Jim

Music notes from the Coachella festival 2008

In Culture, Politics on April 30, 2008 at 3:22 am

I cut out a few days over the weekend to zip across country to attend the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Today, I jotted down some impressions from the numerous artists who performed. Now, there’s no freakin’ way to see everyone — there were five stages going continuously for three days, so you’re bound to miss the majority of performances. I’ve noted those I missed that meant anything to me.

Friday

Caught:
The Breeders — out of tune singing. Sounded like they were still rehearsing. Maybe they’re always like that, though.

Múm — oddballs from Iceland. Talented, but not loud enough to compete with the dance tent next door.

The National — just a few songs from them. Competent but unspectacular.

The Raconteurs — wasn’t sure who we were going to see and they didn’t announce themselves, so I didn’t realize this was Jack White’s band. I thought “that guy reminds me of Jack White a little, but they’re better than the White Stripes.” Really good show that at moments reminded me of Zep with the heavy riffs and wailing solos.

The Verve — are these guys a Christian rock band or what? They were OK, but weren’t doing it for Dave, so we bailed after a few songs. As we walked away, they started some trippy guitar stuff that was actually pretty cool, but it was too late. Dumbasses.

Datarock — a fun bunch of wackos who’re happily stuck in 80s pogostick mode. They wore matching red Adidas track suits and bounced around a lot.

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings — funk and old school r&b done right. Lots of energy and soul. Very hot, and highly recommended.

Fatboy Slim — took forever to get started and the dance tent was packed by the time he took the stage. I’m not a big techno customer, but there’s a major difference between hearing it in the car or even your local discotheque and hearing it ULTRA FUCKING LOUD AND CLEAR in a huge tent. Wore me the hell out with bouncing around with these damned kids half my age.

Missed:

Serj Tankian — we didnt have the schedule on paper with us, so I forgot when he was on. Would’ve liked to have seen him, probably a pretty good show. It would have meant missing The Dap Kings, though, who were the finds of the night.

Jack Johnson — Jack is actually pretty cool, and I caught him at Coachella back in 2003. But to me it’s date music. I didn’t have a date, so who gives a fuck?

Dan Deacon — He’s a real weirdo, basically plays Casiotone loops and stuff. My buddy Ernie’s really into him, so I would have liked to have been able to report back on his set, but I’m glad we spent time in Joshua Tree instead.

Saturday

Caught:

Minus the Bear — Didn’t really mean to see them, and in fact had never heard of them. They were pretty good in a Seattle-indie rock guitar sorta way.

Cafe Tacvba — Not as good as I remembered them from Coachella ’03. Too poppy. Very popular with the Hispanic folks, who were singing along with every word of some of the songs. I bailed early to make sure I got over to see Dwight.

Dwight Yoakam — I’m in no way an expert on country, but I do recognize Dwight as one who plays actual country and not dance pop with a hokey twang. And his set was, in fact, the real thing. Would’ve gone over great in a smokey bar. He paid tribute to Buck Owens and covered Johnny Cash, Ricky Nelson and The Eagles.

Kraftwerk — Unless you’re just really deeply into German industrial whatever, you’d never pick up on these freaks. But they’ve been around forever, four guys and their Moogs or whatever. They literally just stand there motionless and manipulate their consoles while huge, primitive-looking computer graphics and silhouette them. For all you know, they just hit the play button and pretend to look busy. For one song, they are literally replaced by robots on stage. But you crank the knob up to 11 and it’s fucking impressive as hell.

Portishead — Portishead was the headliner for Saturday until Prince signed on. I could see why. The next day, the lead singer for My Morning Jacket said he was glad to see Portishead back together. “Whenever I listen to them, it’s like a nightmare jungle where demons are trying to get me. But Beth’s voice somehow guides me through like an angelic symbol.” Or words to that effect. I hated to leave early, but I really wanted to see Flogging Molly.

Flogging Molly — My legs were beat to death before; after FM, they were in tatters. You just can’t not bounce around to that blaring, drunken, belligerent Irish shit. some shirtless fucker tried to goad me into shoving him or taking a swing by crowding my space, but I wouldn’t take the bait. I’m thinking, ‘if you’re man enough to fight, there’s a whole fucking mosh pit not 10 people away from us who’d gladly take you up on the offer. Why fuck with a fat dude who’s twice your age, you pussy?” He eventually gave up on me. The sound was loud and clear, but the lead guitar drowned out the banjo and fiddle — my only complaint about the sound for the whole festival.

Prince — Prince is one of those guys I respect more than I like. But I can’t deny he puts on a fuckin’ show. It started with Morris Day and The Time doing their two hits from back in the Purple Rain days, which was pretty cool, because it’s actual funk. Sheila E got a song and a timbale solo. Funniest moment: Prince covers Radiohead’s “Creep.” Best parts were the funky parts and the blazing guitar solos — lil dude can wail on a Strat.

Missed:

Half of Portishead’s set.

Death Cab for Cutie — Interested mainly cos I’ve heard of them and because we used “Death cab for cutie” as a headline about a chick who drives an old hearse.

Sunday

Caught:

Gogol Bordello — Rocked out Ukrainian folk, basically. Another band where you can’t NOT dance. Didn’t hurt that there were three possibly Ukrainian, definitely cute chicks also bouncing around me. I’m not sure where they were from, but they spoke with Cyrillic accents.

Metric — only caught a couple songs. I think with more time I could get into it, but it didn’t grab me by the balls right away. Super cute chick fronting the band, though.

My Morning Jacket — Another unannounced band, so I had no idea what I was getting into. Fortunately, they turned out really good with some heavy, psychedelic moments.

Roger Waters — Holy fucking shit, man. Roger’s band plays Pink Floyd note for note, the phrasing, everything, is dead on. Except the sound is huger, louder than you ever got from your headphones. A couple guys behind me were whining they’d prefer to hear the musicians put their own spin on it. Fuck ’em, the show was monumental. Two and a half hours, including the entirety of “Dark Side of the Moon.” And an encore.

Missed:

Love and Rockets — I remember ’em from the late ’80s. Woulda been interesting. Glad I “discovered” My Morning Jacket instead.

Sean Penn — From a distance, I could hear the pugnacious Mr. Penn ranting about whatever political. Roger said it better. And louder.

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