Two weekends. Two results.
While Weekend One opened as Coldchella, the 2012 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival opened on Friday in normal fashion: with sweltering heat.
As temperatures hit 95 degrees Farenheit at nine in the morning, Weekend Two promised all the heat strokes and sunburns that its predecessor forgot to deliver. Weekend One Coachellians were soaked by rain, weekend Two’ers by the sweat of their own brow–and armpits. Last Friday, hoodies were in high demand. This week, clothes were shed faster than one could say “Paris Hilton,” who made an appearance at Weekend Dos for (boyfriend?) Afrojack.
Whatever weather you experienced, we were there for it all. Facing a coverage dilemma with the festival going into a duo-weekend format, Treeswingers decided to go twice. Below are reviews of some Friday acts, some from last week, and some that kicked up the dust yesterday.
Read our reviews below…
Looking like he was plucked from an eighth grade gym class in the 70s, Thibault Berland aka Breakbot seemed a little out of place in the brofest of Coachella’s infamous Sahara Tent. Tweaking a laptop while jamming on the keys, the new wave brand of 70s disco and funk fell on ears more accustomed to wobble bass and dubstep. Needless to say, it took a while for Funky Friday to commence in the Sahara. With little gesturing to the crowd and lacking the typical DJ swag, Berland was awkward, knowing that those who had gathered had likely come for his breakout hit “Baby I’m Yours” and nothing more. They were forced to wait though, as Berland recounted his short, but dance-happy discography before unleashing what everyone had been waiting for. And yes, he did it all while in blue gym shorts and striped socks.
Yuck- Weekend Two
The last thing anyone wanted to do on Friday during Weekend Two was stand out in the open sun to be burned into obliteration. But for those who braved the rays to catch Yuck on the Outdoor Stage, the risk was necessary. Playing at peak heat time, the band from London sweated their way through a set that opened with new single “Chew” before embracing their 2011 self-titled release. The album’s intricate guitar work seemed lost in the distortion making hits like “Get Away” good, but not ass-kicking great. Lead singer Daniel Blumberg left little room for banter with the heat beating down on his face, announcing songs matter-of-factly before pointing out the obvious: “It’s fucking hot.” As triple-digits beckoned, slow tracks like “Shook Down” became more of a slog than anything as the crowd melted away in search of shade and frozen lemonade.
Neon Indian- Weekend Two
Neon Indian, fronted by the Texas-hailing Alan Palomo, took the Outdoor Stage a little intimidated by the weather. Palomo shrugged it off and led the band on a rough-ride through a set heavy on the band’s latest, Era Extraña. The jammed-out sounds–see: “Polish Girl” and “Deadbeat Summer”–would have been much better suited to a sweaty hot day, but under the muggy rain it felt almost electric. Returning the next week, the heat seemed much more song-appropriate, said the always polite Palomo, who couldn’t help but alluding to the magical time of day caused by their timely set: 5 minutes past 4:20 in the afternoon on 4/20.
Girls- Weekend One
Drizzling clouds swirled over the Outdoor Stage, but San Francisco’s own Girls still managed to bring the sunshine through three clutch backup singers who pumped gospel tones into the back of each track. Frontman Christopher Owens didn’t let the cold winds ruffle him as he crooned moodily over the crowd, while bassist Chet White rocked, of all things, a 49ers jacket. Wrong sports season, but we’ll take what we can get. The three ladies, however, stole the show. They gyrated and grooved to “Heartbreaker,” “My Ma,” “Substance,” “Honey Bunny” and other tracks from Father, Son, Holy Ghost. They were, to be honest, charming as hell.
Arctic Monkeys- Weekend Two
There’s something magical about the sundown sets on Coachella’s main stage. Franz Ferdinand from 2009 comes to mind. So does Death From Above 1979 at the last festival go-around. This year, Arctic Monkeys had the first crack when the sun went down, jamming out an edgy set that mixed young irreverence with the band’s new, darker feel. With lead singer Alex Turner pulling the strings with a well-rehearsed act, the boys from Sheffield livened up a main stage, which until that point, had been relatively flat for the day. There were karate kicks, coordinated leaps and the like. Turner, dressed in black, revelled in the bad boy spotlight as he and his band rolled through first album originals “The View From The Afternoon” and “Still Take You Home.” With plenty of ties to the area (they recorded a majority of third album Humbug up the road at Josh Homme’s Joshua Tree studio), Arctic Monkeys felt right at home, bringing the sun to a rest with a head banging set that had small circle moshes going on “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and “All The Pretty Visitors.” “You’re in paradise, so how the fuck are you, Coachella?” he snarled. One man’s desert is another man’s paradise.
M Ward and Mazzy Star- Weekend One
Not everyone was tight on day one of Weekend Uno. M. Ward did his best to play through tracks like “I Get Ideas” and “Poison Cup” but the sound quality in the tent was blurry and overwhelming. And ’90s darling Mazzy Star should have been a pleasantly nostalgic set, but singer Hope Sandoval insisted on singing in the dark. It’s something she’s known for, and it could have worked — if she had any on-stage charisma. Instead, she sang like a limp fish and a bit off tune and, without sunlight to help, she was almost impossible to see. We got bored and left.
Frank Ocean- Weekend Two
Thousands of anxious girls and their boyfriends headed over to the Gobi Tent to catch R&B OFWGKTA member, Frank Ocean. With a fairly sizeable catalog of songs, Ocean switched up a few songs from Weekend One, and serenaded the crowd, relying on his bigger hits to draw the most energy. While sometimes inaudible, due to the screams of adolescent girls and grown women alike, he showed his vocal mastery through songs, “Thinking About You” and “Strawberry Swing.” No special guest performers this time around, just Frank, with booming voice and commanding presence over the crowd. Midway through “Novacane,” the crowd erupted in cheers and applause as Ocean sang the lines, “Met her at Coachella,” prompting his live band to stop and let the frontman revel in the crowd’s energy.
Explosions In The Sky- Weekend Two
Humble, professional, stunning. Such are the norms for Austin’s Explosions In The Sky. After soundchecking their own gear with little frills and a small greeting (Munal Rayani’s standard “We’re Explosions In The Sky and we live in Texas”), the band proceeded to destroy the Outdoor Stage in the darkness of night. Opening with “The Birth And Death Of The Day,” EITS played more of a story than a set, complete with rises and resolves. It was poetry. And it was a stark contrast to the concurrent Black Keys on the main stage, as three guitars, a bass and a drum set driving a 50 minute set to the breaking point without so much as a single word or pause for breath. “Be Comfortable, Creature,” and the always beautiful “Your Hand In Mind” provided slower respites as the band, drenched in sweat, played trance-like for the duration. Closing with the ear-deafening “The Only Moment We Were Alone,” they drowned out any chatter and left the Outdoor Stage in perfect jaw-dropped awe as they slammed their guitars down and departed the stage.
Refused- Weekend Two
As soon as Explosions In The Sky closed on Friday night, a scrum ensued as fans rushed the Outdoor Stage to get as close as possible to Swedish legends Refused. “How close do we want to go?” one fan asked. “Well it depends on how much you want to get kicked in the face,” another responded. As the face-kicking commenced on Friday night, the hardcore band seemed as if they’ve completely shaken off the 10 year rust, with Dennis Lyxzén looking not a year over 20, let alone 40. Kicking and shuffling across the stage like a screaming James Brown, he was enraged, swinging his mic like a yo-yo and throwing his microphone stand as if it were a baton. When they wrote their music 20 years ago, “we were commenting on how fucked up the world was,” monologued Lyxzén, ironically as Swedish House Mafia played on the main stage in the distance. Nothing’s changed, he continued. Slamming through “Liberation Frequency” and “Rather Be Dead,” Refused brought the house down on the Outdoor Stage. The dust will still be settling Saturday morning.
-Ryan, Ellen and Brian
Treeswingers’ Top Three
Girls — Heartbreaker (download)
Explosions In The Sky- Be Comfortable, Creature (live) (download)
Refused- Liberation Frequency (download)