Alas it is here: Day 3. My final and favorite day of Coachellz. I gave myself some time before discussing this day for I felt it right to pay homage to a day of such epicness by unveiling this post on its 1 weekiversary.
Before delving into what I did get to experience, I’m going to cry for a second in regards to being too lazy to get to the fairgrounds by noon, in time to catch the Middle East’s performance. The Middle East is a folksy musical collective hailing from Queensland, Australia. Their past may be a little riddled with confusion and drama (what with their break up in 2008 and reconvening eight months later) but the byproduct of this madness is something rather lovely. Here is my favorite track of theirs, “Blood” (off of their EP The Recordings of the Middle East.) I implore you to listen to the song the whole way through, even if it has a slow start, because what you get around the 3:20 mark is pure, unadulterated joy.
The Middle East – Blood (mp3)
What we did show up in time for, THANKFULLY, was Local Natives‘ set in the Gobi Tent. Our hometown heroes hailing from Silver Lake, a much-deserved and escalating indie dream come true, played to an overflowing tent. The sun beating down on us was not enough to deter me from running to catch the beginning chords of “Wide Eyes” and sneakily work my way forward. They had the crowd in their hands; happily singing along, clapping, and basking in their fresh harmonies and tribal rhythms. You can be certain this will not be their last festival appearance, and Local Natives will remain local no longer.
Thanks to great planning (thanks Goldenvoice?), I remained at the Gobi tent for the following 2 acts, as well. No walking around in the sun = WIN. Next up was that soulful, funky, little white man, Mayer Hawthorne and the County. His retro tunes would not be out of place in some 1975 Chicago venue, playing alongisde Curtis Mayfield, but seemed to fit in effortlessly with the crowd at the Gobi stage on Day 3, too. He regailed us with the neo-soul of his A Strange Arrangement album, played a request/shoutout to a twitter follower, and mixed things up (much to my delight) by covering Biz Markie’s hip-hop classic, “Just a Friend.” Mayer Hawthorne proved to be a definite crowd pleaser and a good decision on my Coachella checklist.
The final act I took in at the Gobi tent that day was the fiery and very British Florence + the Machine. There was a longer downtime than anticipated until the band took to the stage, but Florence Welch quickly proved that she is worth the wait. She came out in a red blaze (so jealous of that hair) jumping, dancing, head-banging, and proving that she is a truly amazing vocalist. Showing off her range from dance tracks to ballads, she was an endless crowd pleaser, and made her breakout desert performance even more memorable by bringing out Nathan Willett (of Cold War Kids fame) and covering “Hospital Beds” with him.
Julian Casablancas was next on the agenda, until Jónsi took to the Outdoor Stage, so we migrated over to the Mojave Tent to take in the dreamboat Strokes frontman. He looked gorgeous and as hip as always in his skinny red jeans and drool-worthy leather jacket. I stayed long enough to hear him play one Strokes song, “Hard to Explain ” and “11th Dimension” my favorite track off his solo album, Phrazes for the Young. And to be honest, that was all I desired from the beautiful creature. Veni, Vidi, Vici.
Jónsi was another MUST-SEE artist for me on the Coachella bill this year. Seeing as how I have been obsessed and unhealthily in love with Sigur Rós upon first listen years and years ago, I knew I could not miss seeing their vocalist’s solo performance, if given the opportunity. Like the Icelandic trio he regularly makes awe-inspiring music with, his solo work is that kind of gorgeous, take-your-breath-away, etherealness we have come to expect. His wavering-from-tenor-to-falsetto voice, crazy instrument layering, and just brilliant noise at times made his set one of the most powerful ones I’ve seen, well, ever. And his extended finale of “Grow Till Tall” was enough to move anyone to tears.
Jónsi – Grow Till Tall (mp3)
Since there is no end to the tough decisions one must make in life, the next acts on were Phoenix at the Outdoor Stage or Miike Snow playing in the Mojave Tent. One would think the fact that I have already seen Phoenix in concert twice before would drive me straight to the Mojave Tent, but there is just something about these French men that I find completely irresistible (damn you Sofia Coppola.) The Parisian group played an energetic set and was the perfect antidote in re-energizing an exhausted Coachella crowd. Opening with the infectious, hard-to-not-jump-around-to “Lisztomania” and closing with radio sweetheart “1901” the boys played a perfect set that was not nearly long enough for proper satisfaction. And apparently Phoenix’s set was 6x more attended than Pavement’s (on the Main Stage at the same time), who was in charge of planning this year? Major fail putting Phoenix and Thom Yorke on the Outdoor Stage and not Main.
OMFG! Now for the real reason we all went to Coachella, THOM YORKE, aka God. After pushing and fighting and stepping on small children to get to the front, we waited with nothing to do for an hour (NBD thom bb don’t worry) for this wonderful, perfect man to take the stage with his new band/side project, Atoms for Peace. The crowd stretched as far back as the eye (and our camera) could see, all in anticipation to hear what Thom and Flea would delight us with. The stage set-up looked like a different take on Radiohead’s In Rainbows tour, with fluorescent light tubes forming jagged horizontal patterns instead of massive stalactites, so of course it sent a chill down my spine. When my anticipation could bear it no longer, Atoms for Peace calmly strolled out onto the stage and Mr. Yorke addressed the crowd from his piano, “My name is Thom, and I’m going to play every song off a record called The Eraser.” AND HE FUCKING DID. Opening with the first track off the album, of the same title “The Eraser,” Atoms for Peace transported 75,000 people (I am certain almost everyone in attendance was watching this band perform) to a world of indescribable beauty and feeling. The band Thom put together to play his Eraser work looks and sounds as if they have been playing together for years, especially when you watch Flea annihilate that bass. With Thom jumping back and forth between the piano, guitar, and enviable dancing, Atoms for Peace played my favorite set of Coachella. Thom’s vocals were heartbreakingly gorgeous and honest, Flea’s bass seemed to grip your insides and jolt them as if to say, “This is really happening, now drink it all in before it’s too late and DANCE.” After the completion of Eraser, the band filed off stage, and Thom returned to delight the crowd with some solo Radiohead favorites and B-sides (“Airbag,” “Everything In Its Right Place,” and “Paperbag Writer”) and brought his band back out to wrap up this set that left us all speechless.
“This is one to freak out to,” Thom Yorke declared to his enraptured crowd as he introduced “The Hollow Earth.” “You’ve had a long weekend, and you need to freak out.” And freak out we did, sir.
Best. Dancer. Ever.
My one complaint, if I am allowed to have one is that Thom didn’t play “Hearing Damage.” Now Mr. Yorke I understand it is on the New Moon Soundtrack (lulz) and therefore can be deemed a little un-hip or street cred damaging, but let’s be honest, you don’t give a fuck, and I personally think it is more freak out-inducing than “The Hollow Earth.” K. Stew can I get an amen? I saw your Samatha Ronson-looking ass in the Coachella pap photos, I know you were there!
Unfortunately, we did not stick around for all of the Gorillaz‘ set (supersadface) in order to avoid end of the night traffic, but I did get to hear my favorite track off of Plastic Beach, “Empire Ants” (Little Dragon came out with the band, too) before leaving behind a fantastic weekend at the Empire Polo Fields.
The journey was grueling and wonderful all at once, and as we got on the 10 I was left with a feeling of sadness my friend Sara Tan summed up perfectly via twitter, “I’m home, clean, & in bed, but would rather be stuck in a parking lot traffic if that meant I could watch more shows. #postchelladepression.”
this finale brought to you by God: