We’ve been away for a while lost in the dreamland of the real world. Apologies.
As I’ve been skating through life, one track that’s come across my radar has been a little offering from London’s Still Corners. Set to debut sophomore LP Strange Pleasures, the Sub Pop-signed project of Greg Hughes feeds off of 1980’s synth pop influences to produce gems like “Berlin Lovers.” With a video set to a retro roller rink, the teaser to the group’s second album is Grimes’ lovechild with Victoria Legrand, pumping a heavy synth over the wafting vocals of singer Tessa Murray. It’s dreamy–enough to take you away from the dullness of daily routine.
TIMF2011 went swimmingly. (Brian Valdizno/treeswingers)
Whatever happened to relaxing Sundays? Treasure Island served up a hodgepodge of artists which raised San Franciscan heartrates numerous times over the long day. Fittingly, we treeswingers hung out on the most bench-shaped tree imaginable and enjoyed the the more soothing bands in the sun, followed by the most raucous bands in the glow of the city–including a jaw-dropping sunset that burned the San Francisco skyline into the horizon (and into the memory cards of a thousand cameras and phones).
For diehard fans, the highlight of the day was Explosions In The Sky, but there were some stellar shows from less Texan bands as well. The Antlers and Beach House gave the island something to sway about while Friendly Fires and The Hold Steady gave the island something to jump about. St. Vincent had everyone wondering how so much emotion could exist within one person, let alone in one of her songs. Death Cab For Cutie closed out the rollercoaster of a day with their nostalgia-inducing ethos.
Chill out with some recaps of Day Two after the break…
Day Three could best be described by the erratic weather patterns conventional to the Columbia River Gorge–hours of glorious sun sprinkled with bouts of rain and gusty dust winds broke the cloudy morning haze, all of which were eventually engulfed in a blanket of constellations. The day’s eclectic bill delivered the same musical variance in its acts, from the high-lariously innovative hash-fueled raps of Das Racist to the psychedelic rock stylings of The Flaming Lips. Here’s our mixed bag of picks from Day 3.
We're going to the Gorge! (Photo Credit: Sasquatch Festival)
We’re packing our PBRs and PB&Js and heading up to the PNW, home to carefully brewed coffees, a guy named Bill Gates, and—more importantly—the summer’s most picturesque music festival buried deep in the hills of Washington state. The 10th annual Sasquatch! Music Festival will be in full swing this Memorial Day weekend and we are part of the chosen few who will be dutifully reporting every ounce of musical action here on our trusty blog. If you’re a follower of treeswingers, then you know this fest isn’t our first rodeo. But we hear things go down differently at the Gorge. It’s the stuff that legends are made of. Just ask Bigfoot.
This year’s lineup is jam-packed with over 80 up-and-coming artists, indie music heavyweights and comedians. It’s so big that they’ve extended Sasquatch into four days of pure sonic felicity. While we are stoked to see the headlining likes of Dave Grohl and Ben Gibbard rock out on main stage, there are a slew of other anticipated acts on the bill that we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears peeled for this weekend.
Maybe it was a more streamlined approach with wristband entry–or just plain luck–but the dust-ridden battle to enter the Empire Polo Grounds Saturday morning for Day Two of Coachella was an entirely less horrific affair.
For those who got their chip-embedded wristbands yesterday in the world’s longest line, getting in today was simply a matter of scanning it quickly for entry. And the feeling of ease permeated the rest of Saturday, with overcast cloud clover blocking out the sun’s deathrays and a cool breeze rendering the hand-held fans unnecessary.
The hazy sky made for a spectacular sunset, punctuated by this year’s addition of huge lines of balloons, sweeping in u-shapes across the sky and pointing out the wind’s direction. Saturday’s concertgoers had to choose from a wide variety of sounds, from the crowds dancing to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to rocking alongside Band of Skulls.Bassnectar brought down the Sahara Tent while Die Antwoord, who came on later in the night, were spectacularly hilarious in every way imaginable–think Vanilla Ice meets South Africa meets ninjas. MGMT brought out some new songs during their set, but it became obvious that their new material, which branches in a different direction, lacks the zesty appeal of their big hits like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend.”
Saturday was, to say the least, an eclectic mash-up. With two days in the bag, forward to Day 3!
Some brief reviews from Saturday:
San Francisco’s Girls took the Gobi Stage at 3:25 to “their largest crowd ever”–a mixture of band enthusiasts and the typical Saturday afternoon tent dwellers looking to escape the heat. At mid-afternoon, that heat was incapacitating. Lead singer Christopher Owens did his best to induce the crowd to move, but only succeeded in some minimal swaying as he whined and emphatically strummed his guitar on “Lust for Life” and “Laura.” After launching through Roy Orbison’s “Dream” and their signature “Hellhole Ratrace” the band proceeded to wake up the crowd by producing a minute of eardrum-puncturing noise and feedback, which only led to curious listeners scrambling to the exits.
Playing the outdoor stage in blistering weather, The Temper Trap set a cool tone for a singing, clapping and dancing crowd. Though frontman Dougi Mandagi’s falsetto sometimes got lost in the large open space, the sound technicians were quick to turn up the vocals on tracks like “Love Lost” and, of course, the highly-anticipated “Sweet Disposition,” which got the audience crooning along. Overall, the Aussies got a lot of people excited for their upcoming material.
Victoria Legrand of Beach House, and her hair. Photo courtesy of ocregister.com
“We’re here to cool you down, mellow you out,” announced lead singer Victoria Legrand as Beach House took the stage.There was in fact a cool breeze Saturday afternoon, and it came from the stage of Beach House. Opening with “Walk in the Park” and closing with “10 Mile Stereo,” Beach House hit the highlights of Teen Dream including a sensational performance of “Zebra.” A “work in progress” also previewed the promising future of Beach House, with rare rhythmic melodies complementing Legrand’s dreamy vocals.
Tokyo Police Club quickly admitted that playing the main stage at Coachella was their biggest gig ever, and this became apparent right off the bat. Lacking the stage presence to sustain the large expectations that come with playing the Coachella Stage, the Canadian boys appeared simply to be strumming and singing in front of a hesitant crowd. Incorporating material from their upcoming album Champ, which they’ve been touring to promote, Tokyo Police Club would certainly have done better in one of the tents at this festival.
For the hipster enthusiasts waiting to see The xx on Saturday, it was as one person said, “Kind of like seeing your girlfriend at a strip club”–you’re really excited to see her, but you’re not to thrilled in the way that everyone else is appreciating her. Or that she’s a stripper. Dressed in an uncharacteristic white, the English threesome took the Outdoor Stage during sunset to a packed crowd who embraced the soothing bass lines and chilled-out drum machine beats with crowd surfing and beach balls. So much for intimate setting. Despite this, the band hardly noticed, transitioning seamlessly from their stirring “Intro” to songs like “Islands” and later “Basic Space.” They managed to maintain their cool when a mesmerized Jay-Z flashed across the big screen and even when the main stage’s canvas covering went up in flames. As the band finished an impressive cover of Kyla’s “Do You Mind?” a nonchalant Oliver Sim joked, “The roof is on fire.”
When Corinne Bailey Rae took the stage in the Gobi Tent on Saturday evening, it was clear that the overlap between her fans and the typical Coachella attendee was pretty slim. Although the tent was packed, all the bros and ravers were noticeably absent, and the crowd skewed a little older than, say, Tokyo Police Club’s. But Rae took it upon herself to prove exactly why, even though you wouldn’t expect to see her there, she completely deserved her stage time at Coachella. Skillfully moving through hit singles and bluesier tracks alike, she danced and sang before the microphone with utterly adorable charm and a voice to keep in your pocket for a sunny afternoon, and wowing the tent with a compelling cover of Doris Day’s classic “Que Sera, Sera.”
Matthew Bellamy of Muse was astonishing. Photo courtesy of gulfnews.com
Muse showed Coachella what the point of rock shows are. Rock shows are other bands trying to perform as well as Muse. Lead singer Matthew Bellamy was the musical equivalent of ten bands, putting on an outstanding solo performance. Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard did exactly what they should have–lay down the foundations and let Bellamy take over the show. “Starlight,” “Time Is Running Out,” and “Knights of Cydonia” were the standouts, but it’s a bit unfair to pick out individual songs. The show never stopped, and there was never a moment of boredom as Muse used AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and other covers to transition. Their setlist covered their last four albums, demonstrating not only their phenomenal consistency, but also their progress in the last decade. Muse live is unmissable, but slightly unsatisfying; after you see them once, you can’t imagine that being the only time.
By the time The Dead Weather blasted out their first raucous notes, the clock was already pushing 11 p.m., and although their sound was electrifying, a lot of the audience seemed to be missing the signal. The band’s slot fell awkwardly put on the Outdoor Stage between Muse and Tiësto, which left them with throngs of sleeping couples strangely unresponsive to the wails of the guitars and Jack White getting crazy on the drums. The superband originally drew support from the names on its roster, and now has fans of its own right, but just as with The Raconteurs, it’s hard to distinguish exactly how artists who throw so much of their energy into several bands can really focus a unique voice with new collaboration. Nevertheless, The Dead Weather showed obvious skill on Saturday night, closing out the evening for those who were too exhausted to stick around for the pumping beats from Tiësto pulsing out from the main stage.
No, that’s not exactly a photo of what Beach House playing on Sunday at Coachella is going to be like–but it could be if they wanted it to. The duet’s music infiltrates your senses even upon first pass, and Teen Dream left me with no doubts about their power to transform a desert into an ocean. The album title suggests sensuality, and it doesn’t disappoint.