“Yeah, I'm losing my edge/I'm losing my edge/The kids are coming up from behind/I'm losing my edge/I'm losing my edge to the kids from France and from London/But I was there.” -James Murphy
Hannibal Moncrief is not losing his edge. Last night, during LCD Soundsystem's set, he was backstage with Aziz Ansari and Dr. Dre, smoking Cohibas that cost more than kidneys. They were making vaguely salacious comments about Katy Perry's curvature and loudly discussing the merits of The Wash. Things got so engrossing that the good doctor forgot to join Jay-Z onstage. Yeah, Hannibal had heard the rumor that the pair were performing. But did you know that they were going to jump into their money bins, go swimming, and toss gold coins on their head, all while covering “My Way” (Sid Vicious Version). Of course, you didn't. Because that was Hannibal's idea. Not only did Hannibal have the idea, he also invented an iPhone App for it.
Allow me to re-introduce myself: my name is Hannibal, H to the Moncrief. Due to several writer cancellations, cheap bribes, and cheaper ayahuasca, the Weekly allowed me to be part of their Coachella Coverage. Surely, this will be the last time a major metropolitan newspaper allows Hannibal to leave them vulnerable to defamation charges. This experiment is bound to be shorter-lived than Passion Pit's career. Enjoy it while it lasts. Either way, I'll be fine. My afro-punk chillwave DIY collaboration with Kristen Stewart, “Sun and Daughter,” has been getting major buzz on the blogs. What up, Aquarium Drunkard. By this time next year, Sun & Daughter will be on the Coachella main stage. Who want what, Zooey Deschanel?
Day one of Coachella was a logistical nightmare. Hannibal had a little too much success obtaining free swag at the various pool parties, and showing off his six-pack abs to the assorted actresses who had heard that attending Coachella was the way to be indie, and make out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the backseat of a Prius Limosuine. Rest assured, Hannibal didn't actually take a dip in any of the pools. His coif remained at Alan Thicke levels.
Thankfully, the swagger coach that Hannibal and Justin Bieber share had been able to get Hannibal on the lists for the Anthem, Music Oasis, Ace Hotel, Filter, Flaunt, Spin, and even a couple Double-Blue Chip Top Secret White Parties where they whisk you to a mysterious antechamber, and it's just you, some free Gucci sunglasses, several trays of caviar, and a few trained penguins in tuxedos. That's when you've really arrived.
I used to work in the record store/I had everything before anyone/I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan/I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes/I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.”
Hannibal woke up naked in the parking lot in Indio in 1999. He had just stayed up all night taking Molly with the members of At-the-Drive In and taunting Derrick May by exhaling clouds of strong California Chronic directly in his face. People from Detroit do not play, and Hannibal only remembers waking up in the blistering sunlight, wearing only a single sock and a single wristband, and having the words, “Techno King” written in sharpie on his knuckles. That was a different Coachella. It was two days and it felt like a secret world that you had stumbled into, completely alien to the Hollywood clusterfuck that now comes and thwarts Hannibal's odds of getting a VIP parking pass.
The promoters may have lost $800,000 that year, but there was nothing like it, the mixture of cutting-edge electronic music, a gorgeous desert backdrop, and the belief that Moby and vegan techno were the future of the world. Still, Hannibal would take him over Tiesto and the herd of upwards of 70,000 people who were swept up in the trail of tears that is the Coachella parking line. Stop and go. Stop and go. It was three hours of more tempo shifts than a Fiery Furnaces song, and an equally un-rhythmic experience.
Finally, Hannibal arrived, only to be told that press and artist tickets were being held at an off-site location. Cue another hour and a half of traffic, sweat, and about 34 ticket requests from the legions of left-out fans, some of who offered up to a grand for a pair. Hannibal almost accepted their offer and used the funds to pay for a trip to the Sonar Festival in Barcelona. Hannibal is avant-garde. Hannibal no longer listens to music with words. Maybe Coachella is losing its edge.
“I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables/I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.”
Jay-Z bought turntables and then he kept them and bought guitars. Now he's a regular headliner on the festival circuit: Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, Coachella. There's always about a dozen people behind him, and they always transform Jay-Z's champagne and Lexus glide into a weird silvery futuristic car burdened by too many bells and whistles. Hannibal would like to drive that car, but only seven of them were made and they are only available on a special eBay auction for oil sheiks and 90s rappers.
The arrangements of songs like “Jigga What, Jigga Who,” and “99 Problems” turn into mechanistic rawk riffs pilfered from the Linkin Park catalogue. Hannibal knows that Jay-Z was good. Jay-Z was Jay-Z. He has hits and he understands how to play them for maximum impact, and when he gets tired of playing them, he can just bring out Beyonce and the two of them can reinterpret Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers for the hip-hop generation and everyone can throw their diamonds in the sky. Although, Hannibal confesses that its been hard for him to wear jewels since the song “Diamonds of Sierra Leone.” Jay-Z confuses Hannibal.
After all, Moncrief was down since he bought a special dubbed mixtape cut from DJ Clue in the Marcy Projects in 1994. Hannibal was there. He was the inspiration for Memphis Bleek's character on “Coming of Age.” A G, Hannibal would've and did ride with Jay-Z for free. But he finds it hard to reconcile the cackling superior slickness of Jay-Z in 95, with the smug AMEX pitchman he is today. Hannibal likes Jay-Z, Hannibal liked Jay-Z's performance, but Jay-Z is losing his edge. James Murphy can probably teach him how to do it. —Hannibal Moncrief