Day 2 Coachella has got me like *calf muscle combusts.* My general festival philosophy is to plan out the acts I want to see most and then catch the entire duration of that performance, so I can feel like I extracted the most from an artist’s presence at events like this where they have to distill their live sets into their best tracks. That was not how I approached the second day of Coachella at all. Until Jack White, I caught the first three songs of performances and then darted across the Empire Polo Club grounds to sample three more from a different band, often at the other side of the giant festival. This was a especially disorienting–like going out into the desert sun when you’ve been situated in a dark motel room–when I ran from the calming pop of Belle & Sebastian to the aggressive, truculent hip-hop of Run The Jewels. After an entire day of this, I was so stoked to sit on the grass like dead weight and just absorb raw, sometimes unwieldy blues rock from the former White Stripe and future hall-of-famer.
Check out an entire gallery of day 2 images at the bottom of this post and stay tuned to @NerdistMusic for more live Coachella updates!
Toro Y Moi
Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi just released an excellent power pop album that was a surprising turn in his mostly electronic leaning catalog. With bright guitar riffs and nostalgic lyrics delivered in an analgesic coo, (“Empty Nesters” and “Run Baby Run”) Toro’s new tracks were perfectly breezy daytime festival songs.
Peanut Butter Wolf
After wandering into the Heineken House for air conditioning and refreshments, it was a total surprise and such a treat to see the founder of the iconic LA-based indie label Stones Throw spinning and keeping the mood vintage and funky. He was scratching with custom Stones Throw clear vinyl on two turntables while corresponding music videos of the tracks lit up on LED screens behind him, outlining the beloved figure in an aura of deifying light. My favorite moment of this set was when I walked outside into the mister-laden beer garden and Peanut Butter Wolf, completely on cue, started playing “Cool Like That” by classic hip-hop act, Digable Planets.
Belle & Sebastian
You can call Belle & Sebastian indie rock veterans, but that makes them sound wayyyy more boring than they are. Yes, they have a distinct sound–thanks in large part to Stuart Murdoch’s boyish voice–and yes, they have been around for quite some time, but there live presence is still utterly effervescent. The fact that their most recent album, Girls In Peace Time Want To Dance, is essentially a dance record meant that the Glaswegian band’s set (or at least the first three tracks) was a giant dance party for the indie rock attendees of the festival.
Run The Jewels
Holy f–king shit. So I know I was impressed with them at SXSW at a smaller show, but damn can Run The Jewels command a large crowd. After sprinting from Belle & Sebastian to make the beginning of their set (you can generally only shoot photography for the first three tracks of a set), I was adrenalized and ready to rage along to anthems “Darling Don’t Cry” and “Blockbust Night Part 1”. They are the most essential hip-hop artists in 2015 for reasons political and fundamentally humanistic, and seeing them ignite and enrage hundreds of people at once in a fantastical event in the desert confirmed their greatness. Run them jewels fast.
Father John Misty
Josh Tillman is such a 21st century jokester. Completely aware of his niche appeal as a sardonic, sarcastic purveyor of sad-sack indie music, Misty invited a lucky young woman up on stage to be serenaded in a balloon-adorned throne, while the singer groveled on the ground and then proceeded to lovingly stroke her hair in a moment of ludicrous tenderness. Also this dude has got the moves! Three songs into his set, he abandoned his post at the microphone and basically did the cat daddy (a very specific dance move that requires the dancer swing his or her hips left-to-right while extending his/her arm forward and back.
I consider myself lucky to have witnessed a live set by to the most compelling blues musician of my lifetime. Jack White is an exceptional curator of taste in the best way possible. This is a guy who knows every small detail about the entire idiom of rock n’ roll music all the way back to beginnings of 20th century (which is why he is producing American Epic with Robert Redford. Thus he is unabashedly picky about the way he presents his own version of that music. In addition to only allowing his staff photographer to shoot his set (no complaints–we got to enjoy the set rather than worry about getting shots), the tron projected his entire set in a nostalgic black-and-white filter. Each one of his hairs was perfectly placed on his head and he was expertly dressed in what I assume was an immaculately tailored blue suit. All of his musicians were virtuosos, and there was never a moment, even when White was soloing and losing himself in the chaos of a pentatonic scale solo, that felt out of control. All of these seemingly minor details summed up to one of the most cohesive, polished rock performances I have ever seen in my lifetime. As he played renditions of “We Are Going To Be Friends”, “Seven Nation Army”, and “Hello Operator”, the entire crowd heaved and pulled in pure bliss. This was the best concert on the planet at the moment.
All images of Jack White courtesy of David James Swanson
Stay tuned to Nerdist.com for more Coachella coverage tomorrow, and follow @NerdistMusic for live updates!