Review: Coachella 2010, Part 1: Mind Blowing Acts

Palm Springs – 130 bands, 3 days, 30+ degree desert weather, an abundance of mind-altering substances, pairs of wayfarers in every colour you can imagine, interesting headdresses, more sweaty skin-to-skin contact than you’d like to admit and 80,000 of your closest hipster friends baking and dancing under the desert sun…this is Coachella.

Admittedly I only managed to see 20% of the 130, but this still entailed 24 hours of pure concert bliss. To list the performances I saw with separate reviews would be boring and exhaustive, for brevity’s sake I will lump the performances into 3 categories: Mind Blowing, Surprisingly Sub-Par and Honourable Mentions.

Mind Blowing

I’ll start out with the best of the fest because well, I left California with a great deal of respect for the following 3 acts: Whitest Boy Alive, Thom Yorke and Gorillaz.

One: Whitest Boy Alive

Whitest Boy Alive is the brainchild of Erlend Oye, best known for his work with Kings of Convenience, one of my favourite bands. I have been a fan of WBA for a few years now and am embarrassed to admit I only learned of Erlend’s association with them about a week before Coachella.

When I received the set list for Coachella I was disappointed to see that their set coincided with Jay-Z during the first night. I caught most of Jay-Z’s show which was awesome as expected and then made my way from the Coachella main stage to the GOBI tent to see WBA. The tent was surprisingly packed and WBA was still setting up their equipment. After a few minutes the band casually walked on and opened with Keep a Secret, one of my favourites and then continued to play song after amazing song from both of their albums.

They have a very unique electronic and somewhat funky sound that, combined with Erlend’s silky smooth Norwegian voice is hard not to bop your head to. As far as stage presence, when Erlend walked on the first thing I thought was that he looked like Bill Gates, but where he lacks in style he makes up in tight melody. This was WBA’s second time playing in North America (they made a stop in San Francisco to play at a small venue called Slim’s which I’ve heard was equally as amazing) and I certainly hope they plan a more extensive tour that includes Toronto because I would love to see these guys at a more intimate venue.

Two: Thom Yorke

On the Coachella set list he was billed as Thom Yorke????, which most people thought was a typo, but apparently when he assembled his super group (who play with him on tour) of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco they never managed to name themselves so they stuck with the ever mysterious Thom Yorke????.

I’m big fan of Radiohead, but have never seen them live so could not understand the cult following they garnered and the immediacy at which their lives shows sold out. Boy do I realize why now! Thom Yorke has one of the strongest and most beautiful voices live, even heard from way at the back of an outdoor stage. He played his entire Eraser album, beginning with the slower songs and slowly building with the harder driving electro-heavy tunes.

Thom does it all, during the set he sang, played guitar, piano, keyboard and percussion. While his Eraser set was nothing short of jaw-dropping, I would say most people lingered around to catch some Radiohead tunes. Knowing this Thom closed with an acoustic version of Airbag (OK Computer) and a classic, Everything in its Right Place (Kid A, Radioheads closest album to The Eraser). I was blown away with Thom’s talent and cannot wait for what comes next, whether it be Radiohead or another solo album.

Three: Gorillaz

Gorillaz headlined the last day of Coachella and went on right after Thom Yorke at the main stage. Before the festival I hadn’t heard much of their new Plastic Beach album but I was a big fan of their debut Demon Days. Gorillaz is made up of Damon Albarn, formally of Blur and Jamie Hewlett, the mastermind behind the famous Gorillaz comic book cartoons. Now if you’ve ever listened to a Gorillaz album you’ll know that it’s heavy on collaborations and it crosses all musical genres so I was wondering how the hell they would pull off a live show.

They opened with a video of Snoop Dogg singing Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach, now we were pretty far back in the crowd so our surrounding concert goers thought Snoop was actually on stage which stirred some hype! Unfortunately Snoop was not actually there, but from where I was standing I could see that with Damon on the keyboard and vocals, they had back-up singers, a string quartet and various other members.

They played most of their classics; Kids With Guns, Clint Eastwood, Last Living Souls as well as most from their new album including my favourites Stylo (which featured Bobby Womack) and Melancholy Hill (they did not play DARE). Gorillaz closed their set and the entire festival with Feel Good Inc alongside De La Soul. Between the cartoons playing on the big screen, their backup ensemble and the truly original sound of Gorrillaz I was definitely impressed that they rocked a live show so well.

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Posted on by sarahw in Concerts, Everything, Music

5 Responses to Review: Coachella 2010, Part 1: Mind Blowing Acts

  1. JBone

    awesome stuff, sounds like straight up shenanigans… can’t wait for parts 2 and 3

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