San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coachella 2005 Review

I was digging around on an old hard drive when I found this, my review of Coachella from 2005. I hope you enjoy it, but if you don't, eh.


Another year of Coachella has come and gone and we’ve got a pretty damn thorough review for you. We managed to catch substantial pieces of 19 bands’ sets on Saturday and several full sets on Sunday. This year, to help facilitate actually posting a review of both days, we’ve decided to post the reviews in award format.

Band Most Likely to Catch Heat Stroke: None!
While last year’s obvious winner was Thursday, the mid-80’s temperatures for both days set well with bands and concertgoers alike. There may not have been as many crispy Goths as there were in 2004, but there were also fewer shirtless muscledorks.

DJ Spinning Cheesiest Trance : Evil Nine
The caveat here is that Evil Nine was the first DJ in the Sahara tent on the first day of the festival. His skills were respectable, but the tracks were laughable. This poor bastard dropped everything from “Calling Your Name” to a Sandstormesque Darude cut. In his defense, I think he was probably under duress to play such crap.

Most Forgettable Act (Saturday) : Nic Armstrong and the Thieves
Not necessarily bad, but not anything I’d run out and buy.

Most Forgettable Act (Sunday) :
Jem sounds like ugly girls with nice bodies. Good from far, but far from good. This is what the Cardigans would sound like if they could get any more boring.

Best Cover of Another Coachella Act’s Song : Jamie Cullum
While Coldplay’s abbreviated cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt was cute, Jamie Cullum performed a cover of Coldplay’s We Never Change that was heart wrenching despite the fact that he claimed the band had never played it live and might “Totally bollocks it up.”

DJ Most Inspiring to Aspiring DJs : U.N.K.L.E.
While billed as U.N.K.L.E., this was actually a James Lavelle DJ set. What we caught included everything from evil, ambient and flatulent bass lines to Get Ready by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. If any a DJ were to be accused of doing more than just “playing records,” it would be Lavelle. While Ben Watt’s set made us realize that good dance music is still being produced and spun, James Lavelle lived the mix and told a story with a bit more breadth.

Best Main Stage Discovery (Saturday) : Buck 65
A one-man band who can scratch like a dog with VD, Buck 65 was not only the most entertaining thing on in his time slot, but probably the funniest act of the festival. “When I was growing up,” he growled, “people used to ask me what I wanted to be, and I told ‘em door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. That dream didn’t work out, but I wrote a song about it.” Two turntables and a microphone? Seen.

Best Main Stage Discovery (Sunday) : Nine Inch Nails
We thought Goldenvoice was taking a big risk booking NiN after all this time, but what do you know, Trent’s still got it. Unlike The Cure, who were the Sunday headliners last year, Trent’s new material had the same effect on the crowd as hearing the old stuff for the first time. It’s not industrial anymore, but maybe it hasn’t been since Broken. Look for a number-one-with-a-bullet effect this week as With Teeth, the first new full album in ten years is released.

Most Horizontal Audience : Wilco
I don’t know if Wilco fans are stoned or just naturally unmotivated, but just about everyone seemed to be lying down for this one. On the bright side, you could see them really well if you were standing up and 100 rows back from the front of the stage. Jeff Tweedy also gets the award for stupidest utterance by a rock star at a festival. He said, “I don’t like festivals.”

Best Knob-Twiddling Act : Four Tet
I was really hoping to give this one to Swayzak, but Four Tet did more by himself than both the dudes from Swazak combined. He had this intense look on his face most of the time like he was trying to pass a football-sized colon stone. A couple of times he looked up and smiled. As if he had finally passed said stone. You know one of these acts is good when it sounds like they couldn’t possibly know what they’re doing and they then transition into another looping pattern so smoothly that it makes you question your very being.

Most Obnoxious Crowd : None!
This year’s festival had the best vibe since at least 2001 if not ever. People were friendly, vendors were courteous, and security wasn’t too assholey (except for the dick in the parking lot who tried to make me wait to leave even though I was the only car in sight). Between the people and the fact that there was plenty of water, food and hand sanitizer, Goldenvoice may have finally nailed it.

Act We’re Most Sorry We Missed : Bloc Party
While Matmos and Roots Manuva were runners-up, I had to make my peace with missing Bloc Party early on. It would have been a logistical nightmare, and I planned to see the entire Bauhaus show. I don’t regret my decision to see Bauhaus, but I do regret the organizers’ decision to put these two excellent bands up against one another.

Best Comeback :
Gang of Four
I hadn’t heard anything from Go4 until I read that they were on the bill, but the recording I managed to snag was a live set from 1979 with a lot of great songs on it, including the first three they played. They opened with Return the Gift; we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect opener than that.

Best Reason to Show Up Even Though Cocteau Twins Bailed : Eisley
I’m not sure where this band came from, but I’m sure glad they showed up. The harmonies are reminiscent of harp strings plucked in a dream sequence in an old and faded cartoon. This is probably the best thing to come out of Texas since LSD, or at least since Seven Percent Solution. While they might be a bit country for some and a bit commercial for others, the comparisons to Transister can’t be easily ignored by someone who’s familiar with both bands.

Best Overall Band (Saturday) : M83
Maybe it’s because it was the first time we’d seen them, maybe it’s because they came all the way from France. Or maybe it’s because they rocked harder than any other band could effortlessly. M83 is one of those bands that has the potential to blow you into the next dimension, but leaves you dangling by a thread somewhere in-between, taunting you. We’re a big fan of both of their LPs and were a little anxious about how it would translate to the live stage. Alex Gonzales et chaque lived up to the “they sound a little like My Bloody Valentine” label without being a rip-off, and completely OWNED the Gobi tent.

Most Technically-Superior Band : Fantomas
Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) could also have won the award for “Least Listenable Act” as well as the “Act with the Most Fart and Burp Sounds” award. However, we have to give props to the man who has obviously been taking a lot of cues from such experimental masters as John Zorn and Frank Zappa. Part jazz/metal, part thrash and part indigestion, these guys took your Uncle Charlie’s “pull my finger” trick and made it look as complicated as doing calculus with an active nuke up your butt. Equal parts Cobra, bean curd and Mothers of Invention, Fantomas may not be coming to a town near you, but if this floats your air biscuit, check out Suspended Animation, the group’s latest release, containing 30 tracks laced with cartoon melodies.

Crankiest Band : New Order
Would someone please change Bernard Sumner’s diaper? Jeezus. While I was pretty impressed that they opened up with the old Joy Division tune Atmosphere, it was a bit like French-kissing my sister. Incestuous, but exciting (Ed: media assassin does not have a sister, but he French-kissed mine one time). The set was a bit too heavy on the newer stuff (did anyone really buy Republic or that last one? Is anyone going to buy the new one?). The new stuff isn’t bad, but when the only two classic New Order tracks you get are Bizarre Love Triangle and Blue Monday, you can’t help but feel like they’re sticking out their fat little hands and asking for your money. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from checking them out, they are one of the most influential bands of their genre, but just don’t kiss their ass about it. They’re certainly not going to kiss yours.

Best Overall Band (Sunday, and of the Entire Festival) : The Arcade Fire
My expectations were unrealistically high for The Arcade Fire. Having seen them on Conan O’Brien, I thought I knew what to expect. A lot of antics, and a very good live performance, and that’s what we got. How could I be disappointed? Quite the opposite, I was elated. The crowd atmosphere was like a family, everyone was talking to each other, cheering like one big happy family, and when it was over, we all cried out, “That’s IT?! It’s OVER?!?!” While it was over too soon, we were treated to two of the band’s members climbing up the scaffolding and banging their drumsticks on it during Neighborhood 2 (Laika). I have it on good authority that one of them cut his hand pretty badly, bad enough that the blood was POURING onto the keyboard, never missing a note. Their interviews at Los Angeles’ KCRW ( state that they want to remind the audience that they’re in the presence of live musicians, and they succeed in this goal. There’s no way you can ignore The Arcade Fire live, and even the most jaded of us have been won over to Funeral, the band’s debut album that has met with nearly universal critical praise. And hell, when you have a band with 11 people in it, you’d think if they sucked at least a few of them would recognize it and go get a job at Denny’s or something.