Coachella 2013, Coachella 2013 Weekend 2: Day 1, IO Echo, Lord Huron, DāM-FunK, Poliça, Johnny Marr, Beach House, Purity Ring
Coachella Day 1 Recap: Johnny Marr, Local Natives, Beach House, Purity Ring, and More,
The eleventh installment of Coachella began on a high note. After a disastrous experience in the parking lots last year, I was pleased to find that Coachella added additional signs and color-coordinated paths to help attendees’ get to their cars. Appropriately, we were parked along the yellow path, and we were serenaded with chants of “Follow the yellow brick road” as we made our way towards the fairytale-like festival. A smorgasbord of performances by the likes of IO Echo, Lord Huron,DāM-FunK, Poliça, Johnny Marr, Local Natives, Beach House, Purity Ring, and How to Destroy Angels awaited us.
Los Angeles duo IO Echo coxed the Goths out in to the sun with their noon slot. Although a proud purveyor of “pastel gloom,” frontwoman Ionna Gika looked blissful, skipping and twirling like a little girl, her long, silvery kimono fluttering in the breeze behind her. “Thanks for coming early,” she told the sweaty crowd. “That’s what a real music fan does.”
Boasting significantly less energy, but significantly more manpower, Lord Huron (a.k.a. Ben Schneider) and his six-piece band performed on the Mojave stage. The harmonies of his debut full-length Lonesome Dreams sounded enticing, but ultimately felt too ephemeral for the high energy festival setting. I left with the memory of his set immediately dissipating behind me.
More memorable by an LA county mile was Los Angeles native DāM-FunK. In addition to playing a slippery/smooth set, he enlisted the help of Ariel Pink. Pink, whose hair has morphed from a bright pink to Easter egg lavender, seemed more self-assured (and one might argue sexier) than any of his previously recorded work.
Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh has soul. The pixie cut-sporting frontwoman (who also pulls double duty as a member of Gayngs) delivered cuts from Give You the Ghost with an extra side of passion. The haunting set was a bit lost in the daylight. Perhaps a future performance at night? I’ll be in the front row.
Johnny Marr’s set was so electric even Stars frontman Torquil Campbell hurried from his own show to catch the last few minutes. (Rumor has it that he even dedicated the final song of his to Marr.)
Nicknamed the nicest guy in the music industry, Marr endeared himself to his fans, grabbing a rose that an admirer tossed onstage and performing part of the first song with it clenched between his teeth. Marr’s other (more official) nickname is “Guitar God.” He lived up to the title, making the songs of his solo debut The Messenger sound exceptionally easy. (Perhaps it didn’t hurt that he was performing on a Fender of his own design.)
In a nod to his previous triumphs, the former Smiths member performed “There is a Light that Never Goes Out.” It was a bit strange hearing Marr do Morrissey’s vocal parts. Somewhat akin to wearing your shoes on the wrong feet. But the tribute led to one of the day’s most enthused sing-alongs.
In the years since Local Natives first played at Coachella, they have graduated from a tent to the outdoor stage, dropped a member, and released their excellent sophomore album, Hummingbird. Their melodic set perfectly scored the setting sun. In a strange moment, the song “Hummingbird” inspired the world’s slowest crowd surfer. Of course, the Los Angeles band isn’t apt to take anything too seriously. They were the first—and perhaps only—band to dedicate a song to the roving snail sculpture known as Helix Poeticus. (A terrifying and beautiful installation created by Los Angeles’ Poetic Kinetics.)
Beach House’s dream-inspiring music is tailor made for an intimate encounter—which the duo recreated with the help of a darkened stage and billowing fog. (Much to many photographers’ chagrin.) “Night time is here so it’s time to feel very good,” said frontwoman Victoria Legrand. “Nigh time is very forgiving.”
Masters of the otherworldly statement, their music set the tone for exploring the rest of the field which housed a series of art installations from a sidewalk to nowhere to a house with its inhabitants projected onto it. The night certainly felt like a walking dream.
Purity Ring has grown in stage presence since the release of their debut full-length, Shrines. No longer content to haunt the shadows, singer Megan James stalks the stage—her awkward art-student persona replaced with something more mystical and dangerous. Gone are the blue and orange-stripped curtains that framed previous performances, replaced with a Creators Project-funded series of cocoons that blink in time to the music.
One of the night’s strongest sets, the only misstep came when the band brought out Danny Brown to guest on “Belispeak.” Oh Eminem and Dido, what hath you wrought? A cartoonish persona, Brown hijacked the moment, forcing James to essentially play hype man on her own song. As demonstrated by the performance of “Grandloves,” where James performed both her part and Young Magic’s lines, she’s a strong enough personality in her own right without the use of gimmicks.
The night ended with a peek at Trent Reznor’s new project How to Destroy Angels. Now, we all know Reznor is a badass. It’s an irrefutable fact, such as the sky being blue, 2+2=4, and babies being delivered by storks. However, what impact the band had was diluted by performing behind a screen. While it did allow for a series of impressive light projections, the result was one of depersonalization. I don’t need to see a band live if I’m not actually going to see them live. Had they been holograms…well as we learned last year, some forms of artifice are pretty impressive.
And with that, day one came to a close. Stay tuned for part 2: Aching bones and breaking hearts. Or: how a lack of sleep can create faux melodrama in a fairly blameless weekend of fun.