Muse is a band made for Coachella. The British trio has a sound so large, so anthemic that it seems as though they formed simply to play open air gigs to tens of thousands of screaming fans. Where many musicians have come to the three-day desert music fest and failed amidst the vastness of the space, Muse thrived on Saturday night.
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By the time Muse hit the Coachella Stage, the largest venue at the festival, the main field and surrounding areas were all full. From the sidelines, it looked like a scene from a concert film dating back to the age when stadium rock was at its peak. There were people crowded together for as far as I could see, with bodies occasionally stacked on top of the shoulders of other bodies. As cameras scanned the audience and broadcasted shots on the jumbo screen, you could see the faces curling and stretching with rock show ecstasy. And then there was the band, swathed in light and decked out in designer festival clothes.
Muse is like Queen for a generation of music fans that adds both classic rock and techno to their iPods, a generation that uses descriptions like "epic win" and "epic fail." They have managed to cobble together decades of stylistic influences into one cohesive sound that's never alarmingly retro. They are grandiose without appearing too contrived. Part of the trio's live success is that they know how to organize their set list. The band opened with "Uprising," the radio hit off their latest full-length The Resistance, and immediately followed it with "Super Massive Black Hole," two songs with a steady, danceable beat that are familiar to even passive fans, but aren't quite monster hits in the vein of "Knights of Cydonia." Like DJs, they sucked in the crowd immediately, but gradually built up the energy before dropping the biggest numbers. They focused on the bombastic, with only the briefest of respites from the onslaught of crowd-pleasers. Few would have (or should have) settled for less.