Festival Review: Coachella 2013 – Sunday, April 14th

    coachella 2013

    As the late great George Harrison taught us, “all things must pass.” Though the ex-Beatle was mainly referring to cloudbursts, sunsets, and the finality of life itself, this nugget of bedrock wisdom rings no less true for our pilgrimage to Coachella’s exuberant fusion of gluttonous music consumption and skimpy neon ensembles. Sunday saw festivalgoers sporting looser fitting, more modest attire, and the generally mellow mood was a well-earned change of pace following Friday’s frantic nerves and Saturday’s purposeful navigating.

    But something about our excesses this past weekend must have angered the rock deities. As night descended, a windstorm featuring gusts surpassing 75 miles-per-hour whipped through Indio, blowing dust and sand into nostrils and corneas of squinting wristband-wearers. Was this brutal windstorm the price we paid for Saturday’s R. Kelly cameo? Whatever the reason, the cruel meteorological turn resulted in a windswept death march to the parking lot that one unsatisfied patron indelicately described as “the hipster trail of tears.”


    Photo by Ted Maider

    DIIV – Mojave – 2:30 p.m.

    Sometimes you’ve just got to take one for the team. For Brooklyn newcomers DIIV, comprised of baby-faced frontman Zachary Cole Hewitt (Beach Fossils), Colby Hewitt (Smith Westerns), and guitarist Andrew Bailey; this meant changing their name from DIV (one “I”, pronounced “dive”) to DIIV (pronounced the same way, confusingly enough) out of respect for 90’s Belgian industrial rockers “Dive.” As a result, half their Sunday afternoon fans mistakenly referred to them as “great group D-I-I-V,” a rough break for a talented band trying to build up a little name recognition. Yet none of this could stop a hickey-necked Hewitt from trashing wildly around the stage to the tune of streaming sheogaze guitar lines and dreamy, silvery synths. Giving fans fair warning that he was about to “go into a darker mood of our material”, the frontman turned to “Geist” in a flurry of turbulent echo and tastefully manipulated feedback. -Henry Hauser

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    Photo by Ted Maider


    Thee Oh Sees – Gobi – 3:15 p.m.

    For most Coachella performers, wild on-stage antics are less about spontaneity and are more of a theatrical element to the show. After all, people are here to be entertained. San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees, on the other hand, brought anarchy in the Gobi for an early Sunday afternoon set of raucous garage punk. Taking a break from tonguing a microphone, clear guitar-wielding frontman John Dwyer called for one particular mosher to surf over the rail and join the band onstage to play the tambourine: Ty Segall. After two long days, it’s difficult to get worked into a frenzy; well, unless Thee Oh Sees are onstage. -Frank Mojica


    Photo by Frank Mojica

    Jessie Ware – Mojave – 3:45 p.m.

    The latest in a long-standing tradition of British singers with soulful leanings to play Coachella’s afternoon was Jessie Ware. Backed by a band with bass-heavy leanings, Ware soared as she charmed the crowd with cuts from Devotion and fan request “Sweet Talk”. Sampha wasn’t in town, but drummer Dornik Leigh was up to the task of accompanying Ware for set highlighting duet “Valentine”, which inspired the couples in the back to sway in unison. -Frank Mojica

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    Photo by Ted Maider

    Kurt Vile and the Violators – 3:55 p.m.

    As a light fog crept steadily toward Coachella Valley, Kurt Vile and the Violators plugged in for a set that drew heavily from their critically-acclaimed fifth studio album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze.  Though based in Philly, Kurt Vile recorded LP in various studios across America, from his hometown city of brother love to upstate New York and Coachella feeder city Los Angeles (how apropos). Toying with the crowd, Vile motioned off toward the Coachella stage and mumbled that the “bass sounds good over there,” highlighting the unfortunate reality that many were forced to compete with the clamor of nearby stages throughout the weekend. Turning up the volume, Vile made the best of things by matching scratchy, emphatic guitar riffs with Adam Granduciel’s soaring Wurlitzer organ. Averting his eyes from the sparse crowd, Vile jerked his head from side to side, sending waves of greasy shoulder-length hair across his ashen face.  He’d play most of his set behind his curtain of hair, though nobody seemed care or notice. -Henry Hauser

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    Photo by Ted Maider


    Dinosaur Jr. – Outdoor Theatre – 5:10 p.m.

    Dinosaur Jr. has been around for longer than some of their disciples have been alive, yet they’re the rare exception of a band that’s still going strong in releasing new material in their later years. The succession of “Watch the Corners” into “Rude” from 2012’s I Bet on Sky receives nearly as much love from the noise-worshipping fans as classics like “Sludgefeast” and “Freak Scene.” Yet it’s when the band ventures even further back into their history as Deep Wound, the hardcore band Mascis and Barlow formed in high school, for “Training Ground” that everything comes full circle in a manner rarely witnessed with other acts. -Frank Mojica


    Photo by Ted Maider

    James Blake – Mojave – 6:00 p.m.

    Sunday’s early-evening vibe was noticeably more mellow than the previous two days thanks to equal parts fatigue and a hazed, windy shift in weather. Even if it were still a hundred degrees outside, the Mojave tent would have been a chilling place thanks to post-dubstepper James Blake. The biggest crowd pleasers were his earliest cuts, with excitement threatening to peak prematurely with the one-two punch of Feist cover “Limit to Your Love” and “CMYK”. On the live stage, the futuristic vibe of Blake’s pairing of pained vocals and broken beats was diminished in translation, shifting focus on the soulful side. -Frank Mojica


    Photo by Ted Maider

    Rodriguez –Gobi – 6:35 p.m.

    For the first 60 years of his gritty, gutsy life, it seemed as though Rodriguez would suffer the same fate as Vincent Van Gogh and John Kennedy Toole.  Sadly, those that spend their lives forging bold statements that encapsulate pain, beauty, and fundamental truth (sometimes in a single lyric) can go unrecognized in their own lifetimes, never getting the chance to see how their work has enriched and illuminated the lives of others. But Sixto Rodriguez, central figure of redemptive Oscar-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, is finally getting his due after decades of obscurity working as a construction contractor in inner city Detroit.


    Literally leaning on his two daughters for physical support, Rodriguez shuffled toward his cherry red microphone amidst waves of gushy applause and escalating chants of “Rod-ree-guez / Rod-ree-guez!”. Garbed in tight black leather pants, a fitted black blazer, black hat, and (you guessed it) dark shades, Rodriguez looked remarkably cool for a man of 70 as he delivered cuts off his 1970 debut Cold Facts and its 1971 follow-up Coming from Reality. “Sugar Man”, “I Wonder”, and scathing jab “Crucify Your Mind” had the crowd singing along to the singer-songwriter’s irrepressible vocals. As the set closed with Rodriguez locking arms with his band and taking a long, slow bow, fans shared in this touching display of strength and gratitude that left them feeling warm, gooey, and hopeful. -Henry Hauser


    Photo by Ted Maider

    Vampire Weekend – Coachella – 7:20 p.m.

    It was quite fitting that Vampire Weekend played the Coachella stage just as the last uncompromising rays of the long weekend were smothered by thick, foreboding clouds more hospitable to a blood sucking creature from Transylvania than bros, hippies, and hipsters sporting lime green wristbands. Though the Columbia grads satisfied their audience by delivering all the hits off their first two albums, the band came off like they were just going through the motions.

    On what should have been a youthfully exuberant “Oxford Comma”, Vampire Weekend sounded less like a band trying to connect with its audience and more like posers merely hoping to evoke a memory of their sugary studio material. Bookended by syncopated pop ditty “Cousins” and saccharine, preppy ode to Cape Cod, “Walcott”, the flat set was one of the weekend’s biggest disappointments.


    Photo by Ted Maider


    In one respect, though, the set surpasses all others: “bro-ments.” These are moments indicative of bro-esque or bro-ish behavior, whether that be taking photos of your whole crew in the middle of your favorite song (music doesn’t come out in snapshots guys), or blabbering garishly over choruses and interludes.  Though bro culture was a strong influence throughout the weekend, it might have reached a tipping point during Vampire Weekend’s flaccid set. Still, “Diane Young” sounded swell. -Henry Hauser


    Photo by Ted Maider

    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Coachella – 8:40 p.m.

    An unfortunate aspect of attending a major festival is regret. It’s inevitable that many of us will lament being in the wrong place once the benefit of hindsight becomes available. For me, I especially regret departing Janelle Monáe early to get to New Order on time. Fortunately, consolation came in the realization that I did not share the same mistake as the majority of attendees who either left or were somewhere other than the mainstage for the long overdue Coachella debut of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

    The turnout may have been the smallest of the entire weekend at Coachella’s nighttime mainstage, but opener “Jubilee Street” was no less grandiose and all the more haunting, with accompaniment by both a children’s choir from the Silverlake Music Conservatory and a string section. As if watching a group of children, many of whom were sporting “Bad Seed” t-shirts, accompany Cave on a song about a murdered prostitute weren’t surreal enough, he later stepped offstage to sing “From Her to Eternity” and “Stagger Lee” at the crowd control barrier.


    Photo by Ted Maider


    It’s there he screamed “suck my dick because if you don’t, you’re gonna be dead” with his crotch at face level among the fans and, again, the nearby children’s choir. Off to the side, partner-in-crime Warren Ellis attempted to draw some attention away with his maddened wizard style, sawing on his violin until little bow hair remained. It was a visual clusterfuck and if there was actual justice in the music world, it would have been the night’s closing set. -Frank Mojica


    Photo by Ted Maider

    Wu-Tang Clan – Outdoor – 9:15 p.m.

    Decades later, The Wu ain’t nothin’ to fuck with — especially at Coachella. The veteran hip-hop collective welcomed one of the largest crowds at the Outdoor stage all weekend and tipped off the madness with a raging two-hit performance of “Protect Ya Neck” and “Bring da Ruckus”. As expected, the set digested most of their 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, with obvious highlights being “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shame on a Nigga”, and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit”.

    Each member swung their own proverbial sword by carving out solo material — Method’s “All I Need” and “Bring the Pain”, Raekwon’s “Ice Cream”, Ghostface Killah’s “Winter Warz”, and GZA’s “Duel of the Iron Mic” — but the real win was a cover of the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s  ”Brooklyn Zoo”. And while it’s annoying the only track off their unspoken classic, 2000’s The W, was the still-intoxicating “Gravel Pit”, they did follow it up with the always-excellent “Triumph” off 1997’s Wu-Tang Forever.


    Photo by Ted Maider


    All in all, a proper closer to a dangerous set that proved the MCs can still slice, dice, and kill. Nothing but respect over here. -Ted Maider


    Photographers: Ted Maider

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