Category: Jessica Gelt

Coachella 2011: The surreal philosophy of L.A. band Health

John Famiglietti, the bassist for the L.A.-based experimental noise rock outfit Health, who played the Mojave tent on Sunday evening, is the band's spirit animal. A shimmering, shaking hallucination in a boldly patterned shirt, guiding the live set to its shattering denouement.

His silken mane of black hair a study in motion, he lithely glides and shakes across the stage like a human-faced leopard on an acid trip. He is impervious to heat and sweat while the band's lead singer, Jake Duzsik regularly towels off his dripping face and hair.

Coachella 2011 in photos: The acts and scene | 360° Panoramas | The faces

This is not accessible music, and toward the beginning of the band's set there is an exodus of front-row crowd members who are quickly replaced by a wash of the band's devoted fan base. Health traffics in dissonance and extremes. And Duzsik's lilting melodies float over the chaos of the driving, beat-heavy rhythms like Julie Cruise in a Lynchian dream.

Likewise, for the band's fans -- acolytes of the Internet, all -- Health's hyper-sexual, graphically violent video fantasies occupy the shadows on either side of the stage, like phantasms of a primitive digital realm. It's hard to separate the music from the pipe dream of its effect. The two, fuelled by Duzsik's hardened longing and Famiglietti's flights of hyper-real fantasy, reverberate in an echo chamber of studied belligerence. And that's just where fans of Health like it.

-- Jessica Gelt

Coachella 2011: Desert Gold, Mist Poolside Lounge and Belvedere Music Lounge dare you to take it all off

While die-hard music enthusiasts sweat and slave in the sun watching Coachella's daytime acts, another breed of music lover hits the pool parties. The frothy happenings are as abundant as highway mirages at noon and overflow with tanned flesh squeezed into -- and popping out of -- as little clothing as possible.

These superhuman specimens don't talk much, but they love to dance, toss beach balls, drink overly sweet cocktails and make anybody who isn't a Size 2 feel bad about their life.

Coachella-pool-parties As the designated reporter on the Coachella party beat (yes, it's a difficult calling) I visited three parties Saturday afternoon: Desert Gold at the Ace Hotel; Mist Poolside Lounge at Agua Caliente Casino & Resort; and the Belvedere Music Lounge in a private residence near the polo field.

All three were wildly different happenings, with Ace claiming the drunken hipster crown formerly worn by the notoriously debauched Anthem Ranch party, which hosted its final Coachella throwdown last year.

I can generally gauge the success of a party based on the extent of my feelings of inadequacy. The more insecure I feel the better the party. At Ace my insecure-o-meter registered an 8 out of 10. However, my sense of superiority balanced the situation nicely, topping out at a healthy 7.5 due to the fact that it was early and I was still sober while everyone else teetered around with glazed lollipop eyes.

Still, the party was fun. There was a lot of bleached blond hair and strong mojitos, as well as swank gifting suites by Doc Marten, Converse and Ray Ban that Adrien Grenier was rumored to be visiting. There was also a really unusual new vending machine in the lobby by a company named Opening Ceremony that dispensed crystal pendants, "love" mix tapes, tribal earrings and signature-printed condoms by Jeremy Scott. It was as if the vending machine knew just what kind of party it was.

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Coachella 2011: The Kills talk less, rock more

The Kills
delivered a refreshingly crusty rock 'n roll set to the Outdoor stage at Coachella on Saturday night. The duo has been around for more than a decade and seems to exist, in part, to prove that drum machines do have a soul.

Singer Alison Mosshart conjured the powerfully rugged female rock persona cultivated by a certain breed of sexy-tough frontwomen in the early '80s. Joan Jett, Kim Gordon and Chrissie Hynde all came to mind.

Standing on the monitors at times, whirling around in dizzy circles at others and flipping her long black hair like a hurricane around her face, Mosshart gathered force as the set rolled on.

Photos: Faces of Coachella 2011

Singing the repetitive refrain of the song "URA Fever," she looked almost possessed -- or at least she probably would have if we could have seen her face.

The set was also notable for its total lack of stage banter, but this minimalist approach proved powerful when toward the end Mosshart suddenly stood stock still, pushed her hair away from her face and stared with heart-breaking candor into the crowd.

That's when she launched into the somber ode to lost love, "The Last Goodbye," and as she sang she never looked away. The resulting vulnerabilty was arresting in ways it couldn't have been if she had shown her face all along.

Some emotions are better left to the imagination.


Coachella 2011: Arcade Fire releases the bubbles

Coachella 2011: Rye Rye transforms Sahara tent into Baltimore go-go club, says debut will arrive in June

Coachella 2011: The passions and problems of the Kings of Leon

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Alison Mosshart of the Kills during her performance at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, April 16, 2011, in Indio, Calif. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Associated Press

Coachella 2011: Bright Eyes wide shut


For much of his Saturday night sundown set at Coachella, Conor Oberst of the seminal indie rock band Bright Eyes sang with his eyes shut. It wasn't due to relaxation though -- his face was taut, almost contorted -- and occasionally his lids would flutter, revealing his eyes partially rolled back into his head.

The result was feral and electric, but only slightly so. And that was too bad, because Oberst, a young man of 31, was once touted as the musical prophet of his generation. In 2002, when he was just 22, the New York Times published a story headlined "The Ballad of Conor Oberst" that said, "he has critics buzzing that he might be the next Bob Dylan."

Images from the 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

And Oberst did take stabs at protest music over the years, most notably with a 2005 song called "When the President Talks to God," which was an overt criticism of George W. Bush. But mostly he began to occupy a safe, indie rock sweet spot that satiated his fans without pushing socio-political boundaries.

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Coachella 2011: Scala & Kolacny Brothers strike an odd note

It was past midnight Friday when 24 female members of the Belgian girls choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers lined up onstage inside the Gobi tent. The crowd was small but enthusiastic. At this late hour, casualties of the long, hot day lay like dehydrated seals in groups all over the grass.

The women in the chorus, all young and attractive but not annoyingly so, wore simple black attire that could not be mistaken for sexy. Their conductor, a bald bespectacled man named Stijn Kolacny, provided the only movement in the set. He jerked his arms in stiff, uniform rotations, looking very much like the kind of robot the band Devo might build were it in the business of building robots.

 Images from the 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

His brother Stephen Kolacny accompanied on piano, creating music that sounded very adult contemporary and darkly Gothic all at once. An odd combination to be sure.


Coachella 2011: There's the Chemical Brothers -- but there's also a roller rink at the campground

Coachella 2011: Ready or not, Lauryn Hill commands the stage

-- Jessica Gelt 

Coachella 2011: The Black Keys blackout


Things were running late on the main stage at Coachella on Friday night thanks to Cee Lo Green's tardy entrance earlier in the day. So when the Black Keys began their set nearly 15 minutes behind schedule, the crowd was restive. Matters were made worse by the fact that the giant monitors beside the stage that broadcast close-up video of the performances were not working.

Suddenly the Keys, a two-piece band that occasionally plays with the addition of a bassist and keyboardist, seemed incredibly small for such a massive space. Without the benefit of video, the thousands of people on the field were left with no way to see the band perform. It didn't help that volume seemed to be low as well.

"Louder, louder, louder!" chanted the crowd in between songs.

Framework: Faces of Coachella 2010

But there was a certain magic to the lack of monitors. When you stare at the screen it's almost as if you are watching the band on TV instead of experiencing them live. The technical glitch allowed people to focus on the provocative sound of the stripped down, blues-fueled rock, which spilled across the field, leaving something for every imagination in its wake.

When the monitors sprang to life 20 minutes into the set, bringing guitarist-singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney into stark relief, the crowd cheered, but ironically the sudden closeness resulted in a loss of intimacy.

Images from the 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

"Everyone, it's Patrick's birthday," said Auerbach toward the end of the set. "He doesn't want us to sing happy birthday to him, but can we all just say it at once on the count of three?"

The audience obliged, and Carney's deep blush filled the screens for all to see.


Coachella 2011: The passions and problems of the Kings of Leon

Coachella 2011: Cold Cave tries to keep out the light; !!!'s eternal love for the cowbell

Coachella 2011: Cee Lo Green goes long, gets cut off (maybe during a cover of 'Don't Stop Believin')

-- Jessica Gelt


Coachella 2011: Cold War Kids command the magic hour

The best part of the day at Coachella comes at sundown, when the heat dwindles to a low simmer and everybody is bathed in creamy yellow light. And that's exactly when the Cold War Kids took to the Outdoor stage on Friday evening.

It was an auspicious set time for the scrappy quartet from Long Beach, which recently released its third album, "Mine Is Yours." And on a stage not long ago occupied by another local band made good, the Silversun Pickups, who played after Leonard Cohen a few years back.

"Sorry for those of you who had to not see Lauryn Hill," said lead singer Nathan Willett, displaying the humble sense of appreciation that would define the set. "But it's a compliment."

Images from the 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival

Behind him the horizon blushed silky pink by degrees until it faded to the palest blue. Soon a bright white moon materialized above the stage and a forgiving breeze swept across the field.

"This is such a beautiful thing right now, with the sun just going down at the beginning of the festival for you," said Willett. "It's a great memory, and a very special thing for us."

The giant monitors on either side of the stage displayed the view of the audience from the band's perspective, and it was easy to imagine the sense of awe that Willett felt staring at the sea of faces.


Coachella 2011: The passions and problems of the Kings of Leon

Coachella 2011: There's the Chemical Brothers -- but there's also a roller rink at the campground

Coachella 2011: Ready or not, Lauryn Hill commands the stage


-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Cold War Kids perform at Coachella Friday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2011: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti agitates the crowd

Ariel Pink
, his microphone apparently haunted by a lack of volume, stalked around the stage inside the Gobi tent Friday afternoon without a clear sense of purpose. He spent most of the set smoking cigarettes with his back to the audience, a la early Jim Morrison, only without the sinewy sexual charisma.

Wearing a see-through lace shirt, red sunglasses and a studded black belt, his shoulder-length blond hair tangled, Pink frustrated the crowd, and willingly so, it seemed. He's known for that, though.

He has said that his music -- dark, ethereal and lovely in a hypnotic, somber way -- was never meant to be performed live. But for all that, his backing band is skilled and made up for Pink's disaffected approach to his set.

Photos: Faces of Coachella 2011

At one point Pink left the stage, "I'm sorry -- I know you hate me now," he said before disappearing 15 minutes into the show.

"That's it? Are you serious?" said one fan as a confused grumble rose from the crowd. His band stood there for a while and then finally left to retrieve him. It didn't take long, and this time when he came out he appeared to make a bit more effort to interact with the audience, although his energy felt jittery and unbalanced.

Still, the late-afternoon foray into surreal, psych-tinged weirdness was worth it. What would Coachella be without a few deeply eccentric artists?

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafiti performs at Coachella. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2011: Cee Lo Green goes long, gets cut off (maybe during a cover of 'Don't Stop Believin'') [Updated]

Cee Lo Green started his main stage set late at Coachella on Friday evening. And he apparently played over his set time, because after he rocked his megahit " ... You" and launched into what sounded like a cover of "Don't Stop Believin'," his sound was suddenly cut at 5:40 p.m. What appeared at first to be a technical glitch turned out to be intentional. His band continued to play for a minute or so more but Cee Lo shook his head and walked off stage as the confused crowd dispersed.

"I know he went on late, but they should have at least let him finish his set," said a fan as she walked away.

-- Jessica Gelt

[Updated 6:47 p.m.: Gerrick Kennedy saw the entire Cee Lo set, and has this to add:

Showing up late to your own gig at Coachella only gets you so far. For Cee Lo, it got him nothing but grief.  

Restlessness and anger quickly spread through the swarm of fans that had convened to see the singer on the main stage Friday afternoon. With the heat pounding the crowd, it wasn’t long before profanity-laced queries of when he’d show started to ring out. And then came the boos. 

“If we’re coming to your show and you don’t even show I’m like ... you!,” a shirtless fan sang to the tune of Cee Lo's breakout hit. After nearly half an hour, and plenty of walkouts later -– Green arrived. 

“Sorry guys, I just landed. Y’all still gonna party with me? I only have 20 minutes,” Green said. “It ain’t my fault. They should have ... given me a better time slot.”

The statement got him nowhere, as people piled out and shot him single-fingered gestures. It was a drastically abbreviated set. He was able to tackle five songs, including hits “Crazy” and his signature tune, which took on a new meaning. 

“It’s all my fault. Blame me,” and then his sound was cut, leaving the audience -– and a confused band -– to attempt to finish what was thought to be an encore (a cover of Journey's “Don’t Stop Believin’”). Green exited the stage amid boos, clearly angry, as the band played on -- though no one could hear a note.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Cee Lo Green performs at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California. Credit: Brian Van Der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2011: Still drunk after all these years


By 4 p.m. Friday, the air surrounding the Coachella music festival already reeked of cheap beer. Topless brosephs with painted chests and women in bikini tops and barely there shorts have been pounding an abundance of Bud Light and Pabst in the parking lot.

Once you pass a certain point on the trek from your car to the security check you have to leave all liquids behind. As a result, a sense of desperation has taken hold and concertgoers try to get as drunk as possible before entering the festival.

Hey, paying for booze on site can be expensive ($7 for a Heineken, and $8 for a weak vodka soda -- not that I would know).

The discard piles at different checkpoints are growing into towering aluminum testaments to future sloppiness. But by far the best item spotted in the discard pile was an empty bottle of Glenfiddich Scotch.

I took the liberty of putting a tiny crown on it with Photoshop, as the determination and eagerness with which its owner or owners must have gone about emptying the bottle was positively royal.

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo illustration by Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times


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