Coachella Recap: Day Three
Picking up where Days One and Two left off with the help of amateur videos posted by attendees on the YouTubes and photos by our own Nina Barry, here’s a look at some of the highlights from Sunday, April 27th–the final day of this year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
Day Three seemed, on paper at least, to be the weakest day of the schedule, with Roger Waters hogging the main stage from 8:30 onwards and Love and Rockets closing the second stage at 8:25. However, this just proved to be a great opening for some of the electronic acts who took to Coachella’s Sahara tent later in the day. For anyone who stuck around for Justice’s festival-closing set, there was also an unforgettable rendition of “Sweet Caroline.” More on that below.
Rather than talk about Sean Penn’s two “sets” of political ranting or how incredibly underwhelming Spiritualized’s technical difficulty-riddled, pseudo-acoustic set was, let’s skip to the fun, shall we? A-Trak (otherwise known as the little brother of the Jewish dude from Chromeo or, more popularly, as Kanye West’s current tour DJ) performed a set that was an extended party, one of the more flat out fun sets of the fest. The kid who was the youngest person to ever win the DMC DJ World Championship lit it up with his signature blend of hip-hop and indie curiosities, delivering a thumping show from behind his turntables and laptop. Chromeo ambushed him halfway through, hoisting hip up onto their shoulders and asking “Isn’t this guy great?” So enjoyable and definitely worth checking out if he ever comes through your neighborhood.
It was really shocking to see how many people showed up for Modeselektor but I’m glad their crowd was so large (it may have been their slot between Danny Tenaglia and Simian Mobile Disco that did the trick). They owned. Intense energy levels, amazing lighting and video setups, and the members would periodically vacate their drum machines and synthesizers to pop open and hand over beers to appreciative, sweaty audience members. Dancing was at a fevered pitch as festivalgoers let loose, recognizing the end of the schedule was rapidly approaching. This kicked off the block of bands (Modeselektor, SMD, Chromeo, and Justice) that pretty much transformed Coachella ’08 into a rave (with better music).
Simian Mobile Disco has always been a little too hard for my taste, too much in line with the negative associations I have with the word “techno,” but they clearly put on a great show. As with Modeselektor, SMD’s set was rendered incredible thanks to an eagerly participatory crowd and the visual experience of their set. One of the great ironies of this festival is that the acts with the least visual appeal–electronic acts who fiddle with knobs and push buttons, Kraftwerk, etc.)–are the ones who gave the most stimulating performances while the rock acts stood and played their instruments like they were the robots. Just use the clapping around 5:00 into this clip as a gauge of audience enthusiasm.
Then there was Chromeo: showmen all the way, despite being a little outstaged by the previous two acts. If you looked carefully, you could see A-Trak taking in the entire set from the wings (and possibly shooting the video below?). Again, Chromeo isn’t a band you imagine having an enormous following, but the crowd made it clear they had many admirers at Coachella. While their material didn’t stray too far from the sound of their records, it was a good set to catch live. Still, you couldn’t help but think that most in attendance were just waiting for Justice.
Chromeo wraps up their set about ten to fifteen minutes behind schedule. The crowd knows Coachella is almost done. Somewhere across Empire Polo Grounds, Roger Waters is still flailing away, putting people into a coma. Not here. Here people know what they want. They want Justice and they want them now. The transition between acts is painfully slow. People get antsy. Late arrivers push their way toward the front of the stage. The Sahara tent is literally overflowing with hipsters, spilling out sideways and toward the back of the tent. Then something magical happens.
Neil Diamond comes blaring through the P.A. system. And everyone sings along to all the choruses.
Then Justice takes the stage (with a surprisingly modest lighting/visual rig) and rocks the party until the man says it’s time to go home. It goes a little something like this: