Coachella 2017 Weekend 1 Review - Friday
The series of poor decisions this little band of malcontents makes every year has concluded, and somehow we are still without a single fatality. Yes, the events that lead up to (and directly result in) the city of Indio, CA being completely sold out of Tecate and pork rinds, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, 2017, weekend one, has concluded. The Denny's is once again safe (tip Annie well, she's the best), the Food 4 Less is no longer replete with the stench of thousands of hungover pie-eyed club kids trying to figure out if you can use Sterno to cook a fucking Pop Tart, and the roads are no longer filled with enough inebriated drivers to book jails full in every contiguous county for hundreds of miles.
You're welcome, City of Indio!
And with that, let's get onto the music!
|BANKS at Coachella 2017|
Friday's highlight, unbelievably, was BANKS. It's only hard to imagine her being my highlight because I've been waiting to see her for so long, listen to her pretty much daily, and had unrealistically high expectations. Sometimes the patient are rewarded - the high bar I'd set for her performance, she summarily shattered.
It was nearly a dream set, and although there were a few tracks I really was hoping she'd play that she didn't (This Is Not About Us, Brain), I couldn't argue with any of the set choices. Perhaps one of the greatest things about Banks's set was that she started off with one of my favorite songs, Poltergeist, using two microphones - the "good" and the "evil" one. This is the same song that Pitchfork panned in their review of her latest album The Altar, calling it "overproduced." To me, he using this as her set opener was a well-deserved "fuck you" to the snarky hipster site. I do check Pitchfork, and I do respect some of their opinions, but I also know that they worship some real turds (e.g. Kanye). And if you think this is a snarky hipster site, you're wrong. It's a snarky asshole site.
After the opener, she continued on to do a great representation of the new album (Fuck With Myself, Gemini Feed, Trainwreck, and Mind Games) as well as awesome tracks from Goddess (Begging For Thread, Waiting Game), ending the set off with 27 Hours, the CD-only "bonus" track from The Altar, I guess.
There were so many "Coachella moments" during this show, it was mind-blowing. People singing along to parts of pretty much every song, and she had these two dancers with her, they all did these very precise, jerky movements that were perfect given the setting and the songs. Virtually a flawless performance from start to finish.
Banks was actually the 7th act we caught Friday, here are one to six and the rest after BANKS:
|Klangstof at Coachella 2017|
Klangstof - I really liked what I heard, they sounded like they could open for Radiohead. I have no idea who they are or where they're from, but with a "-stof" at the end of their name, I'm betting it's fucking cold.
|Joseph at Coachella 2017|
Joseph - Three sisters from Portland, Oregon. Two were twins, one was not. I think they were all hot but don't quote me on that. Regardless, they were a little too Partridge Family for me, but they were talented. Their harmonies were really good, at least.
|Nora en Pure - Blatantly Stolen from Facebook|
Nora En Pure - When I finally snaked my way through all the damn gates to get into the Yuma tent, I was treated to a couple of great tracks this female DJ was spinning. I love her production, I've got several of her tracks, including You Make Me Float, Venice Beach, and Iceland, and these first few sounded a lot like her productions. She kind of started going astray after that, I wasn't really digging the next couple of tracks and so I decided to head back to Coachella Stage to catch the rest of Preservation Hall Jazz Band's set.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Probably the most talent pound-for-pound of any band on the roster. Could have been up to an eight-piece combo band. When I first started watching (a few songs into the set), none of the band members were singing, but all were trading off on solos. A few songs in, it turned out they could all sing, the stand-up bassist with the funky hair, the sax dude, and the rest of 'em, I'm pretty sure too. Great stuff, and totally under appreciated, so I was able to get right up front. Which put me in a primo spot for Bonobo.
Bonobo - I've seen Bonobo several times before, and this appeared to be a stripped-down version of what he's brought with him before. While usually I remember him having up to a dozen musicians on stage, but this time I think he peaked at maybe eight, if you don't count the seven or so dudes he brought out to chant on one of the songs, to great effect. I think the stage kind of swallowed them up - they're usually playing on the Mojave or Gobi stage, if I'm not mistaken, and I think despite the visuals they had going, they didn't quite command that stage the same way they did in the tents.
Glass Animals - Probably the most fun-type entertaining vocalist of the weekend. Dude was carried in on the shoulders of two roadies because he'd recently broken his ankle. When he spoke to the crowd, he pointed to the giant prop television in the middle of the stage and said, "They got me this so I could sit on it, but I think I'm gonna stand on it. Fuck it. It's Coachella!" I was prepared for a set where he didn't move around much (a la Florence of Flo and the Ma', Axl Rose of Guns 'n Roses and A-shoulda-C-hired-him-/-D-
long-ago-C), but this guy was NOT following doctor's orders. He bobbed around on that massive idiot box (old-school style, btw) for a song, and then jumped down and gimp-shimmied all over the stage for the following tracks. For the climax, he had the roadies bring him down into the crowd and sang the last song while they fed him mic wire so he could get passed around the crowd like an ever-wetting joint. Finally, when he came out of the crowd, he stood on the artists' side of the barrier, directly over me, and sang the last couple of minutes of the song. He was less than a foot from me which made it basically impossible to get a really good picture of him, but I tried.
|Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (1)|
|Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (2)|
|Glass Animals Singer Decides To Finish Song Standing Over Me at Coachella 2017 (3)|
Ritchie Hawtin - Hawtin was doing something called "Close" as in he's closer to the audience because he split the mixing desk into two racks of drum machines, synths, and mixers, leaving a hole between them where the audience could see his stomach. I was expecting him to move around the stage and use various handheld (or even mounted) equipment at various different stations, all a lot closer to the audience than he was for this whole performance. When he started, I didn't like the kick drum, and didn't really like the sounds he was creating. I'm really glad I stuck with it, because about halfway through the set, I got the kick I wanted, and he proceeded to add some more melodic elements to the set. By the end, I was pretty stoked, I knew he'd been making some very, very slight changes to a lot of the sounds throughout the set (like the kick drum), and Mike confirmed it. "That was incredible, he's just making such slight changes to the sounds, and he does it over the length of the entire set!" he lauded. So... "Close," it was not (really), but good, it was. An epic journey of filters, delays, reverbs, and frequency tweaks.
The xx - I can't figure out The xx. They sound like a band I should really like, but I just don't. I did like the more house-sounding tracks they played Friday night, but overall, I wouldn't trade a trip to the beer garden to go see them. I think they'll probably be headlining in a year or two, so I'll watch what they do to see if I feel differently about them in the future. They've got potential, but I've been saying that for so long I wonder if I'll ever say "I like them" and not just "I like some of their stuff."
Radiohead - Ah, Radiohead. This would be my 10th or 11th time seeing them, and unlike most bands I've seen in the last 20 years, I've seen the bulk of their shows at actual Radiohead shows, not Coachella. So when I write this, it makes me sad, but hear me out. Of all the Radiohead shows I've seen over the years, I'd have to put this one dead fucking last. And it was all because of the sound kicking totally out twice. By the time they came back on stage that third time, they'd worked out the sound issues, and they were able to finish their set. However, given that we were all just waiting for the sound to go out again, it was hard for any of us to really enjoy the music.
I will say, it was an interesting choice to open with Daydreaming from the new album, but it was great that they actually made it through that one all the way. The sound issues started in the next song, and totally knocked out the main speakers after about the fourth. Another quartet of songs, the same problems, and they walked offstage again. I was bummed mostly for the people there who'd never seen Radiohead, who thought maybe this would be the way to catch one of there legendarily awesome shows, but we got this instead. Again, i don't blame the band one bit, but whoever was working with that sound and causing those problems should be dealt with accordingly.
After Radiohead, my feet felt worse than they had after any day of the festy in memory. It was hard to believe this was my 16th time attending, but the way my dogs were barking, it made me feel like I'd been at 16 in a row. I never doubted I'd finish this one in style, but a little part of me started LOUDLY telling me that, even though it's all but my religion, this might be my last Coachella.