it in. This means that they forego all of their slow-mid tempo songs for the raving mad ones. All of Made In The Dark translates perfectly to a live performance, and the seamless flow from song to song doesn’t let the energy drop at all. It was pretty clear that they’ve worked on tidying up the loose ends over the past year. So much damn fun.
Admittedly, Kraftwerk isn’t really my favorite band/group. I completely understand the massive impact that they have had on every genre of music that uses any kind of electrical instruments (they formed back in the 70s), but their music hasn’t aged well in my opinion. While I’m sure some people were blown away, I guess it was cool. It was exactly what every YouTube video makes it out to be any nothing more. The screen behind them was nice, but again, exactly what’s happened at every single one of their tour dates for the past 5+ years. I will concede that their music translates amazingly to a setting like Coachella. Their sound is so big that it just fills the fields with the electronic bleeps and pops of the past. Good, I guess, didn’t wow me.
This is where my night turns golden. Portishead hasn’t done much of anything (as a group) for the past 10/11 years, and I’ve listened to Dummy countless times since discovering the group as my interest in Massive Attack grew. Some music is awesome because of the great show that goes along with it (Daft Punk), some music is great because of its intensity (Rage Against the Machine), and some music is great because of the emotions that pour out of it (Portishead).
Portishead was by far my favorite act at Coachella 2008. Regardless of the fact that I probably won’t ever see them again and any other factor other than the music that makes the existence of their performance at Coachella great, it really was the music that got me. Beth has said in interviews that lyrics are her way of communicating to people, and it really shows. In between songs, you could hear her faintly saying to Adrian and Geoff, “Say something… just say something into the microphone…”
Their twelve-song set consisted of the best songs from Dummy, Portishead, and Third. It really was a hauntingly moving experience. As a fan, it’s nice to know when artists acknowledge some sort of connection with you, and as Geoff was walking off stage, he shot out, “Thanks for waiting so long.” As anyone who’s listened to Third all the way through, it was well worth the 10 years.
The surprise headliner for Saturday night was Prince, as everyone knows. Following Portishead isn’t an easy thing to do, but really, this is Prince we are talking about. I wish that I had more to say about his show other than it was what a perfect funk/soul/R&B show is. He played about 20 songs in total over 2 hours (he ended at 1am, not midnight). The set was made up of 80s songs, plenty of covers, and some of his more recent singles.
Here are some of the highlights from the performance: Morris Day and Sheila E. opened with a few songs with Prince on guitar, Prince covered Radiohead’s Creep (perfect choice for the Coachella crowd), he also covered the Beatles’ Come Together, and the encore was a double dose of Purple Rain and Let’s Go Crazy.
Seriously people, Portishead brought the melancholy, and Prince brought the party. It was one of the best nights of music I’ve been to.
If you think seeing Hot Chip twice in three days sounds like fun, let me tell you, it definitely is. I speak from experience. Coachella Saturday = Hot Chip & the Mayan Monday = Hot Chip. Both great, but very different.
I believe that this whole ordeal earned a bit of back-story, so here goes. Back way before February, I bought tickets to a tiny Hot Chip show at the El Rey. It was one of two shows that they were going to be doing in the states, and the other was out in New York. I was so pumped, but the day of the show, it was cancelled due to an illness in the band. After a few weeks, the Goldenvoice email went out announcing a makeup date at the Mayan in APRIL. Talk about a long wait.
So the end of April rolled around, Coachella happened, and I was ready for another dose of Hot Chip (my first dose away from a festival setting). Opening the night was a New York duo called Free Blood. I’d never heard of them before, but I really enjoyed their set. Their sound consisted of pre-recorded tribal/heavy/electronic beats with the guy playing bass and singing along with the girl. While it was a high energy show for a lesser-known opener, one thing that I was impressed by was the fact that they timed their set perfectly. It’s always nice when openers have figured out the right time where you’re enjoying what you’re hearing and you’re not tired of it yet, but you will be in about two songs. They stopped before the two songs. Good set all around.
I guess I should start the Hot Chip portion of this by saying that seeing Hot Chip in a hot, sweaty, packed Coachella tent is a far different experience from seeing them at a nice LA venue. To be completely honest, I prefer the Coachella environment. It’s something about everyone being packed together and completely in love with what they are experiencing at Coachella that makes it that much better. Then again, seeing Hot Chip at the Mayan was great because of the much longer set time, and it’s just a more intimate setting.
Look down at the set list, it pretty much sums up the fact that their latest album Made In The Dark is amazing live. So many of the songs translate perfectly to Hot Chip’s live performance which is pretty far removed from the sound of their records. The live show is so high energy that it’s hard to recognize that the live songs are the same ones on the albums.
My personal favorites when performed live are “Boy From School”, “Out at the Pictures”, “Shake a Fist”, and (of course) “Over & Over”. There’s something to be said about a band that can recreate the sound of their songs so that they flow together but stay distinct when played live. Hot Chip has perfected this art.
As I said before, this show was the replacement show for what should have been their first stop in the US back in February, and they acknowledged the fact by saying that they would play their asses off. Honestly, I think they put more effort into the Coachella show. Maybe the shorter set time puts pressure on bands to filer out any sort of filler, but it just had more energy in the air than the Mayan show.
Coachella 2008 has come and gone, and it was amazing. Two (our trip was cut short) hot days in the desert and plenty of good music later, here’s my rundown of the artists I saw on Friday. I hope my reviews can give you insight onto how great live music is. Here are some quick links to find the artist that you might be looking for (but check out the rest too!): Battles, Dan Deacon, The Breeders, Vampire Weekend, Diplo, Pendulum, Aphex Twin, Fatboy Slim. Head to the bottom to check out some SICK pictures.
We arrived at the polo fields a little later than we wanted to, but Battles was a great band to start the weekend off with. Seeing as their songs are well over the typical 3-4 minute mark, they only played 5 songs I think. Regardless, the buildup that Battles is so great at accomplishing made every song well worth it by the end. My obvious favorites were Atlas and Tonto (the two songs that everyone knows best), but they did play a few others off of their LP. Great music, but not too much in terms of show.
I had such high hopes for Dan Deacon. After listening to his music and kinda liking it, after hearing and reading about his mind-blowing live shows, after having my heart set on being amazed… this was a downer. Don’t get me wrong, running around in circles and making a massive tunnel in a hot tent is fun, but the whole playing on the same level as the audience doesn’t work. If you aren’t right next to Deacon, or obliviously gone on E, there isn’t too much other than loud, high-pitched electronic sounds peaking the speakers. Sorry, I know that everyone loves his live shows. I must have missed something.
This doesn’t really count as a full set because I came and left midway because there were other bands I wanted to see, but for the few songs I stopped, sat, and listened to, the Breeders impressed me. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, seeing as (just like the Pixies) tons of major artists site the Breeders as being big influences.
From what I’ve read this week, everyone thought that Vampire Weekend was boring. I must respectfully disagree. I’m not sure what everyone was expecting, but this band is full of Ivy-Leaguers, and their music sounds as such. I don’t know how they could have made the show entertaining other than by playing their music flawlessly, which they did. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and danced a bit. One thing that I did find odd was when they said that they were going to play a “new” song, and proceeded to play something that consisted of dog barks. I hope it was a joke. They played another new song that was pretty darn good. Vampire Weekend is probably the most mainstream indie band right now, well deserved.
Walking into the tent preparing for the amazement of Pendulum, Aphex Twin, and Fatboy Slim, Diplo was a past-time for me. I expected to hear some stuff similar to what I’ve heard from his original material, and it was nothing like that. He played a good mix of electro, a sick remix of Smells Like Teen Spirit, and other stuff that I enjoyed. Another plus? When he played Paper Planes, MIA herself came out onstage and danced a bit. The only part I disliked was when he started to play Burial’s Archangel and one of the massive balloons floating around the Saraha Tent hit one of his turntables. It completely knocked the needle off of the vinyl. I love that song, so it sucked that I didn’t get to hear it through. Good set nonetheless.
Last year, one of the members of Pendulum played a DJ set in the Dome. This year, they were playing a live set, and I was psyched. Pendulum does one of my favorite remixes (the Prodigy’s Voodoo People), and I knew that their mix of drum ‘n bass and rock would turn the Sahara Tent into a pit. I really don’t consider them a drum ‘n bass group anymore. They perform with a full drum set, an electric guitar, a bass, a set of synths, and an MC. Their sound hits so hard, and their set was great. They played Voodoo People and all of their other hits as well as some other newer songs off of their album that will be released soon. They had their wall of lights behind them; it was a complete live performance.
Pendulum -> Aphex Twin. Really? Incredible. There were a number of surprises through Mr. Richard D. James’ set. One was that he actually showed up. Back in 2001, he was billed to play, but cancelled at the last minute and got Squarepusher to replace him. Needless to say, when I saw his face on stage, I breathed a sigh of relief. Surprise #2, he didn’t play his own material. Well, I guess it wasn’t that big of a surprise, but I was kinda naive going into this set.
This hour-long set became the ideal example of how a set should progress. The first half consisted of some ambient techno, hip hop, and other electronic stuff. As the set moved out of this, RDJ moved into more IDM/glitch material. The lazers started to kick in, and the house lights were beginning to freak. Around the 45 minute mark, the full on thrash glitch stuff switched on and the “Come To Daddy”-Aphex Twin I know was blaring through the speakers blowing everyone’s mind. This was when the animal dancers came on stage and completed the out-of-this-world psycho performance that Aphex Twin is famous for. At the end, RDJ looked up, gave us a thumbs up and an ear-to-ear smile. Wow.
It was good that Aphex Twin was as great as he was, because Fatboy Slim came on about 30 minutes late. At Coachella, a festival known for tight set times, that’s not OK. So when the curtains finally unveiled Fatboy’s huge displays, we were kinda tired and pissed. My mood didn’t really change. He didn’t really play any of his own original material; the set was much of the same that I’ve seen in YouTube videos of his other live shows. He has one of the best back-catalogues of any electronic artist, and I don’t quite understand why he wouldn’t exploit that. It’s a great light show, but I left early because it was past 12 and the music wasn’t anything that I couldn’t hear from any other average DJ.