[This and all photos by Merry Swankster]
Continued coverage of the Coachella Music & Arts Festival.
Previously: Coachella Day 1
Full rundown after the jump…
Bonde do Role
Call me old fashioned all you want but I don’t dig on Bonde do Role’s gig. Splicing hit riffs from familiar 70s, 80s, 90s (and today!) and injecting them with heavy bass sounds of Brazilian baile funk and laying raps over them is not my cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon under a tent in the desert. I don’t understand Portuguese either so it all sounds like a mess of indecipherable yapping. Maybe it works in sweaty, subterranean, strobe bathed clubs. Maybe. I can capitulate to “Marina Gasolina” and nothing more. Consider me unconverted.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
For an indie rock god Stephen Malkmus sure didn’t attract much of a flock. Something about the ease in which we got up front for Malkmus & the Jicks felt wrong. So close that my ears are still ringing. Easily the loudest set of the weekend for us. Literally deafening. Funny considering this was the closest thing to a jamband all weekend. Malkmus looked like a cross between an urban beekeeper and a grandpa, no matter – he’s still cooler than all of us will ever be.
Malkmus personified the uber-cool brand of Northwestern slacker. Detached irreverence permeating everything he says or does. It’s as if at any moment he might leave the stage remembering that laundry needs folding. At least you can count on getting a joke on his way out. Like the one he told his Jicks, “You guys are pretty good. I’m glad I get to front this shit.” Or when he started singing the chorus of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” saying (I’m paraphrasing), “If we had that song we’d be playing over there (points to the main stage).”
[Light crowd for the Jicks]
Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, said she “got here by plane” and launched into “Dig a Pony” from the Beatles’ classic Let It Be. (Beatles covers were popular all weekend. The Breeders did “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and Prince provided the purple treatment on “Come Together”) All alone on stage, Clark lightly strummed her red electric guitar providing a genuinely special moment. Her talents as a performer clearly enhanced when stripped down and vulnerable. The lady can hold her own with an ax to-boot.
Hot Chip did what they do best. Whipping the crowd into a frenzy with escalating, progressive dance rock. It’s been brilliant for some time now and the improbable nerds can throw down like few others. My thoughts on the single song highlight of the entire weekend has already been made clear.
Something was wrong with the Islands gear while they setting up. Islands, issues? You don’t say? Whatever it was ate a good 30 minutes into what is typically Coachella’s precision engineered schedule. At this festival, the trains all run on time. It’s a nice reliability that helps the overall experience as a festival goer. Obviously troubleshooting the snag was not happening expeditiously because an official roadie looking guy signaled to Islands to get on with it. Which they finally did to the bending of notes in the intro of “Vertigo (If It’s a Crime)” from the new Arm’s Way.
We stayed through the alloted time for Islands thinking they would be cut off with a hard stop for the good of the schedule, and plus I had to run over to the main stage for at least some of Kraftwerk before M.I.A. came on. While I was running back to the tent area for M.I.A. I noticed Islands was still playing. I’m glad they didn’t get shooed off without completing a full set. Lord knows Islands doesn’t need any more negative experiences while touring.
["Where There's a Will, There's a Whalebone" featuring Busdriver]
Running across the Coachella grounds in the direction of a huge projection screen framing four moored gentlemen standing stiffly behind laptop platforms is rather peculiar. Something almost hypnotic about it. Germans are funny.
While I sprinted back to the tents for M.I.A., “Computer Love” was playing. For the record I did not overhear anyone say, “hey it’s that Coldplay song”.
It was a mess of people for M.I.A., packed to the gills (and rafters)! Unfortunately the huge crowd did not get the best of M.I.A. Too much build up in between songs with little to show in delivered goods. M.I.A.’s set fell victim to the pitfalls of a hip hop show. The kind that is more memorable for what doesn’t happen rather than actual performances. In other words if she could just do without the instances amounting to dead air foolishness and repeated shout outs of “are you ready” and actually play songs. Novel concept, no?
The crowd was amped leading up to M.I.A. getting on stage. Once she arrived she was never able to fully harness the boundless energy the audience so desperately wanted to share with her. Disappointing in many ways. I recall the “Paper Planes” gunshots going off the entire time. Our love for the pop-pop-pop gunshot sample has been well documented, though that doesn’t mean it should be looped continuously.
The final vibe-killer was when she (someone?) invited throngs from the front rows up on the stage. It seemed to rattle M.I.A. in the while it took to provide room on the stage for her to do her thing rather than ignite careless abandon in what was shaping up to be a flat performance. I’m curious on what Maya’s impression of the show was. I hope she is asked about it in a future interview.
I sneaked into the nearby Mohave tent post-M.I.A. to catch about five minutes of Animal Collective before I had to meet up with some friends. Just enough to snap these pictures and provide zero amounts of commentary on the actual show. Sorry folks. Our attempts at omnipresence failed.
“When they asked me to come work this place, I told them I don’t work, but I’ll come to play music. I came to play…I came to party…,but under one condition, I get to choose the music. Is that allright with ya’ll? In the spirit of that, you in the coolest place on earth…right now!” – Prince
Prince had many roles at Coachella. Emcee, guitar virtuoso, master of the medley, cover fiend (“Creep”, “Come Together”, Sarah McLachlan’s “The Arms of an Angel”), and was determined to play all night. No joke. Exhausted, we headed back to the car around 1 am to the sounds of “Let’s Go Crazy”.