Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coachella Festival #2 review: Day 1 (afternoon)

Over the course of three days at the second Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. last weekend, I managed to catch partial or complete sets from 36 acts. Here is the start of my coverage, which originally appeared in the OC Register.

photo by Kelly Swift
The first intruiging sounds I heard while making my way toward the Gobi tent early Friday afternoon emanated from IO Echo, a Los Angeles-based grungy goth band that has opened for NIN and scored the James Franco flick Rebel.

Female lead singer Ioanna Gika twirled and ran around the stage draped in a shiny silver wrap of some sort (it actually looked like a bin liner).

Her wail recalled Siouxsie Sioux at times, while the musicians conjured up a Deftones-style squall.

Even more impressive was L.A. transplant Lord Huron, led by vocalist Ben Schneider. The seven-member alt-folk group drew a good-sized crowd to the Mojave tent, where they adeptly crafted a distinct rustic atmosphere. Several songs were led off by percussive bells and other handheld noisemakers.

Opening with "Ends of the Earth," from debut album "Lonesome Dreams," the reverb-drenched group harmonies, plus a mix of electric/acoustic guitars came across like a winning hybrid of My Morning Jacket and Dawes.

Schneider delivered impassioned vocals and pounded a single drum, making "She Lit a Fire" - with appropriate lyrics about "driving through the desert" - all the more powerful.

Another Southern California band, the Neighbourhood, has been getting plenty of attention lately, thanks to current Top 10 alt-rock single "Sweater Weather."

Performing to a large and enthusiastic crowd on the Outdoor Theater stage (one gal waved a sign sporting an image of a doctored Bill Murray from Stripes), the group proved only mildly interesting, just like when I saw 'em at the much more intimate Constellation Room late last year opening for Paul Banks.

Still, frontman Jesse Rutherford drew attention by crowd-surfing amid the moody "Float," got the crowd to wave their hands during "Alleyways" (both from major-label debut I Love You, out Tuesday) and told of how the band's seeds were sown while seeing Arcade Fire at Coachella a few years ago. "Sweater Weather" went down a storm.

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