Saturday, April 28, 2007

Reports From The Field at Coachella - #6

Now here are More Reports from the Field
From Coachella from the So Cal Newspaper Blog

LA Times

Hot Chip

Is there a yet whiter version of blue-eyed soul? Perpetually sunburned soul? If it exists, English techno-poppers Hot Chip have it nailed. Everything about their sound, from the three-way conga solos to self-referential boasts that "Hot Chip will break your legs," should add up to a perfect storm of aggressive tweeness. But it all works in a schizophrenic and hip-shaking way that's witty but not ironic, affecting without becoming cloying.


the New Pornographers

Raising chills on one's arms in 100-degree heat is no easy task, but that's exactly what the New Pornographers did during their Outdoor Stage set with one of the irresistably catchy tracks from their latest album "Twin Cinema." Maybe it's the power of judiciously placed "hey-la" boy-girl harmonies, but the air seemed a little cooler around the Outdoor Stage during their set, enough so there was probably more audience hand-claps per hour than anywhere else at this year's Coachella. Not that lead singer AC Newman felt any cooler.


Regina Spektor

As the only singer-songwriter type to grace Coachella's main stage, anti-folk Russian Regina Spektor knew exactly how to capture the audience's attention. She announced this was a singer's show by kicking off with an a cappella number, tapping out bare-bones percussion with her finger on the mic. "I will love him till the day I die," she sang, her rich voice cutting through the staggering heat. The crowd was rendered spellbound, or at least as spellbound as you can be while pouring Gatorade down your gullet.



A friend had a quick word when I answered his what's-your-hurry query by saying I was dashing off to see Travis. "Wimpy."

Wrong. Melodies have muscles too, and the Scottish band flexed them to an adoring, arm-waving crowd who treated gray-round-the-edges frontman Fran Healy as if he were a teen idol. Healy coaxed some beautiful chords out his guitar, practiced his American accent and told the masses assembled at the main stage they were "lovely" -- which they were, after workers dashed down the pathways tossing water bottles and dousing them with wet stuff.


Andrew Bird

Now that Patrick Wolf is apparently quitting music (or is he?), there's a void in the field of completely bonkers violin-wielding pop savants. Andrew Bird is easily the best, and probably only, man up for the job.


Plam Springs Desert Sun

Decemberists = awesome

As the Arcade Fire start their set, I have to say a few words about the Decemberists. Or at least one word. Awesome. That is all.


Celebs checking out Coachella

Nicky and Paris Hilton, Cameron Diaz, Danny DeVito, Kelly Osbourne, Drew Barrymore, to name a few of the luminaries who have poked their heads into the desert this year.


Orange Country Register

Coachella: Desert Jeff's overalls

Now that we're mid-way through the longest Coachella ever, some random, overall thoughts:

• Red Hot Chili Peppers still seem like the weakest headliner in Coachella history: if you live in Southern California and you're a fan, you've had so many chances to catch them in the past year it can't even be counted on one hand. I'm looking forward to missing them, so I can see LCD Soundsystem and Girl Talk, but still: I should at least be interested. And I'm not. At all.

• A plus: Organizer Paul Tollett said one of the reasons for the expansion was so he could space bands out so fans could see more of more artists. Guess what, Paul: it worked. This year seems far more organized than ever before so that you're not choosing between two similar artists: other than the debate between Kings of Leon and the Decemberists in 20 minutes, that point's been near moot. That said, I still haven't been to the Sahara tent, which -- come to think of it -- doesn't seem nearly as loud as it has in years past. You ask 'em to turn the volume down?

• A minus: Of course, that also means more slots filled by secondary bands -- like right now, when Travis, New Pornographers, Peter Bjorn & John, and the Nightwatchman played against each other -- all decent bands, but also all better in theory than in practice.

• This year, it also seems that each band's treating Coachella as a "special" event -- surprising, as festivals proliferate even further (I just heard about two more.) Between Bjork's indescribable band, Of Montreals costume changes, The Fratellis playing as if their lives depended on it and -- this just in -- Nightwatchman's collaboration between Tom Morello, Perry Farrell, and Boots Rilley of the Coup, there's a lot of special moments, many more of which I'm sure I've missed.

• It's hot. Could someone please turn down the heat? And while you're at it, slide over some more water, wouldja?

• Three words, coming soon: The. Arcade. Fire. I'll keep you posted in that department.


Coachella: MSTRKRFT, Peter Bjorn & John
Caught some of MSTRKRFT in the Sahara tent, which I can still here from where I'm sitting in the Blueroom. The Canadian duo operating under the vowel-challenged moniker drew a bigger crowd than David Guetta did yesterday around this time.

Transitions from track to track weren't as seamless as Guetta's, but MSTRKRFT isn't as repetitive, which is what the French deejay lacked. I listened for a few tracked, then headed over to the Mojave tent where Peter Bjorn & John were already 10 minutes into its set.

As MSTRKRFT's music faded into the background, I found that I liked the duo's sound better from tens of yards away. If anything, MSTRKRFT is great background music.

Over in PB&J land, there was an overflow so I had some trouble squeezing my way under the tent. I had come for just one song, "Young Folk," the one with that catchy whistling tune. The band saved the song for near the end of it's set, which was a smart move considering after the song was over, much of the crowd wandered elsewhere


Coachella: Hot Chip, the New Pornographers

• The exuberant fun of the Fratellis may have gotten the party started in Mojave, but the inventive electro rush of Hot Chip truly set the tent off.

Five guys from England on an unusual set up: keyboards, drum programmers, bass synths, Fender Strat, congas. Pure groove enchantment, thanks much to floaty vocals and clever intros, like the one leading into the winsome "And I Was a Boy From School," with a few lines of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes."

There were some absolutely zap-gun stinging grooves from this lot, including one hard hitter, "No Fit State." Each energizing track gets a steady girding from the group's team of vocalists, all working octaves apart and potently so, forming a wall of anthemic roar -- even on a new one, "Ready For a Fall."

• "That's our new album cover," A.C. Newman announced as the New Pornographers, that wonderful power-pop outfit, came on the Outdoor Stage as the last of the really intense heat of the day was about to start fading. A fine time for a Pornographic scene with Newman, Neico Case, Dan Behar and the rest of this Canadian troupe.

Anyway, "We're not gonna play anything from it," Newman added. "But there it is. Bow down before our new album cover."

Best promotion ever of the New Pornos: Play their best old stuff, and very well, too, despite the heat.

But I'm with Newman: I want to be at Peter, Bjorn & John too. Sounds great guys, but I'm outta here.


The [dont have the city]Press-Enterprise

The Watcher Is Here

Tom Morello's Nightwatchman performance was indeed a one man revolution! That is until he capped his set of angry folk-inflected protest songs with a resounding version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land I s Your Land," which featured help from Perry Farrell and The Coup's Boots Riley. Morello will be back tomorrow with Rage Against the Machine, but his solo performance was fueled with enough passion to last a week.


Night Time Is The Right Time
As the sun began to set on day two of Coachella Kings of Leon played its brand of dirty Southern rock to usher in the evening. Dusk is great at Coachella because it serves to transition the sweaty hot Southern California desert into a nocturnal wonderland of lights, sounds and people. People especially -- it's hard too navigate as the masses grow and the sunlight fades, but it turns this place into a dreamscape. More coming soon ...


Pornographers of Comedy?
We're heading down the stretch of day two at Coachella and I think we have a winner for the "best stage banter" category.

Drumroll, please.

The New Pornographers!

This Canadian supergroup with artists from other indie bands played the Outdoor Theatre at 5 p.m. and a video image of the cover of the band's forthcoming album, "Challengers," graced the screen behind the drum set.

"That's our new album cover behind us," singer Carl Newman noted. "We're not going to play anything from it."

Nearby, in the Mojave Tent, Scandinavian group Peter, Bjorn and John played. Newman asked if they could hear the band from the Outdoor Theatre.

"No? I was hoping to catch part of their set and make you wait," he joked.

The band couldn't hear Peter, Bjorn and John, but Travis, which was playing on the Coachella Stage, could be heard loud and clear as the band played the hit "Why Does It Always Rain On Me."

"Hey Travis, keep it down," Newman called into the microphone before cajoling the crowd into singing the chorus of the Travis song.

However, the New Pornographers played a number of songs from their most recent album, "Twin Cinema," layering pretty harmonies over their indie power pop, crafting a solid set that kept the sun-drenched crowd laughing.

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