Life Lessons at Coachella (cont.)

4 05 2008

By Jill Ettinger

Friday: The Raconteurs are great. Jack White is a most creative and generous performer, and though they’re mostly a bluesy rock band, their sound is unclassifiable. They rock like Robin Trower or Ten Years After but with a Smashing Pumpkins covering NWA superfreakiness. All you want to say while watching this band is “Hell yeah!”

The Verve is absolutely awesome. It’s shocking that they were opening for Jack Johnson instead of the other way around. They sound like what the Beatles should have sounded like. Richard Ashcroft is as brilliant a songwriter as Bob Dylan or Ben Harper. “Lucky Man” is better than all of Jack Johnson’s songs put together. But apparently, Johnson is not the musical equivalent of a sleeping pill, as I’ve long suspected. I actually saw people who looked wide awake (though they were probably on ecstasy) dancing to his music. Even though the rush of people heading for the parking lot was forceful enough to knock them over, his cool chillness was potent enough to keep them upright. To each his own I suppose. (I’d post a video but I don’t want you to fall asleep before you read the rest of this blog.)

Saturday: Though not a fan myself, there was a hyped-up crowd of un-hyped, uber-cool European looking people packed together for Kraftwerk. (They’re like Daft Punk’s grandparents or something). Whatever. Electronic robot dudes are always cool by me as long as they don’t pull some HAL shit and start killing people. (Actually after watching this performance, I take it back. They pretty much suck.)

I was there if for no other reason than Portishead. Third is their first studio release in eleven years, and last in their label contract obligations. It’s uncertain whether we’ll ever hear another Portishead album, let alone see another tour. Coachella was their only scheduled US concert date this year, and absolutely stunning.  A guy standing next to me fainted half way through their second song.

Just a week before this performance, I was standing in Bourges, France watching another one of my all-time favorite bands, Fat Freddy’s Drop. As Portishead took the stage, I realized just how immensely important music and art is to having a better relationship to the mysteriously magical world I keep finding myself a part of. So many good songs to choose from Saturday night, but I settled on “The Rip” off of their latest.  It’s gorgeous, even if the sound quality isn’t the best.

There is probably no other circumstance in which Portishead would open up for – or play with – Prince, but I guess that’s part of Coachella’s craftiness. As Beth Gibbon’s voice dripped in my head, I was jolted back to “1999.” In any other situation I’d probably welcome Prince, but it was kind of like eating sardines (or any of these foods) while having a mouth full of chocolate. (I tried to find a video for posting but they’ve all been deleted from YouTube. The Prince is apparently also a money hungry dictator.)

Sunday: I think it’s a done deal that Gogol Bordello has officially signed on to do every music festival on earth in 2008. They were also at Printemps de Bourges in France the week before, and are at a bunch of others, including Bonarroo (the poor man’s Coachella), Popped, Lollapalooza, Vfest and Austin City Limits. They’re like the non-boring-but-still-boring version of Jack Johnson.

My Morning Jacket sounds kind of like The Raconteurs covering Wilco, but weirder and at times softer and/or heavier as heck. Jim James has a voice I like to call “dreamy,” but “awesome” works as well. They haven’t had that perfect album yet, but stay tuned, it’s coming.

This brings us to Roger Waters, aka that dude from Pink Floyd. I lamented most at his headlining, since he hasn’t written any new material since like 1980. But my friend Jody reminded me that maybe “his message is so important it needs to be repeated every generation.” Yah, I guess there’s no harm in flying pigs and laser light shows. My first LSD trip was when I was 15. We went to see the movie The Wall, only the acid didn’t kick in until after we left the theater. But nonetheless, I guess in a lot of ways, if it weren’t for Roger Waters I’d probably not even have gone to Coachella. I’d  probably be too busy working in a cubicle somewhere, or at a mall shopping. I’m kind of sorry I was walking out to the parking lot while he was earning his paycheck. Despite Coachella 2008’s slightly lackluster lineup, here’s to never ever ever finding ourselves Comfortably Numb.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: