COACHELLA: DAY 3

by Scott Iasillo

Day 3 was the big one. The day that had the best acts, the best variety, and a less congested crowd. With all these good things comes the problem of missing certain sets. Do I catch Spoon and then try to make it in time for Sly Stone? Does Phoenix get more attention than Pavement? Mayer Hawthorne or De La Soul? What to choose? This is how I looked at it…

Artist: Pavement
Song: Rattled By The Rush
Artist: Pavement
Song: Heckler Spray/In The Mouth Of A Desert Live in L.A.

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Mayer Hawthorne and the County

He was the While You Were Sleeping of Coachella: the low key sleeper hit that all who witnessed had nothing but good things to say. Hawthorne came equipped with The County, a six-piece band that included a horn section, and lit up the Gobi tent midday. The band, each in a black tie and vest uniform, had their own personality: the drummer in a newsboy cap, the bassist with his vest unbuttoned with wild hair, the guitarist with his collar popped. Mayer rocked the standout gray polyester suit with thick frames and brought the retro motown/soul sound to a dancing crowd (including this sexy Asian bird in front me). Best part was the selection of covers Hawthorne went with: ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” and N.E.R.D’s “Fly or Die.” It’s good to see an artist show his skills covering other musicians. By far one of the highlights of the weekend.

Yo La Tengo

The Hoboken, New Jersey natives have an extensive catalogue. Playing some new stuff off their latest album, Popular Songs, the trio poked fun at each other and did some self-deprecating dancing. With that said, they started off with a mellow set until lead guitarist Ira Kaplan went into a 10-minute guitar solo, consisting of feedback and excessive whammy bar manipulation. The off-kilter sound kinda went downhill, especially as a closer. Overall, a somewhat bland set from a band that’s been around since 1984.

Sly Stone

This son of a bitch delayed his nice 7pm time slot. The roadies set up the microphones, the drums, the keyboards. They did a sound check. Just 5 minutes to 7 o’clock, Sly’s sound guy told the crowd “Sly’s been delayed. He’ll be on later today.” Everyone was wary of him actually appearing, and sure enough he didn’t go on. With that said, I downed a beer and left for Pavement. From what I’ve read, he appeared on stage around 11pm and fucked it all up, Walter!

Spoon

I caught the tail end of this. The lead singer was wearing a cowboy hat. He seemed pretty happy. I was glad I got to hear “The Underdog” after Sly’s meltdown.

Pavement

Mid-90s rock is awesome, as Pavement explained after rocking out to one of their many nostalgic hits. Opening with “Silence Kit,” and playing other notable numbers including “Range Life” and “Summer Babe,” Pavement never missed a note. The guitar sounded just like their albums, the band looked like they were having fun up there, making mid- to late-90s references including, “Shake it off like Israel shook off those scuds.” Quite the humorous bunch. And ending their set with the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 1-2 punch of “Unfair” and “Cut Your Hair” couldn’t have been more happy. With a cult audience that knew each song, they were great to watch at just 30 feet from the stage.

Gorillaz

I didn’t care to see Thom Yorke. I wanted good seats for the main act and so I hung out with a bottle of water and my large dilsnick and awaited Gorillaz. Suffice to say, they did not disappoint. In fact, it might have been the best act I’ve ever seen, definitely the best act of the weekend. Gorillaz singer/songwriter mastermind Damon Albarn showed himself the entire concert, as opposed to the past, where he was silhoutted or hidden from the crowd. Gorillaz had a multimedia show, combining their live act with coinciding videos. Snoop, dressed in full captain’s garb and telescope, welcomed us to the Plastic Beach. Coming out with a full orchestra, Gorillaz gave us all their hits and a lot more from Plastic Beach. De La Soul made an appearances for “Feel Good, Inc.” and “Superfast Jellyfish,” the latter being one of the better songs on a setlist that had no disappointments. Perhaps the best parts of this act were the musicians of the past. Paul Simonon and Mick Jones of The Clash played bass and lead the entire show, and Bobby Womack’s soulful appearance on “Stylo” brought the house down when he hit that high note. Despite ending on the sullen “Cloud of Unknowing,” it was an upbeat show. Perhaps having that song play at the end was a tip of the hat to Womack, who had to be assisted off the stage, as Albarn felt it was only right to give Womack his time. My thoughts: Little Dragon’s duet with Albarn, “To Binge,” was beautiful and put money on Womack in the celebrity death pool.

Day 3 at Coachella has ended, as has the entire festival. I had a blast and saw tons of scattered ass. My God am I beat. Heading back to LA with a fistful of shame and warm cup of coffee.

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