Pop & Hiss

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Coachella 2009: Ghostland Observatory brings the noise

April 17, 2009 |  9:42 pm


If Rage Against the Machine mated with the Spice Girls, you'd get Ghostland Observatory. At once psychotic roids rock and skip-to-my-lou cheese-coated pop, the Texas duo smashed and bopped their way through a 50-minute set in the Sahara tent on Friday night, leaving the sweat-stained crowd exhausted and exhilarated.

Clad in his signature white cape embroidered with a gaudy purple cross, drummer and '80s-simple synth-master Thomas Ross Turner nodded his head to his Spy vs. Spy beats, which creep up on you in a stealthy way until they hammer you over the head with their redundant magic. Braided singer Aaron Kyle Bherens preened and pranced across the stage in his skinny jeans and "Risky Business" sunglasses, occasionally putting his foot up on the monitors and leaning into the flash and spin of the twisting crowd. You can never really understand what he's saying, but you get the idea that it's intense. After one tune he arched cat-like into a series of slow-motion Bruce Lee-like moves and the crowd howled.

The light show in the tent consisted of spiky, streaming bursts of spaghetti-thin purple and white flash that were enough to send anyone into outer space.

When the show was over, I felt a bit like I had gone to see an animatronic "Phantom of the Opera" at Chuck E. Cheese, and that was just fine by me.

--Jessica Gelt

Photo by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times