Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Put Me In, Coachella

The New York Times sent someone to Coachella, and here's a bit of the review:

But this year's Coachella festival suggested a different model: narrow obsession has come to seem less appealing than broad familiarity. Insular Web sites seem positively old-fashioned compared to the scrupulously eclectic world of MP3 bloggers and iPod Shuffle owners, all of them finding ways to make chaos part of their listening experience. As the current Apple slogan has it, "Life is random," and listeners seem to be finding ways to make that truism true.

And so Coachella 2005 was a Shuffler's delight, the perfect festival for a crowd that seemed happy to hear a bit of everything. The people who got a geography lesson from the Peruvian-American underground rapper Immortal Technique ("We're not in Southern California, we're in Northern Mexico," he declared) didn't look much different from the people swaying along to the indie-rock band Rilo Kiley an hour later.

The veteran goth-wave act Bauhaus put on an absurdly (and gloriously) theatrical show, but many of the same people who watched the singer, Peter Murphy, howl "Bela Lugosi's dead" also stuck around to hear Weezer play a set of loud but sunny rock songs; Rivers Cuomo led a sing-along on the famous refrain, "Ooh-wee-ooh, I look just like Buddy Holly." From Bela Lugosi to Buddy Holly in about an hour: that's the joy of hearing music shuffled.

...One way to attract browsers is to fill the stage with old stars. The legendary new wave band New Order played a set that included a handful of songs by its even more legendary precursor, Joy Division; it was odd (but not unpleasant) to hear the group bounce through a fast, peppy version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart," arguably one of the most unpeppy songs ever recorded. Gang of Four, the postpunk band that smuggled funk into its furiously compressed punk songs, sounded every bit as vigorous as the younger acts (like the Futureheads) that uphold the Gang of Four legacy.
I think the people at the Times must have stock in Apple, because they are constantly talking up the iPod. Not that I mind, of course.

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