Coachella 2009 Recap

Written By:

Aidan Williamson

20th April 2009
At 18:47 GMT

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If you went out to Coachella last week, you're sure of an STI. Celebrities went out to Coachella last week, and many of them in disguise.

Fast becoming the musical equivalent of Cannes Film Festival, Coachella attracted almost all of the useless celebrities this week. Paris Hilton, Carmen Elektra, Zac Efron, Tara Reid, David Hasslehoff, Kate Bosworth and Kristin Cavallari (yes, us neither) all made an appearance, drew the Paparazzi and upped the douche-level of the event.

Struggling for attention in the realm of people with actual talent were the performers, which, this year included Paul McCartney, The Killers and The Cure (okay, one out of three isn't bad).

Taking place over three days from April 17-19, the 2009 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival saw performances from over 100 top artists and The Ting Tings. Riding high on the ace-o-meter was sets from the likes of Public Enemy, Silversun Pickups, M. Ward, Leonard Cohen, Jenny Lewis, Lykke Li, Okkervil River, My Bloody Valentine, The Gaslight Anthem, M.I.A, Noah and the Whale, Genghis Tron, Crystal Castles and many more.

Paul McCartney wowed the assembled crowd with a three-hour set and marked the eleventh anniversary of his wife, Linda's, death by dedicating his performance of the song "My Love" to her. Tributes to Heather Mills were also offered by nearby occupants of the porta-loos.

Another U.K offering, Glasvegas, managed to make less of an impression due to their failure to perform on the Saturday. Singer James Allan did the British proud with his ability to reinforce stereotypes relating to the U.K and sun by coming down with a bad case of sunstroke prior to the band's scheduled set. In his defense, the heat was topping 33° Celsius. Appeasing the crowd, M.I.A later took to the stage and whipped attendees up into a frenzy with a kinetic post-natal show which saw her ascending the speaker stacks, braving the crowd pit and joining Exit singer Ben Brewer for a brief duet.

The Killers ended the Saturday by adorning the stage with palm trees, clearly aware of the fact that they were in the middle of a desert. Their two-hour set climaxed with the detonation of the requisite fireworks display.

Elsewhere in the grounds of the five-stage set-up in the arid region of Indio, California, Fleet Foxes front-man Robin Pecknold asserted the band's indie charm by insisting that the band "doesn't feel super comfortable at these things" during their set. Performing in knitwear in blistering heat: who could blame them. Jenny Lewis displayed a better grasp of the dress code by taking to the stage clad in an all-white outfit. She gave a shout-out to all of the scantily-dressed babes in the crowd before embarking on a set which included the likes of "Carpetbaggers", (illustrating that she was perhaps indulging in mockery with her crowd interaction before) "Next Messiah" and "Silver Lining".

Sunday saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs in control of the crowd. Yet, instead of letting rip with a frenzy-fueling concoction of stomping rock blasts, they focused intently upon the softer side of their repertoire. Thirty-year-old Karen Lee Orzolek embraced the sombre mood as she lost herself in the melancholy of the band's downbeat catalogue. "Skeletons" and "Maps" were said to be major successes of this approach to restrained mood.

Somewhat diminishing the effect of the festival was the breaking of tradition. The requisite Coachella surprise act failed to materialise. Pre-festival indicated that Ringo Starr, Lil' Wayne, No Doubt or Michael Jackson might be taking an unexpected bow, but to no avail.

Nonetheless, there were still highlights aplenty. The Brian Jonestown Massacre tested the seams of the tent by cramming an unwieldy amount of people in for their set. The boys were joined on-stage by Dandy Warhols hottie Zia McCabe.

While they tested the capacity limits, My Bloody Valentine test the very echelons of the decibel scale with their ear-destroying set which easily makes standing next to a rocket-launch appear tame in comparison. While front-man Kevin Shields was interactively mute throughout, his, and his bandmates sonic assault made any glimmer of silence a welcome retreat for bruised and bleeding ears.

Now in their fifties and with a newly inaugurated black president, you would think Chuck D and Public Enemy's anger would have subsided somewhat. The word 'no' is seeming depressingly limited right now. Performing the entirety of their It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back album, the boys finished their anti-authoritarian set with a stark warning "Now that we have president Obama, that means we gotta pay closer attention than ever," Chuck D. explained. Following up with classic anthem "Fight the Power", grassroots anger has never looked so good.

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