hmv.com reviews… Day 2: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2015
With word still buzzing around the site regarding AC/DC the previous night, it was obvious the experienced rocker boys from Perth had created a major impact with the 2015 Coachella crowd. AC/DC’s greatest hits set had worked and set the bar in terms of getting that right crowd reaction.
Saturday at Coachella is notoriously busy and one to take yet again in your stride. Often seen are the casualties of those that partied all night in some nearby mansion with the likes of Paris Hilton, thinking what a great idea that was until the heat of the desert sun took its course. It’s not possible to run around and hydrate everyone, though luckily Coachella have excellent and experienced medical staff. With Day 1 now a bleary-eyed memory, here are some highlights from Day 2 (April 11th). Check back tomorrow for the lowdown on Day 3.
Let the games begin …
Somehow, 3 pm on the Outdoor Theatre seemed wrong for Royal Blood unless you really wanted to be awoken from your mid-afternoon slumber - there is nothing quiet about UK natives Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. It actually defies logic how much sound Royal Blood get from a PA system along with the angst they deliver. Dropping “Figure It Out, “Ten Tonne Skeleton and “Out Of The Black” plus others from debut album Royal Blood, Kerr and Thatcher were in fine disruptive form by the end of set, switching instruments, crowd-surfing, while still having time to flip the camera off. Royal Blood had fun today and were also spotted later back-stage still causing a ruckus. Long live rock & roll.
Coachella main stage was busy with another well-timed sunset set: Andrew Hozier-Byrne walked center stage and brought Hozier right smack center into the swelling main stage crowd. Starting the set with “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” Hozier was clearly at home with such a large stage environment. It became immediately telling how important the crowd is to Hozier and the importance he places on building a link with his audience.
Just 25, Hozier has an old soul. Dropping “To be Alone” and “Someone New” from debut full length called (you guessed it) Hozier, his presence on stage continued to feel so comfortable and natural, as screams rang out from the crowd.
Este Haim from L.A.-based Haim joined Hozier for a little bit of fun just before the real sunset moment of the set. As the pink glow arose over the desert, thousands of hands lifted into the air as monster hit “Take Me to Church” floated across the desert. Natural, at home and totally in charge of his congregation, Hozier was truly spectacular.
As we moved into darkness, the lights that surrounded the festival site converged up into the sky and joined as one, creating the effect of being under a giant circus tent. Father John Misty walked onto the Outdoor Stage to rousing cheers and launched straight into title track from his new album I Love You Honeybear. Painted in a full red light background, the performer otherwise known as J. Tillman commanded his stage like a man possessed and looking to protect himself from the devil.
Father John Misty’s devoted following peppered his set with screams and cheers, often mid-song. Ballad “Bored In The USA” was a set highlight even though Tillman had to fight the sound of dance tents in the background. Then a journey into the surreal. Audience member Amy was pulled from the crowd and placed in a very large white chair, surrounded by hundreds of balloons and half-naked women wearing long nose masks as Father John Misty pulled tracks from 2012’s album Fear Fun and finished with the new haunting “The Ideal Husband.” With images still fresh in the memory from long nosed, half-naked women and J. Tillman’s vocal screaming “baby in the oven!” it was nothing but pure magical entertainment.
West England native Tahilah Barnett - also known as FKA Twigs – lit up the Gobi Tent for those looking for a more down-tempo vibe to take them into the night. Embracing the natural environment behind her and lighting palm trees in different colors Twigs kept everything minimal both visually and musically. Highlights of the set were “Video Girl” and “Two Weeks” from debut album LP1. A festival audience is not always easy to placate when you go minimal but FKA Twigs and her band pulled it off with grace.
Dressed in black suit and black shirt, Jack White entered a main stage awash with his signature blue light, strutting like a ghost of Johnny Cash who had recently visited a meth lab and taken over the arena. An energetic White pulled from White Stripes classics and crowd favorites into the depths of his extensive solo offerings from last year’s Lazaretto and 2012’s Blunderbuss.
White and his band are a phenomenal machine and it’s obviously pure joy for them on stage. From soaring backing vocals, keyboard lines, fiddle mastery and White’s signature guitar which - let’s be honest - he could probably replicate via 25 cents, a bottle, secondhand pick-up and one guitar string with eyes closed.
The White Stripes were great when they played Coachella main stage previously but Jack White took this to another level. Often when White is on a tear and everyone is comfortable he will change it up yet again with another reincarnation. Watching this master at work was pure privilege.
Surprise Artist of the Day
Some blogs had been reporting Booker might struggle with voice problems at Coachella. My guess is the honey and whiskey worked. Gobi tent Saturday afternoon and a man that is destined to further greatness. Stand out moment “Violent Shiver” from self-titled debut full length Benjamin Booker.
Other notables for Saturday – Alt-J, Jungle, Run The Jewels, Glass Animals.
Click here to get the scoop on Day 1; visit tomorrow for the third and final day’s review.