Our friends in LA are braving the hippies and hipsters of this year’s Coachella and sharing their adventures all weekend long. Come back often for updates straight from the polo fields of America’s hottest music festival.
After walking over ten miles, hacking up a lung full of dirt, and getting the world’s most awkward sunburn, we’ve braved and completed Day One of Coachella 2011–sane enough to write about it.
We caught sets from some of the biggest hype bands of the festival like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Odd Future[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Tame Impala[/lastfm], and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Pains of Being Pure At Heart[/lastfm]. We saw an old school great like Lauryn Hill and two more up-and-coming divas of the stage—[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Marina and the Diamonds[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Alice Glass[/lastfm] of[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”] Crystal Castles. [/lastfm]
Odd Future/OFWGKTA: This uber-hyped Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective of misanthropic teenage skater boys has single-handedly taken the “swag” epidemic to a new level.
Virtually unknown outside of California rap communities, Odd Future went from just being a group of rowdy kids dubbed the “Wolf Gang” with musical (and artistic) talent to being virtually plastered all over hundreds of music blogs.
They’ve been touted as the “new artist to watch” from major music magazines, are building a buzz with their extremely difficult to decipher acronym (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All), and are the “buzzband” name to drop if you want to sound “with it” musically.
Personally, I love hip-hop and what Odd Future is doing, their DGAF attitudes towards life, and the way they built themselves up. Already a fan of Frank Ocean’s emo R&B and Tyler the Creator’s lyrically bleak rhyming skills, I was expecting Odd Future to “swag it out.”
Well, according to their Twitter feed and many of the kids “rolling in the deep,” Odd Future did for all intents and purposes “swag it out.” But I really wasn’t impressed. Beyond the fact that awesome festival antics tend to abound in the Sahara tent, a girl almost puked on my shoes, a dude left with a bloody nose, and bringing out Pharrel–Odd Future was messy.
The sound was awful (maybe not their fault), they kept rhyming over each other, and there was something incredibly contrived about their performance. When I walked up to the Sahara tent, it was packed, but as I stood there watching, I heard people start whispering their dislike and walking out.
Should you see Odd Future? Probably. In a smaller setting with better sound, you might get to really appreciate their “swag.” But in terms of being a “best new artist,” these boys have a lot of potential, but also need a lot of polish.
Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Bringing the cool, sweet calm influence of the arty synth pop/shoegaze scene of 1980’s New York, Pains of Being Pure At Heart are one of those understated indie noise pop bands that could just fall through the cracks–or they could have a hit and become huge overnight.
From watching their live Coachella set, is that something we anticipate for Kip Berman (guitar/vocals), Peggy Wang-East (keyboard/vocals), Alex Naidus (bass) and Kurt Feldman (drums)? Although the band has been around since 2007 and built up quite a cult following, Pains of Being Pure At Heart could benefit from a lusher, more produced sound live and a little more energy.
With just a little more delicate, artfully done “pizazz,” Berman’s humor and cheeky smile and Wang-East’s sexy, yet shy demeanor could easily make Pains of Being Pure At Heart a more successful, highly recognized band.
As a huge fan of their recorded work and their artistic sensibilities, I think Pains of Being Pure At Heart could get a better and later slot next Coachella. And I will be there to watch the magic.
A little drugged-out psychedelic 70s rock during a Coachella dusk sounds like the perfect way to chill out after running back and forth from tent to tent. Aussie Cream-esque fuzz trio, Tame Impala, brought that and a little more yesterday.
One of the reasons I went to go see Tame Impala was because of what I like to call the “hipster hype.” Loosely defined, “hipster hype” is the adoration of a brand new band to the point of obsession–for about six months. After that, they are totally forgotten about.
Tame Impala live up to the hype, but they are also so classic and timeless sonically that they easily sound like one of those quintessential rock bands that could have played Woodstock.
Are these past-inspired musicians the wave of the future musically? It seems like a lot of indie bands are going down a buzzy, reverb-y tripped-out sonic route and Tame Impala could be the band that leads the pack to a new musical movement.
Decked out in a long-striped dress a la Jil Sander, a gold chain necklace, and a black-leather jacket, the Fugee’s own Ms. Lauryn Hill might have been missing from action these last couple of years, but she is still the dynamic, adept live performer that she was in earlier years.
Hill played the main stage to a massive crowd. Her voice sounded a little hoarse, but her rhyme skills were still lightning-paced. At the end of the set, she brought out some of the Fugees jazz-rap, reggae-infused songs and did what she does best: a lyrical mash-up of them of reggae greats like Bob Marley.
Marina and the Diamonds
The UK’s rock ‘n roll amalgamation of pop provocateur Katy Perry, theatrical fellow Brit Kate Nash, and singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds came on stage about twenty minutes late wearing cat ears, a cheerleader skirt, a white crop top, and glitter stripper shoes. Diamandis blamed technical difficulties, but the singer-songwriter is renowned for being a little moody.
While the audience in her tent was sparse to begin with her late arrival made about half of the people there leave for other tents. Only her most dedicated and hardcore fans stayed and what they got was Diamandis’ patented form of volatile, sarcastic sex bomb complete with flouncing, choreographed dance moves and sassy winks.
Luckily for Diamandis, having such a small but dedicated fan base made the whole audience sing-a-long at the top of their lungs. She sang a new song named “Jealousy,” but when she gave her “Diamonds” (fans) the option for more new stuff, they went with the old, obviously so they could follow along with her every word.
Diamandis is one of the most talented singer-songwriter’s out there (and one of my favorite guilty pleasure musical artists), but her attitude is a detriment to her success. If she projected herself differently to her fans internationally, there is no reason her tent shouldn’t have more people in it–regardless of her being late.
People might have been sore and tired, but when the sun goes down at Coachella, that is when the real dancing starts and Crystal Castles brought that to the people–even though Alice Glass was hoping up and down on one leg, waving a sort of crutch. Glass is hardcore and it bleeds out into the audience; Crystal Castles bring icey, chilly electro dance-pop that totally warms people up.
Glass has to be respected for bringing her full energy to a show that she could have easily imbued with lethargy because she was probably uncomfortable and in pain.