Recapping KCRW’s Private Coachella
Sam Beam, Glen Hansard, and Vampire Weekend
KCRW, the Santa Monica, California-based public radio station, has its influence at many of the major music events in and around Los Angeles, but it also has a hand in hosting exclusive and intimate performances. In the weeks surrounding Coachella, the station hosted a slew of talent at a small (200 capacity) recording studio several blocks away from its broadcast studio (a.k.a. the basement of Santa Monica College). James Blake, Nick Cave, and Vampire Weekend held court at Apogee Berkeley Street Studio, and Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) joined Glen Hansard for an acoustic session at Sayers Club in Hollywood to kick off the festivities.
As is standard with the studio showcases, the artist gets about 9-10 songs with a break for interview—all of which is recorded for the archives and a future broadcast—but the Sam Beam and Glen Hansard performance broke the mold. Not only was the performance acoustic, with two different acts, and in a new venue for the station, it was also one of the only performances that was not recorded for broadcast. No unofficial photography was allowed either, per the artists' request, which resulted in an atmosphere of rapt attention I haven't seen since my pre-smartphone concertgoing days. No one held up a phone for a friend at home, no flashes lit the room to a stale or blinding white.
The order of play was decided by the toss of a coin. Sam went first, sweeping through a set of new and old material with the audience singing along. Glen ripped through his set with electricity in his voice. They traded songs, came back for duets, and ended with a traditional Irish sing-along ("The Auld Triangle"). Somewhere along the way, Glen regaled us with the tale of his meeting Marilyn Manson in a Los Angeles men's room and going back to his house for a party. Details were scarce, but he basically ran the fuck out of Los Angeles after that. Glad he came back.
Vampire Weekend took to the stage the day before their second Coachella performance this past Friday with a standard but electric set recorded for a May 15 broadcast. The band was in top form (and wildly good looking), but the real sparkler of the night was DJ Jason Bentley's lightning round, which revealed Chris Baio as an avid reader, Chris Tomson as having plentiful closet space (made me jealous), and left Ezra Koenig teasing about bedroom behaviors.
Check out the links below for more pictures from the shows: