April 22nd, 2012, 5:57 pm · · posted by GUEST
The answer lies in the power of the moment that the artist creates; whether it happens by somewhat switching up the set list or imbuing the performance with just a few extra ounces of heartfelt energy, those slight changes make all the difference.
There were ample instances Saturday – starting with a high-energy, heat-defying set from tUnE-yArDs and wrapping with Radiohead’s tour de force on the main stage – that captured that sense of collective enchantment.
One showing that will stick with me for years to come was St. Vincent’s immobilizing throwdown in Gobi. From the get-go, wide-eyed Annie Clark had audience members swooning and chanting, egging them on with some close-quarters, Jack White-esque shredding from atop a front monitor during “Cheerleader” before further captivating with finely finessed vocals on “Cruel” and the type of deep, evil-toned guitar licks (on “Year of the Tiger”) that rivaled the swagger of Arctic Monkeys heaviest cuts played Friday.
“Coachella, this is live music!” she proclaimed. And as if to illustrate live music’s beautiful unpredictability, she commandeered a spray gun from a fest staffer, hosing down her audience at the onset of “Krokdil” (released yesterday for Record Store Day), then launching herself into the pulsing milieau and for a maddened crowd-surfing session akin to the wildest of Crystal Castles stage stunts.
I heard later that she did a similar thing last week, but I doubt she emerged completely soaked (from sweat or water, who knows?) and clutching only one shoe as she did this time around.
That finale created an all-time high, which didn’t let up for one moment with Feist’s following performance at the neighboring Outdoor Theatre. Within the first few moments of her opening track, “When I Was A Young Girl,” it was evident she had something much different in store for this weekend’s edition. That song was executed with guitar – distorted and punk-toned – and drums only (and perhaps some bass or piano that I couldn’t spot).
The show held an altogether different, distinctly rowdier vibe that didn’t ebb even slightly as her giant ensemble – an orchestra plus bountiful back-up singers who danced if they weren’t busy playing something – joined her to bang out the fiery new cut, “How Come You Never Go There. They proceeded to slay with old favorites (here infused with booming timpinis and blaring horns) such as “Mushaboo” (the set’s only down-tempo pick) and a chime-free-but-crunchy-guitar-heavy “My Moon, My Man.”
After the explosive conclusion of the latter, Feist stopped to address her audience: “We were rockin’ so hard I undid my shoelace, people!” Then she practically barked, “This is COACHELLA!”
Somehow I doubt that proclamation of genuine excitement was a scripted repeat from last week, further adding to this 2nd Saturday’s overarching feeling of unpropogated magic.
Bon Iver’s noticeably less chilly (sound-wise) set afterward bolstered that inclination even more, but the sentiment was most eloquently illustrated in Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s remark – - toward the end of the English outfit’s first of two encores – explaining exactly why the British outfit had decided to persist with large-scale touring: “The reason why we think we should do it is because it’s a collective thing… us, everybody here together,” he said, gesturing at once toward the band and the wildly cheering masses. “So thank you very much.”
No, thank you, Radiohead, for one of the grandest and gratifying mid-Coachella cappers on record.
By David Hall for The Orange County Register.
For more Coachella coverage all weekend go to ocregister.com/coachella.