Coachella Wrap-Up

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Best Act

MUSE. Duh?…everything you want a great rock and roll show to be. I saw and heard things in this show that I NEVER have on ANY sort of performing stage. Yeah, I have hopped on the “Muse train” and you ain’t gettin’ me off!

I, from time to time, mistakenly listen to the people who tell me that what I write here is pretty good and I begin to think…”hey maybe one day…” but then I read something from someone who knows how to put down thoughts that I can only have nebulously rumbling about in my head. Therefore I give you a paragraph from SPIN from the day after the festival that says it far better than I ever could.


It was one oh-no-he-didn’t moment after another as Muse singer, guitarist, pianist and unapologetic showoff Matt Bellamy pulled out all the stops in a truly over-the-top performance on the main stage. Playing the guitar over his head and behind his back? Sure. Tacking a truncated version of Van Halen’s “Eruption” onto the end of “Plug In Baby” from 2001’s Origin of Symmetry? Absolutely. Uncorking a potentially blasphemous Hendrix-at-Woodstock-style guitar cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Uh, okay. The funny thing: It all worked. When you’re the lead singer of the biggest, best, most theatrical prog-glam-rock-opera-jam-band in the world, showboating is exactly the point. LIAM GOWING

Honorable Mention- Best Acts


Best Musicians

Some acts are made of incredible musicians but a great stage show is not their thing. Some great acts don’t have necessarily great musicians but come together as an effective whole, some focus on lavish stage productions and then some manage to have all of these aspects (I won’t say the name again). This category is based soley on technical/emotional musicianship. Is it the most important aspect of a good band? Well, no but it is fun for those of us who play or have knowledge of what it takes to master any particular instrument to sit around debate the issue of who is better.

Sorry guys, Muse is going to be what was the Grammy’s Taylor Swift in my Coachella “best of”.

I CAN be objective here as technical ability is a less subjective science and Claudio Sanchez and the boys just play their asses off. The guitar virtuosity usually gets all the juice with these guys but a struggle with the sound mix at the beginning of the set had the bass really jacked in the mix and allowed us to hear how good a bass player this dude really is.

Just great playing by great musicians from the British proggy types…the most “locked” bass player/drummer I have heard in a long time.

Amazingly soulful and technical playing (yes you can have both) from all involved. These guys are simply overpowering with their ability and what they choose to do with it.

C’mon it’s John Paul Jones (we’re not worthy) and Dave Grohl (you forget what a great drummer he is- there was more to Nirvana than Cobain). The other guys are no slouches as well

Acts that are going to break HUGE and should have big public awareness
If Muse doesn’t become one of the defining bands of this musical generation then I will eat their entire CD catalog and anything they have on vinyl. It’s just too good and people just flip out for it too much. As I said before, they are one radio hit away from musical immortality.



(already big but with new disc getting raves should get even bigger)

(long shot but I’m hopin’)

Acts you should check out to even though they may never have radio play.

One of the “capos” of the current movement of Brooklyn alternative and experimental bands (Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, The Hold Steady) look for YEASAYER to have a BIG year and look for their name in December and January in the critics “best of” lists.

Already a critics darling…don’t look for that to change.

These guys are OUT THERE…kind of a White Stripes meets Animal Collective. So far everyone likey. It will be interesting to watch how they continue to be received. PJ and Berhnsy actually saw the set and said it was awesome and I have devoured anything I can find of them.

Nothing but raves coming from everywhere for this electronic based alternative act. Look for a new disc and spreading popularity as they are hitting the festival circuit this year.

The growth in crowd number clamoring to see these two dudes from Denver has been fun to watch over the last two years. I have seen the future of Electronica and mixmaster music…

Sludgy, loud and in your face, these Savannah hard rockers will cement themselves firmly in the metal crowd. Look for  a third disc sometime this year.

Acts who whose future are uncertain

They are 2 discs in and considered one of the more talented new acts going. But leader Jack White doesn’t seem content to stay with one project too long. If  we are lucky Jack will stick with DEAD WEATHER for a while and continue you to bless us with some more incredibly passionate music.

I think these guys are still in total shock at the reception their greatest hits disc and their live shows are receiving. Selling out everywhere they go on this tour and playing for 50,000 receptive fans doesn’t diminish the thoughts of keeping it going either. I think it’s really all about what leader Steve Malkmus wants to do. C’mon Steve…stick with and don’t make these guys go back to parking cars!

NOTE: if Pavement is new to you (and don’t feel like you are out of touch musically if they are) pick up their new “best of” disc Quarantine the Past. These 23 tracks will catch you up and give you a Pavement primer.

All the members of this band have other things going and how much do you REALLY want to tour when you have been doing it for 40 years (John Paul Jones). Dave Grohl has Queens and Foo Fighters to contend with so who knows. These guys do look like they are having a LOT of fun up there so maybe that will be enough to lure them back in the studio and out on the road.

Members have been quoted as saying that this tour and disc will mark the end of LCD but playing for 40,000 screaming fans when you are used to playing for only a couple of thousand can have a way of changing your “let’s go out on top” perspective.

They are billing this tour as “The Second Coming” so I would look for a new disc and for FNM to continue to tour.

Acts that are just going to keep doing what they are doing and could care less whether you like it or not.

“If you can’t handle the elbows to the face and our total assault to your eardrums get out of our mosh pit.” I can hear these guys say. Bang your head or they’ll heave a guitar at you…I saw it happen.

I’m not even sure if Ed Sharpe knows he has made a record. He and his merry band seem to just be happy, chillin’, singin’ and dancing around wherever they are. I think their handlers just load them all in an oversize chartreuse micro bus ( a dollar to anyone who catches that reference) and drop them at the studio or at the concert stage or on the street corner for that matter and cut them loose.

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Clem emerged from the underbelly of NashVegas where he began his love of ALL things musical. College found him in the commercial music program at the University of Miami where he actually learned what the hell he was doing. New York was next and whether he “made it there” is still up for debate. From playing in the honky-tonks of Nashville and the dance clubs of Miami to Broadway and theatrical stages around the country, to Carnegie Hall (while practicing one day somebody told him how to get there) and the recording studios of New York and L.A., Clem’s variety of musical experience has transcended the boundaries of genre. He owns a production company, lectures on music in colleges across the country and is on the visiting faculty of Elon Univ. He has a port-o-johns named after him at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.

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