Bat For Lashes
Coachella 2013, Coachella 2013 Weekend 2: Day 2, Guards, Savages, Bat For Lashes, Major Lazer, Hot Chip, The Postal Service, The xx, Phoenix
Coachella Day 2 Recap: Bat For Lashes, Hot Chip, The Postal Service, Phoenix, and More, April 20th, 2013
We hereby break from this Coachella day 2 recap to offer a more generalized festival PSA. On the second day of any series of shows, you’re likely to feel extraordinary aches and pains. If you’re under 25, it’s a reminder that one day, death will find you. If you’re over 25, well—you’re already screwed. Make peace with it now. The answer? Midol. Painkillers plus caffeine equals love. (You didn’t sleep the night before did you? That would be crazy talk!) Men, extensive market research has been done, and taking a feminine painkiller will not impugn your masculinity. Ladies, you’re already sitting pretty.
Perhaps out of fear of being lost in the glut of early bands, Guards gave an all-or-nothing performance, paring their indie rock with flamingo stage decorations (which were thrown out into the audience by sets end). “The whole reason Coachella asked us to perform was to warm you up for Phoenix,” joked frontman Richie Follin. Well, good job sir. By sets end we were plenty warm.
After their impressive showing at SXSW, all-girl punk band Savages continued to dazzle with a blistering daytime set at Coachella. Frontwoman Jehnny Beth rocked both a pair of high heels and a devil may-care posture, screaming into the mic like the bastard child of The Horrors’ Faris Badwan.
Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan put on a career defining performance. Wearing a rainbow skirt and cape, she elegantly led her band through cuts from The Haunted Man, dancing across the stage with a newfound confidence. For the set’s penultimate song, “The Haunted Man” she stood holding an old-fashioned radio over her head, leading her band like a musical Jeanne d'Arc. Even in the hot afternoon sun the moment was chill inducing.
I swung by to check out Diplo’s DJ project Major Lazer purely as a cultural experiment. Sometimes it’s best to test the boundaries of your taste to remind yourself who you are. One song in (wherein they sampled Rihanna’s “Diamonds”) I was reminded that I really, really detest both DJ sets and large crowds of semi-hysterical people. Cue: minor panic. No identity crisis is worth that.
Having already performed at several Coachellas, Hot Chip is always a safe bet. The British electro-pop geeks didn’t disappoint, leading the dancing crowd through cuts from In Our Heads. Frontman Alexis Taylor improvised a series of vocal melodies, changing expectedly great songs such as “Night and Day” and “Over and Over” into unexpectedly surprising moments.
There wasn’t a soul in the crowd for The Postal Service who didn’t know the word to every song off Give Up. This included the heavyset, heavy drinking guys who squeezed their way in front of me—and then belted out every word at the top of their lungs. (As much as that move pisses me off, their sheer enthusiasm was kinda endearing.) What the band lacked in surprise factor it made up for in sheer nostalgia. By the time the show cumulated in “Such Great Heights” glow sticks were raining down on the overexcited crowd. While Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello are ostensibly the heart and soul of the project, it was Jenny Lewis who got the biggest cheers. Is it too soon to start planning a Rilo Kiley reunion tour?
Despite the fact they claimed (several times) that it was exciting to be performing at Coachella, The xx never sold us on their joy. All atmosphere and no drive, The British band’s set heavily featured their sleepy second album Coexist. Their visuals (a series of intricate lasers) were far and away the most exciting element of the lackluster show.
Going into Coachella, perhaps the most questionable lineup choice was Phoenix as a headliner. Despite gathering steam with the release of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, it seemed like the French four-piece lacked the widespread appeal of the festival’s other headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blur. While it remains to be seen if their new album Bankrupt! will equal mainstream success. (Although we’re certainly rooting for them) the quartet did everything in their power to convince us that they’re read for the big stage. Which is to say, not much. Despite larger-than-life disco-pop chic tunes, the band has always sounded more boisterous than they look. (Not unlike your college’s coolest English lit professors.) In one of his more intense moments, frontman Thomas Mars jumped into the photo pit (a security guard’s hand all but glued to his belt to anchor him in place) and serenaded the crowd directly.
But what they made up for in visual flair (and lack of Daft Punk) they made up for in down and dirty kicking out the jams. All which sounded as anthemic as one would have hoped.
While Phoenix was playing, I was forced to give up the chance to see both New Order and Sigur Rós. (Perhaps one of the weekend’s cruelest scheduling conflicts). However, on the way out of the venue, I was drawn to a nearby tent by the sweet sounds of “Temptation.” I rushed in to join the dancing crowd. Sometimes you don’t get to see everything you want to see at Coachella. Other times, a piece of 1980s dance ennui can feel like a miracle.
Check out a gallery of day two photos here.