I ran into a guy I knew from high school standing in line for the restrooms in the VIP area. I hadn't seen him in a decade but was about four glasses of $7 wine deep and feeling good. No reason not to be friendly, after all, I no longer harbored a grudge from that time in the 11th grade when he tried to tell me that Magoo was a great rapper, a moment in which I knew that our friendship was well on its way to being up-jumps-the boogied.
“Hey Vargas,” I greeted him. (Names have been changed to protect the insolent)
“Hey Weiss,” he responded with a dazed, bovine look on his face. “I'm so wasted.”
“No. I didn't see him here. But I think I just saw Mischa Barton and I definitely saw Paris Hilton.” he said,
“I meant…never mind…so have you seen anyone good today?”
“No, just some friends. We went to the Spin party, it was awesome.”
“I mean like bands. Have you seen any good music.”
“Ha…” he chucked drunkenly, leaning in towards me and spewing hot boozy breath all over me. “I don't know anyone who's playing. But they sound good from here!
“You can't hear anything from here.”
He ignored the question.
“This place is an awesome party! Have you ever seen this many hot chicks?”
“Once, in an incubator.”
“You've still got the same sense of humor, huh Weiss?” he slapped himself on the forehead, doing my work for him.
“It's not me, it's the drugs,” I smirked and walked off, bobbing and weaving my way past the “hot chicks” re-intepreting Rihanna's “Umbrella,” as “Coach-ella-ella-ella.” Needless to say, if one were ever to start recruiting a Fourth Reich, he would be wise to begin conscripting the thousands of ding-bats lurking past the velvet rope, er chain link fence.
On my way out back to the main field, I saw Hilton herself tucked into the back of the VIP area, babbling to some tatted up rock star bozo, completely ignoring the mind-bending brilliance of Prince, who pretty much did everything anyone could have ever asked except make them pancakes in the morning. I mean a psychedelic cover of “Creep.” “Come Together,” and ending with “Let's Go Crazy.” Not to mention, an appearance from Morris Day and the motherfucking Time. As de Toqueville might have once said: really doe. And I'm sure De Toqueville would've gotten a kick out of observing the cultural tourists like my old friend, here strictly for the party, walking around adrift, chain-smoking, trying to master the art of looking affected and disaffected all at the same time.
Alexis De Toqueville: A Huge Fan Of “Jungle Love”
But I digress, I'm rambling again and there's no time. Swervedriver's on in less than two hours and I'm typing and tanning (no George Hamilton) in the baking Palm Springs sun 30 miles from the festival. I need to get moving and fast, so there's no time to talk about Portishead and how incredible their set was, nor is their time to make jokes about Kraftwerk. I have to get to Stuttgart to see their next show. Okay, maybe there's time for one: get a room funboys. No, there's time left only to describe the two best sets from young bands that I've seen this weekend: Hot Chip and Islands.
Hot Chip: Sahara Tent (6:05-7:10 p.m.)
Hot Chip remind me of that John Hughes movie Weird Science, where Anthony Michael Hall and that other nerdy guy with brown hair use their computers to create the perfect woman and by the end of the flick, they're the two coolest guys in school and have stolen Robert Downey Jr's girlfriend. This is my only way to wrap my mind around the fact that somehow four pasty, dorky Brits who write songs about “Wrestlers,” throw the best party I've ever seen. Thing is, I don't dance. That's not to say I never dance, just that it takes a lot to get me moving and when I do, it's generally only to rap made between the years 1992-1997–put on “Humpty Dance,” and I have been to both get stupid and shoot an arrow like cupid. But Hot Chip make me want to dance. And I have trouble reading those words on paper (or even Internet ether), so bear with me for a second, but really, it's true. The only way to explain it is that backstage somewhere there is a dazzlingly beautiful girl named Lisa who Hot Chip lead singer Alexis Taylor created on his computer. I know it.
No one does transitions the way Hot Chip do. They vault into songs like the Phoenix Suns gorilla hopping on a trampoline. One bleeds into the next and you barely notice a change except the energy in the room waxes and wanes, never getting too low to make the people stop moving. They played the hits, “Over and Over,” “Ready the Floor,” “One Pure Thought,” “Hold On.” It was pure bedlam, hands clapping, cacophonous roars from the crowd. Clad in white suits that made them look like The Dead on the cover of Go to Heaven, Hot Chip delivered one of the festival's most explosive sets for the second straight year. And really, what have you done for me lately, Anthony Michael Hall?
Islands: Mojave Tent 7:10-8:00
There's no appropriate way to describe an Islands set. Too much is going on and it's hard to focus or really properly explain. The music moves much too fast, the band careens across the stage, the fluttering symphonic violin notes snap out into the warm desert air, the sonic shifts too quick to codify, but always smooth. One second, lead singer Nick Diamonds starts crooning a melody that sounds lifted from Stephen Sondheim. The next Busdriver barrels out on-stage to deliver a magnetic guest-verse on “Where There's a Will There's a Whaledone.” The next, the band, clad in all-black lock into a searing guitar jam devoid of wankery, replete with pure, bruising groove. Somehow, the fusion feels fluid, especially on the new jams from the Islands' forthcoming and brilliant, Arm's Way. It's rock as symphony but devoid of the pretension. By the time, they stomped into the epic closer, “Swans,” the Islands had forever crushed any of that “b…b..b..but they're not as good as the Unicorns” jibber-jabber. The band's slogan reads: “Islands are forever.” I hope so.