Coachella: My Top Ten

How long can someone dance in the middle of nowhere, under the sweltering sun, with tens of thousands of people, to the music of two hundred bands? Coachella fans will tell you that three days of doing this is certainly not enough! Having just emerged from the after effects of those dizzying schedule conflicts and that Vitamin D overdose, I bring you my top ten:

1. Warpaint
Effortlessly stylish, these experimental art rockers from L.A. played a beautiful set at the perfect time on Friday afternoon, just as the sun was beginning its descent. The light enhanced the beauty of the individual performers and contributed to that feel-good vibe they were creating with their music.

2. Scissor Sisters
They were a ton of fun to see late Saturday night. Ana Matronic was very engaging and hilariously over the top, telling men to stop wearing baggy clothes and start wearing thongs, and congratulating the women that decided to dress slutty that weekend. It became evident that their older material from 2004 hadn’t gotten stale, as it was pretty blissful to sing and dance to those songs.

3. Trentmemøller
Copenhagen-based producer and multi-instrumentalist, Trentmemøller delivered a highly immersive performance with his five-piece band. Beginning with slow and heavy beats, he slowly progressed into a really crazy dance set. The balance of mellow ambiance and driving rhythms seemed to be the perfect antidote to revive people on Sunday evening. Although the crowd had started small, it reached capacity by the end of his set. Best of all, Trentmemøller, himself, seemed to be having the best time of all.

4. Crystal Castles
This particular performance on Friday night scored an absolute ten in my book. Not a single person could take their eyes off the sexy and eerie Alice Glass, who stood at the mic with a crutch one second and aggressively crowd surfed the next – falling down and slinking back up to the stage time and time again. The camera editing of this was absolutely riveting, and Glass’ screams were ear piercingly good. “Crimewave” was an especially cool break from the seizure-inducing madness.

5. Robyn
This toned club princess’ performance Saturday night proved why Robyn has such a loyal and growing fan base. Every bit of Robyn’s performance was done with such professionalism and accuracy. Her lyrics were sung with the same emotion contained within, as though she had just written them. Robyn’s words reached the souls of many that night.

6. Ratatat
This band arrived with laptops and guitars, and they blew everyone away with the visual aspect of their show. They played a great selection of songs off the album LP4, along with some other live favorites. The crowd was extremely cool that Sunday night, with everyone dancing to what is perhaps one of the best American live instrumental dance-rock bands today.

7. Suede
These Britpop rockers, who hadn’t performed in the U.S. in many years, killed it on that Saturday night. Singer Brett Anderson showed everyone how to be a Grade A rock star. He was sassy and extraordinarily cool as he slithered around the stage and put his all into the performance. The set was very, very solid – loud, heavy, trashy and glammed out rock. Each song rolled into the next. They played plenty of powerful songs off all of their previous albums – with an emphasis on their earlier work. Older fans wearing Suede shirts sang along so well that Anderson would engage them by letting everyone sing parts of the songs themselves. This was, by far, my favorite performance of the entire weekend.

8. Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS)
CSS treated the festival as a reunion of sorts, too. Singer Luísa Hanae Matsushita expertly crowd surfed without missing a single lyric. She later commented how grateful they were to be there. CSS played many greats, including “Alala,” “Rat Is Dead,” and “Reggae All Night.”

9. PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey was herself – a radiantly beautiful image of femininity and strength – but she was something more, too. She seemed very subdued and at peace with herself. Wearing what looked like a vintage bridal gown, she played countless instruments, including an autoharp. Her set concentrated heavily on the songs off her new album, Let England Shake. The performances of these songs sounded remarkably similar to the album (translation: very good). Between songs, she was soft spoken and polite… Most people standing there secretly wished PJ’s performance had been the final act of Coachella that night.

10. Elbow
Elbow, like Ana Matronic had said, was a special treat to see. A band that normally sells out in England, Elbow played in one of the smallest tents at Coachella. Even though these British indie rockers played many songs off their new album released this past March, they still played many great oldies, too – in particular, “Ground for Divorce.” A special crowd was gathered there.

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About Christine Thelen

Christine is a music writer, photographer, and English teacher living in New York. She's been writing for Short and Sweet since 2008 but writing about music since 1999. She loves photographing and interviewing bands most of all. Notable interviews include Underworld (England), Supergrass (England), Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (Wales), Hefner (England), Zero 7 (England), Nylon Union (Slovakia), Clinic (England), Hundreds (Germany), Nive Nielsen (Greenland), Alcoholic Faith Mission (Denmark), Captain Fufanu (Iceland), and the Postelles (NYC). Watch her on the ShortandSweetNYC Youtube Channel.
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