| Sputnikmusic
 

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic

Sunday was the hottest day of the weekend by far, yet still a relatively (by Coachella standards) 83 degrees with a nice occasional breeze. It showed in the increased turnout to the open stages; Kentucky buzz band Sleeper Agent played a quick and dirty wake-up call of big riffs and shout-along choruses on the Outdoor Stage to the bleary-eyed, quickly roasting audience. I soon made my way to the other side of the festival to check out the criminally underbilled Noisia who played to a half-filled Sahara tent. I’m assuming Noisia’s relentless brand of drum n’ bass and dubstep was a bit too dark for the serotonin-depleted masses. After catching their well received remix of deadmau5’s “Raise Your Weapon,” I detoured over to the Mojave to see perennially on the cusp indie rockers Oberhofer. There’s a bit of Wavves in their rambling, sunny surf-rock, and if there was ever a song to get Brad Oberhofer’s pet project finally over the hump, irrepressibly catchy single “Away Frm U” is about as good a shot as any. Energy was something Mr. Oberhofer definitely did not lack; at one point, he climbed the precarious metal support on the left of the stage, seemingly for the express purpose of massaging the lights before climbing down and giving running high fives to the first row.

Santigold had a great time over at the Main Stage for her mid-afternoon set, repeatedly cracking jokes about the stage setup and inviting various members up on the stage to join her and the two professional dancers. The turnout was also fantastic, resembling more of a night set than a throwaway daytime one, but given the pristine conditions, maybe this wasn’t such a surprise. Next Big Thing Real Estate, meanwhile, played to a packed house at the Gobi tent. Their wistful indie rock, with that distinctive guitar tone that makes me want to simply lay out on the grass and think, translated well to a festival environment. I can imagine it would have sounded even better on the stretched out lawn of the Outdoor Stage, where people could enjoy the music in their own space rather than crammed into a tent. Regardless, their set was a success – “It’s Real” was the obvious crowd favorite, inspiring an almost reverential sing-a-long. Those who left early missed the real treat, though: closer “All The Same,” which untangled its guitar lines more deliberately than the album version and druggily faded out in the blistering heat.

On the Outdoor Stage, Wild Flag launched into one of the more conventional sets of the weekend, but its straightforward rock ‘n roll was perfectly suited for the setting. The members of Wild Flag are practically indie royalty (Sleater-Kinney, Helium, the Minders, Portlandia (!)), and it was nice to see the women let their hair down and burn through some blissfully unhinged power pop and aggressive, solo-filled rock. Following that I saw some of the Hives, who brought the energy on the Main Stage but squandered any goodwill their music might have brought with the antics of frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. “Howlin,’” indeed; Almqvist, in a tuxedo and top hat, couldn’t be bothered to shut up between sets, nagging the audience with repeated requests to “get down” or to clap along and generally murdering any momentum the band had gained. It wasn’t a total bust: Almqvist actually got most of the sizable audience to jump up and down in unison for “Tick Tick Boom,” although it was probably just to make him stop talking.

Photo courtesy of SidewalkHustle.com

Having garnered the coveted sunset slot on the basis of three mixtapes and a significant amount of hype, the Weeknd had a lot to live up to at the packed Outdoor Stage. The audience was more than receptive – one of the largest crowds I had seen at the stage all festival, and the rapture on some people’s faces was nearly worshipful. Although Abel Tesfaye was the star, his full backing band really provided the emotional punch the music needed: hazy backbeats; melancholy guitar solos; the triumphant crash of “Crew Love;” the menacing roar conjured up on “Glass Table Girls.” Tesfaye, on the other hand, occasionally sounded out of his league on the bigger stage. Although the hype demanded he be put here, I would imagine his often strained, sometimes frail vocals would have sounded better in closer quarters.

From there, I managed to catch the predictably cathartic climax to new Australian star Gotye’s set, where Kimbra came out of stage right to deliver her verse in “Somebody That I Used To Know” to a massive roar from the crowd. “Somebody That I Used To Know” is so overplayed as to be offensive when heard on the radio now, but that’s the beauty of the festival environment – heard live, with an over spilling throng of fans (the Mojave was easily the most packed I had seen it all weekend) singing intensely along to every word, the song again became fulfilling, empowering, and incredibly addictive.

Justice, meanwhile; here was a set I was extremely interested in seeing, given how disappointed I was by last year’s cock-rock extravaganza Audio, Video, Disco. I wasn’t particularly sure how the newer songs would translate live, and given the observations of many the crowd around me, who seemed to have no knowledge of Justice beyond Cross, I wasn’t sure they would be able to engage the audience effectively. Of course, the favorites were opener “Genesis” and the omnipresent “D.A.N.C.E.” (which cleverly sampled Jay-Z’s “On To The Next One”), but the way the duo transitioned from their older tracks into beats like “Civilization” and “Helix” made sure the bass kept thumping and the crowd kept dancing, preventing most “huh?” moments. Unfortunately for the pair, who had already come on late, they encountered technical problems and had to shut down their set early.

Photo courtesy of ArjanWrites.com

Those who still wanted to dance either headed to Girl Talk’s manic show at the Outdoor Stage or Calvin Harris in the Sahara, where Rihanna showed up to sing on “We Found Love.” I decided to relax at the Mojave with Beirut, who showed up with an accordion, a ukulele, keys, and an assortment of horns. It stood in sharp contrast to the constant thuds of bass floating over from Harris’ set, but Zach Condon was in fine form, often adding his trumpet to the wave of brass that his band layered in. On record, Beirut is lush and elastic, stretching itself through Balkan folk and twisting Americana around to meet its own ends; I’m happy to report that nothing is lost in the translation live, and Condon’s baritone sounds just as exotic.

After a short diversion in the Heineken Dome to get myself properly lubricated for the closing sets, I hit up the end of DJ Shadow, just in time to see his trademark rotating ball open up and reveal the man himself spinning the decks from within. Shadow dropped a hard-hitting set that was rather filthy compared to what I was expecting from him. The cherry on top was Rage Against the Machine firebrand Zack de la Rocha coming on stage to pump up the crowd and rap his collaboration with Shadow, “March of Death.” de la Rocha has kind of fallen off a cliff in recent years, but he’s still got plenty of passion live and seemed genuinely thrilled to be there, rather than some contracted-for guest appearance.

Photo courtesy of Fornmode.com

A quick aside regarding the Heineken Dome – I swear there are people in there who never see the light of day all weekend. Expanded to two domes connected by a covered walkway this year, one serving beer around the clock and the other featuring a claustrophobic dance room and a DJ booth, the Dome is an easy place to get lost in. Forget the fact that you have to drink nothing but Heineken and listen to straight, head-pounding house, drum ‘n bass, and techno. This was the first time I had visited the Dome, and it was an experience: from stepping into the first room and getting hit with the intoxicating stench of beer, which coated everything; seeing the bartenders literally filling up drinks nonstop, seemingly in a trance themselves; entering the darkened second dome, with its undulating bodies and E-friendly light show arcing over the roof; and finally, people-watching while getting increasingly inebriated, which is a spectacle all in itself. Losing track of time is simple, given how its kept purposely dim, with only unearthly green lights and that light show keeping things visible, and pleasantly air conditioned, which, combined with the beer, is a godsend during the day. Just make sure you have a watch, or you may never come out.

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic

So, let’s get the “hologram” out of the way first. There’s pros and cons to this, although I do think it has been blown out of proportion – I certainly don’t expect a tour full of dead stars to be rolling through my town anytime in the next decade or so (and if they do, then I imagine we’ll have bigger problems to be worrying about by then). Tupac’s mom stated she was “absolutely thrilled,” and Dr. Dre made a sizable donation to Shakur’s charity as thanks. Unfortunately, despite my Star Wars fantasies, the thing wasn’t even a real hologram. Rather, handsomely paid CGI artists used a fancy, centuries-old glass reflection trick to make the 2D image appear 3D. But shit! Given the distance, the amount of substances everyone was on, and just how real it looked in the flesh, surrounded by thousands of screaming fans equally shocked and amazed, it was a pretty fucking cool moment. I feel terrible for all the weekend 2 attendees who had that one moment of surprise ruined for them…yet another reason why I’m not sure bigger is better for Coachella.

The performance? Aside from the shameless plugging (Dre makes Beats headphones? You don’t say!) and the aforementioned spoiling for next week’s festivalgoers, it was just as you imagined a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg collaboration to be: all the hits, with plenty of guest stars to spice up the setlist and roil the crowd into a frenzy. Wiz Khalifa, clearly beyond excited to be there, guesting on “Young Wild and Free;” Dre protégé Kendrick Lamar spitting some fierce verses on his new tune “The Recipe” and looking like the next big rap star, particularly after his Main Stage set on Friday; 50 Cent crashing the party and looking fairly out of place; and, of course, Eminem with a three-song celebration (“I Need A Doctor,” “Forgot About Dre,” “’Till I Collapse”). It was big. It was bombastic. It was everything a Coachella festival should be, over the top and playing directly to the fans’ desires. It took the elaborate theatrics of Kanye’s set last year and transformed it from that artistic, dramatic coming out into the most ridiculous greatest-hits performance this festival has probably ever seen. It’s anybody’s guess how Coachella is going to continue to change over the next few years, but so long as the music keeps attempting to out-do itself, Coachella is going to remain the North American music festival for the foreseeable future. That’s something I can get behind.

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic

Top 5 Sets

1. The Shins

2. The Rapture

3. Amon Tobin

4. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg

5. Radiohead

Photo courtesy of the Atlantic

Day 1 Coverage

Day 2 Coverage





klap
04.20.12
Bands I missed: araabMUZIK, Girl Talk, Florence and the Machine, Modeselektor, At the Drive-In

UnnamedOcean
04.20.12
I watched a stream of ATDI. The band was perfect but Cedric can't do shouted vocals at all anymore.

chambered69
04.20.12
cool

CoolCalmJD
04.20.12
do you live in cali? or did you go from out of state?

klap
04.20.12
L.A.

aok
04.20.12
atdi brought some pretty cool energy. also, you were clearly way more put together on sunday than i was lol. good shit sir

klap
04.20.12
ahem

Athom
04.20.12
The Weeknd, Radiohead, Jeff Mangum, Dre and Wu Lyf: the only part of the festival where our tastes intersect it seems.

aok
04.20.12
i know you said the rapture were killing it, but dayum son - top 5? and i never even heard of them or nothin

klap
04.20.12
some musical neighbor you are adam

Acanthus
04.20.12
The dome looks amazing, definitely would have stayed there for a bit.

Kris.
04.20.12
snoop and dre was the cooelst thing i ever watched via stream

also atdi was pretty amazing cept for ced

Deviant.
04.21.12
Yeah I can imagine The Weeknd not really working in a large environment

Captain North
04.21.12
Kind of ridiculous you didn't check out two fucking legendary bands reforming, but I guess that's just you sucking :p good right up though, I enjoy reading these each year.

klap
04.21.12
why would i go see sets of bands i don't listen to

Captain North
04.21.12
Kind of ridiculous you don't listen to them

klap
04.21.12
absolutely mind boggling, even

Captain North
04.21.12
I know rite

DaveyBoy
04.21.12
Fantastic write-ups Rudy. Sounded like a fantastic time to be had too.

clercqie
04.21.12
Great job once again.

I get the complaint about the Hives, but that's just what the frontman does all the time. It shouldn't come as a surprise.

Also: Heineken, yuck

Irving
04.21.12
Awesome write-up.

Archelaos
04.21.12
Heineken rules!

clercqie
04.21.12
"Heineken rules!"
lol

Archelaos
04.21.12
What don't you like about it? Just curious.

Pentagon
04.21.12
"Heineken rules!"

have you ever drank beer except Heineken?

clercqie
04.21.12
The taste, it's incredibly bland.

Archelaos
04.21.12
Pentagon: Yes, I've tried many beers. I'm particularly fond of black-stout and citrus beers. One of my overall favourites, however, is Stella Artois, which I find is somewhat akin to Heineken. Recommendations, guys? I'm always open to try new beer!

Ire
04.21.12
florence's set was so good.

klap
04.21.12
it was unfortunate that the only beer in the Heineken dome was Heineken and Heineken Light but....what can you do

wish i had seen all of florence, but i did catch the last couple songs of her set. i saw her last coachella and live a year ago so i wasn't too worried about it but i would've liked to hear how some of the new songs sounded live

klap
04.21.12
and yeah i'd never seen the hives before so that's on me

clercqie
04.21.12
Haven't seen them in a while, but the last time was incredibly fun. I'm actually curious for the album.

klap
04.21.12
me too i liked their last one

clercqie
04.21.12
Yay! Me too, but it seems there aren't that many people who share that opinion.

Archelaos
04.21.12
andcas: I just researched that and... wow, that is disgusting.

Deviant.
04.22.12
"One of my overall favourites, however, is Stella Artois, which I find is somewhat akin to Heineken."

You must be a wife beater ;)

Honestly, I don't think I'd ever be interested to see Noisia play live in America. I just can't imagine that being a great set

Archelaos
04.22.12
=/

Archelaos
04.22.12
Deviant.: I'm afraid I don't get the reference/joke.

Twelve51
04.22.12
" Heineken supports dog fighting events so fuck them."

Seriously? God that's stupid. How do you know though?



klap
04.22.12
I've seen them (noisia) three times live, one was a straight d'n'b set and the other two were more diverse, and they've usually killed it.

Deviant.
04.22.12
Give me the straight drum & bass set thank you very much!

i just mean that being in America they're more liable to play more brostep related fare (which makes sense, its a big thing in America atm), but I'd just rather see them back in Europe playing in their element

klap
04.22.12
truth, can't really fault them for playing to the audience

theacademy
04.22.12
id imagine every band that isn't thrice or gaslight would prob be better in europe

theacademy
04.22.12
but hey thrice and gaslight who needs anything else

klap
04.22.12
I honestly just feel that America is the best country and all the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called 'patriotism'.

clercqie
04.22.12
Gaslight is awesome, even in Europe. Hope Thrice will be the same, next weekend.

Aids
04.22.12
damn this is over now :(
awesome write-ups man, looking forward to next year's already

aok
04.26.12
based on what's been posted on my list, it's come to my attention that at the drive in is the only thing worth seeing at coachella. i don't know how you missed it

klap
04.26.12
hahahaha

Deviant.
04.27.12
http://www.factmag.com/2012/04/26/coachella-2012-the-good-and-bad/

Thoughts?

aok
04.27.12
so he liked frank ocean, childish gambino, david guetta and the weeknd, but disliked flying lotus and the dancing environment? i'm pretty sure if i was at coachella with that guy, we'd wind up in a fist fight. also, he saw asap rocky instead of radiohead ...

then again, he does make a good point about the bathrooms -- they were very well maintained.

Deviant.
04.27.12
There is a rather valid point made about mixing up the electronic environment. Didn't realise that Ramadanman, Kode9 and Joy Orbison were there last there

Deviant.
04.27.12
*last year, lol

aok
04.27.12
he kindof has a point, but then he sites david guetta and kaskade as exceptions to the otherwise lacking electronic environment. maybe last year's dance tents were a bit better (i recently noted that leftfield played last year -- wasn't into them at the time though), but there were more than a fair share of excellent music in the 'dance music tents'. madeon, sebastian, porter robinson, feed me, zeds dead gave me my fix and there were more similarly veined acts playing that i would have enjoyed seeing as well

klap
04.27.12
most of those artists, including joy orbison last yea who I saw a bit of, I'm pretty sure played in the heineken dome not the sahara tent

klap
04.27.12
the ones you cited dev

You need to be logged in to post a comment
Login | Register

FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy