Back at home in Los Angeles, Coachella 2011 is officially over. Overall, it’s been a wonderful blur of decent to amazing live music, rum drinks, long sweaty walks, eye candy wearing ridiculous Native American garb, and lots of delayed texts.
Coming from the perpetual party to the 9-to-5 work grind is always a little bit hard, but we’ll always have memories of three wonderful days on the polo field, especially after [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Kanye West[/lastfm]’s mind-blowing close to the festival last night.
Artist Sound: Fuzzy, buzzy ’90s surfer rock reverb with ’60s pop chord structures.
Crowd Response: Diehards were singing along, but mostly everyone was completely chill, basking in the beauty of the desert twilight. No one was really “rocking” out, but no one was really complaining about the lack of stage presence.
Performance Adjectives: Mellow, lackadaisical, summery, wistful, crunchy, messy
Notable Songs Played: “Bratty B,” “Crazy For You,” “Summer Mood,” “Boyfriend,” “When I’m With You,” “Born Again” (new song), “That’s The Way Boys Are” ([lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lesley Gore [/lastfm]Cover)
Poignant Moments: Lead singer Bethany Cosentino asking the audience to ask Kanye West to let her sing backing on one of his tracks.
Hype Vs. Reality: Best Coast write beautiful, druggy Phil Spector-era ’60s-style surf tunes but they sound much better on their album than live. Cosentino is not a very dynamic stage performer. Likewise, the instruments sounded a little bit ramshackle. As good as everyone says? The album is flawless, live show is disappointing.
Death From Above 1979
Artist Sound: Sleazy, swaggering take-no-prisoner alternative punk from two musicians who sound like six.
Crowd Response: Shrieking, cheering, moshing, stage diving, and overall mayhem. Lots of people saying, “I don’t know who this band is but I love them!”
Performance Adjectives: Brash, bold, energetic, sexy, sweaty
Notable Songs Played: “Turn It Out,” “Go Home, Get Down,” “You’re Lovely (But You’ve Got Problems),” “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.”
Poignant Moments: Sebastian Grainger got pissed off at sound tech for taking too long and threw his drum stick at him.
Hype Vs. Reality: Reunited duo, Death From Above 1979, is probably one of the coolest bands to grace the main stage at Coachella with their thrashed out dance-punk circa early ’00s and their underground reputation–rather than being a currently popular mainstream artist or an old popular band. One of my top shows of the festival.
Artist Sound: Classic ’80s synth-pop and dance-rock new wave.
Crowd Response: A mixture of happiness that one of their favorite “old” bands was playing and visible disappointment as the set went on and sounded incredibly stale. Not from lack of stage presence on Simon Le Bon’s part however.
Performance Adjectives: Lively, nostalgic, glamorous
Notable Songs Played: “Hungry Like A Wolf,” “All You Need Is Now,” “Ordinary World,” “Girls On Film” (with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lady Gaga [/lastfm] “Poker Face” sample)
Poignant Moments: Ana Matronic from [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Scissor Sisters [/lastfm]getting on stage and doing “Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment)” with them.
Hype Vs. Reality: Obviously Duran Duran is a huge band and were the godfathers of the new wave/synth pop sound. Some of their songs like “Hungry Like A Wolf” and “Girls On Film” still stay fresh when performed live, but others sounded like what they were–old songs.
Were they boring? A little. Was that OK because they are much aged version of their younger manifestations and we were just excited to see Duran Duran? Absolutely.
Artist Sound: Dance-floor friendly turntablism meets DJ-sampling of older hip-hop, disco, and house music.
Crowd Response: Somehow everyone got duck bills. Suffice to say, the tent was packed and the crowd was going wild.
Performance Adjectives: Exuberant, dance-y, lively
Notable Songs Played: The only one we could tell was “Barbara Streisand,” but that seemed to last about twenty minutes anyway.
Poignant Moments: We only heard this, but apparently Danny Devito was walking around wearing a duck bill.
Hype Vs. Reality: Even if you don’t like dance music, DJs, or the constant thump of house, Duck Sauce does a good job of making you feel like you are not at a rave with a bunch of teenagers rolling around you. Their mix of musical genres and sampling styles has enough witty sonic touches to keep the listener engaged.
Artist Sound: Beautifully-produced swaggering, hungry street-smart rap with a dark side.
Crowd Response: Complete awe.
Performance Adjectives: Theatrical, dramatic, breathtaking, gorgeous, intense, revolutionary.
Notable Songs Played: Massive 24-song set list including “Power, ” “Jesus Walks,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Monster,” “Flashing Lights,” “Good Life,” “Love Lockdown,” “Heartless,” “Gold Digger,” “Runaway,” and “Lost In The World.” There was no encore. There was no Rihanna or Katy Perry, but there were wonderful vocals from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Poignant Moments: Pretty much everything. From Kanye West being lowered on to the stage from a crane to the creepy angelic backdrop and the tan-clad dancers to the epic fireworks to the passionate, sublime look on West’s face as he performed.
This was not just a concert; this was an artistically conceptual hip-hop opera with fully formed story line.
Hype Vs. Reality: People either love or hate Kanye West as both a person and an artist, but one overwhelming theme after his performance last night was “I might hate him, but that was one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen.”
West always brags about his grandiose concepts and he hypes up a lot of his art. Luckily for West, the hype always lives up to the end result and his stunningly theatrical performance last night at Coachella was literal, of-the-moment proof to all the Kanye West naysayers.