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Day 3: Coachella WINs and FAILs (featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Thom Yorke, Phoenix, etc.)!

The Great Thom Yorke in the Sky
The Great Thom Yorke in the Sky
Gustavo Turner

Sunday was the hottest day of the Coachella weekend and it felt like the most crowded, a change from previous years when (thanks to the one-day passes) the last day had shown a welcome self-weeding-out of the masses.

In terms of festival logistics, Sunday was extremely efficient, particularly when contrasted with the previous two days. We keep getting disturbing reports, though, of improvised crowd-control solutions cobbled together with untrained volunteers after Friday's fiasco. Golden Voice/AEG needs to take a long hard look at what went wrong this year and try to fix it for 2011 if they're gonna continue on their expansion plans and sell so many 3-day passes. Greed might arguably be good for large corporations, but it can also kill.

Here are some WINs and FAILs for Day 3:

FAIL: The scheduling of the four big rock-en-espaƱol acts. By the time Argentina's Babasonicos opened the main stage at 1:30 pm in front of a few early risers (remember, between the partying and the getting to the venue, the crowds really start getting juicy around 5), it was the last of the 4 big south-of-the-border acts scheduled for Coachella. The fantastic, energizing Calle 13 had endured a similarly early slot on Friday, Mexico's Zoe had to make do with Saturday at 1:45, and only Colombia's Aterciopelados had been given a reasonable time (Saturday, 8:10 pm, Mojave tent). We thought Aterciopelados' polished pop -- anchored on charismatic frontwoman Andrea Echeverri, sort of like a Pottery Barn version of Joan Baez -- was a little limp and Babasonicos or, especially, Calle 13 could have made better use of the later slot.

WIN: King Khan and the Shrines, who turned their afternoon slot into a bouncing party, aided by DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba and the kind of funk everyone was expecting from Sly's backing band later in the day.

WIN: B.o.B. being all cocky and shit on the mainstage. It's good to know your singles are selling like hotcackes and your record label had to push through with an early release of your album because right now people can't get enough of the ATL MC.

WIN: Mayer Hawthorne, who brought his Motown replica to the desert, convinced the few haters, and even busted out a Biz Markie cover. No, Snoop didn't show -- they're not married or anything, you know?

WIN: DeLaSoul -- this is a win with a tiny nostalgic fail in it. DeLa have turned into elder statesmen of hip-hop. By all accounts they are dependable, solid performers. But the sense of weird fun that made them so special way back when is not that noticeable these days.

FAIL: Hey! Remember the 90s?. Your mainstage afternoon was De La Soul - Yo La Tengo - Pavement (with a little Spoon thrown in -- not the most adventurous contemporary choice). Meanwhile, Jonsi, Phoenix and other ready-for-prime-time acts were doing the sidestage shuffle. In any case, it's too early for 90s nostalgia -- kids these days are stuck in the 80s. Gary Numan or Devo would have killed on the mainstage if you wanted to go throwback.

WIN: Florence and the Machine attracted a massive crowd to the Gobi tent. Looking like Bride of Tori Amos (or a young Maggie Smith in George Cukor's Travels With My Aunt), Florence Welch emoted through her still expanding repertoire to an adoring audience.

WIN: Club 75, Paris' hottest dance party were a surprising solid contender for the "Best French Act" award in a particularly Francophile day at Coachella. The vibe at Sahara during their set offered a chill oasis to the massive lines to get into beer gardens in the afternoon. But chill doesn't mean mellow -- people were dancing their asses off to the gloriously superficial surfaces spun by Club 75.

FAIL: Scheduling Julian Casablancas and Charlotte Gainsbourg at the same time in neighboring tents. They attract the same crowd, don't they? You could see torn hipsters standing inbetween Gobi and Mojave trying to make up their minds.

FAIL: Charlotte Gainsbourg's stage act. So, we all love those Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg collaborations right? But we still acknowledge Birkin could not sing to save her life, and it's ok. Their daughter unfortunately inherited her mom's vocal chops or lack thereof. Oh, sure she and her Frenchie buddies look stunning onstage, but more than one person was yawning or heading out for Jonsi or Julian. Still, Charlotte can be mesmerizing, as when she sang a complex tune in her native language. "More of that!," clamored a friend of mine. But, sadly, she hadn't brought in any more of that. She'd make an ok, idiosyncratic club chanteuse, but she's not a good fit for Coachella.

WIN: Julian Casablanca's cover of David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel." What do you mean it's not a cover? Oh, then FAIL.

WIN: Icelandic folkloric outfits. Jonsi is angling to be the gay male Bjork. The LA Times called his act "pagan pleasures" -- we agree.

WIN: Phoenix. Massive win for Sophia Coppola's spouse and his merry band of overeducated Frenchies. That's where the first big mob of the day was on Sunday, reacting to the hits, the album cuts (people know Phoenix's lyrics? Who knew.) Hopefully someone filmed the crowd for the most epic iPod commercial ever.

WIN: Pavement. The thirtysomething ladies dolled themselves up for Malkmus, who did his thing tighter and less high than during his nineties prime. Still dreamy. (Aside: is there any Malkmus on Thurston slash fiction?)

WIN: The Volcano. It took Gary Numan from us. Fuck the volcano.

WIN: Thom Yorke.

FAIL (in terms of high expectations for showmanship): Gorillaz. Anticlimactic. No stunts. No holograms. When you are the mighty Gorillaz and you get outplayed by Yo Gabba Gabba in terms of stage wackiness, something is not right in the plastic beach.

WIN: Gorillaz' tight set, great tunes, having folded part of The Clash into itself (WTF!), and busting out a real-live, healthy Bobby Womack as their Cee-Lo. Good ending, though a little bittersweet if you were coming from ...

MASSIVE FAIL: Sly Stone's crew and whoever paid them to parade Sly in this state. Shame on you. Sly -- we love you and hope you get help.


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