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Coachella 2013, Concert Reviews, Music

Concert Review: Coachella 2013 – Weekend 1 – Saturday – Phoenix, Franz Ferdinand, Violent Femmes + More

By: Scott Penner –

Thomas Mars (left) and Deck d'Arcy (right) of Phoenix at Coachella 2013. (Photo: Chris Alvarez for DowntownLobby.com)

Thomas Mars (left) and Deck d’Arcy (right) of Phoenix at Coachella 2013. (Photo: Chris Alvarez for DowntownLobby.com)

Saturday began slowly at the Sahara tent with Been Trill, who was more interested in checking their cell phones than producing an entertaining show for the albeit small crowd.  Perhaps at this point we’ve taken for granted when acts at Coachella push the limits and use the opportunity to impress the crowd.

Saskatoon native Jordan Cook (AKA Reignwolf) took the stage at the Outdoor Theatre just after noon. Cook presented the crowd with a furious and energetic blues-meets-garage rock set that rivaled any other performance that weekend, not forgetting that this set occurred at mid day in the hot desert sun. Cook made use of not only the stage, but on the ground both in front of and behind the barrier usually used to keep screaming fans at bay, which provided the crowd with an up-close and personal view of a very promising artist.

Trash Talk was next on the Outdoor Theater. They amplified their hardcore California style instead of being hindered by the intense heat.  Frontman Lee Spielman paused only briefly a handful of times and still managed to jolt the crowd into a frenzy as he spent most of the set moshing and crowd surfing with the fans rather than on the stage itself. The band not only threw water by the case to help the crowd cope with the heat, they threw cans of beer as well.

DJ Baauer performed at 3pm in the Sahara Tent and he made his best attempt at avoiding his viral hit “Harlem shake.” Baauer teased the mega crowd throughout his 55-minute set, and it was only after Baauer had left the stage the crowd began to roar “”Harlem Shake! Harlem Shake!” Baauer then reappeared to satisfy the hoards that likely just came to hear that song and he played the riff that gave birth to a million imitations.

English singer/songwriter Ben Howard provided a much slower and relaxed pace to the Outdoor Theater. Critics lauded his Mercury Prized-nominated 2011 debut album Every Kingdom as being “impressively timeless” and being a “self-assured debut,” and Howard bathed the crowd in his lush folk orchestrations in the scorching desert heat.

The Outdoor Theatre transformed into a trailer park for Tool’s Maynard Keenan’s side-project Puscifer. Maynard wore an outrageous blond mullet wig along with a moustache, which appeared to be inspired by Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” music video, and he asked the crowd “who’s on drugs?” and after receiving a roaring response, he went on to point out that “its a fact” that people on ACID “require salt and sugar.”

Their 11-song set opened with an acoustic rendition of The Circle Jerks classic “World Up My Ass,” along with “DoZo” from their 2007 debut album “V” Is for Vagina and “Toma” from 2011’s Conditions of My Parole.

Maynard Keenan of Puscifer at Coachella 2013. (Photo: Scott Penner/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Maynard proceeded to help the stage crew pass out “Vagina Airlines” brand salted peanuts and gummy fish.

Maynard seemed very open and talkative compared to his previous Coachella appearance with Tool in 2006. He frequently walked across the stage to ensure everybody had a full glass of wine.

Newly reunited Wisconsin alt rockers Violent Femmes – Gordon Gano, Victor DeLorenzo and Brian Ritchie – treated the Coachella Stage to their first performance in nearly six years which featured a 56 minute performance of their critically acclaimed 1983 debut self-titled album in its entirety, which reminds us why the album was so timeless to begin with. When lead singer Gordon Gano sung about teenage frustration and twentysomething male desire, you can still feel it and resonate with it just as you would have when it was first released in April 1983.

Italian DJ/Producer Benny Benassi drew one of the biggest crowds of the day at the Sahara Tent. Benassi’s set reached its pulsating climax when R&B crooner John Legend joined him on stage to debut his new collaboration with Benassi called “Dance The Pain Away.” The track is a far cry from Legend’s previous work and while it’s encouraging to see a R&B heavyweight like Legend dip his toe into a different genre, his signature gospel-rooted vocals shone through the track.

Descendants played to an underwhelming crowd at the Outdoor Theater.  But what the crowd lacked in numbers they were unrivaled with their energy and enthusiasm.  The punk rock legends played an unrelenting 24-song set that spanned their five decade-long career including “Hope,” “Suburban Home” and “Myage” from their 1982 debut album Milo Goes To College and “Talking,” from their most recent album, 2004’s Cool To Be You. Despite their lengthy career, Descendants’ sense of humour has failed to move past high school fart jokes as they filled dead air between songs with tired immature jokes not limited to farting directly into microphone.  But beyond that, if you want to see a band that has been around longer than Coachella, catch them again during weekend two.

With a forthcoming new album, Franz Ferdinand performed at the Mojave Stage to a capacity crowd. In addition to playing their hits including “Take Me Out,” from their 2004 self-titled debut album, “Do You Want To” from 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better and “Ulysses” from 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, they also teased the elated crowd with tracks that might appear on their upcoming fourth studio album which is expected to be released sometime this year including, “Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action!” “Evil Eye,” and “The Blackpool Illuminati” A highlight of the performance was a new-old track called “What Time Is Can’t Stop Feeling I Feel Love,” which combined their song “Can’t Stop Feeling” with Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” which gave the disco hit a much-needed modern retouching.

Phoenix was the headliner for the main stage and was the subject of many rumours about the return of Daft Punk.  Phoenix not only share the same home country of France with Daft Punk, but they also share history together as Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter used to play in a band with Phoenix guitarist Laurent Brancowitz.  After an extended pause of darkness it was not Daft Punk that appeared but R. Kelly.  They performed not so much of a mash-up but an acapella performance of “Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly overlaid with the rhythm of Phoenix’s “1901.“

After the show, the taste of disappointment of Daft Punk fans was almost palpable, and chants requesting the appearance of the French Duo lasted long after Phoenix had left the stage, which provided an awkward ending to an otherwise memorable show.

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