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Monday, April 18, 2011

Coachella 2011 Review - Sunday



Sunday seemed like it would be the weakest day overall, but despite a major hole in the schedule in the mid-afternoon, it turned out to have some of the most amazing performances of the weekend.  One who was chained to some Jabba the Hutt type villain in Mojave tent all day could do worse for an overall day of entertainment.

Like the rest of the festival-goers, we got off to a very late start, due to a two-day Coachella buildup of too much party, dust and snot.  Actually, we were in the best position we'd been in as far as getting out of lot 16, just the third row in.  Believe me, you don't want to be anywhere near the middle of that clusterfuck of a parking lot when the music's over, any night.

The first act I really wanted to see was Delorean in the Gobi tent.  Sadly, they totally trainwrecked a couple of times.  A very strange thing for a live band.  Honestly, I'll give them another chance someday, because I think a lot of their performance problems were because they couldn't hear very well.  I really like their studio stuff, but they were disappointing overall.

CSS was next, and while they played really well, I wasn't happy with their choice of songs at the beginning of the set.  Not sure if they have a new album out, but they tended to play a lot of the songs from their second album, Donkey, that weren't my favorites (Off the Hook, for instance).  But after a few songs I wasn't crazy about, they pulled it out and kicked some ass.  Plus, the lead singer chick spent most of her singing time crowd surfing.  Seriously, I've never seen a lead singer in the crowd that much.

CSS @ Coachella 2011 (photo by M. Conner)
I was really hoping to check out HEALTH next in Mojave, but we had to head out to the car, so we totally missed them.  By the time we made it back in, Nas & Damian Marley were just finishing up on the main stage (thankfully) and we were able to get our usual spot for Death From Above 1979.  The biggest surprise with these guys is that the one dude plays a BASS guitar, not a regular guitar.  The drummer sings most of the time, and they rock.  That's about all you need to know about that show.

Death From Above 1979 @ Coachella 2011 (photo by M. Conner)
For our final trick, we tromped across the grounds to the Mojave tent for what turned out to be the trifecta of live electronic dance music.  First up, Trentmemøller.  I don't know where this guy came from, and I should probably do my research and find out.  This guy started slow and heavy, and progressed into a really crazy dance set.  It looked like he ran all the sound through his sampler, and at times would take the entire feed from the drum kit, and twist it up all crazy.  The crowd started small, but got to pretty much capacity by the end of his set, and he was just having the best time up there.  Another artist I'm going to add to my current favorites, for sure.

Trentemoller @ Coachella 2011 (photo by M. Conner)
While I'd seen Ratatat a few times before, I'd never owned any of their albums before seeing them.  This time around, I'd bought their latest, and I love it.  They did a great selection of LP4, along with some other live favorites I recognized from previous performances at Coachella and when they opened for Daft Punk at the LA Sports Arena.  The crowd was extremely cool, everyone dancing and just getting down to what may very well be the best American live instrumental dance-rock band today.

Sunset @ Coachella 2011
As the crowd thinned out, we realized that Leftfield might have a pretty small audience, and so we made a beeline to the front row.  Met some very cool people, including Matt from Richmond, VA, and Trent and Jennifer from Dallas, TX, who had come all the way to Coachella to see Leftfield.  This was the band that tipped the scales for me in favor of attending this year.  I've been listening to them since 1999 or so, and I never thought there would even be an option to see them live.  So when they were announced on the lineup, it was at first the ONLY reason, and eventually, the main reason for me to attend this year.

There's nothing I can write to describe what it was like, but I'll try.  I'd heard their sets are loud, like ear-splittingly loud.  I never thought that it would literally feel like I was getting punched in the nose by the kick drum, but that's the best explanation I can muster.  I could honestly feel the inside of my nose vibrating, HARD, because of the sound these guys were unloading on us.  They played basically two styles of songs, dub (no, not dubstep you ninny, GOOD MUSIC) and progressive house.  The bass and kick drum on both ripped through us like no other for the weekend.  They brought out an amazingly sexy singer for Original.  The live show far, far, far surpassed my expectations.  I only wish two things, that they would have brought out someone like John Lydon or Afrika Bambaataa for some vocals.  It's a small criticism for a band that succeeded in basically melting my brain into my skull like a soft boiled egg.

Leftfield @ Coachella 2011
Leftfield @ Coachella 2011

Leftfield @ Coachella 2011

Leftfield @ Coachella 2011
After it was over, I felt it would be good to leave on a high note, so we only stayed to see Kanye do Stronger.  It was great, but the partial song we caught before that was one he was singing on, and the singing wasn't great.  I've read that it was a very emotional performance, and I'm curious to see how it's reviewed over the coming weeks.

All in all, once again, I've been renewed and reset for another year.  I'm more serious about starting a religion around it than ever before, and that's largely because I realize that I'm going to go no matter what.  Goldenvoice sucks, but they're going to learn from this one, and hopefully they'll put on a great festival for years to come.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

So what's the takeaway from this year?  We boiled it down to basically two statements about the two things you have to remember about the people who go to Coachella:

1.  Everyone wants to party and have fun.
2.  Everyone who attends Coachella is absolutely, completely, for the whole festival, FUCKED UP.


In spite of or because of these two universal truths, we have our reservations already for 2012.

Conner, you are the man.  Happy five-year, brother... and many, many more.

See you then.

3 comments:

berenice said...

ahhh Leftfield, great reviews, i wish i had been there now...

Uranus said...

Well blogged, SDRS.

Probably met hanging around up front waiting for LEFTFIELD. I'd been waiting for the chance to see them since 1996 and they did not disappoint.

The bass was MASSIVE.

Maashu said...

@Uranus, it's very possible we did meet there! That's what I love about seeing these obscure, beloved bands at Coachella. The audiences may be small, but they're dedicated.

And to go in with such unrealistically high expectations and NOT be let down!? Priceless.

And yes, the bass was ball-rattlingly insane :)