With the first weekend of Coachella in the bag, and after watching a bunch of artists perform before the Coachella masses, I’ve got a few thoughts. Some good, some meh, but they’re the honest and they may help guide your weekend 2 decisions in the event you’re planning on making the trek to Indio for Weekend Two. Take them with a grain of salt, or don’t take them at all. Here I go …
I saw Shura at The Roxy a couple years ago, and all I can remember was how downtempo and moody that performances was. I was recently driving in my car, and when an upbeat song with a kinda of 80s vibe started to play on the radio. When I Shazamed (<- Is that a word now?) it, it was Shura’s “Make It Up”; a much different type of song than that which I was familiar with. With her debut album, “Nothings’ Real” out, I decided to take a chance to watch how she fared with a 2:00pm (on of the earliest time slots at Coachella) set time.
Right from the start, she started her performance with the uptempo titled track. Though she was firmly set behind her keys, she still had a kind of youthful energy that was basically non-existent the first time I saw her. Perhaps it was her green-dyed hair, but her vibe and her sonics kinda reminded me Cyndi Lauper.
Her set was still filled with the downtempo songs that I was already familiar with, but her setlist was crafted in a way where moody number were followed by upbeat dance tunes, and that definitely worked in her favor.
I saw Local Natives the first time they played Coachella in 2010 (and I seen them play live several times since), so watching their Coachella debut on the main stage was more to stoke my nostalgia rather than for critical listening. They professed their own nostalgia by reminding the audience that they played Sahara Tent their first time there, and proclaimed, “This is our hometown festival. This the festival we snuck into when we were young.”
They played an interesting cover of Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam”, and had Sarah Barthel (whose Phantogram played the day before) join them for a performance of “Dark Days”, but the highlight of their set was when they played two emotionally charged songs back to back that were beautifully, diametrically opposed. “Who Know Who Care” (a song from their debut album which is about the carefree living of youth) was followed by “Fountain Of Youth” (a song from their latest album, from a older and wise perspective that urges the importance of “listening to these kids) and it was musically poetry at its timely finest.
“When we wrote our last album we were so filled with hope for the future. But the last few months have been tough … tough for everybody. We wrote this song as a reaction.” – Taylor Rice.
Car Seat Headrest has been garnering a lot of praise from critics the past year. One of Blurred Culture’s contributors raves about them, so I decided to watch their set. Solid stuff.
Their frontman, Will Toledo, wore a baby blue suite with a black shirt, and sported a mop-top and shades. A very Beatles-esque look for sure, but their music is a lot edgier, and grimier, than anything that Sir Paul or Mr. Lennon have written. I was digging their grunge laced rock and roll, and I was bobbing my heat to their steady grooves. I was particularly drawn to Will’s baritone voice as it had, in my humble opinion, shades of a young Eddie Vedder.
The Head and the Heart was another band that I decided to watch based on nostalgia. I remember the last time they played Coachella back in 2014. The mushrooms I had eaten were just kicking in, and as I watched the palm trees dance behind them, I reached a moment of euphoria when they hit the a cappella harmonies of “Rivers and Road”. It was a pretty surreal moment… and one that my friends still poke fun about.
I was completely sober while watching there performance this year, but I still enjoyed everything that I heard. Their music is perfectly suited for an mid or late afternoon set time, and whether on one of the larger stages or tents, they’re pretty much guaranteed to delight … whether you are sober or not.
The Atomics was a band that I wasn’t familiar with, but they caught my ear when they started their set with a really solid bass line and a really confident performance by their front woman, Lucky Blue. They have some great songs which blend elements of surf and punk rock, making their sound a little bit of of throw back, but they kind of jumped the shark for me when they jumped into a cover of Britany Spears’ “Toxic” and also performed a laid-back reggae infused song. Personally, I liked it better when they played their edgier surf/punk rock songs. Just my two cents.
I’ve got tons of friends who are into Bastille and vouch for the legitimacy of their live performance. While I may not be the biggest fan of their style of music, I’ll have to admit … “Bastille Dan” is a pretty damn good live performer. Whether he’s a running around on stage interacting with his bandmates, or into the crowd to high five ardent fans, Dan Smith’s energy was as spirited as the energy that’s transmitted by his friends on stage.
Electropop is always more enjoyable to watch when the music is played by a full band. Even with my relative indifference towards the music itself, I still found myself watching the entirety of their performance. I can appreciate a good live show when I see one.
I couldn’t watch more than a couple songs by Torey Lanez. Sorry.
Backing tracks are used all of the time, but I honestly couldn’t tell whether or not he was actually singing/rapping. I mean … melodies were “sung” even though mic was not even close to his mouth. And when he actually talked into the mic, it seemed like its levels and the backing track weren’t even equalized/balanced. Two songs, then I decided to watch something else. At least it looks like (from the picture above) he and his fans still had a good time, and I guess that’s all that really matters.
Kendrick may have been the headliner for Sunday, but Hip Hop pretty much dominated Saturday’s schedule with Future, ScHoolboy Q and Gucci Mane each taking prime slots on various stages on the festival grounds.
It’s basically a Coachella guarantee that a rapper will have other rappers join them on stage. That’s pretty much a given. I decided to pick one “rap act” to watch, and I chose the main stage performer, Future, and he had plenty of guests show up for his set. Ty Dolla $ign, Migos and Drake all took turns joining Future on stage, and gave rabid fans plenty to scream about during the show.
Saturday is definitely a day for hip-hop heads. You can hit up all three acts (Coachella wisely ensured that their set times don’t overlap), or you can pick just one. You never know who’ll show up for weekend 2, but Either way, I’m willing to bet you’ll get plenty bang for your Coachella buck.
I dig Warpaint. Their music always puts me into an involuntary trance-like state. I kinda zone out to them, and if you’re looking for a way to chill out to some solid psych-rock Saturday night, you can’t go wrong checking them out for weekend 2.
I don’t have much more to add to my thoughts on this performance, except for damn … Emily Kokal looks particularly fetching in this photo. A round of applause to the photog.
Bon Iver is another act that I’ve seen live at Coachella (2012). His main stage performance was the calm before the pop-storm. A man whose art are dreams transformed into music, you could lay down on the polo fields grass and be lulled to a pleasant slumber with his mellifluous sonics. He almost encouraged that kind of relaxing mood, as he ever so politely asked the audience to look up into the sky prior to his performance of “Simple Man.”
“You can look down,” he said, “But I’d keep looking up if I were you.”
Despite the mellow moods that his music embodied, he was really the only artist to overtly speak on the current state of political and social affairs.
“There’s a lot of fucked up shit going on. I don’t know what to say about it to you guys, but I gotta say this… You gotta love everybody unconditionally, not just your side.”
Majid Al Maskati of Majid Joradn has a very soft, and tender tenor voice. I’ve heard them perform last year at Beach Goth, and they were on point. At the first weekend of Coachella? Not so much.
I don’t know what was wrong. Maybe his ear monitor wasn’t working properly? Maybe it was nerves? Maybe he was just having an off night? I don’t know what was going on, but he was consistently flat throughout the two songs that I decided to watch. Being someone who has a little bit of a singing background, I just couldn’t bear hearing his beautifully tender melodies and lyrics not matching the same key as the instrumentals. Majid can nail his songs. I’ve heard it before. I just didn’t hear it this time.
Look … I’ll be honest … I don’t think I’ll ever buy tickets to any of her stadium shows (her intimate “bar” gigs though is a completely other thing), so I’ll give Coachella props for giving me the chance to watch her perform a stadium worthy set in Indio weekend one.
Her Coachella gig wasn’t as “big” as her Super Bowl performance. She didn’t fly down onto the stage and she maybe had a quarter of the dancers that she had during the half-time gig, but Gaga is Gaga and she delivered the kind of performance that only a superstar can. She sang songs that have been out of her concert repertoire for years (“Teeth” and “Speechless” were performed for the first time live since 2011), she mixed it up with powerfully moving acoustic performances (“The Edge Of Glory” and “Bad Romance”) and debuted her latest single (“The Cure”).
What makes Lady Gaga the consummate performer is her ability to do everything. Whether she jamming out a bluesy number on an electric guitar, hitting all of her intricate choreography marks, crooning moving ballads while playing the piano and exhibiting a wide range of attitude and emotions for all her fans to see, there are few that can command an audience of 100K like she can.
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