A Slice of Fried Gold

Coachella: Day Two

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day Two of Coachella started with no shower, lazing about the campsite, and having absolutely, astonishingly ridiculous conversations with Morgan, Lucy and Joanne while eating and drinking coffee. Here's a prime example: while we were discussing Justin Bieber and his relationship with Usher randomly, we managed to create a fictional pop star named Megatron Bieber-Raymond. His popularity would be entirely derived from Facebook, he would have hour long conversations with Usher, and he would (will?) be the closing act to Coachella 2011.

He's also Morgan.

Just to really seal the deal that this idea was fated and that we had to make it happen, while Joanne and I were perusing the arts and crafts tent (more on this later), we came across a newspaper that did just that. There was a copy of the LA Times that actually had Usher's face on it. I gleefully stole it from the tent and skipped back to show it to Morgan and Lucy.

Okay, there may not have been any skipping involved, but still...awesome!

Anyways, that just helped verify that Morgan and Lucy were perfect neighbors. Come on, as you can see to the left, they even shared food with me - delicious food like a mexican egg dish with avocado and Indian candy (smoked salmon with some brown sugar love) They really helped the weekend become all it could be, in a decidedly not army like way.

Fashionistas: Before I get into the music from the day, I have to note one thing Joanne and I went on and on about throughout the weekend: the fashion. Joanne and I are not the most fashionable people in the world, and the mixes of bizarre hair choices, animal hats, and interesting shirt choices (or in the Wolfman's case, poncho choices) surprised us early and often. In their eyes, we were extremely not fashionable. In our eyes, they looked ridiculous.

The apex of their self design based hilarity had to be the fleets of people wearing Indian headdresses while dancing and acting generally...authentic. In an entertaining way, mind you, but it was still bizarre to see hipsters dancing in circles with feathers flowing around their head.

Bands Seen: Muse, Tokyo Police Club, The xx, Hot Chip, Portugal. The Man, Old Crow Medicine Show, MGMT, Major Lazer, Girls, Beach House, Die Antwoord, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Camera Obscura

Portugal. The Man: Whenever I see Portugal. The Man, it's a treat. To see them with BY FAR the largest audience I've ever witnessed for a PTM show as well as perhaps the most raucous was a hell of a treat, and they really brought their A game. They played a nice mix of new and old material, threw in some covers (MGMT's "Weekend Wars" and a mini-cover of Ghostface Killah's "Kilo"), and still jammed without losing the crowd of potential PTM newbies. It was pretty damn solid work, but at this point I really expect nothing less from Alaska's favorite musical sons.

Beach House: There were a number of bands we saw this weekend that were a bit slower like Beach House is, and they managed to not make nearly the mark Beach House did. This is a band who performs near perfect renditions of their songs, beautifully hitting all of the high notes off their discography but especially the ones off this year's Teen Dream. Victoria LeGrand hit all of the notes she needed to and provided one of the more interesting stage presences of the weekend, looking like a tussled Joni Mitchell and dominating the stage like she might as well. A very nice performance.

The xx: Oh my...The xx. I love this band, as they took fourth place in my 2009 albums list and also my heart in their performance. When a band sounds so good that Jay Z and Beyonce show up to watch your set, you probably have a good idea that you're doing okay. This band sounded pretty damn flawless, especially given their somewhat recent downgrade from being a four piece to a three piece. They went through most of their self titled album, and even threw in a cover that seemingly is often played, given that the dude next to us was completely adamant that they would play it.

I have to note: we skipped Dirty Projectors to watch all of The xx and to have a good spot for Hot Chip. There are some things I regret (not) doing from the weekend, but that was most definitely not one of them.

Hot Chip: When listening to this band, it's hard for me to envision them being able to successfully pull off every aspect of their sound. Their tracks are often really robust and layered multi-instrumental jaunts that seem very difficult to recreate, but I guess that is why they are the professionals. Hot Chip weaved in and out of their discography, nailing oldies but goodies like "Ready for the Floor" (the set closer) and "Over and Over", while also taking us through the faster pieces from their new album One Life Stand.

These guys were geniuses of live performances, and one of my absolute favorites from the weekend. From the just absurdly tight sound they demonstrated, to the multi-instrumental genius they displayed (everyone in the band seemingly rotated instrument to instrument at will, with steel drums even being performed live), to the impeccable set design...I was just floored by them. Plus, they managed to exceed their recorded quality, taking a track like One Life Stand's closer "Take It In", which has immediately leapt from an album favorite to perhaps one of my favorite one or two tracks from 2010 to date.

In short, Hot Chip went from being a band I liked to a band I love. That's how you know it was a good live performance.

MGMT: As a person who only really likes part of their much loved debut Oracular Spectacular and someone who doesn't really enjoy Congratulations, I wasn't very excited for this. I figured to stay for a bit and then to roll to Major Lazer, but my faithful compatriot Joanne wanted to stay so she could catch "Kids", a track she completely and utterly adores. Given that she'd been such a trooper to date, I had to give her at least that.

Of course, MGMT didn't, as they managed to play for nearly an hour and not play their most popular track as well as the one track that the entire audience was clamoring for. They also managed to completely lose the audience any time they played a new track (if that isn't a review of it's quality, I don't know what it is), and their lead singer had perhaps the most awkward stage presence I've ever heard. I'd say I was disappointed if I didn't kind of expect it. To their fans though, they might as well have help up a middle finger while they walked off stage.

Major Lazer: I don't want to say anything besides Major Lazer is ridiculously awesome and only videos do justice. Also, one other thing.


Muse: Once upon a time, Muse was at the tip top of my "most anticipated live performances" list. A pretty mediocre album passed, and now I was a bit less excited, but the mere fact that they are such damn exceptional performers made it impossible to not be stoked still. By this point Joanne and I were broken people who could barely move, so we actually sat during this set. While it was a nice enough set, roaming through their discography ("Stockholm Syndrome" was definitely my favorite) much to the audience's delight, it didn't really have a serious hook for me as both a fan and as a viewer of live music. Nothing really jumped off the page to me.

Die Antwoord: Speaking of jumping off the page, when we met up with Morgan and Lucy for South Africa's Die Antwoord, we had no idea what to expect. We heard they spoke in Afrikaans, we heard they were weird, and we heard it should be really fun. Check, check and check.

Really, nothing can prepare you for Die Antwoord. It's an exercise in the pinnacle of absurdity, except with cool beats and strangely fun vocals. They are comprised of Yo-Landi Vi$$er (a tiny woman with a blonde mullet and a voice like a smurf), Ninja (he is obsessed with being a ninja), and DJ Hi-Tek (he isn't that interesting), and they are the oddest trio ever. One of their tracks is all about being a ninja, and about how Ninja is in fact a ninja, and he'll routinely say things like "I'm a ninja!" as Yo-Landi shouts behind him in smurfish "he's a ninja!" It was basically a bad movie night in music form, and it was pretty much amazing.

Added bonus: Ninja illustrates all of the drawings that go up on the screens during the set, and they are alternately the worst and most hilarious pictures ever. For full enjoyment, read the About section on their website. That's what we all did when we got back, because Die Antwoord practically demands it.

2ManyDJ's: We didn't actually watch this electronic outfit, much to the chagrin of the guy next to us who exclaimed that they were "brothers" and "the greatest house duo ever" because of that fact. We actually were just staying after Die Antwoord specifically to find out how many DJ's are too many.

Sadly, it turns out it was just two.


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