Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coachella 2011: Yeah, great, but where the hell is Kyuss??

It's that time of year again.  Hipsters all across Southern California start getting antsy with antici..........pation, wondering just who will be playing at their favorite desert hangout, at least when they're not focused on getting as pampered and drugged up as possible.  Ok, perhaps that's a bit cynical; they also care about getting into the parties.  But what does the Coachella 2011 lineup mean for all the people who go exclusively for the music?  Very good things, in this humble blogger's opinion.

The initial reaction I've encountered, much to my surprise, is "meh."  I look at that lineup, and I see the usual mix of buzz bands, promising up and comers, established crowd-pleasers, reunions and heavyweights, and I wonder what others are seeing that is inspiring such indifference.  Yes, Kings of Leon are headlining Friday night, and we all know how I feel about them these days (and Step 3 now becomes hugely relevant), but how is that any worse than 2008, when Jack Johnson was the Friday Coachella Stage closer?  We all watched the Raconteurs and the Verve kick major ass before him, then wandered off to watch something good.  Even last year, when I had zero interest in Jay-Z, Public Image Ltd. were playing at the same time on another stage, and it was awesome.  The beauty of Coachella is the never ending options, so don't pretend like one band is somehow ruining your day.

To that point, Friday is loaded with great bands; you just have to read the small print: Titus Andronicus, The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells, Ariel Pink, Tame Impala, The Morning Benders, Klaxons.  And those are just the ones I'm anxious to see.  !!!, Cut Copy, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Gayngs, Cee Lo, Robyn, Crystal Castles, Warpaint, and Interpol are all favorites of the Coachella demographic, and sure to draw lots of fans.  The whole weekend, in fact, is loaded with bands that came out with great albums in the last year or so; in addition to the ones I've mentioned, there's Broken Social Scene, The Radio Dept., Foals, The New Pornographers, Delorean, Best Coast, The National, Mumford and Sons and others.

This year also brings a strong R&B/rap presence, with Kanye (who I can't stand, but whatever, many of you love him), Nas & Damian Marley, Eykah Badu, the seriously entertaining Raphael Saadiq (really, go check him out, you'll wanna dance), the aforementioned Cee Lo, and Ms. Lauryn Hill.  Though I must admit, that last one raises more questions: why the title?  I'm pretty sure we're aware she's a 'she.'  Is she letting the hopeful fans know she's not married?  Is it bestowed upon her, like Sir Ian McKellen?  The Coward Robert Ford?

Two words: Arcade Fire.  Those of us who have seen them at Coachella before, in 2007 and especially 2005, know that this is gonna be amazing.

Finally, the thing I'm most excited about is a pair of seemingly disparate reunions.  Suede (and I will not add "The London" as a qualifier, so kiss my ass, legal decision) and Death From Above 1979.  The former may not be the much hoped-for Pulp, but they're from the same era and great in their own right.  Their self-titled debut would be a great primer, but they also just released a double disc of greatest hits and deep album cuts, all remastered and sounding the best they ever have.  One imagines they knew the reunion was coming and planned the release accordingly, but I won't hold it against them.  DFA 1979 (in this case, I think the legally mandated addendum to the name is awesome) haven't been around as long.  In fact, they had only one proper album before tiring of each other, but their punk/metal/industrial/dance mix sounds perfect for the Sahara tent.  Sweaty dance party USA.

So for anyone less than enthused by the lineup: clearly, you are wrong.  Just go, and you can thank me later.

No comments: