Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Coachella 2010: Atoms for Peace beautifully glitches to the end

April 19, 2010 | 11:54 am

Before any of them assumed an instrument for Sunday night's closing set, Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace was already Coachella's fantasy band come true. The supergroup boasts Chili Peppers' Flea on bass, producer Nigel Godrich on guitar and keys, and crack percussionists Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco. Just reading that list of names would make a Goldenvoice booker rub his or her hands together in glee.

Not only does Atoms for Peace tantalize with its left-field combo of a '90s hero and the rare pop star with avant-garde cred, but it also delivers on exactly that kind of surprise element. Atoms for Peace played some of the funkiest, most glitchy nightmare/dream pop ever to bathe the Indio field. Under a purple-black sky, the audience, packed together and many, many leagues back, was reveling in it.

Playing the entirety of Yorke's solo "The Eraser," the band outdid itself on a number of tracks, including "Black Swan," beautifully sculptured with its sine wave-like repeating motifs. But where Flea really got to pluck some murderous bass was in "Harrowdown Hill," a mournful yet menacing song indirectly about biological warfare expert David Kelly.

Before Yorke brought the band back out for an encore, he played two choice Radiohead songs -- "Airbag," spare and unexpectedly heart-wrenching with only Yorke and his guitar, and "Everything in Its Right Place," on lonely piano.

When the crew rejoined him, Yorke gave the audience a mandate: "You've had a long weekend and you need to freak out." Cue "The Hollow Earth" and en masse mind-losing for the last burst of Coachella's weekend.

-- Margaret Wappler