Tuesday, April 21, 2009

LA Weekly Coachella Awards 2009: The Best and Worst of the Festival

By Randall Roberts in coachella

Timothy Norris
Coachella 2009, at the awards ceremony

Weirdest Between-song Banter: Paul McCartney, bless his heart, played an epic set, staked a claim on a body of work that only fools would ignore. But between his songs, when he was trying to communicate with us, he talked like we were little children, uttered the word "Coachella" a few too many times, then said, "Woo!"

Best Brush-With-Fame Moment: Chris Holmes used to play in a Chicago band called Yum Yum. Then he started DJing and producing. Paul McCartney heard him DJ in South America, called him up, asked Holmes to do something prior to his Friday set, and suggested the Stax Does Beatles collection of Memphs r&b artists covering Macca's former band. Holmes dropped a nice mix of old Beatles' covers, mixed in a little bit of Macca's "Temporary Secretary," and basically made the preamble party-ready. If you're wondering why there was an "Ashtar Command" logo on either side of the stage prior to his Friday warm up for McCartney, it's because Holmes' long-incubating Ashtar Command project is apparently coming to fruition.

Best, but Most Torturous, Cameo: Johnny Marr showed up to perform with the former singer of a popular British post punk outfit. Unfortunately, it wasn't who we'd hoped it would be -- Morrissey. Instead, Marr got up onstage with Paul Weller.

Timothy Norris
Ida No of Glass Candy, leaving just enough to the imagination -- barely.

Best Use of Unitard: Ida No of Glass Candy, whose form-fitting pink/yellow/orange/red outfit was a big hit.

Timothy Norris
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Best Outfit

Best Outfit: Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' mirror suit with wings.

Worst Outfit:
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' mirror suit with wings.

Timothy Norris
Does Morrissey smell burning flesh? It better be human flesh.

Best Between Song Banter: Morrissey, a strict vegetarian, on sniffing the BBQ wafting across the polo field, spat at the crowd, "I smell burning flesh. It better be human flesh."

Timothy Norris
Pink Eye of Fucked Up gets fucked up.

Taking a Bullet for the Team Award: Fucked Up Singer Pink Eyes cracked his head during the band's incendiary set. Blood started dripping down his face. It got ugly. He reassured the house that he'd been tested, and was HIV negative. Then the blood started flying. Eight hours later, side stage at Throbbing Gristle, the wound had healed, but there was a nasty bump.

Coachella fan of the year:
The dude in the totally furious pit at Mastodon's Saturday night guitarfest. The pit in the middle of the crowd at the Gobi tent was about the size of a boxing ring, and raging men were marching in circles and beating the crap out of each other within. During Mastodon's set, they moved around the pit like stock cars at the Taledega 500.

In the middle: A shirtless fella, husky, is losing his mind. Eyes wild, he stands there and bellows. Wait. He doesn't have any pants on. Just bikini briefs, this bear of a man, a little flabby but who the fuck cares when Mastodon's doing what they're doing. So the guy's in the pit banging into other men -- and he's in his undies. They're dark blue. His belly hangs over them just a little bit. His butt crack is smiling from above his stretchy-band. He's moshing. He's pummeling other shirtless dudes. He doesn't have a boner as far as I can tell ... Hold on a sec. Half boner. Not bad. It'll happen to anyone banging into sweaty bare skin, regardless of gender.

Worst fan of the Year: M.I.A. invited half the crowd up onto the stage during one of her songs (forgot which). There were probably 100 people up there. The big screen showed the blissful group dancing along with Maya, overjoyed and experiencing a moment they will always remember. Then, up on the big screen, a quick shot of a guy standing there with a drink in his hand talking to a friend, like he happened upon a cocktail mixer at the country club. YOU ARE ON THE MAIN STAGE AT COACHELLA WITH M.I.A.! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING STANDING THERE? Dance, motherfucker. (Side thought: he had to scale a barrier, move past the hulking security guards, climb onto the stage; he did this with a drink in his hand. He may suck at being a fan, but give him a silver medal in the Cocktail Olympics.)

Timothy Norris
Parents: You will hurt your childrens' ears at My Bloody Valentine.

Worst Parenting Award: The parents who brought their children to My Bloody Valentine show, and listened to it with them without ear plugs. We saw parents of two children exposing the toddlers to the extreme volume, and contemplated calling family services.

Best Editorial from VIP dude:
"Thank GOD that's over!" He said it after My Bloody Valentine's set. He continued: "That was the worst thing I ever heard."

Timothy Norris
Robert Smith: a stylist can help you with that lipstick problem of yours. And that hair? Honey, call her!

Worst Lipstick Application: Robert Smith of the Cure.

Timothy Norris
Genesis P Orridge has some awesome gold grillz.

Best Grillz: Genesis P-Orridge, of Throbbing Gristle

Timothy Norris
Amanda Palmer crowd surfed her way off stage.

Best Orchestrated Crowd Surf:
Amanda Palmer, for an encore, crowd surfed from the stage to the back of the Gobi tent, where a ukulele was waiting for her. She then covered Radiohead's "Creep," with the crowd singing the chorus.

Best Performance of Song About Los Angeles: X did a screaming, scowling version of their classic "Los Angeles." The crowd, many Angelenos, of course, screamed along.

Timothy Norris

Best Set of the Festival:
Tinariwen, whose Saturday sunset show at the Gobi stage was transformative.

Best use of the F-word:
Warrior Queen, whose Friday set with the Bug was nasty, raw, funky and bass heavy. At one point the Queen, a Jamaican rapper, was humping the monitor whispering into the microphone, "fuck ... fuuuuuck ... fuuuuck." It was very hot. Ten minutes later she was screaming, "I'm going crazy" and writhing on the ground.

Best Sing-Along:
The Ting Tings' doing "That's Not My Name" in the Gobi Tent.

Best Use of Isley Brothers:

Girl Talk, who ended his way-packed and drenched with sweat set with a sampled version of the Isley Bros. "Shout," bridging generations and musics. Sounds cheesy, but it totally worked, and the crowd even got low during the quiet parts, ultimately bringing it way up during the "little bit louder" part. Now if Girl Talk would stop ending his sets with Journey's "Faithfully."

Timothy Norris

Best Organ Solo: Who else: Booker T. Jones, who somehow figured out new ways to perform the melody to "Green Onions."

Best Scott Joplin Shout-Out:
M. Ward did a cover -- on guitar, with band -- of the ragtime genius's "The Entertainer." It was a strange choice, and it totally worked.

Timothy Norris
Antony: struggled with sound problems, bailed early. He was gracious through the whole thing.

Most Disappointing Set:
Antony and the Johnsons with Matthew Herbert. Not because of anything they did. It was disappointing because sound problems marred the show -- like, screaming, unhealthy broken feedback. It was painful for everyone, and incredibly disappointing. Antony ended up stopping 15 minutes before his scheduled end time. And though Herbert arranged the music, he didn't actually perform with Antony. Bummer.

Timothy Norris

Best Use of the Sunset:
Tie between Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" moment, and Tinariwen's light to dusk Saharan epiphany.

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