Coachella 2011 Day Two Report – Arcade Fire, Suede, Mumford & Sons, Elbow, and more | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Suede at Coachella 2011

Coachella 2011, Elbow, Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, The Love Language, Mumford & Sons, Here We Go Magic, The Swell Season, Foals, Animal Collective, Glasser, Suede, Jenny and Johnny, Broken Social Scene

Coachella 2011 Day Two Report – Arcade Fire, Suede, Mumford & Sons, and Elbow,

Apr 18, 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Coachella 2011
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Day two of Coachella 2011 offered few surprises, but plenty of solid sets, including two British bands—one reunited ‘90s legends back for another try, and the other a star-making main stage performance from a band still on their debut album.

We started early with a set from North Carolina-based Merge artists The Love Language, who opened the Outdoor Theatre at noon. It’s a thankless slot, and the festival grounds were near empty, bar a small and enthusiastic crowd of Love Language devotees. The band made the most of it, playing a spirited set. Frontman Stuart McLamb was appreciative to just be playing Coachella, saying, “It’s an honor to kick things off today.” After their last song, a few particularly devoted fans upfront started chanting “One more song,” even though only the headliners get encores. A couple of hours later Here We Go Magic played the same stage, to pretty much the same sized crowd. Luke Temple and co. had a nice hypnotic vibe for the mid-afternoon and were much better than when I saw them at SXSW a couple of years earlier. The band rocked out at the end of their set, almost channeling Kraut-rock. Temple was yelling into the mic, trying to compete with the noise made by his band.

Foals drew a surprisingly large crowd who were overflowing out of the Mojave tent. Perhaps they should have switched stages with Here We Go Magic. Lead singer/guitarist Yannis Philppakis attempted to crowd surf, while playing guitar, but didn’t get much support from the audience, and gave up.

“Are you hot?” asked Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow in the Gobi tent. “Just think how we feel.” Mesirow had white tulle draped around her dress, which must have been hot.

Jenny Lewis has played on bigger stages at Coachella, with both Rilo Kiley and her solo band, but as Jenny and Johnny (with boyfriend Johnathan Rice), the duo (along with a backing band that included Rilo Kiley’s Jason Boesel on drums) played to a good-sized crowd in the Mojave tent. “This is a love song about a little place called Jumbo’s Clown Room, ever been?” Lewis explained, referencing the notorious L.A. strip club before playing “Just Like Zeus.” Rice dedicated another song to their “dear friends Bright Eyes,” who were playing later in the day.

“It’s been seven years since we were last at Coachella, so thanks for having us back,” said Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew over on the main stage before the band played “Texico Bitches.” In those seven years the Canadian collective has certainly evolved into a band more able to command the main stage at Coachella, especially with 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record.

It’s been nine years since Elbow has graced a Coachella stage and in that time Elbow has also grown to near-stadium level, especially in their native England. They have achieved this via connecting emotionally with the audience, as well as with pure showmanship. Lead vocalist Guy Garvey, has one of the warmest demeanors in indie rock, and at the Mojave tent called the crowd a “very beautiful bunch, a very good looking group of people.” Garvey joked about the electronic thumping drifting over from the adjacent Sahara tent (“Tell them to keep it down next door.”), and also asked the audience to conduct their string section. Elbow closed with the rousing anthem “One Day Like This” and cemented themselves as festival kings.

I remember seeing Bright Eyes a decade ago at the small L.A. venue The Troubadour, and, at the time, I don’t think I would have imagined they’d one day be playing the main stage at Coachella, only because Conor Oberst’s deep lyrics and difficult vocals were an acquired taste, and didn’t seem like they’d take them to the mainstream. England’s Mumford & Sons, on the other hand, have had a quick rise to fame and today were only two bands before the headliner on the main stage. Quite an impressive feat for a band who opened one of Under the Radar’s SXSW parties in 2009 and are still working their debut album. But they earned their success the old fashioned way, by writing great songs, and being incredibly charismatic performers. They brought all of that to the main stage in a performance that can be called “star-making” if they hadn’t already recently performed on the Grammys with Bob Dylan. The band all performed in a line, featuring banjo and stand-up bass, and don’t have a standard drummer (frontman Marcus Mumford just uses a kickdrum, although towards the end of the set, he got behind a full drum kit for a new song). The band appeals to a wide cross-section that includes both country and indie rock fans. “Awake My Soul” featured slide guitar, and “Roll Away My Stone” was a ruckus hoedown. They played a new song, “Lovers’ Eyes,” and Mumford was genuinely appreciative and in-awe, saying, “It’s such an honor to play at this festival, we understand it’s importance in American and California…we really are blown away,” and admitting this was the biggest crowd they’d ever performed to. Sadly, post-punk legends Wire were meanwhile playing to hardly no one, the Gobi was only an eighth full at best.

“Markéta hurt her finger,” explained The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard over at the Mojave tent about bandmate Markéta Irglová, “so she can’t play guitar, and I’ve actually never played this song.” Then the band performed “If You Want Me,” from the Once soundtrack. “What is the sound?” Hansard later asked, referring to the strange tones emanating from the main stage. “Whatever song it be, let it be in the right key [as our song],” he joked.

What Hansard was hearing, was the beginning rumblings of Animal Collective, whose difficult, non-crowd pleasing songs, seemed like a strange fit for the main stage, just before the headliner. They had a crazy video show, which was more annoying than interesting and meant you couldn’t see the band. But in all fairness, I only caught a few minutes of their set, before heading back to the Mojave tent for Suede.

Billed as The London Suede in America, due to sharing their name with an unknown jazz singer, who sued them in the early ‘90s, the band put on an all-killer/no-filler set. For this long-time Suede fan, who has never seen the legendary Britpop band live, it was a clear highlight of the day. The recently reunited band wisely avoided playing anything from their generally disliked fifth and final album, and only played one song from their fourth album. Instead, they focused on fan favorites from their first three albums, and a lot of material from their classic self-titled debut.

Suede’s set opened with U.K. hit, “Trash” (spawning an immediate sing-along) and didn’t’ let up from there, with a set list that included “Animal Nitrate,” “Film Star,” “Killing of Flash Boy,” “Pantomime Horse,” “New Generation,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “So Young,” and “The Beautiful Ones.”

Frontman Brett Anderson was in full command of the stage and audience, often inciting sing alongs, and expertly swinging the microphone above his head and catching it again. The years have been kind to Anderson (he still sounded great and had a ton of energy) and a decade and a half after their heyday Suede was showing all the younger bands how it’s done.

Headliners Arcade Fire also impressed on the main stage. Win Butler was very appreciative to be there, in effect saying that if you had told him earlier in the band’s career, that they’d be headlining just after Animal Collective he wouldn’t have believed you. He also said that Coachella was the first real festival Arcade Fire had played, so it was an honor to not only be back, but also be headlining. “So one of these years so I want to be here without actually playing, maybe next year,” Butler said. Butler pointed out that it was his 31st birthday a couple of days earlier and suggested that for a birthday present fans could donate to Partners in Health for Haiti and that there were donation stations at Coachella. About half-way through their set, Butler stated, “That was the whole peace portion of the set, now let’s fucking do something,” before the band launched into Funeral favorite “The Power’s Out.” A big black monolithic box that hung from a crane was slowly swung over the top of the stage. The audience was in anticipation as to what it was all about. During “Wake Up” the box opened and a bunch of light up balls fell out and onto the audience. The balls changed color in unison and were synchronized to the music, perhaps via remote control. It was a beautiful futuristic sight and Butler joked to the audience, “Thank you people of Mars.” Butler seemed in a gleeful mood toward the end of the band’s set, he simply advised the audience, “Be good to each other.”



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April 18th 2011

Suede’s final album, “A New Morning” is a very fine album and liked by many of their fans.  There are several very very good songs on that album.  “Obsessions” could easily have come off “Coming Up”... maybe the album is better at home but it’s still a good album to listen to.  They played at least a couple from “A new morning” back in 2003 when I saw them in Asia and “Obsessions” was a definite hit with the ex-pats in the audience.

May 8th 2011

they actually opened with ‘She’. I was there.