Coachella 2009 Day Two Features Strong Sets from M.I.A., Jenny Lewis, and Fleet Foxes | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jenny Lewis

Coachella 2009 Day Two Features Strong Sets from M.I.A., Jenny Lewis, and Fleet Foxes

Fans storm M.I.A.'s stage and Glasvegas cancel due to a hospitalized singer

Apr 21, 2009 A Place to Bury Strangers Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

Day two of Coachella 2009 failed to top day one, in part because of a weak headliner. But the second day did feature strong sets from M.I.A., Jenny Lewis, and Fleet Foxes.

We got off to a slow start on day two, in part because it took even longer to park the car than it did on day one and we had to park it farther away. There also weren’t many acts playing in the first part of the day that we were dying to see, although we did unfortunately miss sets by Liars and Dr. Dog. When we finally made it on site we got there in time to catch Amanda Palmer’s 5 PM set in the Gobi tent. The Dresden Dolls’ singer took the stage to iconic music featured in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and was accompanied by a legion of fans who were all stripped down to their underwear and decorated with patterns of body paint. And when the fans turned around they each had a different letter of Amanda Palmer’s name painted on their back, so that they spelled out “Amanda Fucking Palmer.” Palmer stood above them, removing her cloak to reveal that she too was stripped down, to a black lace lingerie bra and panties set, complete with thigh high stockings and guarders. Palmer performed songs from her solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer? on a keyboard and was sometimes backed by a cellist. After her first song, Palmer gave a shout out to her scantily clad friends. “I want to say thank-you to all the people who painted themselves to be up on stage,” she said. “Did everybody see Leonard Cohen last night? Did everyone have their mind exploded?” she later asked, adding that she thought that Leonard Cohen was humble, but Morrissey was not. Palmer had great stage presence and plenty of passion, but her solo singer/keyboardist set up wasn’t ideal for a festival setting and sound from Michael Franti’s set on the main Coachella Stage soon started to drift over. “This is another song off the new record that got me in a little bit of trouble,” said Palmer before playing “Oasis,” a song that frankly tackles the subject of rape and whose video caused quite a stir. “It got me banned in England…I don’t know what for…for being funny.” Towards the end of her set Palmer covered Muse’s “Time is Running Out.”

In the Mojave tent next door Henry Rollins was giving a humorous motivational talk. As we entered the tent Rollins was talking about his run-ins with airport security and how he once witnessed Cat Stevens being bothered by airport security, as Stevens converted to Islam and is now named Yusuf Islam. Rollins then started a rant about the ultra right wing Christian talk radio that he listened to on the way to Coachella and how the host had his callers foaming at the mouth talking hate about President Barack Obama. Next Rollins chronicled his various international travels, first describing his visit to Cambodia’s Killing Fields, in which he helped pick up the poorly buried bones and teeth of the people who were killed there, then mentioning his trip to Vietnam. “You’re from America, welcome, war loser,” is how Rollins said he was greeted by the friendly people of Vietnam. This lead to a discussion of the pointlessness of both the Vietnam War and war in general. “I want to go over to Israel and Palestine and bomb both countries, with Ramones albums. Why are they so angry? Because they haven’t heard The Ramones,” joked Rollins. “War and all that hatred and stuff, it’s a scam, a mother fucking scam to make money,” Rollins later added. Rollins main point was that we should all make sure we have passports and should travel more. He encouraged the audience to attend a different festival in the desert, one in the Sahara Desert. There’s a desert music festival in Mali that Rollins attended that he wanted us to all go to next year. “The world is waiting for you with open arms,” he said, adding that Bill O’Riley is wrong about France sucking. He also brought up another Conservative host, Rush Limbaugh, saying that if Limbaugh’s car got stuck in a ditch he’d help him. “This is your time, this is your country, I’m only growing old in it,” said Rollins towards the end of his inspirational talk.

“This is a song I wrote for my son,” said Michael Franti over on the main Coachella Stage during his 5:10 PM set. Franti had two young boys up on stage playing guitar and bass, seemingly plucked from the audience. We showed up for Glasvegas’ 6:05 PM set at the Mojave tent to be told that the band has had to cancel. Apparently lead-singer James Allan was really sick and in the hospital. So next up was Calexico’s 6:10 PM set at the Outdoor Theatre. The sun was setting as the band performed and Calexico’s horn-driven Southwestern flavor was the perfect music for a desert festival. TV on the Radio hit the main Coachella Stage at 6:25 PM. Vocalist Tunde Adebimpe recommended that everyone check out Gang Gang Dance later that evening. He then asked if everyone was having a good time and was surprised when someone near the front responded with a “No.” “You’re entitled to your opinion,” said Adebimpe in response. TV on the Radio sounded like a bit of a mess, with their horns and other instruments all jumbled together. They are a better studio band than a live one. The Celebration’s Katrina Ford sang guest vocals.

“Thanks for having us in this beautiful spot. This is rad,” said Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold near the start of his band’s 7:25 PM set at the Outdoor Theatre. It was a perfect time to watch the critically acclaimed Seattle-based five-piece, as the sun made its final bow over the western mountains and the palm trees were silhouetted by a vaguely golden sky. Ironically, Fleet Foxes were playing “Sun It Rises” as the sun set. The band started its set with its trademark gorgeous harmonies, backed by hardly any instruments. Luckily no one was playing the main Coachella Stage at the start of Fleet Foxes’ set, which started with a slow build, but eventually the obnoxious sounds of Thievery Corporation started to drift over. Fleet Foxes took few breaks for banter, but did apologize for any breaks taken for technical purposes. “Thank-you for your patience and stuff. We’ll be a professional band one day,” said a self-deprecating Pecknold. The band was told that they had one song left and asked the audience what song they should play. Despite a shout for “Blue Ridge Mountains,” “Mykonos” won out. “I don’t feel super comfortable at these things, but thank-you very much,” said Pecknold at the end of his band’s set. Band of Horses were stuck following Fleet Foxes at the Outdoor Theatre at 8:40 PM and because the two bands have a vaguely similar sound, the inferior Band of Horses suffered in comparison.

M.I.A. had crazy day-glo light-up dancers over at the main Coachella Stage for her 8:55 PM set. M.I.A. (aka: Maya Arulpragasam) stood behind a podium with a bunch of microphones as if it was a press conference, while fluorescent horns/noisemakers are thrown out to the audience, turning the show into one big party. M.I.A. first played Coachella in 2005. “Last time I only did six songs, I have seven songs this time,” she said. “I want you to know that just because I’ve done the Grammys doesn’t mean I’ve sold out. So we’re gonna take it back to the jungle.” M.I.A. and a female bandmate then drummed on a bucket. Later M.I.A. sang to the tune of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” the lyrics, “They tried to make me do the Oscars, I said no, no, no.”

“I really don’t know how to bring it on the main stage, but I’m going to try,” said M.I.A. She then asked the audience, “Can I get some people on the stage.” To which a bunch of excited audience members attempted to climb over the barriers and rush the stage, causing security to freak out, as they tried to stop as many people as possible, despite M.I.A.‘s request. From our vantage point near the front of the stage it looked as though a riot was about to break out. Some brave souls made it onto the stage to get down with M.I.A. and her dancers for the final song, “Paper Planes.” M.I.A. stood at the edge of the stage and raised her fingers in air in the shape of a gun for the song’s signature gunshot sample. M.I.A. easily commanded the main stage, but didn’t seem so sure of it herself. “Next time I’m back in the tent. I prefer the sweat,” she said.

“Wow, all these beautiful women dressed in their tiny clothes. This song is for you. It’s called ‘Carpetbaggers,”” said Jenny Lewis during her 9:50 PM set at the Outdoor Theatre. Although, I seem to remember Lewis being dressed in a tinier outfit when she played Coachella with her main band Rilo Kiley back in 2005. Alas, Elvis Costello, who duets on “Carpetbaggers” on Lewis’ Acid Tongue album, was nowhere to be found, so Lewis’ boyfriend and bandmate Johnathan Rice sang Costello’s part. “This next song is about matricide. But it’s also a love story between a mother and a son,” Lewis said before performing “Jack Killed Mom.” After performing the Rilo Kiley song “Silver Lining” solo on acoustic guitar, Lewis got a group of friends and bandmates on stage to act as a backing choir for “Acid Tongue.” The choir included Rice, Rilo Kiley bandmates Pierre de Reeder and Jason Boesel, and Conor Oberst, and the results were magical. Lewis’ full band returned to rock out “The Next Messiah,” the near nine-minute long centerpiece of Acid Tongue. “Don’t be afraid to put your fist in the air for this one,” said Lewis, before she launched into her final song, “Rise Up with Fists.”

We skipped most of The Killers’ headlining set. I don’t personally know anyone who likes The Killers, but the band certainly had its fans at Coachella, some who passionately sang along to every word. The last set we caught on day two was Gang Gang Dance’s 11:15 PM one in the Gobi tent. They had a cool and mysterious Middle Eastern vibe and tribal groove going on. Liz Bougatsos’ vocals were too high up in the mix and indecipherable. Although Gang Gang Dance was intriguing, the band’s sound was the equivalent of an uninviting loud mess, so we left after a couple of songs, hoping to beat the traffic getting out of the parking lot and to rest up for the third, and final, day of Coachella, which was forecasted to be the hottest one of the festival. Day two lacked the kind of awe-inspiring set that Paul McCartney put on the night before, but did feature its delights.

Click here to view a full gallery of photos from Coachella 2009 day two.


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