San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coachella 2010 Review - Saturday

Coachella 2010 Review - Friday

Coachella 2010 Review - Sunday

Yes, Coachella 2010 sold out this year. As far as I know, it's a first. They've had individual days sell out before (Rage Against the Machine, Prince, Pixies days' all sold out) but to my knowledge, the entire festival has never turned people away with such a bottom line. No ticket? Any other year it's "No problem," someone's always trying to get rid of a ticket.

Any other year.

Saturday started with our usual turf nap in the Sahara tent, alternately staring at the schedule and the ceiling. It's an easy life when you're in the shade, well-fed and -hydrated, and the day and the festival are both young. Still, we wondered, was it already a third over?

John Waters, the movie director, performed a monologue in Mojave at 1:00. I foolishly suggested we check it out, and in some ways I'm sorry I did. John Waters was hilarious, no question, but he is to hilarious what The Office is to comedy in a way, you're extremely uncomfortable, but you can't stop watching. At least The Office is safe for TV. I'm not even sure I can tell you what he was talking about here, and I'm fucking filthy.

OK, I'll tell you a few things (these aren't the worst by a long shot). He spoke of Divine, the transvestite actor in many of his movies. He talked about the infamous scene in Pink Flamingos (I won't describe it here, this is a family show, kids). Then he stated, "Even Divine had limits. When we met Richard Simmons, [Divine] told me he felt homophobic!" His greatest quote, "I used to teach in prisons, and most of my students were murders. I showed them Pink Flamingos, and they told me, 'You are fucked up!'" Some of the topics he covered (with all the modesty of a grandmother showing pictures of her offspring's spawn) were very specific gay subcultures ("Don't tell your parents you're a BEAR! That's just cruel!"), thoughts about celebrity necrophilia, and taboos that shouldn't be taboo. He was hilarious, but I felt like I was going to puke, so we moved on. WARNING: Do not watch this.

Next up, we checked out British band Porcupine Tree. I have a few good friends who really recommended their early stuff, but I checked out stuff from their latest, called The Incident. This is mostly what they played, and it's pretty hard stuff, folks. It sounds like Tool taken down a half a notch, with fantastic harmonies and keyboards like Pink Floyd. Apparently their new album is a double, and the first disc is one 50+ minute song. They put on a great show, and I overheard someone say, "If I see nothing else, at least I got to see Porcupine Tree and Fever Ray."

Of course, right after that we were told that yes, Frightened Rabbit didn't make it. Question to Goldenvoice: Did you explore the possibility of beaming these bands in from the other side of the volcano ash plume? There's this thing called The Innernets now, and if you've got more money than god (like you do, GV, come on), you can get it pretty much anywhere. Alls I'm sayin' is, if you didn't at least explore the possibility, that's strike two on you this year (see my review of Sunday's closing act for strike one with a bullet).

Buzzed over to catch the last song from Portugal. the Man. I think these guys are the first band to ever play Coachella from Alaska, but I could be wrong. They needed to take a break after they finished so they could mop up all the minds they melted in the Gobi tent, but it was well worth it. For only catching one song, this band is one that I'll definitely be checking out in the future.

We had some time on our hands, so we couldn't pass up a chance to see Jason Bentley live. Jason has hosted Metropolis on KCRW for years, but I'm not sure if it's still running or not. He spun some amazing housey stuff, including a remix of Radiohead's Everything In Its Right Place, and Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys. I'll check him out every chance I get, but I really wish I could figure out if he's still got a weekly electronic music radio show.

Next, we headed off to the Outdoor Theatre to dig ourselves in for quite some time. The Temper Trap took the stage at 4:00 and just owned the crowd. Apparently they're from Melbourne, Australia, which makes sense because someone was flying a gigantic Australian flag. But then again, someone was also flying a big Canadian flag and a big UK flag as well, so we had no idea where they were from. I guess the tip-off would have been when the singer, Dougie Mandagi, grabbed a hat and yelled, "You know what this says? It says Australia! This one's for Australia!!" I'm not sure how to describe them, other than sweet falsetto vocals and airy, ethereal guitars. A very interesting, unique and overall catchy combination, and they're fantastic live.

photo by M. Conner

Next up, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I really liked what I heard from them before the festival, and they didn't disappoint me. They reminded me a tiny bit of Arcade Fire, with their many members and family-like feel to performance. But E.S's major chords are as plentiful as Arcade Fire's minor chords. ES&TMZ make extremely upbeat music that's a lot of fun to listen to, and you get the sense that they get at least as much pleasure out of performing it. Four members of the group, including Edward Sharpe, crowdsurfed during their performance. I wondered if this was them saying, We don't know when we'll be able to do this again, and we have the chance, so let's just go for it! They've got a bit of a doo-wop feel to them, despite the fact that Conner stated, "I didn't like it. I just don't like high school drama club music."

photo by M. Conner

Next up were The XX. I wasn't sure about them the first time I heard them, because I was led to believe that they were electronic, which isn't at all true. Well, it's a little bit true. They do have a percussionist who uses pretty much all samples to do the percussion, but he plays it live, with his fingers. The rest of the instrumentation is pretty standard rock band, and they did what they did well. I actually liked their live version of Crystallized better than the one on the album. It will be interesting to see what they do next.

photo by M. Conner

We jockeyed for even better position for the next act up on the Outdoor Theater, Hot Chip. I'm not sure why my expectations were so low. Maybe it's because when we last saw them in the Sahara tent, it was great, but we were pretty far back. This time around, they were on the second-largest stage, and we were right in front of the soundboard. I'm not going to over-analyze it too much, because they were mindblowing. These guys had the entire crowd moving almost involuntarily, their stuff is just so infectious, and they deliver it live with a punch that doesn't come through on their studio stuff. "It's great to see some of these electronic bands we used to see in Sahara (e.g., LCD Soundsystem) out on the main stages," Conner opined. I agreed. Hot Chip didn't ask if you wanted to dance, didn't care. In the end, you moved.

MGMT were up next, but we had needs to fulfill, so we did. Sadly, this had to happen as we were in line to get a killer spot. Even more sadly, those needs we filled didn't include eating food. Anyway, we got back into a spot where we could make a quick exit when it was time to get into position for Muse on the main stage. We caught the first five or six songs, which focused more on material from their new album, Congratulations. They did play 4th Dimensional Transition from Oracular Spectacular, and the last song we caught was Electric Feel, also from that album. I've heard their new record is much different than OS, and I'm willing to give it a try, but I wasn't totally blown away by the new stuff. Then again, I think it's hard for a band you know to bowl you over with new material live, even if it is, um, spectacular.

We broke away and weaved through the crowd to witness Muse. Muse is one of those bands that's absolutely bigger than Christ in most countries, but the US of A has yet to really embrace them. I really wondered if Muse could headline a festival like Coachella, despite the fact they have sold out a stadium as gigantic as Wembley (capacity? like 70,000) across the pond.

Again, low expectations weren't just shattered, they were DISINTEGRATED. These three guys are just exceptionally tight, talented, and they look like they're having a blast. Plus, their stage show was worthy of a Coachella headliner. They were playful, too, breaking into instrumental teasers from AC/DC, and even ripping the familiar intro to Bleach-era Nirvana track, School. Despite the fact that their video effects (which were fuh-nom-uh-null) cut out about 2/3 of the way into their set, they proved that they were the type of band that plays to that size of a crowd, all over the world, every night. I'm estimating about 15,000 of my fellow Coachellans were jumping up and down when they opened with Uprising, when they closed with Knights of Cydonia, and when a gigantic shower of sparks fell in the middle of the stage, between singer Matthew Bellamy at the front of the stage, and Christopher Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums) at the back.

After Muse (which sure as hell didn't seem like it could have POSSIBLY been 90 minutes long), we headed over to Devo. I was really hoping we'd get a chance to check out at least a few tracks from Flying Lotus, but time moves in one direction, and it sucks more at Coachella than anywhere else in the universe. And yet, a choice had to be made. We stand by it.

Devo were great. I know they opened a lot of doors, and I know the guy who originally signed them probably got fired and deserves a lot of credit for bringing Devo to the world. They put on a great show with a fun video backdrop, and never took themselves too seriously. In short, they stayed true to form that night as they have throughout their careers. They did what they did, as no one else can do it, and did it well. The crowd lost their minds when they played Whip It (of course), and it sounded like the vast majority of the crowd knew the answer to

Q: Are We Not Men?

(for those of you who are curious, A: We Are DEVO!)

Overall, it was a blast, but I couldn't call it a highlight. Sorry to all the DEVOtees out there, and sorry to all of you who hate puns ;)

One thing I didn't mention about Friday before was the fact that getting out of the parking lot was like pulling shark teeth. Painful, time-consuming and stupid (much like Sunday closer, read on if the link is live). While it took us 20 minutes to get out of the lot Saturday night (thanks to Conner's redneck-in-the-Indy-500-like driving skills) and then 40 minutes to get fully free of the clusterfuck of traffic, Saturday night took only half of that. People in the lot were even generally good, letting in one car at every inlet. Luckily, we were able to bypass many inlets because of our fanatical devotion to get to the lot shortly after it opened, and therefore, get out shortly after returning to the car.

Coachella 2010 Review - Friday

Coachella 2010 Review - Sunday

1 comment:

bereweber said...

hola! i haven't read the whole review, i read Fridays, but i didn't see the John Waters video, i stopped at Porcupine Tree, so that's what they are doing these days, huh? sounds very similar to what they did before! and no the same either... sooo glad you liked them!! finally!! they HAD to play Coachella for you to listen to them huh? yeah!! never thought of the Pink Floyd comparison, but yes, you are right, even a bit the voices... I loved your Friday review, will keep up with this one too!! sooo glad you made it again, reading your stuff, even if you swear and are mean too, ha ha, makes one wanna go again! thank you for the reviews!! ladrar ladrar en el desierto y aullar!