A funny thing happened on the way to the final set of Coachella 2012. It was billed as a SNOOP DOGG and DR. DRE show but it turned into something much larger, and in doing so, proved something I’m not sure they set out to prove. If there were grande dames of the rap/hip-hop world, Snoop and Dre would fill those roles. They still totally have the juice but this set was mostly a rap retrospective via a cavalcade of its brightest stars. It was great fun to hear– I mean, how long has it been since you have dug “Gin ‘n Juice” or The Chronic?
But soon after the hit parade began, it became about presenting other rappers. Of course it’s always a bonus to get to see other great artists when you didn’t expect to, but it REALLY should have been billed as Snoop, Dre and friends. WIZ KHALIFA and by 50 CENT represented the new wave but there was also a tribute to the late NATE DOGG and the very ghostly yet very cool appearance of TUPAC via hologram (we know it’s 2D and not really a hologram, but come on, lighten up) just like on the holodeck of The U.S.S. Enterprise.
For me however, the great unexpected moment came when Slim Shady himself rose out of the floor complete with hoodie. I am a huge EMINEM fan and his appearance confirmed something I already called last year after seeing Slim at Bonnaroo. These were some of the best rappers in the business but Eminem, in two songs, showed the massive crowd that he was better than anyone on that stage (or ANY other rapper for that matter). The others were all great but Shady was the best hands down. Even if you added Kanye, Nas and Jay-Z to this mix, I still believe Eminem would have proven what he has before: he is the best rapper/hip-hop artist ever!…PERIOD (EXCLAMATION MARK)! Strong words, I know, but I defy anyone to prove me wrong. Again, I doubt anyone set out to show this but at the end of it all– if you listened, you would know it to be true.
Don’t compare her to Nicki Minaj, don’t say she sounds like M.I.A. and PLEASE don’t even think of comparing her to Lil’ Kim. SANTIGOLD is her own “thing”. It’s a little bit hip-hop and a little bit modern R & B but at the end of the set its totally original. I would only compare her to Janelle Monae, not because the music is similar but because she is a young, female, African-American artists not content with the status quo and looking to break ground like a small town mayor at the highlighting the arrival of a new Wal-Mart.
Believe the hype! GOTYE (Go-tee-eh) is all that and a Belgian cone of fries with mayo. Stepping into the “it band” slot previously filled by Sleigh Bells and Foster the People, Gotye’s festival coming out party arrived with more popular acclaim than these other acts (a #1 hit will do that) and for my money this popularity and appeal does not diminish his artistic endeavors. Wouter “Wally” De Backer a.k.a. Gotye possesses a fantastic voice that at times (along with his music) reminded me of Sting’s early solo work. I was in a wedding/society band in the 90s where the leader (who had not a musical bone in his body) faked playing some percussion instruments to get himself on the stage. Gotye encircles himself with keyboards, drum kit tom-toms and other percussion instruments and he is NOT faking it! He was as good a percussionist as the drummer on stage with him. It is keyboard driven pop but with an artistic flair that makes what Gotye is doing far more complex than most he is on the charts with. My prediction is that he will continue to be “everywhere” and that his name will be heard quite a bit when the Grammy nominations are read. So dig this Belgian by way of Melbourne now so that you are not one of the unknowing tweeting…”Who the hell is this Goatee?” on Grammy night.
THE HIVES put on one of the best stage shows I have seen in some time; their music is a dose of fun, high-energy (and actually, very good) post-punk not far removed from what the Arctic Monkeys are doing, even though The Hives have been around longer. While the music is great, the show is the thing. They have been dubbed one of the”Best Live Bands In Music” by SPIN magazine and they did not disappoint on Coachella’s big stage (wearing full tuxedo tails and top hats). Most of the band’s energy originates with charismatic singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist whose faint Swedish accent (heard only at the end of phrases) sounds like he learned his English from a bad American announcer. His banter is hilarious and he possesses a Mick Jagger-like strut and attitude throughout. At one point, Pelle even convinced the entire — and sizable — crowd to lay flat on their backs — one would dare not refuse Pelle for fear of being called out. A new album is due in June and they will be touring the States and making the festival circuit, so for a great time with great music, dig The Hives before they head back to the land of the Vikings and death metal.
Coachella 2012 Superlatives
BEST OVERALL ACT
It’s tough to determine this one is. For sheer musical and artistic bliss it would be tough to beat RADIOHEAD while THE HIVES totally rocked the big stage with great post-punk garage rock fare but the Pelle and company’s on stage antics are the thing. However, one cannot forget the great stage show, the totally unique musical sounds and great vocals of FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE. I gotta also give French import M83 total props as well. What I though would be all electronics was more like a real rock band and totally kicked ass!
ACT MOST LIKELY TO EXPLODE(…MORE)!
Get ready for it to become GOTYE’s world and take whatever odds Vegas is offering on at least a win in the Best New Artist category at this year’s Grammys.
ACT YOU WOULD MOST WANT TO PLAY YOUR PARTY
I love FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS and you could always go with them and their blue-eyed old school soul but I say throw your party somewhere that doesn’t matter if it gets damaged and get THE HIVES– just WAY too much fun.
MOST INTERESTING ACT
To dig tUnE-yArDs do their thing is not only musically interesting but completely fascinating to watch. With her ukulele in hand, watch Merrill Garbus work her magic in creating her music right there on stage rather than running sequences.
Shopping List – Clem’s thoughts on What To Listen To Now
ARCTIC MONKEYS – They came, they rocked, they kicked our ass!
DAWES – This is well written, well played, harmony laden, classic sounding fare that you will dig and can even play around your parents and have them ask you if Jackson Browne has made a new album.
GARY CLARK JR. – I’m gonna keep talking about this son of Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray until everybody knows who he is. 3 words…OFF…THE…HOOK!
GIRLS – Their style is a bit hard to pin down but these guys are making big waves in the alternative world. Don’t define it just dig it…yeah they’re that good.
GOTYE – see above review and check out this wonderfully artistic yet still crowd pleasing and fun to listen to act.
LAURA MARLING – a friend once described her as “if Marcus Mumford was a chic”. She is part of Americana/Folk movement from across the pond but wherever she comes from its great chic singer/songwriter fare.
M83 – While electronic in nature, they still manage to rock live. See what all of those year-end “Best Of” lists they were on were talking about.
RADIOHEAD – You say you’ve never really listened to them? Well, don’t tell anyone you have been living life without them and dig their catalog…STAT! It’s Radiohead’s musical world– we are just lucky enough to get to listen to it.
SANTIGOLD – it is unique to be able to watch an artist create herself. This young lady’s artistic growth has been massive since I saw her 3 years ago at Bonnaroo— one can only imagine how this growth will continue.
THE WEEKND (pronounced like weakened) – as my Weeping Elvis partner asserted, several women may have been impregnated just by the amazing singing. Use appropriate protection, but don’t miss this great new R & B artist.
Well, there you have it– my thoughts on Coachella 2012. This is just the beginning of the outdoor festival season…up next is The Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL (May 18-20), The Sasquatch Festival in Washington State at the end of May and my personal favorite Bonnaroo in that cow pasture in Tennessee in early June.
But never fear if you can’t make the gig…that’s what Weeping Elvis is here for…to bring your our take on the best (and sometimes the not so best) in modern music.