By: Scott Penner –
Swedish doom metal band Ghost, who recently had to change their name while touring in the USA to Ghost B.C., was one of the first big acts of the day. Playing the Coachella Stage in ridiculous 30°C+ heat, they walked on stage wearing black from head to toe. Not only were their robes black, but members wore a face mask. Fully black masks for each of the members referred to as ‘Nameless Ghouls’ and a papal-like hat along with a cardinal outfit adorned with crosses, and black and white skull makeup for the lead singer named ‘Papa Emeritus II’.
Amusingly enough, the strong and imposing Emeritus was forced to drink water through as straw as his mask would not allow him to bring a bottle to his lips. They treated the crowd to a mix of songs from both their new album Infestissumam, which is Latin for ‘hostile,’ and their 2010 debut album Opus Eponymous. Their 40-minute set was tight and well-rehearsed, with little time between songs for Emeritus to address the crowd as the “children of California.” The crowd was surprisingly sparse for a band with fans including Dave Grohl and James Hetfield, but if you need your metal fix, be sure to check them out during weekend two.
The reunion of 1980s LA Paisley Underground pioneers The Three O’Clock was a real treat for Coachella attendees who bothered to read to the bottom of the fine print on the artist list. Playing the smaller Gobi Tent, their crunchy and exciting self-described ‘Paisley Underground’ style felt timeless. The band seemed cohesive and well-rehearsed for a band that has been away for so long.
French quartet Dirtyphonics performed a highly energetic set at the Sahara Tent, blending dubstep, drum and bass, and heavy metal. The members who are particularly energetic for an electronic act, stage dived and crowd surfed during their high-intensity set. They even encouraged a “heavy metal circle pit” to mild success during their track “Walk in the Fire,” which appears to have both Slayer and heavy dubstep influences.
At the Mohave Tent, fans took up all of the precious shade as they enjoyed Brooklyn-based DIIV’s shoegazey melodies. While still a young band, they performed with confidence and it was only between songs when frontman Zachary Cole Smith addressed the crowd. They used their performance to introduce the audience to their debut album, 2012’s Oshin, which combines dark post-rock of Interpol and the glimmering pop of Ducktails, with tracks like the instrumental “Druun,” the overwhelmingly distorted “Wait” and “Past Lives.” If you want to see a band with a strong homemade aesthetic, along with fluttering synths, dreamy guitars and open-ended lyrics, check out DIIV during weekend two.
British songwriter Alex Clare – previously known as Alexander G. Muertos – played to a crowded Mohave Tent. Clare, who blends folk rock and electronic dub-step, took the stage with bare feet and a voice big enough to stop passers-by and attract an even larger crowd by the end of his set. While most people awaited his hit song ”Too Close,” from his 2011 debut album The Lateness of the Hour, it was his cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry’” that got the dance floor moving. Clare also took the time to play “Where Is The heart” minus his band, and instead with just an acoustic guitar in order to teach the crowd the song’s chorus. Afterwards he played the song over again with his full band and a crowd who now could sing along. He then finished his set with “Too Close” about which he said, “you should already know the words to this one.” If you want to hear an artist who fearlessly blends genres and often succeeds, check him out during weekend two.
Nick Cave was on the Main Stage this time for his second appearance this weekend, after his performance with Grinderman on Friday night. Performing under the title ‘Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,’ a children’s choir from the Silverlake Music Conservatory in Silverlake, CA, joined him on stage on backing vocals, which helped round out his abrasive vocal style and awkward pelvic thrusts. Despite playing a short set to a criminally small crowd, Cave performed an array of songs from his five-decade-long career including “From Her To Eternity” from his 1984 debut album of the same name, the darkly twisted “Red Right Hand,” from 1994’s Let Love In and a couple of tracks from his new album Push The Sky Away including the haunting “Jubilee Street” and the title track. If you love darkness, but not the Ghost B.C. type of darkness, check out Nick Cave next weekend as he terrifies even more festivalgoers.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will begin working on their new album later this year, were the headliners for the last night of the festival and they didn’t disappoint. While not a ‘surprise reunion,’ which Coachella has been known to book as the headliner in the past, the Chili Peppers produced a supremely entertaining and engaging hit-heavy show including “Otherside,” “Californication” and “Under The Bridge” which concluded with a mass obligatory sing-a-long.
By this time in the evening the temperature dropped to 20°C, which felt frigid to the fans who wore nothing but stickers and a bikini to help cope with the intense heat of the day. Most fans who came prepared had dawned pants and jackets were able to enjoy the show when the winds picked up and brought a blinding dust storm, which provided some content for the generally incoherent ramblings of bass player Flee, with quotes like “I feel like I’m going to home and throw up a sandbox for my small child” or telling stories of how their mothers had been in horrible pain while giving birth. From any other band these kinds of comments would annoy disgust their fans, but it just added to the Chili Pepper’s legendary status as rock stars who don’t take themselves too seriously.