Coachella 2011: Attack of the early '00s with Kele and Interpol
Absolutely nobody was unaware of his on-hiatus day job fronting Bloc Party. But it was pitched opposite the field from Interpol, and the two sets underscored the different ways one can move on from fevered '00s blog-rock fame in a new decade.
Kele took an underlying strain of Bloc Party's sound -- funked-up techno tones and icy disco beats -- and made a full pivot to the dance floor on "The Boxer." But whereas Bloc Party used those rhythms to tug heartstrings, Kele deploys them to pull someone's hip to you. Single "Tenderoni" went all-in on big filter sweeps and martial four-on-the-floors; "Unholy Thoughts" bit the neck off Factory Records' guitar sounds. But the highlight was a medley of Bloc Party hits remodeled as punchy house jams -- "Blue Light" and "The Prayer" each did the job of a great remix, but in the live setting -- acknowledging a beloved melody while seeing what other emotions it can conjure. Here, it was all joy.
Interpol, on the other hand, seems positively bummed at its talent for big hooks. "Turn on the Bright Lights" was probably the last great traditional American guitar-drums-bass record, and its begrudging way with a sticky melody or bass lick made Interpol one of those indelible bands of the decade.
Since then, they've tried to repeat it with "Antics," take it to KROQ on "Our Love to Admire" and blow it to pieces in a doom-laden mist on their latest, self-titled record. Which was a shame, because those early tunes hold water as well as any. "Obstacle 1," "Evil" and "Slow Hands" are part of the canon for anyone who ever fired up Hype Machine, and they're festival fillers like little else in indie rock.
Shame then that new singles like "Lights" seem afraid to go for the throat like that. The band does gloom and wry misery well, but it does sinister and spirited even better. Great to see them back on Matador and playing up their shady edges, but the best parts of their sound are the most traditional. Ask anyone in 2002.
-- August Brown
Photo: Interpol on stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio April 15 2011. (Credit: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times