Live review: Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Day 3By Reverb Staff | April 18th, 2011 | 2 comments
As this year’s Coachella wrapped up on Sunday night, festival-goers walked the tattered polo fields recounting their favorite moments. This year’s diverse line-up gave them plenty to talk about, and Sunday’s soft close was an easy and safe finish to a weekend that was best when it was taking chances.
The evening’s headliner, Kanye West, presented a set that was as artful as it was banging. Coming off like the physical incarnation of his “Runaway” music video, the concert utilized opera singers and ballerinas and a couple costume changes for ’Ye as the he took advantage of the giant stage. In one number, the MC was completely alone on the mammoth platform, soaking up the spotlight in a dapper red suit. In another number, he was at the center of intense choreography.
West’s performance was inspired, and it had its brave moments, too. He didn’t shy away from singing live -– to mixed results –- and his confidence carried all the way to the back of the field.
Sunday’s brightest set came from New York rockers the Strokes, who sounded tighter than ever. Their focused blast of glimmering indie-rock anthems was well received by the evening crowd, and it was the right antidote to the stage’s previous occupant, ’80s rock icons Duran Duran.
Rhode Island’s masters of noise, Lightning Bolt, looked uncomfortable on the Gobi Tent’s sizable stage – but their brazen rock translated well in the festival setting. Electro heroes Chromeo started a sweaty dance party for the big crowd at the Outdoor Theatre, setting the stage for a methodical, low-key set from P.J. Harvey.
Sunday lacked the grandiose scope of Saturday and the newfound excitement of Friday, but it was a gentle comedown to a festival that was the most innovative in the event’s history. If we saw glimpses of Coachella’s future this year, what with the Creators Project and the synced-up technological advances, then there’s a lot to look forward to in this new era of the American music festival. –Ricardo Baca
Reverb Editor John Hendrickson’s Festival Express
Best musical moment: The Strokes played a near flawless set on the main stage last night, even if lead singer Julian Casablancas’ crowd banter was far from flattering. Casablancas lived out his notoriously disinterested rock star persona –- rife with sarcasm about the night’s other acts and the festival as a whole. “How was the weekend? Good? I wouldn’t know; I just flew in on my diamond-encrusted jet,” he smirked.
Still, the band sounded on-point as ever. An early “Hard To Explain” set the tone for a set list that ran the gamut of their four album catalog –- with only the choice cuts from their newest release, “Angles,” thrown in the mix to keep things fresh.
One of the best musical moments of the weekend came at the end of their set during a ball-busting version of “Take It Or Leave It.” The too-cool Casablancas finally let his guard down, choking the life out of his microphone with a screech that resembled the breakthrough “Letterman” performance of the same song in 2002, back when he was only 23. And nine years later, beneath his hipster sunglasses and gaudy flat-brim hat, we could still see glimmers of the wide-eyed Julian working hard to prove that his band mattered.
Best non-musical moment: Coachella sunsets are idealized in promo materials, though Sunday’s was something of amazement. As L.A.’s Best Coast played “Summer Mood,” “When I’m With You” and other jangly surf-rock tunes at the Outdoor Theatre, the Indio sky glowed pink and purple and blood red as it slowly set behind the mountains.
That’s not a mirage: Justin Vernon of Bon Iver made three appearances during the weekend –- once with his side project, Gayngs, once to play guitar with the National during “Terrible Love” and twice to sing atmospheric vocals during Kanye West’s colossal festival-closing set. Not bad for a relatively small indie-folk singer.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.