My Coachella 2011 Experience

Wow.  Where do I possibly begin to describe Coachella 2011?  Well, I can sit here and complain about the heat and the itchy bracelets (or “shackles” as my friend Kim called them) – but why bother when the positives outweigh the negatives? 

First of all, I have to state that Goldenvoice did an amazing job this year with crowd control.  There were the aforementioned bracelets that may have itched slightly but man, they ensured who was getting in and out of the enormous field.  You couldn’t even get within proximity of the Empire Polo Fields without the magic bracelet.  Check points for cars, walkers, bicyclists, etc. were all over Indio.  Well played, Goldenvoice – no gatecrashers this year!  Hence, no overcrowding. That brings me to the physical size of the venue.  Several football fields long, it was even bigger than last year and made room for yet another tent (ok, it was being called a dome, whatever).  The combined effect of the scanned bracelets and bigger venue size made for a fantastic weekend where overcrowding didn’t feel like an issue.  Amazing!

The fashion was, well, wacky again to say the least.  I really wanted to ask the people with fake fur scarves (and even fake fur gloves!?) what they were thinking. I mean, people, come ON – it was 98 degrees on Saturday!  Very, very hot.  I wore a simple tank top and shorts and roasted with the best of them in the shade of the beer garden each afternoon.  The food was a bit expensive as it usually is (same with the alcoholic drinks) but it was pretty darn good again.  Spicy Pie for the win!

ANYWAY – onto the music.  I tried not to drive myself crazy with the numerous conflicts in set times and just went with the flow.  I started off Friday by seeing The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.  They were having a blast up there; you could see it written all over their faces. Their near-shoegazing sounds made for a nice afternoon chillout zone and the crowd swayed along with their tunes.  Lead singer Kip Berman chatted warmly with the audience about which acts he was excited to see and highly encouraged the masses to see Suede tomorrow night (more on that later!). 

Next up was chilling out in the beer garden by the large Coachella Stage to see if Lauryn Hill would actually show up.  We figured hey, let’s hydrate and see what happens.  (Little did I know that Cee-Lo Green had shown up suuuuuuper late for his set and then had a hissy fit when he was told he had to end his set early.  Dude, show up on time and then you get to sing all your songs!)  So I’m looking at my blackberry and wondering how late she’s going to be, or whether she’s going to show up at all and lo and behold, a mere 15 minutes late, there she is!  She sounded a bit hoarse and was drowned out a bit by her incredible band and backup singers but the minute she got into Fugees music, you could just feel her win over the growing crowd.  Nicely done, Ms. Lauryn Hill!

After being surprised and then dancing for a bit, we stayed put to listen to Interpol start their set.  Moody and intense – yes.  Solid songs – definitely.  The super large screens on each side of the Coachella Stage added to the dark quality of their songs by flashing red lights throughout their set.

Next up – the Black Keys.  The crowd swelled for these guys and boy, you could see why within 5 notes of the first song.  Watching the chemistry between Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach is just incredible.  Patrick keeps a steady beat while watching Dan rip into his guitar solos.  Absolutely amazing duo and it was impressive to see what songs they chose from their latest album and what gems they chose from the past albums.  Well played, boys!

Then came Kings of Leon which was my biggest worry of the weekend.  Why was I worrying?  Well, the public has turned on them recently since “Use Somebody” has been played on soft rock stations.  And once-rabid fans are just super annoyed over their last two albums, declaring them “too soft” and wishing them to return to their rockin’ roots of their earlier albums.  I was nervously reading the Coachella message board and I’d say roughly 80% of the comments were anti-KoL and I was starting to wonder if they would even draw much of a crowd.  Well, I’ve been a fan of them for a long time and I’m pleased to announce they had a large crowd and the Followills appeared to have listened to their fanbase and played a large number of older songs!  Excellent.  Very good call!  The crowd seemed receptive and not throwing out boos or catcalls like I had feared. Phew.

Next up was the traditional “rave” spot of the weekend being performed by the amazing duo The Chemical Brothers.  Starting a few minutes late was forgiven quickly as they put on a stunning show of visuals and beats.  Glow sticks were rampant as expected and the duo closed out a fantastic first day.

Next day after some lovely time poolside (yes, you can be jealous), we headed right for the beer garden for some Erykah Badu.  There were some technical glitches during her performance but it didn’t seem to get the crowd or herself down.  “On and On” was met with usual chilled out, blissful sway-type dancing and provided a great start to our Saturday.

After feeling nice and chilled out, we went for more of the same – the Mancurians known as Elbow.  Singer Guy Garvey seemed to be immediately overwhelmed by the oppressive heat within the Mojave tent but didn’t let it ruin his band’s performance.  The second song into the set was “Grounds for Divorce” and the crowd fed into it right away.  The entire set left everyone feeling peaceful and easygoing and was quite a nice way to celebrate the sunset (and decreasing temperatures) on the second day of Coachella.

We decided to hop onto the ferris wheel and kill some time rather than join a band’s set midway through.  The wait was worth it when we reentered the Mojave tent for The Swell Season.  Glen Hansard came out for a few minutes to tune with the band (imagine that, a performer wanting to be part of the setup process!) and the growing crowd screamed approval.  Once the entire band took stage, it was just mindblowing how incredible their performance was.  The crowd sang along to the songs from the movie Once in approval and overall, it was another feelgood and heartfelt performance for the day.

Right after The Swell Season left the stage, I pulled my friend Kim forward as far as we could go (which turned out to be pretty damn close) and waited for Suede (that’s The London Suede to us Americans).  She had never heard one song by them and I was just dying to see how they would be.  Well – they were nothing short of incredible.  I’m going to call them the act of the weekend. Seriously, that good!  Lead singer Brett Anderson never uttered a word to the audience as he immediately laid out his signature sexy moves by swaying his hips, jumping up and down, demanding the crowd sing along and wrapping the mic around his body several times.  The band ripped into their hits without a hitch, sometimes just starting a song on the final note of the previous song.  I am still absolutely mesmerized by their performance and can only hope they’ll come back to the states for another show.  My friend turned to me with a huge grin on her face and said “that was UNBELIEVABLE” and a guy to our right stated “that was better than sex.”  Yes people, it was THAT good of a performance.

We rushed over to catch Arcade Fire as soon as Suede finished up and to our delight, they were only 2 songs in.  Phew!  Arcade Fire was solid as always, playing a great mix of songs from their Grammy-winning album and frontman Win Butler seeming to be in disbelief that they were playing to such an impressively huge crowd.  While I personally was still on a Suede high, I will say that Arcade Fire was great and the surprise of the balls being dropped at the end was a great way to cap Saturday night.

And then, the last day.  Booooo.  😦  Once again, we headed right for the beer garden and listened to Nas and Damian Marley.  The crowd within the beer garden was highly enthusiastic when Nas did his biggest hits and then broke out in cheers and applause for their rendition of Bob Marley’s “Could This Be Love.”  Very nice!

We raced over to catch some of Best Coast, who did their dreamy super short songs to a large crowd.  Their hit song “Boyfriend” got the biggest reception but they also threw in some brand new songs into the mix. 

After grabbing a burger and shake, we ran over to catch Foster the People.  They came on a bit late for the massive crowd in the Gobi tent and we only caught a few songs, but the band seemed to be having a blast playing for a crowd that was spilling out of the tent. 

We zipped over to catch the majority of Duran Duran’s set.  The 80s rockers blended a nice mix of songs from their latest Mark Ronson-produced album and biggest hits from the 80s.  Seeing people randomly dance around for “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” was a great sight.

The it was time for The Strokes.  Julian Casablancas made his usually witty comments in-between songs and the band gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – rock songs delivered with gusto.  Playing all their past hits, you could tell the band was truly enjoying themselves on stage.

And then it was time for the most highly anticipated performance of the whole weekend – Kanye West.  Everyone was wondering how he would cap an amazing weekend of music and boy, he did NOT let us down. Appearing on a moving elevated crane above the audience with a stage full of writhing dancers, one got the feeling they were in for the performance of a lifetime. Sure enough, Kanye delivered and dedicated it to his beloved mother, ending the night with a heartfelt “Hey Mama.” 

I fully admit to still having the post-Coachella blues (and total exhaustion from taking the redeye back to NYC last night) but all I have to do is look at my pictures from the weekend and relive the memories.  I can’t wait until Coachella 2012 🙂

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LCD Soundsystem Get Everyone To Dance On Their Grave At Madison Square Garden


I remember the first time I spotted LCD Soundsystem’s lead singer and creator James Murphy on the L train. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were the only two people in the car, besides a street performer playing a saxophone for change. I sat there only a few feet away from both of them, studying James as he leaned against the door with his headphones on. The performance was one I will never forget. He played that thing with blood sweat and tears, jumping around flailing his legs, while at the same time hitting some of the worst possible notes he could or could not think of. James just stood there nonplussed, as if the man wasn’t even there before exiting the train on 1st Avenue. Though we never made eye contact, I am pretty sure we both shared a moment of random perplexity that made us think to ourselves “Only in New York City” which is perhaps one of the many reasons we love this place so much.

Nearly 5 years later, I found myself standing in a line outside of Mercury Lounge amongst 500+ people for hours anxious to get general admission tickets to what would be the last LCD Soundsystem show ever. The company of friends was the only thing keeping me from thinking about standing there in 14 degree weather risking hypothermia, and the fact that I woke up at 7am to go stand on a line in the first place. A month later, as we walked into Madison Square Garden, my friends and I sighed the words of relief “totally worth it”… When we made it to the floor, we just stood there for a minute and spun our heads around in amazement. We watched hundreds upon hundreds of people dance there asses off, all in unison bearing ear to ear grins. Everyone was clad in black and white, as this was a “funeral” for the band of sorts, but no way did it feel like one. We all knew we were part of something huge. I don’t mean to gush, but you just had to be there.

The show started on a somber note, playing the first bars of 10cc’s “Not In Love”, a track I always include on CD mixes for friends, though I am sure it went unnoticed to most of the audience. The first set included “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “All My Friends”, and “Tired” with a snippet of 70’s progressive rock band Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise”, a song I have known since my toddler years. It was a joyful ending as my friends and I danced arm in arm, and great predecessor to the following 2 and a half hours the show still had.

The second set started with a track they made for a Nike ad called “45:33”, which most perceived was performed as a joke, but mostly so Murphy could take a break. The tune previews clips of songs that later became the track list to their sophomore studio release “Sound Of Silver”. Some of the special guest who joined them onstage include Reggie Watts, and DFA affiliates The Juan Maclean and Shit Robot who performed in a rocket ship and a pyramid, putting to rest the rumors that Daft Punk would be making an appearance. Coming into the third set saw Arcade Fire approach the stage to back vocals for “North American Scum”, a ground-shaking performance of “Movement”, the very first song I ever heard by them, and “Home” which I am sure left a cry ball in everyones throat.

But the real tear jerker, of course, was “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”, and it was so for so many reasons. As James announced that he was about to sing his last song ever, the audience booed, prompting him to ask not for boos but for cheers, and cheers he got, for about 5 minutes in fact. He thanked his family, fans, friends, and band mates with tears in his eyes, and started the song, adding profoundly long pauses in between lines. During the songs ending, white balloons fell from the ceiling, and James bowed, sealing the deal on one of the best live performances I have ever seen in my entire life, and the end of LCD Soundsystem.

I still haven’t made eye contact with James, and I probably never will for that matter, but I feel like we relived that moment from 5 years ago. There was no train, no crazy saxophone player, just a lot of love, a lot of energy and an amazing perfromance. Thank you LCD Soundsystem for the music, for the memories, and for sharing a fondness for New York City that will never die…

Michael J Epstein Memorial Library Set to Release Album

Boston baroque indie pop band Michael J Epstein Memorial Library has announced they will be releasing their first full-length album on May 10, 2011.  Volume One brings to mind the sounds of Magnetic Fields and Arcade Fire, an album full of songs layered in instrumentation, lyrics and vocal harmony.  Tracklisting is as follows:

1. Amylee
2. Holy Ghost
3. The Weeping Song
4. Every Time I Visit You, It Rains
5. Stranger
6. Lymph Nodes
7. Civil Engineering
8. 4th Grade Book Report Blues
9. Oh Emily
10. Small Crack

Typhoon Move Into A New Kind Of House

When Typhoon released their debut EP, Hunger & Thirst, they drew comparisons to The National and Arcade Fire. Now, they’re back with a new EP,  A New Kind of House. To celebrate the impending release of A New Kind of House on March 15th, Typhoon are offering an exclusive song for download HERE.

Moreover, will makeappearances at this year’s SXSW. For a full list of dates, visit the band’s website HERE.

The Luyas Offer Up New Album Title Track, “Too Beautiful To Work”

Listen: The Luyas: "Too Beautiful to Work"

The Luyas’ debut album, Too Beautiful To Work, will be out on Dead Oceans on February 22nd. It will feature Owen Pallett as well as Arcade Fire’s Sara Neufeld. The Canadians, however, have already made the LP’s title track available to download over on Pitchfork. “Too Beautiful To Work” sounds deceivingly simple with Jessie Stein’s soft high-pitched voice but the music and lyrics form a never ending whirlwind of layers that make this title track really interesting. You can download the track HERE.

The Luyas will also be supporting their first full-length starting at the end of this month. They will be performing alongside Ra Ra Riot and Givers so check their tour dates below.

Here are their upcoming tour dates:

02/24 – Montreal, Quebec – La Sala Rossa

02/26 – Quebec City, Quebec – Le Cercle

3/4 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theatre (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/6 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/7 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/8 – Orlando, FL – The Social (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/9 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/11 – New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks (with Ra Ra Riot and Givers)

3/12 – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon (with Ra Ra Riot)

3/16 – Austin, TX – South By Southwest

3/17 – Austin, TX – South By Southwest

3/18 – Austin, TX – South By Southwest

3/19 – Austin, TX – South By Southwest

4/4 – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center

 

 

Modern Mystery’s Top 30 Albums of the Year

The time is finally here where we announce our favorite albums of the year. Yes, it took a whole lot of thinking and a whole lot of relistening, but in the end we figured it out.  Trust us, it was no easy task this year. Take a peek at what kept our interest in 2010.

1. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Let It Sway”

This will forever be known as the album where SSLYBY fully matured. Working with Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla,  the band produced a stunning record full of pop hooks and catchy lyrics. The result, Let It Sway (Polyvinyl), one of the greatest pieces of work our ears have heard by any indie band in a long time. We loved it so much we made a tribute  video celebrating the record which you can watch below. Congrats SSLYBY!

2. Vampire Weekend – “Contra”

A nearly flawless album, the VW boys started off 2010 with a burst of energy that continued througout the year. Neck in neck with the Yeltsins, Contra (XL) also shared the tale of a too-good-to-be-true indie band growing up in the public eye.

3. The Morning Benders – “Big Echo”

Another record that was running with the big boys on this list, The Morning Benders released Big Echo (Kanine) early in the year and exploded like no one could ever have imagined. It’s ab out time. They deserve it.  This is one of the catchiest albums we heard this year and it never gets old.

4. Of Montreal – “False Priest”

Of Montreal are always evolving. That is what we love most about the band. False Priest (Polyvinyl) takes them to a whole new level, dabbling in R&B and dueting with Solange Knowles. We may have been skeptical at first but it quickly won over our hearts and the dance floor.

5.  Surfer Blood – “Astrocoast” 

Everyone’s favorite “IT” band of the year produced a promising debut album called Astrocoast (Kanine). We followed the boys around CMJ 2009 and knew they were about to blew up huge. We were right, and now Surfer Blood has taken over the world.

 6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Before Today”

A chilling record filled with reverb and haunting vocals proved to be just the thing for Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Before Today (4AD) stunned the indie music world and makes us wonder what the next Ariel Pink chapter has to hold.

7.  Jukebox the Ghost – “Everything Under the Sun”

A thriving piano backed by a guitar and drums made an unexpected assault in the indie world this year. Everything Under the Sun (Yep Roc) dropped jaws quickly this year and had Jukebox the Ghost playing with big name bands and appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman.

8.   The Love Language – “Libraries”

Much different from their first record, The Love Language stunned us with a near perfect record, Libraries (Merge) this year. There was a lot of buzz about this album and as the tracks leaked, we could feel the greatness building up. We were right.

9. We Are Scientists – “Barbara”

Without a record label in the U.S., We Are Scientists broke through this year with Barbara. They haven’t changed too much since the last time we heard from them, which is a good thing. They still have their driving 80’s vibe, W.A.S. charm and brilliant tunes.

10. Magic Kids – “Memphis”

This was an unexpected treat this year that had us putting Magic Kids on repeat. Memphis (Goner/True Panther) often has a lo-fi and retro vibe, and that is what really makes it special.

 

The rest of the list….

11. Miniature Tigers – “Fortress”

12. Matt Pond PA – “The Dark Leaves”

13. Wavves – “King of the Beach”

14. Sufjan Stevens -“Age of the Adz”

15. Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

16. Free Energy – “Stuck on Nothing”

17. Javelin – “No Mas”

18. Best Coast – “Crazy for You”

19. The Drums – “The Drums”

20.  Tokyo Police Club – “Champ”

21. The New Pornographers – “Together”

22. Spoon – “Transference”

23. Hot Hot Heat – “Future Breeds”

24. Kids of 88 – “Sugar Pills”

25. MGMT – “Congratulations”

26. Harlem – “Hippies”

27. Broken Social Scene – “Forgiveness Rock Record”

28. Born Ruffians – “Say It”

29. Caribou – “Swim”

30. Interpol – “Interpol”