Coachella Day 1, Weekend 2 – 4/20/12

Written by Michael Cameron

When Coachella looks in the mirror, do you think it recognizes itself? With an unusually strong Canadian presence (????), Coachella delivered another successful year of entertainment, taking its stage productions to the next level, and setting itself apart as the standard for festivals worldwide. Although at its most mainstream, there was enough variety and powerful performances to silence even the harshest critics and elitist cynics.

Let’s face facts, they’re never going to hold this in your living room. It’s fucking hot, but this year the lines and parking went extremely smoothly, at least for us. I’m a 12 year vet of the festival, having skipped only 2001, so we know our way around, and what to expect. If you know how to approach this festival, you’ll be rewarded generously. It is a challenge, but this year we were again champions.

Other Lives
A nice, darkish way to begin the fest. They sound great. Not much else to say here. A hardworking band, playing nice, darkly-melodic songs they’ve written for nice people to listen to.

Yuck
Not anything special at this phase. My friend noted, “they have an endless amount of bands they can source their songs from.” He’s right, pretty much just reorganizing and repackaging the sounds of 90s indie/alternative bands. Some good guitar riffs, but it’s hard to look at without getting decently bored.

James
This band is amazing, so genuine and heartfelt. They played some of the best written songs you will ever come across. I was getting beat down by the sun badly enough that my camera was getting too hot to hold while I was filming the band play one of my favorites, “Out To Get You.” They roared through “Sometimes” and “We’re Getting Away WIth It,” as singer Tim Booth’s extremely emotive performance constantly elevated the songs to another level. Not many bands in their class, but another was set to perform in a few hours.

Neon Indian
His show comes off well live, had some really nice danceable jams. A big crowd pleaser. Audience tried to get him to continue past his time-slot, coachella wasn’t having that at all.

Jimmy Cliff & Tim Armstrong
We took shelter in the main stage beer garden and heard this play in the background. I can’t say that this was something I’ve been waiting for, but they sound good. Nice mellow music to roast to at the edge of the fire.

Madness
Walked by Madness to queue up for Pulp. Hi Madness, goodbye Madness.

Arctic Monkeys
Played songs, again, at Coachella.

Pulp
Seeing Pulp in their natural festival environment has been a fantasy of mine since reading that british mega-festivals existed. The pages of NME, Q and Select were crammed full of entire fields of britpop fans pogoing to “Disco 2000,” with photos of Jarvis Cocker pulling off some of the most impressive and stylish performances I could imagine.

They played a set worthy of their music. Note-perfect replications of their songs, but with all the extra punch you need to rock an entire field of uninitiated Coachella children who 90% of seemed clueless to this band’s existence until they took the stage. They made the most of their time and got down to business quickly, opening with “Do You Remember The First Time,” and playing a ferocious version of “Monday Mornings.” The songs that sent me soaring through the roof were, “I Spy,” “Like A Friend” and “Underwear.” Jarvis jumped, kicked and sassed his way through the entire ten song set, leaving their longtime fans breathless and begging for more.

Mazzy Star
Tonight Mazzy decided that the crisp and crystal clear vocals of Hope Sandoval were going to be the star. She was a diamond angel this evening, floating above the crowd and leaving behind a sparkling and shimmering trail of dust. The audience didn’t seem to appreciate what they were getting, but hearing “Fade Into You” seemed to capture their interest. They played everything a little slower than the recordings to maximize the hazy/dreamy narcotic effect of their music. Hearing “Halah” live was a special moment, but one not seemingly shared by this Coachella audience.

Atari Teenage Riot
If you were tired by the time you made it to ATR, then this set would have probably killed you. They blazed though some of their best songs, creating the only moshpit I witnessed at this years Coachella. A great and under-appreciated band, but Coachella is extremely telling as to what music today’s kids value, and 90s reunions don’t seem to be floating their boat. The millennial’s are the generation who want to do their best to reinvent things that have been done before, and celebrate themselves, even when there is very little to celebrate. It is their time now and originality is a low priority, as they seem to feel the weight of historical context and would rather ignore the past than be dimmed by how brightly their influences have shined.

M83
This is the second time I’ve not watched much M83 at Coachella. Their intro should have been spectacular, but the first couple of songs felt pretty phoned in and canned. I’m sure a great deal of it was played live, just wasn’t sold by their songs. Their opener felt like it would make a great kodak commercial soundtrack, or any product that wants to sell itself by encouraging us to share the moments of our lives.

Black Angels
Good, kinda Doorsy, but super heavy and dirty. Kind of stoner rock meets a dirty Cramps? Heavy and abusive riffs were unrelenting and almost drone-like. Great set, just wished the stage show was darker and heavier to match their sound. They look like a band playing songs, which is exactly what they were.

Horrors
Sound man didn’t treat them well off the bat. It’s funny that you can headline a stage at Coachella and still not buy the respect of the technician who’s probably guided by their manager or their own sound man. I don’t know, maybe they didn’t show up for soundcheck. It was fine, but nothing special going on performance wise, and nothing matched the grace of some of their recent recordings. We came back after leaving, and it was better, but it had been a long and very hot day, nothing was keeping us here at this stage that we needed to see in this condition.

Amon Tobin
Really amazing light show modeled to an impressive structure of cubes that housed the booth from which Tobin ran his show. Amazing work for staging a show that makes perfect sense as a full artistic expression of his unusual but beautiful music.

Day 2 & 3:

Coachella Day 2 – 4/21/12

Coachella Day 3 – 4/22/12

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2 Responses to Coachella Day 1, Weekend 2 – 4/20/12

  1. Pingback: Coachella Day 2, weekend 2. 4/21/12 | SECRET GIRLS

  2. Pingback: Coachella Day 3, weekend 2. 4/22/12 | SECRET GIRLS

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