As Day 3 of the hot, hotter and, finally, the hottest music proved, women ROCK. From Lissie and Le Bucherettes to Santigold and Florence and the Machine, this was the day women of the Coachella lineup held nothing back, and fans were blessed by music yet again. It boggles the mind to think of how much talent one can take in over 3 days, and thats before a hologram-like 2Pac was resurrected to close the day on the 2nd weekend of Coachella 2012. In the end, I saw more than 50 bands over 72 hours in tripple digit heat and was reminded about what drew me to music so strongly in the first place: Music makes sense of our nonsense. You simply cannot put a pricetag on that, but if you were to try, Coachella is one sweet, sweet deal.
Ever since the bedheaded girl next door first crossed my radar, I've had no luck getting her voice out from under my skin, not that I've really been trying that hard. From her endless viral covers to her original songs, this girl is the real deal. She has a subdued rebellious honesty paired with a no frills delivery that is so appealing, especially against a generally over-produced sonic-scape. Lissie took us out with her Kid Cudi cover "Pursuit of Happiness" which seemed a fitting launch for the day.
The Brooklyn outfits lo-fi melodic creations are the stuff of youthful yelping in all its naked glory. Oberhofer seems like a genuine nice guy, too. If there is any justice in the music world, he will come out ahead.
Last year, Le Bucherettes toured with one of my old-school band favorites, Deftones, and I've been hooked on Teri Gender-Bender's Guadalajara garage punk genius ever since. This band is perfect for revelling in female sass, one of Your Girl In Music's fave passtimes.
First Aid Kit
These Swedish sisters - so in love with the Coachella Valley's own alien hunt in Joshua Tree by the late, great Gram Parsons - have made warm, 60's melodic pop uber cool again. This was their Coachella debut and it was a rousing success. Expect to hear alot more of their soft, gentle sound in the days, months and years to come.
Santi White comes from the music industry. The former A&R maven has successfully translated her business-end skills to her creative songwriting craft, creating a lush, street-art inspired carnivale of neon pop and funk. Everyone danced at this set, including a coreographed two-person costumed horse, on stage with the backup dancers. Santigold is destined for greatness, without doubt.
The self proclaimed purveyors of the "bent-sound" noise brought a lot of energy to their Sunday afternoon set. Revelling in the glory days past of Rock'N'Roll, this So-Cal beach city pop-rock outfit brought the surf to the desert, bending time and space, as well as sound.
Forget everything you ever thought you knew about clear genre definitions! Beats Antique fuses Roots, Belly Dancing and Electro-Acoustic sounds into one delightful groove, thats heavy on the bass and percussion and light on the self-importance one might expect in such a pure artistic temperment.
Fitz and the Tantrums
LA's own indie soul group has been making the rounds in the last year with turns at the Greek Theater and now an ecstatically successful Coachella set. The beauty of Motown came alive again, in all new 2012 packaging for one gorgeous hour.
This all female post-punk indie powerhouse was one of the lesser-known bands Your Girl In Music was most excited to experience. The rowdy ruccus-raising romp was just what the doctor ordered half way through the final day of Coachella 2012. Good, gritty girl rock, to a T. And I mean good and gritty and girlie.
In a ringmaster's suit, Swedish garage-rockers the Hives frontman Pelle Almqvist took to the main stage and deftly executed a set that could only be described as a self-contained, fiercly-burning, fan frenzy - well before the sun went down or the heat of the day subsided. This was old-school fun served up in heaping portions.
As the temperature dropped to a mere 100* F, hip-hop hot-shot Weeknd grooved and slow-jammed us (with dub-step beats no less) into the begining of the end of this especially epic weekend. For a while there, Your Girl In Music believed she was witnessing Michael Jackson, reincarnate: Weeknd has MJ's "Thriller" and "Billy-Jean" voice down pat, but boasts a way sexier delivery, and a charisma that begs to be known more of.
The crowd was overflowing to the adjacent tents 5 minutes into the start of Gotye's set. Yes, 90% of them were there simply to hear the ultimate break-up anthem of all time, that one monster hit of his with Kimbra that SNL parodied so well last week. But here's the thing: Gotye has been around for years and has a top-notch arsenal of a catalog, and he had no intention of letting the crowd use him for a quick fix without giving them their money's worth first - whether they wanted it or not. The crowd, thick with anticipation for him to play it, ate out of the palm of his hand. By the time he mentioned Kimbra, 10 minutes before the end of his set - cue 20,000 camera phones shooting straight into the air in perfect synchronicity - it only made sense that the throng of fans all pushed two feet forward (I was nearly trampled, but alas, it's what I do for music) and went berszonkers. Judging from the response, I think it's safe to say that all Coachellans have at least one Somebody That [They] Used To Know.
This french electronic duo, like, it seems, every french electronic duo, really knows what they are doing. I've never seen a crowd so smoothly manipulated, or love it so much. I'd have stayed longer but I had to make my way all the way across the grounds for ...
Your Girl In Music has been a die-hard fan of the lo-fi Brooklyn hip-hop trio since "8 Steps to Perfection." They were the decided antidote of honesty to the overproduced oh-so-faux sound of the later mid-nineties, and they broke onto the scene none too soon. One of least lauded yet most influencial hip-hop groups of their time, this set has been 16 years in the making for this writer, and it was all I could do to stay inside my own skin. Company Flow flows so well, its like existing outside of this universe's dimensions for a shimmering reprise.
Despite what Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman kept singing in "Ishtar," if you admit you can play the accordian, Beirut might just want you in their rock and roll band. Horns, accordians and a delicious sound all made Beirut a mightilly magical half hour as the pollo fields went dark and temperatures dropped to the high nineties.
At The Drive In
A reunion 10 years in the making was well worth it. These El Paso, TX rockers took to the stage and sounded like they had never stopped jamming together. It was pretty amazing to see the effect they had on audience members who had clearly not intended to patronize their set. "Who is this?" I kept getting asked, by passerby's who pulled up a towel and decided to camp for the set. They have the perfect soundrack for lying on your back in the grass and staring up into the stars.
Last night, a friend posted on Facebook that I had to make time for DJ Shadow, even if I "hated" EDM. Since I don't hate EDM, at all, and since I love this friends taste in music since she introduced me to RHCP, I made time. Color me wowed. Amazing visuals from the cool orb he played his set within. The crowd's response when Rage Against The Machine's Zach de la Rocha showed up for "March of Death" was highly amped and crazy cool.
Florence + the Machine
The last time I saw this special a performance at the Outdoor Theater during Coachella, it was 2009, and Leonard Cohen was singing for the first time in 15 years to a North American crowd. From the second the brlliant red-head emerged, my body was covered in chills and my breath was still. My heart still beat though, and I could feel it synchronize to the beat of her songs. This was sheer magical mayhem, second only to ...
Dr. Dre & Snoop D-O-Double-G
Yikes. My mind is melting. I knew exactly what to expect, because they made the set identical in every way to Weekend 1's, but still: my mind is MELTING, even now. First, Dr. Dre!!! How long have I been waiting to see him? As I love to explain everytime I go to Snoop's gigs, "Snoop is SNOOP" but Dre is also the one and only DRE, so those two together are enough of a solid main fest headliner to make the set special in a candy-cane cornucopia of godsent gangsta rap (I said it) way. Then there were the living special guests: Warren G, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Eminem.... The buzz just kept getting bigger and thicker and louder, till the tension was so high, you couldn't slice through it with a knife. Un-real and un-freaking-believeable. When they finally unveiled the hologram-like Patron Saint of West Coast Rap, Tupac for "Hail Mary" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," we all basically lost it, while frozen in awe. All in, those 87.25 minutes were the most epic of 2012 to date, and I wouldn't bet on them being surpassed.
All Photos courtesy Steven Chea.