Day Two of Weekend Two of the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival was a relaxed affair starting with youth-friendly genre-transcending acts like Azaelia Banks and Childish Gambino, roping in the 20-something hipster crowd with acts like the amazing St. Vincent and melodic Bon Iver and ending in a spectacle for all ages with Radiohead.
Azaelia Banks Starts A Fire With Her New York-Style Dirty Rap, Burns Down The Gobi Tent With Amy Winehouse & Prodigy
20-year-old Azealia Banks is touted as the “next Nicki Minaj,” but disregarding her impish Barbie doll appearance, old-school Lil Kim vibe, and provocative flow (Banks salts explicit words throughout her rhymes), Banks is something wholly different.
The young Harlem-raised lyricist is a precocious fusion of rapid-fire rhyme spitting, mermaid hair and club-ready fashion, and provides the kind of ’90s rave scene vibe during her sets to back it up. One could easily imagine Banks being a steady attendant of the Limelight in New York during the infamous Michael Alig/Party Monster days.
Although Banks is signed to Interscope, working with Adele’s producer Paul Epworth, was put on the top of NME’s “Cool List” in 2011, and has hung out with fashion notables like Karl Lagerfield, there is still something raw and untainted about Banks. It might be her ready smile, her Yung Rapunzel moniker, her open sexuality, or her unfiltered usage of swear words and slang in her lyrics.
Despite the conservative adult set, the kids of Bank’s generation are just like banks; not afraid to say the “wrong” words, wear the “wrong” clothes, or dance it out to the “wrong” sounds. These same kids are listening to hip-hop as much as pop, rock as much as dance music, and combining all genres in their iPod playlists.
With red mermaid hair, a leather overall with one strap undone, a red fishnet shirt (black taped nipples included), and combat boots, Banks took her role as great music mediator with ease after an exciting introduction by DJ Cosmo from Montreal.
She was flanked by two dancers that looked like they could have easily shown up on the set of In Living Color or Paris Is Burning and vogued the night away. Banks even said that the female dancer dressed in a leather flame vest was the “new JLo.”
Even though Banks spits at an almost-Busta Rhymes-ish pace so it’s hard to understand her lyrics, her first song was too cacophonous; Banks made sure to tell the sound man to “fix the feedback.”
After that, Banks was fantastic. The Yung Rapunzel grinded and grabbed her lady parts. She rapped songs like “Barbie Sh*t,” “Runnin’,” “Bambi,” “L8R,” “Liquorice,” “1991,” (her birth year) and her hit song, “212.” In the middle of the set, her dancers did an entertaining dance interlude, Banks sang a soulful snippet of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” and ended her set, in true ’90s rave fashion, singing a part of Prodigy’s “Firestarter.”
And Banks did set fire to the Coachella landscape. Whether some consider it the end of feminism or the beginning of something more exciting, more libertine and liberating, Banks made the whole audience sing the “C”-word over and over again during her song “212.”
A friend noted that it took the first time, with people quietly singing along, for the audience to finally get comfortable saying the word. But once they did, it was all over. A girl waved a shirt around with the word; a bare-chested young man next to us hooted when Banks made reference to oral sex.
Banks encapsulated the feelings of teenagers and 20-something generations who were raised by and around the information “cesspool” that is the internet, but came out with interestingly evolved ways of communicating. And for a moment, Banks made it OK for her audience to say all the words and do all the things they were always told not to.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Vermont-based multi-instrumentalist Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is an amazingly stylish alt-country rocker. Potter impressed the crowd with her beautiful, husky voice and the fluidity with which she alternated instruments from piano to guitar. She also gave a nod to the recently deceased Levon Helm, much like the Black Keys did last night.
“Between this weekend and last, rock and roll lost a great man. I’d like to dedicate this song to Levon Helm,” said the singer before belting into “Big White Gate.”
Awolnation Celebrate Drummer’s Birthday At Last Coachella Show, Literally Crowd Surf
On Wikipedia and All Music, AWOLNATION are labeled as an “American indie-pop” band. What ensued at Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival was totally different than that label. With the screaming, guitar-gnashing, and big bold beats mixed with lead singer Aaron Bruno’s soul-filled voice, AWOLNATION can be likened to a punkier, artsier version of Foo Figthers, or rather, likened to no one at all.
AWOLNATION’s blend of instrumentation and electronics makes them totally unique.
Considering the early time of day and the oppressive heat, AWOLNATION drew a huge crowd, including people running up when they heard songs like “Not My Fault,” “Burn It Down,” and “Sail.” Bruno’s stage presence might have grabbed the random passerby heading to the nearest pocket of shade.
“I was afraid you guys wouldn’t want to party in weekend two,” said Bruno before deciding that, yes, his audience really did want to party. The musician preceded to request that “only girls are allowed to crowd surf,” which ensued in multiple girls taking that as a suggestion, including a little girl who came out holding a handkerchief to her bleeding nose, but a wide grin across her face.
The rule didn’t apply to Bruno who whipped out a surfboard and literally “crowd surfed” across the audience to a roar of applause.
“Thank you so much for joining us and making this moment a dream come true,” said Bruno sincerely before announcing the names of the band members. “Usually I don’t do this ‘cuz it’s cheesy but this is a special moment.” Bruno then proclaims that today is drummer Hayden Scott’s birthday.
“This is the ultimate celebration,” exclaims Bruno. “Let’s have a dance party right now.”
The Head and the Heart
Seattle-based indie-folk pop band played a lively set after their interview and performance at KROQ’s Coachella house where the band divulged that Radiohead was their “all-time” favorite band and they are jealous of the Other Lives who gets to tour with them. Many people in the audience likened their music to the balladry and musical synchronicity of Arcade Fire.
Before Kasabian’s extremely loud, but totally killer set, the British rock band threw out hundreds of Kasabian-monikered rainbow-colored glow sticks and throughout the set, made the band hold them up and clap them.
New England’s Tune-Yards were impressive with two sax back-up dudes boasting homemade neon-military shoulder pads. Lead singer Merrill Garbus was in a jovial, smiling mood. For those who haven’t seen her live, it’s a sight to see as she live layers complex drum rhythms with howling vocals and Afro-psychadelic shakes.
A couple songs into her set, she asked the whole audience to turn around and look at the view behind them; a breathtaking vista of mountains and palms. Then she giggled, asked them to turn back around, and preceded to delight with the rest of her set.
Kaiser Chiefs Play Coachella Weekend #2 Sans Drum Kit That They Recently Sold To David Letterman
“We are Kaiser Chiefs. Join us,” announced the gregarious Ricky Wilson, lead singer of punk-wave indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs from Leeds. In the mid-day sun, what started off as a sparse crowd filled up when the audience saw the antics of Wilson, gyrating his yellow-clad nether regions into the audience.
During the set, Wilson went into the crowd numerous times, had the audience sing many of the lyrics, got on top of the drum kit (not the drum kit he sold to David Letterman, which they allegedly used at the first Coachella weekend) and jumped off, grabbed the big-screen camera and kissing it, and running off the stage and to the beer garden for a drink–which he declared as “awkward.” Wilson is a master of manipulating the crowd into a frenzy. “No dicking around,” said the frontman. “Let’s go straight to the next one.”
And Kaiser Chiefs had no problem going straight from hit to hit, proving their worth as one of the biggest bands of the early 2000′s Britpop resurgence. The band played “Na Na Na Na Naa,” “Everyday I Love You Less and Less,” “Kinda Girl You Are,” “The Angry Mob,” “Ruby,” “Never Miss A Beat,” “Oh My God,” and internationally-renowned hit, “I Predict A Riot.”
They also played some new songs. “Hey Coachella. We’re back alright,” said Wilson. “Don’t mention the heat. We’ve got a new song…We said we’ve got a new song. So, are you ready? We are. It’s called ‘On The Run.’” Kaiser Chiefs also played another new one called “Listen To Your Head.”
With an infectious, energetic set and the playing of new songs, Kaiser Chiefs fans can anticipate a tour of both the United Kingdom and North America.
“Coachella, thank you very much,” said Wilson. “It’s the second week. It feels fresh.” And with that, the Kaiser Chiefs launched into another round of songs to a giant roar from the audience.
St. Vincent Brings Heavenly Alternative Punk Rock Vibes To The Gobi Tent
29-year-old Annie Clark of St. Vincent is, as a friend aptly put it, our ultimate “girl crush.” Wearing tights under leather shorts with a black sleeveless collared shirt and bobbing her precious brunette curls in time to the shredding of her electric guitar, Clark, who started her musical career as a member of the Polyphonic Spree, is both delicate and defiant, pretty and punk rock.
And Clark had a maternal instinct. After playing a few songs, the frontwoman checked in with her lively, devoted audience. “Hey Coachella. You guys OK,” she asked. “Like, medically speaking are you OK? Show of hands. I don’t like to ask this question, but it’s not a cheesy rock question. Who amongst you got a third degree tan?…You guys all deserve medals, badges, or just a f**king case of water. You guys get MVP all the way.”
Clark, who sang earlier in the night with indie-folk maestro Andrew Bird, played songs “Marrow,” “Cheerleader,” “Chloe in the Afternoon,” “Now, Now,” “Black Rainbow,” “Cruel,” and a punky tune that she had just released today for Record Store Day.
“This song came out today. It’s Record Store Day. An Important Day. Not to imply that it’s more important than other days. I’m sure there’s other days that take the cake. But still this song came out today, so it’s on a seven inch somewhere.”
Clark has an adorable habit of doing a little shuffle before smacking her zither or grabbing her microphone in an impassioned fervor.
At one point, Clark changed guitars and picked up the wrong one. “Coachella, this is live music and sometimes you pick up the wrong guitar and it’s not in the right turning. Let’s try that again.” She also played a cover called “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” from British pop-punk band The Pop Group. Clark told a story about how frontman Mark Stewart asked to cover the song when St. Vincent went through London and brought Clark a tiny dish scrubber shaped like Sid Vicious called “Sid Dishes.”
“Oh, this is what’s become of punk rock,” said Clark with a sigh, mimicking Stewart.
After playing the cover, Clark, who stage dove last weekend at Coachella, sprayed the audience with water and then jumped back into the crowd, losing her shoes in the process.
“Thank you Coachella,” said Clark in her sweet voice. “You’re f**king awesome.”
–Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles with additional reporting by Faith-Ann Young