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Coachella 2013: Superlatives And Slideshows

Lilian Min |
April 22, 2013 | 8:23 a.m. PDT

Music Editor

Coachella 2013 has come and gone, but the memories of this year's festivities will live on forever, or something like that.

This year, NT's Music Editor had the chance to check out and shoot some of the festival's acts during Weekend Two. Here are her set superlatives for the weekend:


Least violent crowd atmosphere: Of Monsters And Men

If there's anything any festival goer is familiar with, it's the feeling of a sharp jab from a stranger's elbow, or the rough swell of the crowd falling on top of you. These are just things that happen at shows, and the lack of physical pushes and shoves can sometimes be a signal that the performer really isn't bringing it.

That so wasn't the case with Of Monsters And Men's Friday afternoon set. There were plenty of people at the festival already wearing flower crowns, but if that hadn't been the case (and if the festival grounds weren't all dust and scrappy grass), there would've been a ton of people sitting on the lawn of the Outdoor stage braiding and weaving flowers into each other's hair. That's not to say there wasn't a lot of twee dancing from the OMAM crowd, but that it was all very chill and like, friendly, you know?

Most expected but still kind of unexpected? guest: Danny Brown at Purity Ring

Sure, they've collaborated on a track together, but no one in the crowd was actually expecting Brown to make an appearance at Purity Ring's bewitching Friday evening set. But once he walked onto the stage, smiled his signature (?) gap-toothed grin, and launched into his rap verses, any listeners in the crowd unfamiliar with this artistic pairing were sure to have been sold on his presence.

On an unrelated note, Purity Ring vocalist Megan James looks a lot like a goth Mae Whitman (to quote a phrase used in relation to her character in "Arrested Development": "Her?"). She and Brown looked as thick as thieves as they stood towering over the crowd, framed by beams of colored light and little egg-like lanterns. 

Least likely but most potentially awesome future project speculation: Karen O and How to destroy angels

Yes, yes, this is wishful thinking, but the entire time this writer was at the How to destroy angels set, all she could think of was the majesty that is Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Karen O's cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," and that all three of those players had been or were at Coachella on the same day.

Sure, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has long since left theatres, so there's technically no need to continue promoting that song, but just think about the collaboration potential between those groups. Also: harmonizing Karen O and Mariqueen vocals.


Least likely to be a one hit wonder: Baauer

Okay, so most people at this point know what the Harlem Shake (or rather, Baauer's song "Harlem Shake") is, and it might seem sensible, and it's certainly very easy, to peg Baauer as just the artist behind that one song, the same way Carly Rae Jepsen's been pegged as the "Call Me Maybe" girl, even though she's got some other great, equally catchy songs on her album (this writer digs "This Kiss"). 

ALSO READ: What Is The Harlem Shake?

For the fools who moseyed into Baauer's set expecting some mindless WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP along with a half-assed "Harlem Shake," wrong, wrong, so wrong. Baauer played a trap-heavy set that made people move in ways that would be completely embarrassing out of context. And of course, when he did drop "Harlem Shake" on the crowd, it was so exhilarating that Major Lazer would cop it later for their set (true story) (not really).

Most emotional set: The Postal Service

A lot of festival crowds, especially for the larger artists, are composed of a smaller group of hardcore fans and then general fans who might know one or two songs, usually the mainstream hits, and would like to check out the band's live atmosphere.

That wasn't the case with the Postal Service. (If you've never listened to "Give Up," get on it.) Once the infamous and until recently inactive electronica duo (+ indie girl icon Jenny Lewis) started working through the band's limited catalogue, everybody in the crowd sang along with an earnest, fervent passion (with the right lyrics or not, now there's a question). This writer stood the entire set next to a guy who started weeping during "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"... and that was the first song of the set.

Most life-destroying moment: Sigur Rós

One would think that there is nothing more life-affirming than watching Sigur Rós play a midnight show on the night of 4/20, and in theory, that's completely true. But alas, imagined perfection comes crashing down to earth when human and technical error come into play.

Such was the case when the band's audio cut off for a good minute during their rendition of not just any song, but "Hoppípolla," which is the closest thing Sigur Rós, god bless their experimental rock hearts, has to a mainstream hit. Luckily, the audio kicked back in, but when a build's been tampered with, it's evident from the cut on out. Also, not life-destroying, but annoying: Sigur Rós relies so much on silence as a component of their music, and that just wasn't happening because of the surrounding area sets. 


Most likely to seduce your significant other: James Blake

James Blake is a tall, gangly British man with a sheepish (as in bashful and shy, not like a sheep's) grin, but when he opens his mouth and sings... oh man. His vocal range is quite expansive, but he never sounds stretched at either extreme; rather, his voice has a rounded quality to it, and he sounds comforting, comfortable, and some might even say, completely and utterly seductive.

For an even more visceral effect, Blake's music sounds like an aural distillation of fluttering heartbeats, as sliding synth lines and big bass hits keep each other company (see: single "Retrograde"). All of this comes together for a beautiful musical (and visual) experience. Blake's star is taking off; he's enough of a deal that RZA himself stopped by the set to perform his verse for "Take A Fall For Me."

Most likely to score the zombie apocalypse: The Faint

Prior to attending The Faint's set, this writer's mental zombie apocalypse soundtrack was just a song by Dragonforce (you know which one). But after attending The Faint's set, it seems impossible that any other band would serve that very specific, hopefully impossible purpose.

There was so much going on during The Faint's show: people were moshing and jumping and yelling along, while the band members ricocheted around the stage. Sure, Thomas Mars of Phoenix very sweetly nearly collapsed on himself when he wheeled around on the stage, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers's Anthony Kiedis was practically bouncing off the stage during RHCP's festival-closing set, but the energy level of The Faint's set stayed at maximum the entire time, and that was in large part due to the flurry of movements on stage.

Most hilarious/terrible artist overlap: Wu-Tang Clan and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Granted, this was only going on for about a minute, but man, that was one awkward minute.

Wu-Tang Clan started their set on the Outdoor stage right as Nick Cave was wrapping up on the main stage. Just imagine that scenario: some of hip-hop's greatest geniuses are on one stage hyping up the crowd, while on the other stage, in full camera zoom treatment and everything, there's a choir of children. It was as awkward as it was awesome, especially if you were walking from the Outdoor stage to the main one.


There are plenty of other music festivals going on around the U.S., and indeed, the world, but Coachella, for whatever reason, has become not just a music festival, but a cultural juggernaut.

That said, it's still the music that's the greatest draw, and this year's acts didn't disappoint. Until next year, Indio; can't wait to see who they round up for 2014.

Reach Music Editor Lilian Min here; follow her on Twitter here and on Google+ here.



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