Coachella 2011 Day 3 Recap: Kanye West, The Strokes, PJ Harvey, Ratatat, Duran Duran | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Kanye West

Coachella 2011 Day 3 Recap: Kanye West, The Strokes, PJ Harvey, Ratatat, Duran Duran

Plus Death From Above 1979 and Trentemoller

Apr 18, 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern
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On the final day of the 2011 Coachella Music and Arts Festival, the big guns were all stacked up together. Almost in perfect sequence on various stages, Death From Above 1979, Trentemoller, Duran Duran, Ratatat, The Strokes, PJ Harvey and Kanye West were an excellent finale to this year's festival.

Kanye West's big surprise was that his performance included almost no super-surprise guests. Rumors swirled around the Empire Polo Fields that both Rihanna and Katy Perry would join West during his headlining show. Neither materialized. In fact, the only guests present were Pusha T of rap group Clipse on "Runaway" and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon on a slew of songs from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West's show utilized a large dance troupe doing interpretative dance through roughly half the set and a large backdrop depicting a demented vision of standard neoclassical "halls of justice" architecture. West himself appeared atop a crane above the crowd for opener "Dark Fantasy." The rest was a highlight reel of greatest hits spanning his career. West rocked the crowd on "Good Life," "All of the Lights," "Gold Digger" and "Stronger," while delving deep into his darker material on "Love Lockdown," "Heartless" and "Say You Will." It was a superstar performance worthy of Coachella's main stage.

PJ Harvey and The Strokes also put on great shows as the evening moved towards its end. Both could've used some tinkering though. Harvey's show leaned heavily on material from her recent album Let England Shake, which although it is a strong album, has a jangly tone and prepping a band to play those songs didn't afford itself well to the varied catalog Harvey has become famous for. The Strokes on the other hand played the hits fans wanted to hear ("New York City Cops," "Last Night" and "Someday"), it's just that lead singer Julian Casablancas' stage demeanor came off awkwardly. Casablancas cracked jokes ineffectively and tried to get the crowd excited, but he didn't quite have the stage presence to do either convincingly.

Trentemoller and Ratatat demonstrated why they are the future of electronic music in their respective sets. Trentemoller used well-planned sequencing, arrangements and live instrumentation to create gorgeous, mounting songs. Ratatat used a few slick visual presentation tricks to re-imagine themselves and their music as larger than life. The duo was flanked by hologram images and below a massive video wall. Occasionally one member would end up casting a silhouette of himself over the screen, creating the image of 30-foot guitar player shredding away.

Death From Above 1979 rocked the main stage with their minimalist and garage-y dance rock. To their credit, they sounded great. The music had all the crunch and energy one would hope for. Oddly though, the audience reaction for such a reunion wasn't there. DFA1979 might just be a casualty of fan interest passing. Dance rock did have its peak about five years ago. Duran Duran brilliantly displayed how they're not a victim of the changing times. Playing warmly received hits ("Rio," "Girls on Film" and "Hungry Like the Wolf") along with cuts from their latest album All You Need is Now, the band is in rare form right now. Sounding crisper than ever, and joyously connected to the music that made them famous in the first place as well as crafting new, enjoyable music.

Other winners for the day were indie rockers Twin Shadow and Delorean, pop group fun., hardcore punk rockers OFF! and noise rock group HEALTH. All in all, Sunday was the strongest day of Coachella this year. Goldenvoice and Coachella deserve serious credit for the efforts they put in to keep the attendance at a reasonable level. The reduced crowd side made it far more enjoyable to see bands all the way up to the headliners. Compared to last year's stresses and strains, it was a massive relief. (www.coachella.com)

 



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