Coachella Week: Spencer’s Friday festival notes

Modest Mouse got so chatty during Day 1 at Coachella that the band went over its time limit and fest sound personnel cut the sound in the middle of “Float On.”
Photo: Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Photo

5 takeaways from Day 1 in Indio:

1. If you’re a rock fan and don't have tickets for tonight's Yeah Yeah Yeahs show at the Cosmopolitan, get some. The New York trio, playing third to last on the main stage, felt like the true Friday headliner, drawing a huge crowd and delivering a blistering set. Mixing catalog favorites (“Gold Lion,” “Zero” and of course, “Maps,” among them) with material from new album Mosquito (“Slave” was particularly memorable), the band played with a ferocity far beyond its studio work. Frontwoman Karen O’s charismatic performance was memorable as always, but guitarist Nick Zinner felt just as central to the overall impact, filling the night sky with electrifying solos and riffs.

2. If you’re coming out to Coachella either weekend, plan out your Yuma Tent schedule carefully. The festival’s new, fully enclosed sixth stage looks cool inside—hardwood floors, faux paintings on the walls, 17 disco balls overhead—but good luck getting inside when a significant name is performing there. I stopped by during Four Tet’s set and again while Luciano was on, and both times I was confronted with a long one-in/one-out queue. I’ve seen some wildly packed Coachella tents over the years, but I’ve still always been able to hear all the acts I’ve wanted to, even from a distance.

3. If you ever get a chance to see Grinderman, do so at all costs. I hated to leave Blur’s main-stage set after a solid three-song start, but entering the Mojave Tent as Nick Cave’s four-piece punk-blues band began, I never regretted my choice. Playing to a criminally small audience, Grinderman left no doubt who the most intense—not to mention loudest—band of the day would be. Cave, who plays again Sunday with the Bad Seeds, seemed possessed as he sang, stomped, swayed and played his instruments, leading the group through a series of dark, viciously conveyed numbers. Pulled out of retirement for the occasion, Grinderman could make its final appearance ever at Coachella Weekend 2.

4. If you haven't seen Japandroids in concert, you probably haven't missed much, assuming Friday’s Mojave Tent set is indicative of the Vancouver duo’s live prowess. That the pair suffered from terrible sound was bad enough, but well beyond that, Japandroids’ songs felt thin and punchless, the polar opposite of the way the album versions fly from the speakers. The large crowd chanted along in places, but more out of obligation than because there was any real spark in the tent.

5. If you ever play Coachella, keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock learned that the hard way Friday evening, when his many main-stage ramblings ultimately cost his band its big finish. Playing past its allotted 50 minutes, the Washington outfit launched into 2004 hit “Float On” only to have the power cut halfway through. Considering the band still finished the full song, playing only through its stage amps, it was a curious decision by festival personnel, especially since they’ll have to work with Brock and his mates again next weekend.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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