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Coachella 2009 Day 2: Gang Gang Dance and the anatomy of trance

April 19, 2009 |  8:00 am

Ganggang Dressed in shiny black leather stiletto ankle boots, black skinny jeans and a loose black 2004 Missy Elliott/Beyoncé tour T-shirt, Lizzi Bougatsos howled with abandon, banged on roto toms and flipped her long, dusky hair through the heat-baked late night air during Gang Gang Dance's headlining set in the Gobi tent Saturday night.

At once feral and coquettishly giggly, Bougatsos seems like the kind of girl you might dance with to Electric Light Orchestra in your living room after a long night of bar hopping with friends. The rest of the band, clad in what resembled early OP-inspired surfer gear, kept the beats, buzzing guitar riffs and synth overloads coming strong and steady, but it was Bougatsos who stole the show.

Her trippy persona, high voice, spaced out vibe and oblique onstage banter throw her in the mix with a number of other female performers at this year's festival, most notably M.I.A. and Ida No of Glass Candy, whose moody, dry humor and loopy verve have rained like an erratic but refreshing storm over Coachella's willing audiences for much of the weekend.

Gang Gang's music is driven by a repetitive electronica that both numbs you and primes you for more of the same. A sonic weirdness pervades, creating an almost airy confusion. Call it "atmospherica." The beats beg a question, but an answer never arrives. Perhaps the query itself is too vague.

Toward the end of the set, Bougatsos announced: "On another note, together we're going to go to the Caribbean." Almost immediately, a twisted brand of adult contemporary-esque steel drum beat began clinking with not quite demonic undertones. This is not your rich uncle's Caribbean. Rather, it's evocative of the angsty beach scene in "Cocktail," when an exotic Siren entices Tom Cruise to cheat on Elisabeth Shue, and the night is full of foreboding. Don't do it, Tom!

And then Gang Gang does.

Post and photo by Jessica Gelt