Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Two: Coachella: Part Two


I mentioned in an earlier Coachella post about the times during the festival when the music matched the desert surroundings, and the Calexico set was definitely one of those times. We were unsure of what we were going to see at this time slot, and if I'm not mistaken we had something else chosen, but somehow we wound up finding a place on the grass to stretch out and take in this band. Prior to this experience the most I'd known of Calexico is the things I'd heard off those friends I'd known who'd seen the co-tour they did with Iron and Wine, and a song that had landed itself on a mix given to me once, featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg (their cover of Bob Dylan's Just Like a Woman, for the film I'm Not There). This was a set that I did not feel driven to give my constant attention to, yet their music sunk into my skin like the rays of the late afternoon sun did. I experienced them casually, leaning back in the grass, and taking in the day around me. The one sight that still revolves in my memory bank was of this group of young people who were dancing, often dramatically, to the music together - and with each other. There was one girl in particular, strikingly beautiful, dressed in a sarong and bikini top, with a deep scar that snaked up her torso. What struck me the most about this girl is how she spun around, in complete abandon, not hiding this mark on her that some might label a flaw. It was amazing to watch, and hit me right there how much power music has, and how deeply I'm affected by being among music fans. Calexico has stayed around with me, too - like a postcard I sent home to myself - as I've found myself seeking more of their music, playing it over and again, and feeling transported back to the desert, and that day.

Thievery Corporation

The beauty and magic continued on to the main Coachella stage, as we made our way over to watch Thievery Corporation. Again, the music and the desert matched up perfectly, and as the night sky turned dark, and the bright array of lights turned on, I felt transported by the music. This was a set impossible not to dance to, to sway back and forth to, and to feel lifted by - even if you sat on the grass in wonderment. The only weak moment was when they asked Perry Farrell to join them on-stage to sing Revolution Solution. I know he was featured on the released version of this song, but his voice really detracted from the over-arching sound of the set to me. The rest though was brilliant, truly an unforgettable. Warning Shots and Exilio were my favourites, as was Lebanese Blonde. I am grateful that I did not miss the swirling magic of this set.


Oh how I wanted to like M.I.A., I really did. Both Jules and I have enjoyed her music for awhile. Now, I will preface this by saying that I am a fan of breaking down the fourth wall that exists between stage and audience, and I have often admired, and enjoyed, artists who bridge that gap and really interact with their fans (bands that do random gigs in fans flats, stage diving like Amanda Palmer did in her set, artists who go into the audience during a show as Joss Stone actually did), but this - the stage invasion that M.I.A. instigated, it felt different. From the start of her set she seemed determined to break all the rules just for the sake of breaking them, and to prove some point that she wasn't a sell out. She even went into a rendition of Amy Winehouse's Rehab (Amy Winehouse, who was supposed to play, and whose slot M.I.A. actually ended up with) with the re-written lyrics of "They tried to make me do the Oscars but I said no, no, no.") This just seemed like the wrong place to throw out all this anti-music corporation anger. I mean, did she not agree to do Coachella? Was it not a festival of music? It was not a brand campaign showcase, or any kind of heavily commercialized venue. To me, Coachella seemed to be full of music fans - not like some Los Angeles show which is filled with a percentage of industry people just being seen. Whatever her reasons, and she may very well have had them, it rubbed me the wrong way and made it hard for me to enjoy her music. I felt like I was a manipulated participant in an agenda that I did not necessarily buy into. I am all for the spirit of fight the man, but this just felt like a battle fought against an innocent village. We were all there for the music.

The Killers

Brandon Flowers is the epitome of a frontman. He is charismatic, theatrical, passionate, and impossible not to be moved by. I remember the very first time I heard The Killers it was the song Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine and my first thought was "Who stole John Taylor's bass guitar?" Duran Duran was my first band I ever fell in love with, and all the shows I went to were phenomenal to me. They would start and I would disappear into the music, the showmanship of Simon LeBon, the sounds of the keyboard, lead guitar and bass - all of it. The show would start, and I would scream-sing along, and before I knew it the show was over and I was screaming for an encore. This set felt that way. For an evening I was that 15 year old girl scream-singing along to a band that just stole me away. They even played Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine. Though my favourites were the emotive Sam's Town with Brandon on the piano, the sing-a-long All These Things That I've Done, and my personal favourite Killers' song, Read My Mind.

They were incredible.

Thank you, Mr. Flowers, for making me feel 15 again. And yes, my crush on you is still going strong.

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