May 1, 2007

Coachella winners, and some losers...

Call me old fashioned, but I think the tango-pop-hip-hop sounds of Gotan Project stole the stage at the Coachella Valley music festival over the weekend.

Competing against a rocking LCD Soundsystem set and a dull repeat performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it’s no wonder less than 3,000 people were there to see them. Among those who did, however, there were looks of astonishment as well as knowing smiles as the Argentine-Parisian group kept a steady, thumping beat. Nobody seemed to notice they went over their set time until they pulled the plug on their violinist.

For those who haven’t heard these songs already, check out “Diferente” and “Mi Confesion” on the band’s Myspace page. By the way, who knew you could dance the tango on grass? Well my wife Michelle and I succeeded. Que Bueno.

But don’t let that glowing review take anything away from Bjork’s innovative Friday performance. Unlike RHCP, her albums just get better all the time, and her 16-song set on Friday surpassed the memorable 2002 performance.

The little imp walked onstage in what looked like a sultan’s headdress made of jellybeans. She began with the entertainingly smug “Earth Intruders” and continued with a dizzy mix of electro-ballads. As the set moved forward, a gang of fans in front, all female and all under 5 feet 5 inches tall, wept and danced and pushed past anyone taller than themselves. It was incredible to see.

The ReacTable was an interesting attraction as well, but since the Website boasts that even a child can master the musical interface tool, maybe we shouldn’t be too impressed.

As far as Sunday goes, I opted for the pool, but according to correspondents Wade Jones (of Vomica fame) and Nicole Skillern, Rage Against the Machine had at least 50,000 people eating revolution pills from their hands.

Apparently, when all those sweaty fans left the gates with fists flung in the air, police assumed a stance of humble acquiescence. Probably the best decision Indio’s finest has ever made.

I don't want to forget all the others who brought their A-game: Interpol, Brazilian Girls, Ozomatli -- was that the mayor of Indio? the Decemberists, Sonic Youth, Manu Chao, a surprising Tiesto, and all the others who were forgotten or missed.

Better luck next time to Air who seemed to think folks would wait around for their set. Just because it works for Madonna doesn't mean it'll work for you. And Felix da Housecat, what was that about? The last time I heard a full version of "Tainted Love," in its complete original state without remix, I was in an Irish pub in San Francisco and some jock spilled beer on me.

Biggest disappointment: Kings of Leon. They were just flat. Till next year...

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