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Thread: 2014 - Weekend II Review

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    Member Dede' Arneaux's Avatar
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    Red face 2014 - Weekend II Review

    Coachella 2014, my 6th Coachella and one of the best

    Review Key
    5 - get the entire back catalogue asap and book tickets for the next tour - outfunkingstanding
    4 - get the latest album / greatest hits and check if they’re touring - excellent
    3 - get a couple of top tracks - good
    2 - no need to seek more tunes - festival filler
    1 - think twice when shuffle throws up a track - pants


    Friday 18th April 2014

    Tom Odell - Mojave Tent

    Tom looks like Chesney Hawkes but with many more than one and only tunes and a more ballsy sound than Paolo Nutini. Despite the early start (12.00) the set is energetic. He wants to be liked ... and is. Piano is centre stage and centre of the sound, supported by some excellent hard rock lead guitar. Highlights are ‘sirens’ & ‘grow old with me’. The piano stool is kicked over as the set peaks in the last song and really the piano itself should have been next if he’d been serious. Great performance. Blond bombshell. (4)

    The Preatures - Coachella Stage

    Lead singer Isabella Manfredi struts across stage looking like a dancing in the dark-esque Courtney Cox. The sun is shining and this Sydney sunshine guitar sound fits well in the desert,. Not as heavy as The Joy Formidable but equally listenable. The single ‘better than it ever could be’ is hummable and underpinned by a bouncing funky bass line without being outright poppy. Isabella’s voice is borderline annoying after a while and could do with some backing vocal to add variety and depth, but it’s a minor irritation in this short set. We like them. (4)

    Ms Mr - Coachella Stage

    ‘Hurricane’ the single from 2012 is the stand out track by the band fronted by shocking pink haired front-girl Lizzy Plapinger and ‘producer’ keybord player Max who’s wearing a really bad set of matching black & white jogging shorts and T- shirt that wouldn’t look out of place on Don Johnson’s designer dog. They’re trying hard on the big stage but its a bit too ‘Florence’ especially when the bass player reverts to the keyboards. Apart from ‘hurricane’ which reminds me of ‘I still believe’ by Tim Cappello from ‘The Lost Boys’ soundtrack, the highlight is Lizzy’s infectious smile. (3)

    Jagwar Ma - Gobi Tent

    These guys, also from Sydney, immediately remind me of Leeds band The Music, although this 3 piece is founded in the knob twisting and drum loops provided by keys / DJ Jono Ma. Beautifully reverberous lead vocals provide a cool hypnotic sonic breeze with which the whole tent is soon bouncing. This year’s release ‘Uncertainty’ starts with a slow electronic bass beat until the vocal refrain takes over. ‘how can you, how can you look so gloomy, when you’re gloomy howlin’ looks so good to me’ Hypnotic non? The 45 min set finishes with the excellent “The Throw’. We want more. (4)

    Haim - Outdoor Stage

    Absolutely superb and that’s just the bass player’s facials. These girls can play ... and some. Kicking off with ‘Falling’ the attitude is one of an experienced touring guitar band who know what they’re doing. And they do. ‘Honey & I’ follows, as do live favourites ‘forever’, ‘the wire’ and ‘let me go’. The sound is far more raunchy live than on record, more immediate, less polished. This applies to guitar, bass and vocals. I’m very pleasantly surprised. The huge crowd is dominated by young females and I bet there are a few older dudes nodding along respectfully with bottom lips pursed. Excellent. (5)

    Bastille - Mojave Tent

    Turn the dial firmly to ‘pop’ and jump around jump around. An engaging live performance but the songs are possibly lacking the substance of say Temper Trap or Foals. Mid set, ‘things we lost in the fire’ fire fire fires up the crowd. These guys have clearly hit a vein of popularity in the U.S. They close with ‘pompeii’ and while I’ve enjoyed the set I can’t help thinking White Lies will do something similar better with a sharper edge tomorrow. (3)

    Ellie Goulding - Coachella Stage

    Main stage crowd (big), main stage production (big band), main stage performance (bold) - “hi my name’s Ellie’. She works hard to win over a crowd that was onside from the start. Things really get moving with ‘starry eyed’ and the fragile voice and self deprecating chat betrays the confidence justified by her graduation from her Gobi tent performance in 2011. The Calvin Harris collaboration ‘I need your love’ speeds along as Ellie pops up across the full width of the stage. ‘Lights’ is kinda similar to ‘starry eyed’ and the set is topped off with a rousing ‘burn’. (4)

    Broken Bells - Outdoor Stage

    James Mercer and Dangermouse combine to produce a funkier and equally confidently restrained version of Crowded House. DM switches between drums & bass in a thoughtfully chilled sunset set that sets up the remainder of the night. ‘The ghost inside’ and ‘holding on for life’ stand out early as James Mercer’s bearded and stationary presence presents a collection of songs that doesn’t need or warrant chart recognition. Closer ‘the high road’ arrives all too soon heralded by the opening salvo of piano and clarinet. In this song James Mercer has found ‘it’ and we should tell all our friends. His vocal breaks into falsetto in a Beach Boys like bridge before falling back into a groovy place for the laid back chorus and middle eight. He reminds us it’s too late to change our minds - we’ve been captured and that’s fine. (4)

    Bryan Ferry - Mojave Tent

    Unfortunately Bryan completely ruined the set by whistling out of tune throughout the last bars of closing song ‘Jealous Guy’. Prior to this aural aberration, the star of the show was the lady clarinet/horn player who shone bright on ‘Love is the drug’, ‘More Than This’ - which was a highlight , ‘Avalon’ and ‘Virginia Plain’. Unsurprisingly the bow tie was untied and the band were tighter than 8 overweight waiters in a family saloon. Smooth isn't enough - super & smooth is a closer summation. We didn't need much more than this. He did what we hoped he’d do. (3)

    The Cult - Mojave Tent

    The Cult have plenty to say, nothing to prove and these punks with long hair don't give a toss if they win or lose. Opening with the bass heavy, dark end of the street ‘The Witch’ they show us what is true. ‘Sweet Soul Sister’ and ‘Rain’ follow as the juggernaught hits Interstate 10 at 90 mph. Hot sticky sweet, like the desert sun that burns my skin - indeed. This is rock & roll - paint stripper loud and Billy Duffy is quite simply superb, particularly on ‘The Phoenix’. Topped off by a decent vocal from Ian Astbury the set climaxes with the brutal stacatto rifferarma of ‘Wildflower’ and the dancefloor hit of 1984 ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. ‘Fire Woman’ would have been a bonus, but it’s not to be. Excellentertainment nonetheless. (5)

    OutKast - Coachella Stage

    Outkast have been on for 3/4 of an hour by the time we zip round to the Main stage, arriving in time to catch ‘Hey Yah’ in Andre 3000’s section of the set, but regretfully missing the insistent marching beat of ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’, ‘Da Art of Storytellin’ & ‘ATLiens’. Nevermind. The enormo main stage crowd are groovin along with every downbeat and holler. For a band who were accused of cashing in, they are paying out with fresh enthusiasm like a malfunctioning ATM and receiving very positive feedback from 40,000+ taking a loan of temporary twitchy dancin’ feet. The upbeat songs have dated pretty well. Killer Mike guests on ‘The Whole World’ which completes a 24 song set that no-one can complain about.(3)

    Saturday 19th April 2014

    Laura Mvula - Gobi Tent

    Brit newcomer of the year in 2103, Laura takes the stage in a white toga and plonks herself behind the electric piano in front of two harps. This is not going to be a sanctuary sale. A great voice, reminiscent of Oleta Adams, would be very much at home in the context of a Bond movie theme tune. The set picked up towards the end when Laura stood and took centre stage. (3)

    Unlocking The Truth - Coachella Stage

    Under 16 metal 3 piece on the main stage as the heat of the afternoon starts to ramp up. I expected a novelty set. I get a pretty accomplished delivery of speed metal wrapped in a cheeky cocky between song rapport with the crowd. Quote of the weekend - “If I don't see you guys over there with your hands in the air for this next one, it’s over between us.” The next one had a whirlpool effect on the mosh pit. The band dived one by one into the crowd and (were) surfed around and deserved no less to complete their Coachella experience. Good job boys and good luck. Let hope they’re not... let s hope they’re still rockin’ aged 18. (2)

    Drowners - Mojave Tent

    Welshman with English accent announces “we’re from New York”. Is that so we can be absolutely sure you’re ripping off the Strokes, or because it’s cooler than Wales? Anyway... likes: short, snappy guitar stabby songs, no nonsense’ we are here to rock’ image, . Think Ramones with short hair, although the bass player’s beard is out of place here. Dislikes: A bit samey and short on hooks. Guite why he guitarist persists in spitting upwards over himself I’m not sure, but now I know why he’s wearing a baseball cap, in a tent on a sweltering sunny day. (2)

    White Lies - Mojave Tent

    The band opens with ‘Farewell To The Fairground’ a track that’s at least 5 years old and remains a must within the live set. Great Song. Tremendous Middle 8, the best since Live’s ‘I Alone’ ...”keep on runnin’, keep keep on runnin’ there’s no place like home”. Harry McVeigh’s voice is as beautifully deep live as on record and we shouldn’t be put off by the fact he looks like Olly Murs’s big brother. Bass 16ths feature in heavy abun dance and the band are ‘Waiter’ tight. Just as the set starts to dip a little they play ‘To Lose My Life’ with it’s compelling refrain, ”lets grow old together and die at the same time”. As if to say... this is why we’re still going strong, this is why you like us and why they deserve to be as big as The Killers. Just the right balance of guitars & keys. ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ another soaring chorus. Head’s still nodding, bottom lip protruding. (4)

    Ty Segall - Outdoor Stage

    Coming to the festivalI’m aware of Ty’s reputation for fuzz guitar driven songs. On this showing the emphasis is on fuzz guitar rather than songs. We only catch 20 minutes because of the conflict with White Lies and although it’s not a compliment to mention another band in a review, it’s not a disservice. (2)

    Bombay Bicycle Club - Mojave Tent

    BBC walk out to rapturous applause, looking like a confident band comfortable with what is about to be delivered and received. This is the definition of indie pop. The lead vocal aint stunning, but collectively the voices serve the songs...well. Some complex structures and groovy percussion underline why BBC are not massive. I dont think they want to be or should be. ‘Shuffle’ starts like a Chas & Dave skiffle number before harmonies ease into a long downhill chorus that picks up momentum. The set, as you’d expect draws heavily from new album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’ - ‘Overdone’, ‘It’s Alright Now’ , ‘Luna’, ‘Feel’ & ‘Carry me’. They do what they without venturing up their own arses like say...the pastels or belle & sebastian. (4)

    Carbon Airways - Sahara Tent

    Highly anticipated since the line up announcement in January. The airbus aircraft hanger that is the Sahara Tent is criminally quiet. Bordering on empty. However, where I come from an empty = a party, and this proves to true as Carbon Airways deliver a 4.30pm set that deserves the respect of darkness and dancing tribes. Stand out song is ‘Razor Edge’. The Prodigy inspired punk dance punk that has no right being manufactured and sold by two french under 18 siblings and their laptops. Big Future beckons. (4)

    Julian Casablancas - Mojave Tent

    JC apologises for being ‘out of it’. the music is similarly out of it, but I’m not sure what ‘it’ is, which makes ‘out’ difficult to describe. Apart from...ear splitting loud. Synths & samples sit uncomfortably in the context of guitars. I guess when it comes to solo material he can do what he wants to differentiate from The Stokes. The set achieves that with a gold medal. (1)

    Future Islands - Gobi Tent

    The Arneaux camp is split on this one. If you can ignore singer Samuel T Herring’s dancing like a drunk primate and singing sporadically and unfathomably like Chewbacca on a downer, then you’ll hear there are songs in there. There is melody. There is dark, light and shade. There is a powerful passionate singer in a band that been gigging for eight loveless years, not desperate to be accepted but loving and grateful for the fact that at this moment they are. And thanks to a March appearance on Letterman, look like they will be for at least the rest of the year. ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ is excellent - no Chewy. I cant ignore the ridiculous eccentricity . 95% in the Gobi do. (3)

    Fatboy Slim - Sahara Tent

    Maybe Norman peaked in the 90s and today he brings those beats up to date coupled with state of the art visuals in a fantastic show. The hanger is packed and we’re even showered with snow to accentuate a brief ‘let it snow’ segment in one of the less mad for it interludes. Even the massive roving blow up spaceman checks it out. If perhaps not out of this world, stellar certainly. (4)

    Pixies - Mojave Tent

    Time dictates we can see two of Pixies / Queens Of the Stone Age / Pharrell. QOTSA drop out. From start to finish Pixies are excellent. Rasping guitars over aggressive vocal melody. Kurt’s fave band and this explains why. There’s no let up. There’s no frills. ‘Badass’ texts Frank Turner’s motor mechanic tattooist's phone in front of my face...and reassuringly so. No ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ or ‘Debaser’. Nevermind - they open with Bone Machine and we get ‘Caribou’ and ‘Where Is My Mind’, They were never going to play a safe set, were they. The devil is six, no 7th Heaven. (4)

    Pharrell Williams - Outdoor Theatre

    Perhaps to remind us all Coachella is historically a guitar band festival, Pharrell (and Nas) hosts the smaller Outdoor stage while QOTSA and Muse perform on the main Coachella stage. This makes for a more intimate and special feel if you’re near the front. If you’re miles back, you’ll be able to see the open spaces reported for Muse and wonder why. Anyway...this is the set of the weekend. It’s funky like Prince. Poppy like Michael Jackson. I forget it’s a rap set. It’s simply great music that has the large crowd moving. Cody Simpson dancing close to Tommy Lee - that’s crossover. To add extra icing, Pharrell introduces T.I. to help him out on ‘Blurred Lines’, Pusha T for ‘Grindin’’, Busta Rhymes - ‘Pass the Courvoissier Part 11’, Usher - ‘U Dont Have to Call‘ and Jay Z for ‘Frontin’ , ‘Excuse Me Miss’, ‘La La La’ and ‘I Just Wanna Love You’ before Pharrell takes it home himself with ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Happy’. An hour wasn’t long enough. Outstanding. (5)

    Pet Shop Boys - Mojave Tent

    Ridiculous Outfits. Stag’s Antlers, the likes not seen since Fever Ray appeared here in 2009 and freaked us out - for weeks. Newer songs sit comfortably beside ‘Suburbia’ and ‘Opportunities (Lets Make Lots Of Money)’. The sound has not dated well and in the midnight hour the show is suffering from the shadow of Pharrell. We leave early without hearing ‘West End Girls’. (2)

    Sunday 20th April 2014

    J Roddy Walston & The Business - Outdoor Theatre

    They look the business on a sunny 95 degree afternoon in the desert, all hair and denim like young Skynyrds or The Sheepdogs but dont sound quite so acccomplished. Perhaps it’s a lack of a soundcheck or it’s just too early or too hot for southern infused blues swamp rock. Regardless, the band are enjoying it and there’s definitely boogie in them there tunes. They dont hit top gear and ‘Dont Break The Needle’ in a short 30 min set. (3)

    Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Mojave Tent

    Now...That’s entertainment. It’s crazy their set overlaps with Trombone Shorty. I’d like to have seen both. Top notch New Orleans Jaaaaazz. Nice. Some elegant trumpet, sax, trombone and clarinet solos and a tuba player doing the bouncy. (3)

    Surfer Blood - Outdoor Theatre

    These guys remind me of Weezer and I’m surprised by their youth and young manhood and laid back demeanour. Maybe it’s because they’re from Florida. Maybe it’s that heat. ‘Floating Vibes’ sums it all up. It’s non urgent but equally attention holding. I anticipate they could be bigger but would lose their indie appeal. More of the same please and maybe more harmonies to add to the sunny guitar pop. (3)

    Poolside - Mojave Tent

    Congas, funky guitars, shuffle beat drums and piano that push push an insistent groove and falsetto vocals. Less is more could be their mission statement. I wonder which came first, the sound or the name? Its a match like the Beach Boys jamming with The Average White Band. I can get with that. Danish Filip Nikolic and San Franciscan Jeffrey Paradise aka DJ Jeffrodisiac (brilliant) have a band around them and released ‘Pacific Standard Time’ in 2012. Filip’s broken his arm so there’s a stand in bass player today who does a great job. He reckons he’s awkward without his bass. It’s not about him, its about chillin and dancin in the afternoon disco. Love it - even although they don't squeeze in ‘Next To You’ or ‘California Sunset’, every song is a diamond, particularly ‘Why You Wanna’ and their brilliant cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ - the whole set is a highlight. (5)

    Frank Turner - Gobi Tent

    The high energy set of the weekend. A mix of folk / country & rock blended by great lyrics, an honest & hearty vocal delivery and boucing beats. Frank is an excellent front man, a modern troubadour taking from Gram and Mark Eitzel in equal measure with his own stomp. We had singalong, chatalong story songs and jumpalong. Why isn't he more popular in the UK? He’s on the bill to play this year’s Sonisphere between Anthrax & Iron Maiden - work that one out. (4)

    Rudimental - Mojave Tent

    And now for something completely different in a packed Mojave. At least 2 Union flags are evident during a set with energy and drive to match Chase & Status. Slightly annoying is the stalking presence of the big man who’s a clear fan of Run DMC’s wardrobe - DJ Locksmith. A few too many shouts of “make some mother fukkin noise Coacheeeeelllaaaaaaaa”diminishes the trust the music is building easily with the crowd. Two female vocalists and male lead Kesi Dryden are excellent and the overdriven guitars replicate the recorded sound really well. It’s good t see them close up. Next time they’ll be on a bigger stage I’m sure. The set climaxes brilliantly with ‘Not Giving In’ with John Newman and gives us a good feeling for his set later tonight. (3)

    Calvin Harris - Coachella Stage

    If Fatboy Slim was electro dance, then this is a pumpin’ electro dance rollercoaster. We’re up and down with hands in the air like we don't care, with each high feeling like the best. There are fireworks aplenty and 60,000 on the main stage field are absolutely living it as the sun goes down behind the mountains and the palm trees turn into silhouettes. (4)

    Lana Del Rey - Outdoor Theatre

    There’s a high sense of anticipation for Miss Lana and she floats on stage wearing a flowery dress and an air of other worldliness. There are shades of Kate Bush in her vocal that quickly becomes repetitive and a little boring. ‘West Coast’ has initial promise but falls back to the formula of washy violinesque voice. Also annoying are Lana’s ‘look at me’ trips into the front row for fan selfies and the addition of a cigarette with gets as much focus as the mic during the song it interrupts. Closing songs ‘Video games’ and ‘National Anthem’ just about save the set from being a ‘we should have gone to see Beck instead’ event. (2)

    John Newman - Gobi Tent

    The conflict with LDR reduces, for us, John’s set to 25 minutes. Its a great 25 minutes. ‘Gold Dust’ and ‘Love Me Again’ are fantastic. Rudimental get a thank-you before he blasts into ‘Feel the Love’. John’s really going for it as are his band and he’s getting lots of energy back from the smallest tent at the festival. The Californians’ can see he’s giving his all without compromising a high quality vocal and some very neat footwork. Excellent. (4)

    Arcade Fire - Coachella Stage

    The first ‘Arcade Fire’ on stage are a group of papier mache heads, like the ones U2 produced on their Zoo TV tour in ’93, including Daft Punk who start playing ‘Get Lucky’ only to be halted by the entrance of the real things (not Daft Punk). There’s 12 of them up there and the sound is equally huge. By the time the crowd has realised what the intro was all about we’re being swept along by a tidal wave that is Neighborhood 3. There’s no hanging about as Win Butler directs the band through the best of the rest and much of ‘Reflektor’. The sound as ever at Coachella is excellent regardless of who is handling lead vocal. Beck makes a guest entrance in a papier mache ‘pope head’ and Win Butler apologises on mic for nearly ripping his nose off whilst removing head, as Beck recoils in visible pain, before kicking it into the crowd. Beck disappears nearly as quickly as he arrived - perhaps to the medical tent - and Arcade Fire crash into the massive slow groove and singalong ‘Wake Up’ to close the set. They are joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a meandering trip into the crowd with several security barred wrong turns, for an acoustic jam long after midnight has passed. Music was great. (5) but the cascade of glowing balls in 2011 beat the add ons this year.
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    Last edited by Dede' Arneaux; 05-25-2014 at 03:00 PM.
    Dede' Arneaux
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