Coachella Flashbacks

It’s been two weeks and Coachella already seems like ancient history — except for the sinus infection the dust left me with, which is still very much alive. Here are some memories that have also lodged in my cranial cavity:

MGMT‘s set: First tipped to their greatness by then-MOLI blogger Wendy Case, I love Oracular Spectacular — “Time to Pretend” has been my iPhone ring since I bought the damn device. But after hearing a couple tracks from Congratulations, I was afraid the band had toked itself into novelty nada land. Their live set reassured me that there’s something important and poetic about these pranksters. Andrew VanWyngarden has a sexy, sensitive Marc Bolan vibe — and that’s not a compliment I hand out lightly.

Thom Yorke: Not being a RHCP fan, I was extremely skeptical about the Flea collaboration. But it worked. The bassist, wearing a Minutemen T-shirt (go San Pedro!), anchored Yorke’s free-rock freneticism. Singing about a damaged lover’s artichoke heart — or maybe he was just talking to himself — Yorke falsettoed like an angel on “Atoms for Peace.”

The Raveonettes had to perform without the rest of their band, who were stuck on the other side of the volcanic dust. But stripped-down, the duo made their wall of sound all the more impressive.

Deadmau5‘s stage set was all I had hyped it up to be: His mouse head was integrated into the DJ podium, the backdrop, and the lights, so the show became this banging meditation on the continuum between man and machine. He played with the audience’s bpm expectations, going into this weird Bach-like interlude just when the rollers probably thought he was going to drop the bass bomb.

Riding bikes home: I’ve always said the only way to do Coachella, at least if you’re ancient like me, is to rent a condo at PGA West, so you’re just a few miles away and can recover in comfort. This year we took it a step further: Rode our bikes to and from the venue. Bye bye to long walks from the parking lot and traffic jams.

Aterciopelados: Polling the audience’s linguistic skills, Andrea Echeverri decided to speak in Spanish. She’s a true artist acknowledging those who have come before her, particularly Mercedes Sosa. It’s good to see Coachella getting slightly multicultural.

Speaking of which, Jay-Z was rocking the same stage set I saw on his tour with Mary J. Blige last year. But so what: It was great to see him in Indio, and to see any black face there at all, in fact. Though I missed Beyonce’s appearance ’cause I’d checked out for Deadmau5, damn.

The Gossip: I heart Beth Ditto. Though I feel like the guitar needs to drive her over the edge of the band’s beats more.

Muse: All the hipsters still hate them, but fuck ’em: Muse put on a monster show.  I can’t think of many people who can both play lead guitar and sing as well as Matthew Bellarmy. He’s Freddie Mercury and Brian May rolled into one. Way more interesting than Damon Albarn — though I’m kicking myself I didn’t stay and watch Mick Jones and Paul Simonon play with Gorillaz. If only I had known … And just that afternoon I had been wondering when Coachella is going to book a BAD reunion.

Next year?

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