Friday, April 24, 2009

Day Two: Coachella: Part One

Ida Maria

Second day in and the first set we saw was Ida Maria. I was not all that familiar with her music beyond the one song that had made its rounds via the music blogs that I follow, I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked. She was much more than that catchy tune, though that was a fun song to take in live (and the stickers that were getting passed around, with the retro Sex Pistols font, was quite fun). She reminded me a lot of a more pop-infused Bjork (think Debut, or perhaps a little less surreal Sugarcubes). Andi did mention that she reminded her of Nena, and I see that comparison, too; a matter of fact I think we mused on her doing a cover of 99 Luft Balloons while discussing her. She gave a high energy performance that was hard not to be caught up in, and I enjoyed the intro she gave to my personal favourite song of the set, Stella. My only real criticism would be that I would have preferred they turned up her vocals a bit more, and that there had been a bit more sound balance between the rest of the band, and her voice. I also really loved the song that she introduced as a "desert song", Keep Me Warm, especially the lyrics "Pour myself a cup of coffee full of sober nights, cos nicotine and coffee are my friends in this fight".

Bob Mould Band

Hüsker Dü was one of those bands that I'd heard of, but not heard, until I found myself working for years at various record stores. I'll admit, though, that I heard Bob Mould first in Sugar before I ever heard an album of the former, and I think my musical heart was always more moved by the latter (I loved Copper Blue so much). He gave an amazing performance, full of power pop energy that I had first loved in those first moments of hearing him. Hoover Dam was my favourite of the set, as I mentioned before a song coming from the album I loved the most from his various incarnations, and musical body of work. I also enjoyed one of his new songs, Life and Times, whose lyrics hit me hard - in a good way. I hadn't actually planned on checking out his band when I'd originally set-up my Coachella plan-to-see list, but I am glad I stumbled into the Gobi tent and gave a listen.

Joss Stone

There was a bit of a break between acts we had planned to see, and Jules and I wandered about a bit, finally deciding to find a nice spot on the grass and listen to Joss Stone. She gave an enjoyable performance, and has quite a voice. I especially enjoyed her nearly unrecognizable cover of The White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl (Boy). Though I personally prefer the original, this was a refreshing take on the song, and it was a nice showcase for her bluesy voice. She interracted with the audience in a playful way, and her enjoyment with the day, and performing was infectious, and we both found ourselves tapping our toes and smiling a lot (even in the heat of the late desert afternoon).

Paolo Nutini

This was one of Jules' can't miss picks, this and the next set (though the next one we were both determined not to miss). Unfortunately Paolo's set ran into the next one, so we only stayed for a few songs. What we did see was best described as charming and fun. I would like to see a full set with him someday, and both of us agreed to checking him out again if, or when, he comes to Los Angeles. The one thing that stuck out for me, as well as his charm and fun persona, was how his accent comes out so thick in his songs. I'd heard New Shoes on a mix Jules made for our drive to Coachella, and then heard it again this morning on the same mix, and realized that the album version is very produced, and that his accent is nearly erased on the recorded version. I prefer the live Paolo, thick Scottish accent, and all.

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer's set was one of my most loved musical memories from Coachella. I loved her, and though I did like her before Coachella, I think seeing her live turned me into an all-out fan of hers. She has tremendous stage presence and charisma, has this way of connecting with the audience both with her expressions, her asides and stories between songs, and her unique and emotion-infused performance. She started the show by bringing out a line of volunteers who allowed their bodies to be painted up, including a letter affixed to each of their backs which spelled out her name as introduction. She stood up in all her corset and gartered glory and it was impossible to not pay attention. My favourites of the set were the moving Ampersand (that has found its way into my heart, and become one of those songs that I'll be calling one of my favourites for a long time to come), Coin Operated Boy, I Google You (a co-written gem that she wrote the music for, and Neil Gaiman wrote the lyrics to that anyone who spends anytime on the internet can relate to, even if you want to deny it), and the grand, crowd-surfing finale - a sing-a-long to Radiohead's Creep. Amanda Palmer had me on an emotional roller-coaster the entire set, crying one minute (especially to Ampersand), laughing the next, and applauding her tenacious, brave and beautiful spirit the next. This really was one of the highlights of Coachella, for me.

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