Blurt @ Coachella – Day 1 (4-17-09)

 

 

 

Blurt goes to the circus… or something
like that! Pt. 1 of our multi-day coverage….

 

By Scott
Dudelson

 

If somebody
tries to tell you that Coachella is the hottest music festival in the United States,
believe them – daytime temperatures generally average 105 degrees Celsius. The
festival itself takes place on a nicely manicured Polo field in the vast Mojave
Desert; about 20 min from Frank Sinatra’s old hang in Palm
Springs, and 2 hours east of Los
Angeles. And while Day 1 of the three-day event,
brought the requisite desert heat, it lacked the edgy headliners that have made
Coachella one of the most respected festivals on the planet.

 

 

 

The first half
of the day was dominated by younger, up and coming indie-rock acts, and in
turn, was the most interesting part of the festival. Early highlights included
Cage the Elephant, a five-piece, balls to the wall rock outfit from Bowling Green KY, and the
always-excellent Hold Steady.   M. Ward and The Black Keys also took to the daytime Coachella stages, and in the case
of M. Ward, less than 1000 people stopped over to watch his beautiful set and
hear tunes from his latest album “For Beginners.”  Not even the Black Keys, with their crunchy
blues-rock sound, and mainstream music buzz could pull in a major crowd.  The bands set included raw and heavy versions
10 A.M. Automatic, Strange Times, and
Stack Shot Billy
and to those who watched the performance, it was widely
regarded as the days best.

 

 

 

 

The lack of
enthusiasm for some of these great daytime acts likely had something to do with
the presence of Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen and Morrissey as night one
headliners.  While all three are iconic
legends, none of these artists fit the traditional profile of a Coachella
headliner, and it in turn attracted an older crowd that didn’t fit the
traditional profile of a Coachella concertgoer. 
A vast majority of the crowd that attended were only interested in watching McCartney, Cohen, and Morrissey, and
didn’t bother to show up early and catch some of the great indie(ish) acts.

 

 

The most
interesting of the three headliners was Leonard Cohen who performed with a
large band, and gave the crowd a set chalk full of classics including Dance Me To The End Of Love, Everybody
Knows, Bird on a Wire, and Hallelujah.
 
The rumor was that Cohen accepted the Coachella gig because he needed
the dough (apparently he lost his $10 million fortune recently), so it was a
great relief, that Cohen showed up in fine voice, spirits and interest in
giving the crowd the performance they wanted.

 

 

The final two acts
McCartney and Morrissey, performed the sets you’d expect from Moz and
Macca.  Moz’s set featured an abundance
of Smiths tunes (Bicycle, Girlfriend in a
Coma, Ask, How Soon is Now),
and solo hits (Irish Blood, English Heart), coupled with the occasional commentary
about how ‘Meat is Murder.’ On stage Moz did his best Moz impression, and for
50 minutes simply stalked the stage apathetically and flailed his mic chord
around like he was bored.

 

 

Macca’s
appearance was notable for being preceded by a DJ set that remixed the very
tunes that Macca was to soon after perform. 
A strange opening, but the baby boomer heavy crowd didn’t mind, and the
sing-a-long atmosphere was fitting for what was to come.   McCartney kicked off his set with a handful
of Beatles / Wings tunes – Jet, Drive My
Car, and Got to Get You Into My Life
– before he went into an extended run
of songs from his last few albums that nobody really seemed to know, nor really
care about. The second half of the set was Beatles intensive, and exactly what
you want to hear when you see an ex-Beatle (that’s not Ringo) perform.  Songs included Paperback Writer, Something, Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Can’t Buy Me
Love, Long & Winding Road, Let it Be, Day in the Life, Get Back, Sgt Pepper
and the final festival sing-along Hey
Jude

 

 

 

After all was
said and done, the promoters of the festival had claimed a sell-out, but even a
quick walk through the crowd during McCartney’s performance indicated
otherwise.

 

 

Lets see how Day
2 turns out…

 

[Photos credit: Scott Dudelson]

 

 

 

 

 

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