Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cover Wars 1.0: Glee vs. Smash

They covered Florence and the Machine's single Shake it Out.

Winner:  Smash

Loser:  Glee.  It just seemed kind of awkward.

Glee's music choices of late have been pretty off, but I highly enjoyed Boogie Shoes.  The dance number was really well-choreographed and Alex Newell had a great voice.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Coachella 2012 Day 3 - Weekend 1

Again Doug will be providing his colorful commentary in purple with elements of moi.   

So I have to say, usually when I go to Coachella I am wishing for the sweet release of death by the time Sunday rolls around, but I don't know what it was this year in my old age, but I just had more energy by the 3rd day.  Go me. Let's get right to it. Once more into the fray...

FAIL:  It started to feel like a desert...  So I guess I got spoiled from beautiful breezy Saturday, but by Sunday it hit the mid-80s, and getting there at 3:30pm lead to the first feelings of heat stroke I had all weekend.  Stupid sun.
Felt like past Coachellas, but at least all the sweating allowed us to avoid the frightening porta-potties.

FAIL:  We missed Band of Skulls.  They were playing a bigger stage this year, but come on, 2pm?!  They were on WAY too early to be properly appreciated. 

WIN:  I had actually seen Santigold once before by accident and she was really fun.  We walked right into LES Artistes and she played some songs from her new album.  She had her usual two dancers by her side keeping it funky; and, at one point, she invited about 30 people from the crowd onstage to dance with her. Good times.
I was surprised at how early they had her on the schedule because she definitely packed the....lawn with sweaty dancers.  Great show.  Loved the outfits.  Music was extremely danceable.

WIN:  Fitz, of Fitz & the Tantrums, had great hair (and wore an amazing tomato red suit).  I have one song of theirs on my iPod I got from some magazine promotion, I think, but their happy blend of soul and indie pop made the sun tolerable. 

The live Amsterdam version of Don't Gotta Work it Out (original here) (OK and maybe the awesome band tee) made me fall for the band.  Not only did Noelle Scaggs have an amazing voice, but she also had an amazing stage presence and knew how to stir up the audience.  I loved how humble the band was about being there and, honestly, I don't even know how they got a better set time than Santigold, but I definitely can't wait to see them live again.
And immediately after listening to a YouTube playlist of their top tracks, I ended up buying their album. 

WIN:  We decided to half nap on the grass during Wild Flag's set, but I managed to stay awake to witness their awesomeness.  Girl power RAWR.
I was surprised they didn't have a bigger crowd (Hello Portlandia?), but they still rocked out.   

WIN:  Now I haven't heard anything The Hives have done since Veni Vidi Vicious came out when I was a senior in high school, but I have to say frontman Howlin' Pelle was the consummate showman and had the crowd eating out of his hand.  Decked out in a suit and top hat, he was having some real fun out in the desert.  They played songs from their new album along with their more well known stateside hits like Main Offender (I play that song in Rock Band!) and Hate To Say I Told You So. 
Loved how Pelle was cocky as hell and knew it.  He sounded like an old-timey traveling salesman.  

Too many wins so far, I need a fail to spice it up...but the day is going so well...I'll dig deep.

FAIL - The Beats by Dr. Dre tent.  I guess as a headliner, Dr. Dre got a deal to pimp out his overpriced headphones.  Now I'm not just saying that to be snobby, they really do suck for the money you're paying.  I have a pair I'd like to get rid of if anyone wants to buy them.  I bought a pair of Solos a couple years back and they sounded mediocre.  Weeks later I bought a pair of the cheapest headphones imaginable from Koss.  They were formed by a thin metal band and had foam over the cans:  straight out of the 80s.  They looked like headphones you used to have with your Walkman when you were a kid.  And THOSE sounded better than Dre's headphones.  Also, to even try the newer models in the tent, you had to give them your ID.  So we just sat there on this vibrating couch like dummies.  Yeah, they had a vibrating couch.

FAIL:  Missing The Weeknd.  EVERYONE was talking about how amazing he was and where were we?  On a vibrating couch, watching him on a big screen in the Beats by Dr. Dre tent, waiting for Gotye (waste of time described below) to come on.

FAIL:  I'm already pretty sick of Gotye's one song and his non-pronouncable name.  He had a CRAP TON of people spilling out of the Mojave tent he was in, waiting to hear how they were "just someone that he used to know..."  We gave up after 10 minutes and left.  I'm calling him a one-hit wonder right now, along with that other band Fun., with the song about being young and setting shit on fire. Why? Because shut up, that's why.
Apparently, Somebody that I Used to Know was the most played song by DJs all weekend, so why did they put him in the second smallest tent?!  Plus the audio was terrible, so you couldn't even linger outside the tent.  I overheard someone saying it sounded like a terrible YouTube video.  Maybe it's because I don't really listen to the radio, but I didn't even realize he was that big a deal.  The only reason I recognized the song was because I heard it covered on Glee (I know I must be the only person still watching the show...) and Jennio loves it.  I agree with Doug about Gotye probably being a one-hit wonder since I heard Jennio and someone else describe the rest of his album as eclectic (plus everyone immediately left after he played his hit song halfway through the set.  Bad decision), but Fun. doesn't deserve to be compared to him.  Luckily, We are Young hasn't really been overplayed for me yet (it's so anthemic!), but I did get a little sad when I heard it in a commercial once and then as a rude girl's ringtone. :\  Anyways, I have listened to both their albums and there are a lot of fun, catchy melodies.  Nate Ruess has got a Freddie Mercury / Mika -ness about him.  I just wish his second album didn't have so much auto-tuning.  Why couldn't THEY be at Coachella instead of Gotye??

WIN:  I only knew Justice's one song D.A.N.C.E. and for some reason I thought they'd be black because of this.  But they were white and French and one of them looked like Jesus.  Their stage of a big computer set with a lit-up crucifix took a bit to set up, but man they actually sounded really awesome.  Pleasant surprise, I don't typically like this type of music, let alone in a live setting. 
Yeah, I admit to being a little embarrassed that I only knew that one song, but I was pleasantly surprised to find two DJs putting on an amazing stage show with great dance music.

Photos by Natalie Kardos via Pitchfork
WIN:  At the Drive-In was the MAIN reason I came this year.  They were awesome.  From the drum-pounding that opened Arcarsenal to the haunted sounds of Napolean Solo, these guys delivered.  Cedric Bixler Zavala was his usual frenetic self, hopping all over the stage and humping amps and spitting at the cameras.  Omar Rodriguez Lopez looked like he was taking a rare backseat and let his old bandmates handle it.  He had a workman-like performance on guitar, just making the weird guitar noises he's known to come up with, while Jim Ward took lead and backing vocals.  The rhythm section of Paul Hinojos (on bass) and Tony Hajjar were f'ing amazing. At times they dominated the sounds pumping out into the desert air.  The only downside was that it was only 50 minutes when a band this good deserved to headline.

Okay, so next came Dr. Dre and Snoop, but for me to quantify their whole set into a simple WIN or FAIL would be stupid, as it had waaaaay too many guest spots for someone to call it purely Dr. Dre and Snoop.  So let's divide these up into a series of WINs and FAILs.

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - an exercise in excess

  • The entrance.  Sorry, if you rose up out of the stage with a grim look on your face, you're awesome.
  • Deep Cover.  This song's a classic.
  • Wiz Khalifa's performance of Young, Wild and Free was the most feel-good moment of the set.  What a fun happy track.
  • Eminem.  I was a HUGE fan of his in my youth so it was great seeing him show up for 3 songs.  
  • Overall, the whole set was just an amazing spectacle.  They literally turned the whole stage into a giant screen and had various CGI and film images projected onto it:  from some hot women I wouldn't bring home to my mother to pictures of Nate Dogg during his tribute.  It was really cool.  Add the aforementioned cool entrance and bevy of guest spots and you got more than your money's worth.  Good times had by all. 

  • Snoop Dogg dominated in what would become a running theme.  Even though Dr. Dre's name is on the set list he really took a backseat to Snoop and all their guests.  They didn't even go back to anything from The Chronic, choosing, instead, to focus on his many duets with everyone in this century and tracks from 2001.  If you liked the soundtrack to Training Day, you'd be satisfied.
  • 50 Cent forgot the words to his own songs and mumbled through them.  His hype man was also annoying.
  • Again, Dr Dre disappeared.  He spent probably half of the set time backstage.
  • Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar.  I guess their one song is off Lamar's new album.  I wasn't particularly impressed.

WIN / FAIL:  The Tupac Hologram was at first cool; then when they put it on the screens it looked like a cutscene from Def Jam Vendetta on PS2.  And then when you looked on stage it looked like a real person was up there.  It was frightening, and it felt wrong in some way, like when Kurt Cobain was in Guitar Hero 5 and you could make him sing songs by No Doubt.  It was like a morbid Weekend at Bernie's.  At the end, after he exploded into some sparks and went back to the dark realm from whence he came, Dr. Dre came out and nonchalantly asked us to "give it up for Tupac" like this was the most normal thing ever.  Just really weird.
When Doug told me he had heard there was going to be a hologram, I imagined something straight out of Star Wars.  I didn't know it would be so lifelike.  I was shocked when Tupac came out, but I wouldn't say the entire audience was horrified.  It looked technologically impressive, just kind of creepy when I saw him interacting with Snoop.  It was definitely an amazing end to Coachella and had people talking the entire week until Weekend 2.

Best of Coachella, Sun - LA Weekly Coachella photos
Coachella videos
Coachella 2012 - Pitchfork

Coachella 2012 - Grantland
Santigold photos - Losanjealous
Fitz & the Tantrums - OC RegisterThe Weeknd - LA Times
At the Drive-In's full Coachella set - Pitchfork
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg setlist - Brooklyn Vegan
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg photos - Losanjealous

Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg - OC Register 
Dr. Dre's Coachella message to fans