Jónsi at Coachella 2010

Coachella 2010 Day 3 Recap

Jónsi and Thom Yorke Steal My Heart

Apr 20, 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share


The final day of my maiden Coachella voyage I learned an important lesson: after two packed days, less is more. While I danced to Phoenix, got slanted and enchanted with Pavement, caught Gorillaz's "animated" set, and enjoyed bits of performances by Owen Pallet and Deerhunter, it was two leadmen on break from their high profile bands that truly caught my attention.

Taking the Outdoor Stage (dubbed by Owen Pallet as the "Gay Ghetto" due to back-to-back performances by gay artists Pallet, Deerhunter, and Jónsi) in late afternoon, Sigur Rós' Jónsi looked ethereal, clad in a long-sleeved shirt with multi-color fabric streamers along the back. Elaborate touring sets replaced with the beginnings of a dazzling sunset, he performed the majority of his debut solo album Go. Engaged from the start, I made an uncharacteristic decision not to over-think it, and shoved my notebook back in my bag. Best decision I made all weekend, even if by song number two his slow-building atmospherics had reduced me to a tear-stained mess. A wide grin accompanied my sniffles during penultimate song "Animal Arithmetic" when Jónsi donned a large headdress, its feathers emphasizing his delicate, bird-like movements. It was a brilliant end to a performance so transcendent that many audience members seemed rooted in place. Role as an intrepid reporter long forgotten, I fell in to a brief sulk, wondering when his next Los Angeles tour date would be announced.

It's become a bit mundane to define your musical tastes by saying you like Radiohead or Thom Yorke. Perhaps the closest thing to an indie rock Beatles (in terms of popularity) it seems like every other band's press sheet lists Radiohead as an influence, Twilight fans can't get enough, and even my parents have weighed in on their popularity. (Okay, it was more like "You're paying HOW MUCH to see them?" but still...) Regardless, Thom Yorke and his newly christened band Atoms For Peace (featuring Yorke, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, drummer Joey Waronker, Mauro Refosco of Forro in the Dark, and producer Nigel Godrich) proved why he's is such a musical touchstone. Together they worked though Yorke's entire solo album The Eraser, transforming its Spartan bloops and bleeps into something significantly funkier. Yorke appeared to be in a good mood, dedicating "Atoms for Peace" to Pavement, providing his own drum beats during "Skip Divided," and strutting and flailing though the set like a happy elf. "It's been a long weekend!" he announced to the crowd. "You need your freak-out!" The crowd was more than happy to oblige, particularly during acoustic versions of Radiohead's "Airbag" and "Everything in its Right Place." Displaying an extraordinarily level of musicianship, Yorke also preformed a looped version of "Give Up the Ghost," an act that hushed what felt had quickly begun to feel like all 75,000 attendees. 

Yorke was right; it had been a long weekend. But, limping away from my first Coachella, field crew already swooping down on a sea of trash on the field behind me, I caught one last glimpse of the wall of previous years' posters and perked up. Who will be on 2011's bill? No word yet, but one thing's for certainI'll see you on the field. (www.coachella.com)

 



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