Tag Archives: Coachella 2011

COACHELLA 2011: Best New Discoveries – Foals, Sleigh Bells, Trentemoller

11 May

Here are my favourite newly discovered bands from the festival:


Sleigh Bells


To conclude my Coachella 2011 coverage, I’ll leave you with this remix of Ellie Goulding’s Under the Sheets that serves as the opening track on a Coachella mixtape I picked up by Las Vegas DJ Silent John.

Thanks SJ! Also, thanks to all the hard-working Coachella organizers! Hope to see you next year.


DON’T GET IT: Empire of the Sun

11 May

Some blogs have suggested that Australia’s Empire of the Sun should have appeared on the main stage at Coachella before Arcade Fire. This would have had them replacing psychedelic prog-rock outfit Animal Collective. The Animal Collective show was visually creative, but the music hit only two notes: monotone and emotionless, and because of this, it made everyone restless. I was surprised by how bored I felt, cus I love Merriweather Post Pavilion. Anyway, though I was glad to have caught those guys, their performance was ultimately a fail. And given I’d already nominated our very dear Robyn for their honoured set-time, upon my return home I thought I’d check out Empire of the Sun to see what all the fuss was about.

So I did:


I don’t get it.

All the visual artifice, make up and bug-eyed space camp-y-ness was really distracting. Sure, their show was interesting to watch with all the effort put into their DIY costume esthetic, and the far-too-numerous nods to David Bowie, but as I watched I found myself forming a look of horror on my face.

It just seems so vapid.

And in the music video below, the dudes look like they’re on a pill cocktail.

I will say the Empire of the Sun show at Coachella presented something different than all the other acts. They really went above and beyond in terms of creating a set onstage. And I like the lights on the guitars. But this band reminds me too much of Flight of the Conchords — both musically and aesthetically — only sincere (wait, is this sincere?). Anyway, the music isn’t that great. And, it’s been done.

Another negative is that the band appears to have influenced a buncha guys to sport feather headdresses… and makeup… at the festival. Is this a bad thing? Debatable, but I thought so. I know guys wore eyeliner in the 90s a la Billy Corgan, but the sheer arrogance they gave off this time around seemed like too much.

Perhaps the thing that really horrifies me is that this music is for a new crop of kids that are of a different generation than myself. Maybe marketers will start showcasing young men wearing coloured makeup and headdresses to sell things, and one day I will assimilate and it will become normal for me to see these makeup/headdress men on Coke bottles, cupcake wrappers and the like.

Or maybe I’m just not that cool anymore.

But I’m really not very old…

Download music by Empire of the Sun here. And you really should check out Animal Collective’s vast musical archives here.

Photo courtesy of lastfm.com.

WORST OF COACHELLA 2011: Cee Lo Green is the Slow Machine

11 May

Cee Lo Green was more than half an hour late for his set. And leaving a mass of hipsters cooking in the desert sun with nothing to listen to at the main stage is not a good thing.

Everyone around me was grumbling, “Where’s Cee Lo? He was supposed to start 15/20/25/30 minutes ago.” My friends and I contemplated leaving several times. “Let’s just wait five more minutes,” we said — three times.

By now the grumbling had switched to outspoken rage. “What the fuck Cee Lo?!” shouted a dude behind me.

Then people started pointing at a helicopter hovering overhead… Cee Lo?

It was Cee Lo.

He rushed onstage, sweat already glistening on his brow, and launched into Iron Man (a Black Sabbath cover).

“I’m angry too!” Cee Lo said at the beginning of his short set. “I’ve only got 20 minutes left!” He played a few Gnarls Barkley hits and his famed Fuck You, where audience members got a chance to finger the stage and stick it to Cee Lo a lil’ bit.

Supposedly he was not satisfied with his daytime spot so he made up for it by showing up late and trying to cut into Lauryn Hill’s set. He even threw down the start of a cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, but the Coachella organizers cut off his power. So Cee Lo was left shouting at the crowd for a few more minutes while people started to disperse with shaking heads.

You’re angry, Cee Lo?

Well maybe you should have gotten in your personal helicopter a little earlier.

If you’re not angry, you can download Cee Lo’s music here.

Photo courtesy of hollywoodgo.com.

COACHELLA 2011: Rock or Die of Envy – Death from Above 1979

25 Apr

When DFA fans read the announcement of the Coachella 2011 lineup, the first words out of our mouths likely were: ”Holy shit, Death from Above 1979 have reunited. Who’s coming to Coachella??!”

The Toronto dance-punk duo consists of Jesse F. Keeler (of MSTRKRFT fame) and Sebastien Grainger (of sexiness fame). DFA broke up in ‘06, but announced a reunion in 2011 (!!!). The most significant thing you need to know about this band is that dudes play just bass, synth and drums – no guitar.

And they rock so hard.

During Going Steady, Cold War and Black History Month, my friends and I were thrashing around with the best of them, and were clearly enjoying ourselves. So much so that a guy cutting back through the crowd took one look at us and said, “Go up there.”

So we moved forward, pushing our way through the crowd towards… well, we didn’t know.

But we found a kickass punk-rock pit going on!

Due to my recent musical tastes veering more towards the indie rock, shoegaze, chillwave and electronic genres, I don’t see mosh pits very often anymore. But this brought me back to my punk-adoring days of the ‘90s. Everyone was standing around in a circle giving the pit a wide berth, and those inside were shoving and thrashing with giant grins and reckless energy. The pit doesn’t discriminate — both guys and girls were in there (including our badass friend with a BROKEN ARM!) showing us how the pit spreads love, not hate. Everyone had an amazing time.

Then, everyone around me lost their shit during the screaming climax of Romantic Rights. Sebastien was wailing on the drums with his shirt off, exposing his adorably bad tattoos. I liked how they set up his drum kit to face the audience sideways so we had a better view of his sexy body. Both members of DFA are sexy, actually. Let’s not forget Jesse — hot. Anyway, everyone was  shouting out the words and going nuts with arms and legs akimbo.

It was dirty. It was sweaty. It was loud. It was exhausting. It made me feel like I’d drank 1,000 Red Bulls.

It was just the way a festival set should be.

Click the links to view the full set list here and download music by Death From Above 1979.

First photo courtesy of http://sidewalkhustle.com; all other photos by me. 

COACHELLA 2011: Techno Queens and Kings – Ratatat

25 Apr


New York’s Ratatat are an awesome live act. Their instrumental-only style works surprisingly well in a live setting because they play live guitar, bass and drums — all while showcasing their large-scale silhouettes on top of a bright display.

Also, they’ve nailed the delicate art of how to match a multimedia display with the tempo and sentiment of their music.

The visuals were really freaking cool.

Case and point:

The guys, Mike Stroud and Evan Mast, both have long scraggly hair and penchant for over-the-top rockstar antics. Note these look awesome when silhouetted atop their twisted visuals. Ratatat played their video for Mirando during that song, which worked well on the big screen with its brilliantly (and cryptically) edited bits of Predator. At the end of Wildcat, they both wailed on two drums all primitive-like while everyone went nuts in the audience.

Both Mirando and Wildcat also had people dropping some saucy dance moves, reminding us that notwithstanding their great driving/daydreaming music, Ratatat is fucking good at making dance music.

Then, during Drugs, the audience was treated to a phantasmagoria of creepier-than-life stock photography. The images were  were projected onto transparent screens that had bright lights in behind, and were layered with giant shadows of the band members.

Oh, and the characters they’ve created for their videos! You should have seen the lovely smiling black woman hula’ing during the set’s closer Seventeen Years (my personal fave). The live version of that song delivered a thousandfold. Everyone had arms in the air and was jumping with the beat. I don’t think I’ve seen a more amped-up crowd at an instrumental show.

And it made my pre-Kanye wait that much easier.

Download Ratatat’s music here.

Top photo courtesy of http://soundcheck.ocregister.com; all other photos by me.

COACHELLA 2011: Techno Queens and Kings – Yelle

25 Apr

Yelle! Yelle? You mean Yellay? No! YELLE!!

So much energy. So much enthusiasm. So much Yelle. Her high-pitched vocals popped in perfect sync with everyone’s hyperactive neck-shoulder twists. This is club-kid, European synthpop at its finest.

Yelle, the band’s frontwoman and namesake (orig. Julie Budet) was prowling and leaping across the stage in a hot pink cheetah-print hooded onesie. She has that lithe, fairy figure that French women so easily embody. And this paired with her peppy athleticism worked perfectly to create her slinky cat creature.

When the band first took the stage, Yelle was dressed in a ghillie suit, and her bandmates were decked out in safari hats and jackets building on themes from Safari Disco Club (see video below).  Then the guys started wailing on drums in unison, and they had the rigid appearance of Ken dolls displaced from the savannah. They looked like plain-clothes members of the Blue Man Group moving their arms like machines! It was rad.

Yelle busted out all their best stuff: Je Veux Te Voir, Que veux-tu, Safari Disco Club and Comme un Enfant – the latter delivered with such force that the entire crowd, all the way to the back, was jumping as high as they could with their arms in the air while the sunset streamed into the tent.

It was like we were one organism – one dance club pop virus – taking over the polo field, and the sun was giving us her blessing.

“Go see Yelle.”

Download Yelle’s music here.

First photo courtesy of http://www.oh-yelle.com; middle photo courtesy of http://buzzbands.la; last photo by me.

COACHELLA 2011: Techno Queens and Kings – Robyn

25 Apr

“Don’t F*****g Tell Me What to Do!”

Robyn should have played the main stage. Her set was way too powerful for the Mojave tent. But that’s not the way it went. Whatever. Robyn! I’ve waited so long to hang with her!

A giant Swedish flag obstructed my view of the athletic pop princess for a large part of her show, so I didn’t get many photos. I’ve had to rely on You Tube clips to get a better glimpse of what she was wearing. But what I could see was this glowing body jumping and fist-pumping in time with the music like a militant aerobics instructor. She was a human firework set against giant pinwheels lazily spinning with the breeze.

The woman is a dance-pop machine. A regular fembot!

My friends and I were giggling before the show about how if we were friends with Robyn, then we could hang with her wherever she went, and we would all wear spandex, and we would obviously all fall in love. And after seeing her live, all I could think was that if I did hang with her, I’d be freakin’ buff!

Fantasies aside, nothing beat dancing my arse off to Robyn with my five girl friends. Fembots: dance setting!

She threw down everything we wanted to hear and more. Hang With Me, Indestructible, Don’t F*****g Tell Me What To Do, Bad Gal, Fembot, and even With Every Heartbeat, from her excellent 2005 self-titled album. Each song was delivered with soaring emotion and impressive vocal power. With all these hits, it’s easy to see how the woman owned 2010 with her Body Talk series. Each album is a synthpop tour de force.

Robyn’s commanding energy paired with a maniacal light show and throbbing techno beats made it an unforgettable dance-music experience. I would absolutely love to see her in a stadium setting.

Check out this crowd!

When the throbbing synth beats of Dancing On My Own started up, a roar emitted from the crowd.  Everyone was singing along to every word and hip-thrusting to every beat. And when the chorus started up, right behind me I heard a chorus of deep male voices shout: “Yeah I know it’s stupid. Just gotta see it for myself. I’m in the corner. Watching you kiss her. Oooooh!”  And when I turned around, I saw a bunch of frat boys, eyes closed, with their arms hung around each other’s shoulders. It was hilarious!


So in short: If I were to F*****g tell the Coachella organizers what to do, it would have been to get Robyn on the main stage before The Arcade Fire, goddammit.

Download Robyn’s music here.

First photo courtesy of http://idolator.com/; middle photo by me; last photo courtesy of Billboard.com.