Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coachella: The Wrap Up

Over the past weekend I went to Coachella.  As always its a fantastic experience.  The crowds are fun, I get to hang with the fam, and the sound is great for a festival.  This year the crowds seemed lighter - a combo of better site design and harder to sneak in.  Over the course of the three days I saw lots of great music - mostly Saturday and Sunday, since I got a migraine on Friday.

Cold Cave were the first band playing when I got in the gates.  Their brand of dark synth pop would work great at festivals, but probably not mid-afternoon in the 100 degree heat.  Despite this they put on a pretty good show and sounded great.

Titus Andronicus put out my favorite album last year.  I thought the Monitor was the best and most adventurous album of 2011.  They played most of the albums highlights plus Titus Andronicus and a couple other songs from the first album.  They definitely need to be experienced live, because they put on one of the best shows all weekend.  During their set is when I started to get really sick causing me to miss Warpaint, Tame Impala, and Cut Copy - something I will be bitter about for a long time.  I was able to catch a little OFWGTKA - they were fun, but after the first song or two the whatever had worn off.

Gogol Bordello are seasoned festival pros at this point.  You can put them in any time slot and they will get a decent crowd and perform like no ones business.  Much like Friday night second stage closers Flogging Molly, you know what you are going to get.  They will probably not change people's minds about buying tickets, but they are always great to see live when you have a gap in the schedule.

The Radio Dept put out a great album in Clinging to a Scheme, unfortunately they did not put on a great performance.  They had okay sound, but the energy was lacking.  The tunes never quite achieved lift off needed to deal with the intense heat of Coachella.  They were still very pleasant to listen to for a couple songs though.

I wandered over to the Dome, a tiny little stage by the food stand by accident.  I wasn't sure where it was and just happened upon it trying to fill up my water bottle.  I saw Take was on stage and decided to watch.  He put on a good DJ show and the bass was great.  The people who were around loved it when he mixed in a couple Flying Lotus tracks.

I wandered over to Erykah Badu after Take because I was not feeling the next DJ.  She came on and played a couple songs that were thoroughly enjoyable.  I don't know her music really and was mostly there because Flying Lotus was supposed to come on and she shouted out Dilla in the first song.  I might download some tunes, but I doubt she will ever be a top artist for me.

Glasser were pretty cool.  They were all wearing matching jumpsuits and I dug the singers gossamer veil thing.  The sound was not going well in the tent though.  The main stage and other tents were drowning out the sound, unfortunate I guess.  I left after a couple songs.

SBTRKT was the second DJ I saw in the Dome.  He had a much bigger crowd, probably because Lil B was next.  He got the people moving though.  I dug it. 

Broken Social Scene had the best performance of the Main Stage to me.  I loved their set, they played crowd favorites and made sure everyone was having a good time.  I really want to see them again when they have a full time slot.  Even with a truncated set, Meet Me in the Basement at sunset will be a highlight of my year.

The New Pornographers were perfoming at the exact same time as Broken Social Scene, this seems like a conflict of interest.  You can't have one Canadian super group, playing against another Canadian super group, unless you can get Wolf Parade to perform at a side stage as well.  They put on a fantastic  set from what I saw.

I have had a love/hate relationship with Bright Eyes for a long time.  In High School they were a constant, by second semester freshman year college I didn't like them, and now I am back to playing them all the time.  Conor put on a great show and played the right songs.  I know that they have at least a half dozen different style sets in them, this one was heavy on fan favorites and the best tracks from the two most recent albums.  He stayed away from the angst - a smart move to me.  Plus he looks better, healthier than he has in a long time.

Seeing Mary Ann Hobbs mix was perfect.  She had the right mix of bass heavy, but still dub - dubstep.  Too many people at Coachella only want to hear Bro-step, Ms. Hobbs reminded everyone of the roots of it.

This was the best image of the Swell Season I could get.  Originally it was just the guy and his guitar playing busker songs - very cool, but you could tell the audience wanted the full experience.  Then out came the girl and the full band - people were pumped.

Delorean probably had the most people dancing and the highest percentage of the audience dancing of anyone not in the dance tent.  They put on the best show out side of Broken Social Scene.  I loved them.  They let the grooves of their album expand and absolutely entrance everyone in the audience.

Lorn and Caspa both put on good DJ sets.  After seeing so many DJ's in the past two days it is hard to know what a great DJ set is. I didn't get to see Kode 9, Joy O, Kyle Hall, or Mount Kimbie - all of whom I really wanted to see.

Wiz had a gigantic audience.  Like the biggest I think I saw all weekend and no one left.  I mean that literally.  Animal Collective had people streaming out after two songs, Wiz didn't lose anyone the entire set despite the 100+ heat.  He put on an impressive show and worked the crowd like a pro.  I would love to see him again.

The most natural One Two of the weekend - Wiz Khalifa into Nas and Damien Marley.  These two put on an impressive show by two veterans.  They came out played a mutual song, let Nas do a couple songs, do another mutual song, let Damien do some songs, then close on the string of Welcome to Jamrock, Made You Look, into a cover of Exodus.  It was a fantastic way to end the weekend.  I had to get back home, then the airport, then a midterm.  A fantastic weekend.

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