Matt & Kim sent smiles for miles on their first Coachella trip
Gorillazwas everything I hoped for. The concert DVD from their last album was spectacular, and we were provided a spectacle of beautiful visuals, perfect sound, and a number of guest vocalists reprising their album appearances with the band. This time around, Damon Albarn was more out front, standing for his lead vocals. It was one of those Coachella shows that will likely be remembered eternally.
Other highlights in chronological order: Matt & Kimtook another step forward, delighting their overflow crowd in and around the mid-sized Mojave tent. They deliver more smiles per capita than almost any other band I know of. Florence & the Machinealso drew an overflow to the smaller Gobi tent, and their crowd was equally enthusiastic in a different way. She was in great voice as usual. Julian Casablancas had a winning set. Spoon and Phoenix both were spot-on with their well-received straight-forward large stage gigs. Little Bootsdid well with the indie-electro peeps. Thom Yorkehad a good one and was joined by bassist Flea, who made a big difference. Yorke seemed to have a great time, dancing frantically at times.
Promoter Goldenvoice now has a ten-year lease on the land used for Coachella. Let's hope this allows them to make improvements that will improve the parking and traffic situations. Two hour delays coming and going are frequent enough to be unacceptable even though most fans deal with it pretty well. For fans to sometimes wait over an hour just to enter the grounds is unacceptable. This is why I term this annual weekend "love/hate". I love the fact that most of the shows are really good if not all my cup of tea. I love watching bands like Hot Chip win over bigger crowds every time they return, or to watch people like La Roux or Matt & Kim play for the first time and blow people away. Coachella crowds are great barometers and tastemakers. Many artists owe a portion of their career momentum to Coachella appearances. There are the memorable headline performances or even those magical individual songs that stick with us for years. There's the mostly chill but passionate vibe of 75,000 fans every day, and the heartwarming sight of young couples, obviously in deep affection, enjoying a special weekend together.
What? No Muse on top, you ask? My regulars know they're my fave band of the last decade and that they're the biggest live band in the world. They were amazing as always but it almost redundant to place them in a headline at this point in time. To their fans, they're bombastic. To those who don't like them, they're bombastic. Day 2 was stronger than the first. Here we go in chronological order.
It was so many bands in so little time when I arrived. Girls, Camera Obscura, Temper Trap, White Rabbits, Beach House, Band of Skulls, andEdward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros all delivered in the partial sets I enjoyed. I saw the final twoRaveonettes songs and heard them apologize for a crazy set, so not sure what was up except that there was no drummer when I was in their tent. Your faves will depend on your tastes. If forced to decide, mine would have been White Rabbits, Camera Obscura, and Ed Sharpe. White Rabbits were especially impressive on the main stage, showing they'll be able to take that next step. Gossip was stellar as always, with a loud crowd. No surprise that The xx was clean, low-key, and dark; and loved by their fans. Hot Chipare always great and just keep growing. I was 100 yards from their stage and my area was packed tight with everyone into it. That's no small feat for Coachella. I remember a few years ago when they were unknowns, playing mid-Sunday afternoon in the 1/3-full smallest tent. By the time they closed with "Over and Over", the place was packed and going crazy. MGMTdrew a huge crowd at a time when there wasn't much else going on. Maybe 40,000, and "Electric Feel" got many of them dancing. Good thing they included some hits from album 1 since their radical sophomore departure hasn't taken hold as of yet. How could the band not play "Kids"? I know they're trying to prove a point, but the point should be to give a huge throng the best possible time. Faith No More seemed fun, the little bit I got to see. Muse were Muse--the best at what they do and a perfect desert headliner. The Dead Weatheris one of the best live bands at the festival, although less my personal glass of scotch. Devo capped it off in fine fashion. The guys began by alternating between new and old and it was seemless. Later in the set, it was mostly old. They are amazingly current-sounding and it's great having them back.
Big crowd and response for La Roux shows they're blowing up in the US
A good first day, once everybody got in. Non-Coachella veterans usually don't hear about the grind that makes this festival a love/hate experience. With its location 125 miles east of LA, a direct drive on day 1 normally involves several traffic jams. No matter where one is driving from, traffic closer to the venue is often gridlocked. The parking lots are about a mile away from the main gate. I waited 45 minutes to get in and some had to wait twice that long in 90+ temps. There is no special access for those fortunate enough to have VIP or media credentials. Upon departing, driving away can go smoothly, or parking lot delays can measure an hour or more. That said, it's all about the music once we're inside. There were predictions that the crowd would be older this year due to single day tickets not being made available for sale, but there didn't seem to be much of a difference compared to other years.
Vampire Weekendkeep getting better and better, and their prime nighttime slot was filled with fans of the band. Them Crooked Vulturesmatched all of the great reports I get on them. I like the guys best when they're just jamming. If I had to pick one newer band that appears to be blowing up, that would be La Roux. If organizers could do it over again, I'm sure that set would have been in a larger space as the overflow was huge. The band was more mid-tempo that I expected, but the crowd was one of the festival's most insane.
Here's what else I saw, in chronological order: Yeasayerdelivered nicely before an enthusiastic crowd. Hockeyalso played well to a warm response. Tom Morello is one of my fave guitarists but I just am not into his Street Sweeper Social Club. I love She & Him, and they were charming as expected. If anything, they might have played their songs so fast that some impact was lost. Coachella crowds tend to be pretty laid back at most shows, and I was hoping for a better response. I had high hopes for The Specialsafter seeing them on Jimmy Fallon the other night. Only a few of their best known songs really created a stir. Grizzly Beardelighted their thousands of fans. I respect them but probably need to see them in a proper music hall sitting in a chair with no distractions. LCD Soundsystem, as expected, put on one of the day's best shows, in a major main-stage evening slot. Fever Rayaugmented their spacy music with an amazing light show. Benny Benassiplayed in the dance tent and elicited the most joy I saw in a crowd. Maybe I need to spend more time around the dance tent : ) Passion Pitand Imogen Heapare people I missed who I've liked in the past. So sorry that the volcanic ash prevented The Cribsfrom getting out of the UK. With apologies to any rap-loving ravers out there, I stayed as far away from JayZ as possible.
All in all, crowds were fairly laid=back nothing really groundbreaking on day one, but a solid start just the same.
Cage the Elephant: great live and a truly deep album
Check out the latest Go Deep. Recorded April 5. Bits of my Constellations and Drums interviews are included. Here's the playlist with a bit of commentary.
The Knack - (Havin A) Rave Up (Go Deep theme song) LCD Soundsystem - Drunk Girls (Album comes in May) Florence and the Machine- Dog Days Are Over (She's all over the UK charts) Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Understand Mick and Paul from The Clash may join tour) The Constellations Step Right Up (Cool Tom Waits cover shows off their musical inventiveness) Cage the Elephant Free Love (On the verge of their 3rd radio hit, and the album is really deep) Charlotte Gainsbourg IRM (Unique title track Beck-produced album) Beach House Zebra (Beautiful track from this major buzz band) Codeine Velvet Club Hollywood (Fratellis side project) Codeine Velvet Club Little Sister (Both tracks made show--I couldn't bear to drop either one) Mumford and Sons The Cave (UK group doing great at home and also had #1 album in Australia) Hot Chip Keep Quiet (Pretty, softer track from one of 2010's top albums so far) Dan Black U + Me = (His live show is an upbeat surprise if one has only heard his "Symphonies" hit The Drums I Felt Stupid (Their debut full-length arrives in June) Lightspeed Champion Marlene (Former singer of UK band Test Icicles) Vampire Weekend California English (Mainstream? Way better than most on that level) The Knack - (Havin A) Rave Up (Go Deep theme song)
Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend, and The Soft Pack have given us my four fave albums of the year so far. You might be seen me raving about The Constellations from Atlanta. They were ace at SXSW and I predict their June album will make many year-end lists. Check out their single "Felicia" as well as my interview with them. My interviewwith The Drums is also on the site. This Brooklyn band is a summery cross between The Zombies and Joy Division. Codeine Velvet is a fun Fratellis side project which will breathe life into singer John Lawler's career. Muse recently had the top two most-played songs in the country in "Uprising" and "Resistance". "Fresh" is the perfect name for the new Devo single, which is a highly modern version of the older band we know and love. I love that STP is rocking on their new single. Hockey is a great radio band. Cage the Elephant is now embarking on their third single following two major winners. Their whole album is strong as is the live show. LCD Soundsystem is finally back, and their "Drunk Girls" single is a hoot. Surfer Blood's "Floating Vibes" is one the year's best tracks, as are "Norway" and "Zebra" from Beach House. How about She & Him debuting in the #6 position with their new album? Two Door and Delphic are two promising UK bands.
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