Coachella ’11 Webcast | Day 2

I took a laptop upstairs to put away a huge pile of laundry while rocking out to the young grunge-rock reinventors, Cage the Elephant (whose singer Matt Shultz performed in a lovely summer dress).

 

 

 

The next day I wondered why these webcasts are not more prevalent. Why were only certain bands streaming their sets? I know that there are probably some bands that do not want their live shows online and available to everyone, but there are probably more bands that would like it. Why can’t every stage have a camera and all of the performances be filmed and archived? I would pay money for access to that, even if I go to the concert in person. It’d be like being in two places at once. You might be watching a band and wanting to check out another band scheduled for the same time. Instead of missing out, you could quickly check the webcast to see if the other band has started playing or if you even like their live sound, and then make an informed decision. Or, once the festival is over and you are at home with your family and friends, you might want to share an actual performance with them. Or, what if you were (choose all that apply): in the bathroom (line); passed out; being thrown out; getting a drink; helping a drunk kid find his keys; hanging out backstage with rock stars; or (insert your own reason) and you missed a great moment? You could find it archived. Someone has to set this up—and let me work for you, it was my idea.

Anyhow, day two had the strongest lineup, at least for our household. Our kids were going to be staying up a little later than usual for a family rock-out session.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears got the party started right. My kids love their funky, dirty blues, especially Riley, who was familiar with one of our new faves “Booty City.” Erykah Badu brought soulful R&B into the mix. My family continued along that trajectory and into the boy/girl indie rock of Jenny & Johnny while I took a laptop upstairs to put away a huge pile of laundry while rocking out to the young grunge rock reinventors, Cage the Elephant (whose lead singer Matt Shultz performed in a lovely summer dress).

Broken Social Scene brought the family back together, and we all danced to songs from Forgiveness Rock Record and the not-often-played-live-but-famous “Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl.” 

The climax for our house was Gogol Bordello, Mumford and Sons and The Swell Season. Gogol Bordello never disappoints, and they work on any screen and in any place. The crowd was a mass of bouncing, sweaty flesh and the band worked them over with gusto. My kids rolled all over the floor and ran around in circles. Can’t argue with results.  

The Mumford and Sons guys seem so nice. They have an energy, sincerity, and joy not often seen. Much has been written about their set at Coachella this year and all of it has been positive. This band is being lauded as the next big thing, but in our world of manufactured pop stars, these musicians seem more like The Greatest Thing to happen to music recently. The harmonies from Mumford and Sons are uplifting and their sound fits perfectly, whether on a street corner or on the main stage at Coachella. Every song makes you want to sing along by the end, and even their new songs had me dancing and humming. The highlight in our house was the raucous and soaring “Little Lion Man,” which had all of us shouting every word.

The Swell Season rounded out the night for the kids. Daisy was riveted because we saw this band last year at the No Depression Festival, and she likes the boy/girl harmonies and the gentle-simmer-to-rock-out dynamic. Riley, however, was done and ready for bed. Even so, Daisy and her mom were able to cuddle on the couch while discussing how crazy it was that the guy’s guitar had such a huge hole in it.

The night was not over, not by a long shot.

Bright Eyes was an excellent prelude to the always-incredible Arcade Fire. Conor Oberst has been playing music in public for the past 15 years, and his experience is evident. All of the new material, with its ‘80s dance vibe, ties together the shifting genres that this prolific songwriter has experimented with.

The cap on the night was the Arcade Fire, and they are truly a treat. However, it was at this time that I felt true frustration with the webcast. Maybe they are a band that cannot be properly filmed  (I missed their Madison Square Garden webcast last summer). There were lots of things going on onstage. All of the band members were fully engaged in each song. There was a man running around with no clear purpose except to passionately hit cowbells and other percussive things at key moments. At one point during the set, there was a beautiful camera shot of four or five band members singing and playing, stepping back, pausing for a  breath, and then attacking their respective mics and instruments in unison. For me, this image summed up the excitement of the band in a few seconds.

However, there were other instances of frustrating camera cuts away from band members at key moments, or too many close-ups of one member or another when it should have been a shot of the whole band. There were even images from the jumbotron of album art or images of what I would assume to be stuff from their short film The Suburbs.  

While the camera work was unfortunately distracting, it was ultimately forgivable. Like the earlier Mumford and Sons, it was still exciting to see what this little band could actually do. Their soaring, anthemic passion was infectious. They played a 2-hour set with selections from all three of their albums, hitting a climax with “Wake Up” and huge glow-y balls. Awesome, is all you can say. | Tony Van Zeyl

 

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