Coachella 2012: Flying Lotus thrills the Gobi Tent
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.
One of the best hours of the festival, and my musical year, was from 9 to 10 p.m. at the Gobi Tent, where Los Angeles beatmaker Flying Lotus pushed forth a set of deconstructed, heavy-duty bass music -- while a big inflatable green alligator bounced around atop the crowd. Lotus' work as a beat producer has pushed the genre in fantastic new directions, and over the last three years he's moved from L.A. warehouse parties into an ever-expanding worldwide fan base.
And with good reason: Live, he's magnetic, bouncing before his computer and tabletop mixer and interface, creating on-the-fly remixes and freakazoid juxtapositions. His beats flow, but he's got no problem going cockeyed -- shattering a hard boom-bap run with sonic detritus, then abruptly shifting gears, dropping down to half-time and throwing the crowd for a loop.
At one point, he sampled an a capella version of -- of all things -- Christopher Cross' yacht rock classic "Sailing," which he then destroyed with digital feedback. The peak was when he kicked out Jay-Z and Kanye West's already-classic "... in Paris," the rags to riches explosion, which he remixed into choppy/screwy confusion.
He did the same for Tyler, the Creator's "Yonkers," a tacit shoutout to a few of the guys in Odd Future -- Taco, Mike D, and Earl Sweatshirt -- who were standing on benches near the pit. The latter, Earl, recently returned from boarding school in Somoa, and his presence at Coachella got him a lot of high-fives from nearby fans, even if he has not yet taken to the stage this year.
Mid-set, Lotus offered a few new tracks, and announced to the crowded Gobi Tent that his new record would come out in September, and -- if I understood correctly -- will be called "Till the Quiet Comes." These new songs saw Lotus pushing even further away from his comfort zone, freeing himself from the constraints of locked-in structure. But then, musical boundaries aren't something that Lotus has had problems pushing in the past.
[For the record: 8:00 a.m. April 15: A previous version of this post stated that Earl Sweatshirt was a participant at Coachella, but so far that has been as a spectator only, and he is not scheduled to perform as part of the festival.]
-- Randall Roberts @liledit
Photo: The nighttime scene Saturday on the Empire Polo Field at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. Credit: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Coachella