Wild Mercury Sound

Arcade Fire, Roky Erickson and Kings Of Leon burn it up at Coachella day two.

Allan Jones

Seems my blog has been hijacked over the weekend by Steve Sutherland, who's clearly having the time of his life out at Coachella. Here's his second report, involving The Arcade Fire, Kings Of Leon, the mighty Roky Erickson and a few random Hollywood A-listers. God, it sounds great. . .

So here’s another reason why Coachella is the best festival in the world. I’m taking a load off on one of the black leatherette sofas they have backstage in the VIP/Band area… no, it’s not the sofas, though imagine luxury like that at Glastonbury… anyway, I’m taking a load off when this very short, very dumpy dude with thinning hair barely disguised by a baseball cap and really thick glasses plonks himself down next to me and starts rabbiting on about how awesome Arcade Fire were. By the way, dude’s Danny Devito.
So I say to Danny, I’d like a chinwag me old China but LCD Soundsystem are about to come on… or words to that effect and I stumble out front to be confronted by Flea shamelessly fretwanking on the main stage.
But let’s park that for a minute and bring you up to scratch with some stats and the hot topic among the Brit contingent.
Stats first: This is the first three-day Coachella. All the rest have been two. About 60,000 good people are flocking to frazzle on the lush lawns of the Empire Polo Ground. It’s hotter today than yesterday. So that’s hotter than 102! The hot topic? On yesterday’s evidence, can Arctic Monkeys pull off their coming Glasto headliner? For what it’s worth, I say yeah. The crowd will carry it, will sing every word, will lift the band into a state near communal grace.
Talking of which, Arcade Fire. How do they do it? How can they be this special when they’re so goddamn special all the time? As the sun sinks, they burst on with ‘Keep The Car Running’ and never look back. Beach balls bounce around the crowd and the Fire bring down the ecstasy with old ‘Funeral’ friends like all the ‘Neighbourhood’s punctuated by more sombre fare from ‘Neon Bible’ like ‘Black Mirror’.
Can’t really pick out highlights. It’s just all going on, Win descending into the crowd as mayhem reigns. They wind up with ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘No Cars Go’. I don’t need to waffle on do I? You know it was truly emotional.

Arcade Fire

Aha, at last a very good reason to hate Kings Of Leon. In the past I’ve always considered them pretty much the perfect band just shy of that killer song. Well, now the bastards have it in the shape of ‘On Call’ from the newie ‘Because Of The Times’. While the crowd around me suddenly transform into, like, this scene straight out of Haight Ashbury circa 1967 with gamine supermodel angels gyrating in a trance to the band’s every ebb and flow, the crowd picks up bare-chested Caleb’s macho holler “Be there!” and thunders it back like the Kings are, I dunno, U2 or something.
So that’s it now. Every band in the world can wake up every morning and think: “Fuck, why aren’t we the Kings Of Leon”? They’ve got the lot… so cool, not an ugly amongst them, every gal in the place just falling over herself to rake her claws down their backs. Like I said, bastards!

Kings Of Leon

This is the best set I’ve ever seen them play, the new stuff bringing the beef alongside old faves ‘Molly Chambers’ and ‘California Waiting’. So cool, too, the way the newly-shaven Nathan blows bubblegum as he drums. They ain’t the Southern Strokes no mo’. Talking of which, whatever happened to…? Fab’s here, off his tits. Wastes his time these days drumming for Har Mar. Albert’s got his own thing going, Julian guests on the new QOTSA album… Is the game all up? Maybe they need five years in the wilderness, just so Paul Tollett can drag them back together for Coachella 2012 and remind us all how much we miss them.
By the way, Queens hired a plane to advertise their newie. It flew over the crowd as Arcade Fire played. Wait till you hear the first track. Wow! Pure Led Zep circa ‘Houses Of The Holy’.
After the Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers are shocking. Dull, dull, dull. A show that manages to be simultaneously showy in all the wrong ways and utterly pedestrian. They could have phoned this performance in it ‘s so unspontaneous. Which makes you wonder, if they can’t get it up for an adoring crowd like this – easily the biggest for any single band Coachella has ever assembled before the main stage - when can they get it up? ‘Californication’ is obviously greeted like the Festival theme song but really that’s happening over in the Sahara Tent where Lindsay Lohan’s joined the merry throng to yell along to the mighty LCD Soundsystem’s ‘North American Scum’. LCD are awesome and just about have it over the hyperactive !!! and Hot Chip who raised the roof earlier in the day at the Mojave Tent with an astonishing ‘Over And Over’.
Best bit of what’s been a truly brilliant day? Easy. Roky Erickson & The Explosives in the Gobi Tent. I mean, really, I had no idea just how amazing this man was. I’d read all the stuff about how great Texan psychedelic punk pioneers13th Floor Elevators were back in the daze and how Roky gobbled acid or something till they locked him away and did the Cuckoo’s Nest electrode brain-frying thing to him so I guess I was expecting a reanimated corpse.
What we got though, was this perpetually chewing, grinning werewolf, maggot pale and howling that he’d discovered the doorway to Hades as an awesomely screwed-down-tight band brought the brimstone to the Elevators’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, a ‘Starry Eyes’ that would not have disgraced Neil Young, a terrifying ‘Don’t Shake Me Lucifer’ and barroom howl-at-the mooners ‘Red Temple Prayer’ (C’mon, how often do you get to scream along to song about working in the Kremlin with a two-headed dog?) and ‘Cold Night For Alligators’.

Roky Erikson

The Gobi was transformed into a scene from the Titty Twister as Roky took crackling lead guitar for ‘The Beast Is Coming’. Man, it was like Tom Fogerty singing the Book Of Revelations while Buddy Guy flayed the strings. Grown men wept. I shit you not. One of those gigs that makes you glad you lived to see it. The tent wasn’t that full and there were a number of disciples with their phones aloft so I’d check Youtube if you’d don’t believe me.
So anyway, I bump into some good friends who are staying at a hotel reasonably nearby and at the next table to theirs at breakfast were Melanie Griffith and Linda Carter having a natter. That’s Coachella for you - Wonderwoman, and Roky all in one day. Beyond surreal or what?
Check in tomorrow and I’ll endeavour to have a butcher’s at Happy Mondays sans Bez who’s too naughty to get a visa, the reformed Rage Against The Machine, Willie Nelson, Lily Allen, CSS, Klaxons and all their loved-up crew.
Steve Sutherland


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