Early slots belonged to bands that are on the cusp of either being musical forerunners or underground favorites. If you arrived early for these mostly unknown gems, you might have seen The Sexy Magazines, who could be related to The Stooges with their raucous set.
Immortal Technique all but demanded that the Gobi tent start a revolution against the state of the world today. While that idea is a noble cause, the weather was a little too hot to inspire anyone to actually make a move and impeach Bush right then and there.
Even with all the heat, childhood friends Keane cooled the main stage crowd. A stark contrast to what was happening in the tents at the same time, they serenaded the crowd with lush piano, while singer Tom Chaplin’s soft voice was an oasis for those seeking shelter from the heat.
Next on the main stage was Wilco, who sounded stronger than ever. Last year, Wilco had to abruptly cancel due to frontman Jeff Tweedy’s rehab stint – something he humbly apologized for. “I was too fucked up last year, but now I’m much better and very happy to be here.”
Just as the sun was starting to set, Weezer appeared on the big screen. I wasn’t sure why they were on the bill. I thought the same thing about Thrice on Sunday, but at least Weezer’s set was more enjoyable. Rivers and Co. didn’t interact with the crowd much, perhaps a bit drained from the heat, but they really connected musically, especially on the aptly titled song “Island in the Sun.”
What transpired next was interesting. All the youngsters, hipsters and over-30 crowd exited and a sea of black-clad fans appeared. It was time to step into the horror-macabre realm. Bauhaus literally came back from the dead. Singer Peter Murphy descended upon Coachella suspended from his ankles in true gothic form. The big screens went black and white and red – blood! – crept across the screen as Murphy sang “Bela Lugosi Is Dead.” That song alone was enough to send me screaming in fright to shrieking with pleasure as I stumbled upon the Mojave Tent for buzz band Bloc Party.
Bloc Party emanated 45 minutes of amazing energy Saturday evening. Their set actually prompted many conversations I overheard about purchasing the band’s self-titled CD on the spot at the Virgin Megastore tent.
I had to divide my time between Coldplay and The Chemical Brothers, but I will say that neither left behind any doubt of why they were chosen to close the night. For those that enjoyed Coldplay, they were treated to a few new songs off the band’s June release, XY. As one person appropriately said, “What’s not to love about ending a night with Coldplay under the stars? It couldn’t have ended on a better, serene note. I’m about to head into the jacuzzi after this!”
I’m sure the Sahara tent begged to differ with a crowd so large during The Chemical Brothers set that it spilled over to nearby Mojave. Stunning visuals and unstoppable “block-rocking beats” gave the perfect nightcap for those who preferred to end their night with a bang.
Sunday kicked off with another buzz band, space-rock Autolux. Though the trio battled the heat, the set was tight with their trademark harmonies and rich guitar sound.
Most impressive on the whole Coachella bill was Z-Trip. He worked the crowd with his DJ set, mixing Janis Joplin, Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and Ray Charles together to make the Gobi tent one huge, happy party. If you haven't had a chance to experience Z-Trip, check him out late nights on 106.7 KROQ.
Other highlights: New Order, who played select tracks from their new album Waiting For the Sirens’ Call, and three Joy Division songs including “Transmission.” Also, Nine Inch Nails. Wow! Trent Reznor is the epitome of someone who gets better with age. While playing three to four songs from upcoming release With Teeth, he stuck to a lot of older songs including “Head Like a Hole” and “Hurt.”
This weekend left me wondering: Can GoldenVoice top themselves next year? We shall see in about 355 days.