Coachella 2011: Day Two

Desert rain. (Photo courtesy of mirno.com)

After Friday’s dazzling displays and painless navigations, we knew the other shoe had to drop on Saturday. No, it wasn’t the volcano of last year, but it might as well have been during the face-melting heat of the afternoon. The sun became the nemesis of Coachella Day Two, turning up the heat to a slow broil for the hungover and clothes-less masses. Brains were scrambled for the festival hump day–one woman “mentally altered on substances” fell off the Ferris wheel–but the day still had its shining moments.

Though expected, the stupefying heat proved an obstacle that some bands couldn’t surmount. Positioned in the unforgiving sunlight, mid-afternoon acts Here We Go Magic and Erykah Badu suffered from low numbers and lethargic crowds. When lines for hydration stations are more dangerous than the gnarliest Gogolo Bordello pit, you know you have a problem. Performers fortunate to be under canopies fared better, wooing staggering festival-goers into sweaty, explosive dance parties. Lil B also drew some interest away from festival’s larger stages and toward the Oasis Dome as he was joined by the whole Odd Future crew (who oddly claimed they were kicked out) to turn up Saturday’s swag (also swag, bringing in your personal spatula for the cook dance.)

Fans who survived the endurance test were rewarded with mind-blowing acts by veteran performers Broken Social Scene and Animal Collective on the mainstage. At the end of the day, the final strains of Arcade Fire were worth the aching feet and absurd post-festival clusterfuck.

Some reviews from Saturday:

Long hair, a Cults' requirement. (Getty Images)

With plenty of questions surrounding the volume of Cults musical arsenal on Saturday, the New York-based band didn’t really answer critics who thought their appearance at Coachella might have been a bit premature. Without a full album to play from, Cults were particularly pragmatic in their approach to their performance, enduring a long soundcheck that ate into the band’s scheduled start time. Yet fans did not embrace the savvy performance move, and grew agitated as the wait grew longer and the heat rose under the tent. When Cults finally arrived on stage for their performance, they were particularly nervy, flustered by the fast-paced Coachella atmosphere into mistakes as simple as forgetting to turn on their guitars. As the band settled, however, Madeline Follin began to find her groove, swaying to the heavy bassline as she crooned “You Know What I Mean.” “Most Wanted” proved another hit with the crowd taking kindly to the catchy keyboard lines, but it was “Go Outside” that the Gobi masses were waiting for. With temperatures reaching above the triple degree mark, the song’s title may not have been the best advice with Cults finishing ten minutes early to send the crowd into the baking sun.

“We’re Foals,” announced lead man Yannis Philippakis, in his heavy English accent. “But you can pronounce it ‘Fools,’ if you’d like.” Despite Philippakis’ beckoning, however, Foals were anything but fools on Saturday afternoon. Guitarist Jimmy Smith’s high pink shorts aside, the Oxford band produced one of the festivals most memorable sets of the festival thus far, swaying the Mojave with a verve-filled set that awoke crowd members from their mid-afternoon slumbers. Handclaps and shout-aloud choruses aplenty, there was no shortage of crowd participation as the lead singer strut across the stage during songs like “Red Socks Pugie.” Drummer Jack Bevan was particularly impressive, banging tomtoms while slamming his foot down in a manner that threatened to destroy his bass drum. Closing with “Two Steps, Twice,” Philippakis saw no reason to finish the set from the stage, climbing the speaker before diving luchador-style into the masses to add another body to the already-capacity crowd.

Alex Trimble and Two Door Cinema Club at their Coachella debut. (Getty Images)

While those seeking an escape from the heat stuck to the Coachella tents for shade, they probably should have stayed away from Two Door Cinema Club’s performance at 4:30. It was standing room-only throughout the whole tent, as crowds added unwanted sweat and BTUs to the muggy Mojave microclimate. It didn’t get any better when the band took the stage, either. Arriving on time, the boys from Northern Ireland launched into the well-practiced “Cigarettes In The Theatre” and “Undercover Martyn,” which sent hands up and drumsticks flying. For a band that had made its U.S. debut only a year prior, Saturday’s reception was quite the welcoming to the band’s first Coachella. And it was a dream debut. With pop anthems readymade for a festival environment, Tourist History, Two Door’s first album, translated flawlessly under the Mojave, but also made way for newer material–the darker “Handshake” being a notable addition. Still “old” favorites like synth-heavy “Do You Want It All” and closer “I Can Talk” found the most traction with the crowd, as shirtless bodies were thrust into the air during bouts of extreme crowd surfing in the party atmosphere.

Los Angeles’ experimental  outfit Glasser turned the Gobi Tent into a tropical jungle in the late afternoon. Ethereal singer Cameron Mesirow and the extras from “Where the Wild Things Are,” otherwise known as her backing band, pounded through her debut album Ring. Covered in white gauze, Mesirow, with piercing eyes, howled without abandon, only getting tripped up by some feedback issues mid-set. The relentless drums crested in her final song, “Mirrorage,” reducing the crowd to animalistic swaying and primal chants.

You hear this, New Pornographers? (Getty Images)

In the battle for Canadian supergroup supremacy, Broken Social Scene laid down their bid for the title with an early evening set that was classic Coachella. While a scheduling blunder made for a Canadian Coachellite nightmare of a choice between BSS and the concurrently playing The New Pornographers, those that chose the latter didn’t seem to regret their choice in the least. The venue provided a stunning image. Framed by palm trees and the sinking sun, the nine-membered band with accompanying horn players stuck largely to their newest album, Forgiveness Rock Record, opening with “World Sick” and “Texico Bitches.” Seven years since their last appearance, the band’s faces may have changed, but Broken Social Scene remained as classy as ever. Among those new faces was Lisa Lobsinger, whose delicate rendition of “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl” soothed a mellow crowd, before the band exited with the powerful blast of horns and Brendan Canning frontkicks of “Meet Me In the Basement.”

Inheriting the Gobi Stage from Glasser, French songstress Yelle, leader of the band of the same name, continued the front-woman dominance with an electro-dance set for the ages. Punching and kicking in a skintight, leopard-print bodysuit, Yelle unleashed a synth-blasting performance that was so blistering, even people watching the live feed were sweating. The French trio’s set delved into their debut Pop Up and the month-old Safari Disco Club, throbbing the bass full-tilt. No, most of the crowd did not understand the language coming out of Yelle’s mouth, but that didn’t stop them from singing (or at least muttering what they thought was French) along to “A Cause Des Garcons” and “Safari Disco Club.”

Bright Eyes caught the dusk of the day, playing as the sun sank below the palm trees. With bangs down to his lips and a dark red plaid shirt, Conor Oberst whipped his hair back and forth like Willow Smith as he rocked through his opener, “Jejeune Stars,” from this February’s The People’s Key, followed by hits from past albums–“Bowl of Oranges” and “Take It Easy.” He chatted with the audience casually, dedicating “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” to “anyone who got lost” on their way to Coachella and “just ended up here.” Despite the somber nature of the lyrics, Oberst hammed up his stage presence with just enough glee, playing with his poetic lyrics’ delivery and going absolutely nuts on “Lover.” The set ended with “Road to Joy,” with an audience of hands up in the air, singing to each other about being wide awake–it’s morning.

To quote one of our own, people went “batshit crazy” during Mumford and Sons. Perhaps it was a result of the full moon that, when featured on the mainstage screens before the set, incited the impatient audience to a crowd full of wolf howls. But when Marcus Mumford and company took stage, all howling ceased and attention was on them. Launching into “Sigh No More,” the quartet stretched their slow, four-part harmonies into tight musical suspense, then collapsed into a banjo-driven frenzy with each song. Keyboardist Ben Lovett in particular was having the time of his life, literally jumping in the air while keeping his hands glued to the keyboard. Banjo man Winston Marshall and Mumford faced off for the cutesy 6/8 opener to “Roll Away Your Stone,” and the band debuted two new songs, “Lover’s Eyes” and “Lovers of the Light”–someone was obviously feeling a bit romantic in the writing process. Mumford, who played bass drum while standing upright on earlier songs, switched to the drumset for the second new song and to mandolin for “Winter Winds.” The band bashfully announced that Coachella was “by far the biggest gig we’ve done” but in closing with “The Cave,” they proved they knew exactly how to handle the West Coast’s largest stage.

Nothing says badass like an accordion. (Getty Images)

Arcade Fire’s audience stretched out far beyond the farthest sound tower for the main stage. The crowd, all on its feet, watched eagerly as the set opened with a video about the Month of May–leading into the band’s song of similar name, and meshed seamlessly into “Rebellion (Lies).” Will Butler, the frontman’s brother (known to many as the crazy drum man), lived up to his reputation on every song, pounding the drum with such vigor that shoulder dislocation seemed imminent. Régine Chassange glowed on numbers like “Haiti,” dancing around in a gold foil dress when not at the mic. The band, focusing on tracks from The Suburbs but also venturing back to Funeral with songs like “Crown of Love,” came to a culmination at the end of the set with “Wake Up” – in which audience participation was probably at its peak for the day. As the crowd swayed and sang along to the wordless chorus, more than a hundred bike-tire-sized white beach balls dropped from the stage, lighting up the audience as they flashed different colors and patterns. After a brief wait, the band returned and the encore–“Ready to Start,” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and “Sprawl II” –before closing out the night, sending audience members home with glowing inflatable lanterns on the long walk back to campgrounds and parking lots.

The delightfully campy Scissor Sisters were unconcerned that they were billed up against Arcade Fire. Now in their tenth year of making flamboyant dance-pop, Scissor Sisters knew how to whip the crowd into a sequined frenzy, even after a day of dust and dehydration. Heck with dual-vocalists Jake Shears and Ana Matronic on point and busing out coordinated dance moves, the hour-long set passed by in a glittery haze. The band gave equal play to songs off their three albums, notably provoking the opposite reaction to Tah-Dah!’s “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.” Shears, rocking the wrestling singlet and gold codpiece look, threw in some remarkable booty-shaking, but redheaded Ana Matronic stole his thunder with her send-off to an ex in “Kiss You Off.” As Ana Matronic quipped, “There’s nothing like tranny in the desert.”

Treeswingers’ Top Three

Arcade Fire- The Suburbs (download)

Foals- Two Steps, Twice (download)

Yelle- Safari Disco Club (download)

Get the full Day Two playlist here.

-Ryan, Ellen & Marisa


4 responses to “Coachella 2011: Day Two

  1. Pingback: 2011 Sasquatch! Music Festival Preview | treeswingers

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  4. Pingback: Two Door Cinema Club’s “Sleep Alone” | treeswingers

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