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Monday, April 20, 2009

Show Review: Coachella 2009

I was not especially looking forward to Coachella 2009. Not a single headliner I wanted to see(except, embarrassingly, the Killers- I know, I know, but I really do enjoy listening to their music.) Out of the entire line-up there were perhaps five artists I wanted to see? A perennial problem I have at Coachella is that some bands play during the day, when it's hot. I'm not saying I won't do it, but if I'm only casually interested in a band, as is often the case for the day time acts, it is unlikely to happen. For me, the best part of Coachella is the house/pool scene.

FRIDAY: Got to the show at about 7 PM- I know this because I had to cringe my way past the opening chords of Franz Ferdinand. Saw Crystal Castles, which is one of those bands I have scrupulously avoided even though I know the formula (screamy girl singer + 8 bit sounds) is something I would enjoy. They had the Sahara tent going. They are from Canada? That was a theme for me. Ate food and listened to boring Leonard Cohen. Outdoor Theater was an indie-nightmare (See Fleet Foxes.) Highlight: Hearing that song from the Natural Born Killers sound track, which shows you both how old I am AND how little I care about the music of Leonard Cohen.

Girl Talk in the Sahara tent was a poor-sounding disappointment. Whatever magic Girl Talk has live was dissipated by the size of the venue and the FACT that lap top music doesn't translate well in big-tent/arena type venues. Something about the compression of the audio, I would imagine.

Made VIP chit-chat with Tim Pyles & Tim Mays during Morrisey. Waiting for Genghis Tron we saw the delightful A Place to Bury Strangers: think My Bloody Valentine, Interpol.

Highlight of Friday was Genghis Tron: Thunderous screamy hard core with Ratatat style electronic keyboards/organs. Charismatic, energetic lead singer. Bought the record. There were maybe five hundred people there. I have included a photograph I took just moments before the set began, which show you how few people were there. Pretty awesome.

Genghis Tron at Coachella 2009

Left to strains of "Wings" era Paul McCartney. Sorry. No.

SATURDAY: Um, I didn't see a single band on Saturday. What a fucking nightmare.

SUNDAY: Got there at 130 PM to see SUPERMAYER. Let me just throw out the fact that I would pay $35-40 to see them in a club in San Diego/Los Angeles/San Francisco- I'd buy multiple tickets, go with my friends, etc. If any booking people are reading up and pondering whether to book them in one of those markets. Barry Weaver. Friendly Fires was a much-anticipated act and their Dancey-Rock really set the crowd on fire, recalling earlier performances by !!!. Coachella is the place to go to sell your brand of Anglo dance rock to the U.S. audience. If you're looking to break one of these foreign dance rock bands: Sunday afternoon slot at Coachella. Fellas, this band will get you laid.

FUCKED UP is a hardcore/post-hardcore act from Toronto (Canadian alert!) They've been around since 2002 but Matador signed them in 2008 (and they only put out 7"s for four years) so this was kind of like seeing a legendary genre act in an unusual environment. I've been listening to the Matador Record- which is a comp. of their earlier output basically(?) and it has held my interest though often in the form of "What the fucking fuck, do I really have time for this 9 minute track of ambient noise. I also confuse them with Fuck Buttons, but after seeing the live show that will never happen again.

Probably the best single performance at Coachella (and this includes all the artists I didn't see, but about whose performances I've read about) this year was by French electro impressario Sebastian Tellier. Holy cow did he bring the fucking thunder. This guy is amazing- CDW said, "He is like Serge Gainsbourg." This was literally the only band that Josh SESAC wanted to see. Some observations from this set:
1. He brought a look alike roady with him- dressed the same, same facial hair, etc.
2. He proclaimed that the second song was about his "bisexuality." Incredible.
3. Ended the set- and this is a one hour set- with a 15 minute free jazz key board jam that was actually really good.
I was really impressed with the performance.

Here are my take-away bullet points from Coachella 2009:
1. In: Noise rock, hard core, indie-folk
Out: trance dj's, alt rock, metal
2. Please do something about the outdoor theater sound bleed through.
3. Never book the Thievery Corporation again.

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