Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coachella 2014 Day 1 Photos

My return to Coachella for the fourth consecutive time this year was marred only by the knowledge that it's unlikely I'll be able to continue this tradition in 2015. Yes, the festival is overly commercial, as Win Butler of Arcade Fire pointed out, and exclusive, but any reservations of principle are overcome once on the polo fields. The setting is utterly beautiful, the mountains and palm trees enhanced by the increasingly elaborate visual art works, which really come to fore at night. Far from the chaos and mud of UK festivals, this is an event to satisfy perfectionists: even the smallest details have been refined with feedback from previous years. So in 2014, the security queues were finally reduced, and the food offering improved. As ever, the sound systems and lighting were top notch, and the crowds many complained about after Weekend 1 didn't bother me during the second weekend. The impact of the move towards EDM and mainstream pop acts on the audience has been much discussed, and yet there was sufficient depth in the line-up to continue to satisfy those with indie tastes. The heat, and sometimes criticised restriction of drinking to beer gardens, meant that the audience felt laid back and tolerant. The expense of getting to Indio may have contributed to a lack of some of the youthful enthusiasm of an audience at Reading Festival, but the desert can have a magical atmosphere.

My Day 1 Top 10

1) Haim 9/10
Haim rarely disappoint, and playing to their home crowd on the Outdoor Stage, they demonstrated the honed professionalism of their live act, and ability to engage the audience.

2) Broken Bells 9/10
Again on the Outdoor Stage, but playing as night fell, Broken Bells' act was particularly notable for the lighting. But the audience got most excited when half way through the set, they played some material from their first album.

3) GOAT 8/10
I'd seen GOAT the previous weekend in an unforgettable gig in San Francisco from the front of the stage. This experience couldn't live up to that intimacy, but the Swedish collective's masked performance, with elements of blues and world music was still engaging.

4) Austra 8/10
The Canadian electro pop band played an impressively moody set in the Gobi tent, showcasing songs from Olympia, released last year, and notable for the power of Katie Stelmanis' voice.

5) Bonobo 8/10
Playing at night in the Sahara tent, the British producer's vocals and bass lines were mesmerising.

6) MS MR 7/10
With an early afternoon slot on the main stage produced a committed performance, their breezy pop complementing the cooler than expected first day temperatures.

7) Wye Oak 7/10
I'm less convinced than most at the direction taken by the Baltimore Band on their new album Shriek, where Jenn Wassner abandons her guitar, yet live the duo has lost none of its energy.

8) Neko Case 7/10
The small audience on the Outdoor Stage for this seasoned and accomplished performer seemed the result of a miscalculation by Golden Voice: the set would have worked better in one of the tents. Despite the lack of atmosphere, the delivery could not be faulted.

9) Woodkid 7/10
I was new to this French neofolk artist, and was impressed by a set which will be remembered for its eclecticism: he invited the rapper ASAP Ferg on stage with him, in what is becoming a strong Coachella tradition of collaborations.

10) Tom Odell 7/10
The British singer songwriter opened the first day of Coachella to a reasonably sized audience. He music isn't entirely to my taste, but he rose to a potentially challenging occasion with a spirited performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment