by Josh Bis
on Sat, Apr 16, 2011 at 2:19 PM
Rather than watching the action in Indio from MOEchella, I hopped on a plane on Friday morning, trading Seattle's stubbornly reluctant spring for Palm Springs, with its mostly outdoor [!] airport, hilariously named casinos ("Agua Caliente") and dry heat to take in the happenings at the Empire Polo Field in person, making mad dashes to sample from the blisteringly eclectic array of bands on the program. Along my spree through Coachella I caught bits and pieces of sets from Titus Andronicus, the Drums, Odd Future, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Tame Impala, YACHT, Interpol, the Black Keys, Cut Copy, Crystal Castles, Kings of Leon, Robyn, Gayngs, and the Chemical Brothers.
I'm heading back in for day two, but before leaving the cool embrace of my hotel's air conditioner, I've posted some photos and hasty recap after the jump.
By the time I'd made my way through the credentialing stations, through the wristband checkpoints (now with RFID chips and situated far enough away from the venue to thwart the fence-jumpers that made last year's festival feel dangerously overcrowded) and onto the grassy wonderland, Titus Andronicus were just getting started with their furiously enthusiastic take on Civil War history. Obsessed with the past enough not to have Twitter accounts of their own, they nevertheless are modern enough to ask the audience to use the social networking service to help them meet Lil' B this afternoon. By the time my perspiratory system has calibrated to the desert heat, it's time to dash over to catch a few songs from Brooklyn's the Drums, where lead singer Jonathan Pierce dances round the stage, singing, conducting invisible orchestras, and breaking out on air guitar solos. Next door the massive tent is packed for music blog success story Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All for a swag swag swag swag swag wolf gang swag swag swag wolf gang wolf gang variety show. The girls behind me can't understand what the LA kids are saying on stage and I suspect that's probably for the best.
I hang out at the edges for a while before crossing the stylistic gulf to see The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, showing off songs from Belong, their great new album that wraps their previous twee sensibilities in ninetiesesque guitar washes. Tame Impala hit the Outdoor Stage at just about the perfect time in the early evening for sprawling out on the grass along with gauzy sun-drenched psychadelia. Back across the campus, Portland's own YACHT bust out cowbell-happy revivalism, dance moves, alien inspired rock, and a sort of new age invitation to change the world by freeing your mind to your own personal utopia. But it's all spastically fun and new-ish addition to the group Claire L. Evans is one of the most crowd-engaging performers of the day.
Although I haven't really actively thought about them in a while, back at the mainstage, I'm reminded of how much I liked Interpol's first couple of records. The songs are irresistible machines of post-punk gloom and I hang around for most of their set, which features video manipulations from Seattle's HPX and a new animation from David Lynch during "Lights", recaffeinating and waiting to see the beginning of the Black Keys, who are inconveniently scheduled at exactly the same time as Cut Copy. Scurrying from one band to the other, I'm impressed at the size of the crowds assembled by both. The former's thunderous blues echo through hundreds of yards of spectators, the latter's synesthesiac show has a tent full of people in a blissed out dance frenzy. Wandering back, I stop for a few minutes of Crystal Castles wall of noise amid heavy fog and strobes, and hang around for a few minutes of Kings of Leon to see if they'd play any of their guilty-pleasure hits in the beginning of their set.
Elsewhere, Robyn arrives from outer space in six inch platform boots, her band and fans wearing flashing red hearts. There was no shortage of dancing in the audience, but per her lyrics, she did a lot of dancing on her own on stage. About a half an hour later than scheduled, a light tube descends from the rafters and the Chemical Brothers turn the main stage into a massive video installation while the crowd incites glow stick typhoons at key moments. The whole electro rave situation is a bit too close to my visions of a future run by gamer robots, so before calling it a night I swing by to see what sort-of supergroup Gayngs are up to. There, I find Har Mar Superstar draped in a white hooded cape and covering George Michael's "Teacher". Though the crowd is sparse, the stage is packed with musicians jamming out and having a good time and playing some sort of eternal last prom.