Coachella Day Three: Superlatives for Gorillaz, Thom Yorke and More

Categories: Coachella

Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
Gorillaz is happy, feeling glad.
​Click here for photos from Day Three!

​So it's over. Whew. After a late-night drive from the desert, bed looks promising.

But first, our thoughts on Coachella's final day--in the form of superlatives. No, we're not going to crown a "best performance." Too judgey.

Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
Pavement: the zaniest dads in Indio.
Most unpretentious "pretentious" band: Pavement. In the decade or so since they broke up, Pavement have come to connote music for critics, an act that supposedly gets often name-checked but rarely listened to. On the main stage tonight, though, Pavement reminded us of why they caused pencil-pushers to come up with the term "slacker rock" in the first place. They cracked jokes, talked about how it feels to be "back from the dead," and bantered among themselves with jabs about each others' haircuts and muscle cramps. And they rocked plenty, too. The one-two closing punch of "Unfair" and "Cut Your Hair"--both of which featured Bob Nastanovich shrieking like a assault victim--can't have left anyone in the crowd (which was surprisingly sparse) thinking Pavement stood for anything other than good, irreverent fun. 
Runner up: Yo La Tengo. As we talked about earlier, they started by standing like statues while they played--but ended things with plenty of noise and one amusing dance routine.

Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
Phoenix's Thomas Mar, heartthrob?
Band most likely to use unassuming indie rock to make girls scream: Phoenix. The Frenchmen were operating sans lighting operation--their lighting guy got left in Europe because of the cursed volcanic ash--but, as singer Thomas Mars pointed out, the audience was getting treated to songs and a sunset. And that audience didn't seem to much mind the lack of pretty colors from the stage. Phoenix brought out the same crowd that MGMT and Vampire Weekend did in the two previous nights, which is to say a lot of chicks thrilled to scream along with tricky pop ditties. The squeals of delight that arose were especially delighted whenever a song came on from the breakout "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." Yes, some of those squeals were from us. 

Runner up: Local Natives. The OC boys brought out that same mainstream-indie listeners as Phoenix for their incredible, tent-leveling set. Just you watch: It's only a matter of time before Natalie Portman drops their name in some quirky coming-of-age movie.

Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly
Thom Yorke chills.
Best show featuring both unpleasant and pleasant surprises: Thom Yorke. The setup: singer for Radiohead announces he has formed a new band called Atoms for Peace--featuring Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers--and they'll be playing Coachella. Expect the unexpected, right? A bunch of new songs maybe? Instead, Yorke said from the stage that Atoms For Peace would play every song from "our"--Atoms for Peace's--album, The Eraser, a.k.a. Yorke's solo record released in 2006. Which begs the question: Why the hell did Yorke get a band together to tour behind a four-year-old album? The crowd seemed befuddled while Yorke and co. played clanking, funky renditions of The Eraser's itchy, stuttering electronic tracks. But then people started to get it. "It's the end of a long weekend for you guys," Yorke said at one point. "You need to freak out." The command was obeyed. People got crazy; we spotted one dude who pulled down his pants to groove. Wry, cold Thom Yorke had started the strangest dance party of the weekend. When he played acoustic renditions of Radiohead's "Airbag" and "Everything In Its Right Place," the deal was sealed: If the set started off as difficult and inaccessible, it turned out to be one of Coachella's most satisfying.
Runner up: Gorillaz. We were hoping they'd truck in Snoop Dogg to deliver the intro off their new album, Plastic Beach. Instead, they just piped in the music video for the song to open the set. So we got three minutes of prerecorded Snoop. Fine for listening to an album in the car, but not the most exciting way to kick off a headlining set. The remainder of the performance proved to be a fitting end to Coachella though, if for no other reason than the blend of rock, hip-hop and dance that Gorillaz's music represents. As is to be expected with Gorillaz--after all, the band members are supposedly fictional comic-book characters--the performance leaned heavily on animated vignettes shown on the backdrop and side monitors. The best payoff, though, was in the human response. When Gorillaz launched into "Clint Eastwood," tens of thousands of hands went into the air to sway in unison. We'd argue that that image was cooler than any cartoon shown on the big screens.

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