Thursday, April 25, 2013

Coachella 2013: Day 3 highlights from Three O'Clock, Dinosaur Jr., OMD, Dead Can Dance and more

My coverage of the third and final day of Coachella Weekend 2 originally ran on The Orange County Register Web site on Monday, April 22, 2013.

Sun sets on the final day of Coachella 2013. Photo: Robert Kinsler

Sunday (April 21, 2013) may be the day when even the most seasoned Coachella-goers run on fumes, especially with temps reaching into the mid-90s. But the force of several strong performances left me thinking: "If the music is this good, keep it coming."
At the start of the final rundown, about half past noon, Little Green Cars appeared in the Gobi tent for a seven-song set pitched somewhere amid the alt-folk of the Lumineers, the Civil Wars and Dawes. The Dublin quintet spun lush harmonies, showed off two gifted lead singers and mixed up complementary clean and distorted guitars in a way that made both sound necessary. The group ended its 30-minute run with "The John Wayne," a heartfelt tale of unrequited love wrapped in rich vocals.
Louis Gutierrez, left, and Michael Querico. Photo: Robert Kinsler
When I first heard earlier this year that the Three O'Clock would reunite for this Coachella, I wondered if it was the same band I used to see at area clubs in the early '80s. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and there I was watching almost the original quartet serving up its stew of '60s greats like the Zombies, the Byrds and mid-era Beatles.
Led by singer-bassist Michael Querico and guitarist Louis Gutierrez, the band's fast-paced set included classics such as "Simon in the Park (With Tentacles)," a brilliant version of "Jet Fighter," even a hard take on Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam," something they shined with during their warm-up a couple weeks ago at the Glass House in Pomona. The songs were always more than they appeared, with punchy bass solos, evocative keyboards, sometimes 12-string Rickerbacker jangle and distinctive drum patterns all part of the attack.
A young twentysomething woman next to me noted that she had flown all the way from Japan just to see the group. Indeed, the Three O'Clock's return will be one of the things I'll remember most about Coachella 2013. Let's hope this is a reunion that sticks.
That bunch was the first of several veteran acts that turned in strong, well-received sets in Indio on Sunday. Performing on the Outdoor Theatre stage, legendary trio Dinosaur Jr. (boasting its original lineup of singer-guitarist J Mascis, bassist-singer Lou Barlow and drummer Murph), used its 50-minute allotment to blast through a set of mostly originals steeped in chainsaw guitar, feedback and distortion. They also toss in a reworking of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven," Mascis delivering Robert Smith's distinctive guitar lines with fluid bursts of staccato notes.
I then ran over to the main stage where O.C.'s own Social Distortion was just getting started.
There was little doubt leader Mike Ness, who noted how much better the crowd was this time, recognized the significance of this second chance at a lasting Coachella performance. He and his band turned in a set of best-known songs designed to impress even those positioned at the furthest reaches of the Empire Polo Club.
Opening with "Reach for the Sky," then diving into the crunchy "Bad Luck," the quartet's nine-song appearance ended with their long-loved and rocked-out version of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire," with a good-sized mosh pit breaking out, bringing a bit of Hootenanny to Indio.
Watching the crowd pack into the Gobi tent to watch Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) was an amazing sight. Here's a forebear that couldn't be more relevant to today's electro-pop scene, a New Wave fixture whose groundbreaking sound was no longer in fashion by the late '80s, yet who has proven how impossible it is to keep a good band down.
Singer-bassist Andy McCluskey was a ball of energy as he led his three bandmates and the party-minded multi-generational gathering of fans through the British troupe's classics as well as cuts from recent releaseEnglish Electric. The audience ate up the propulsive glee of "Enola Gay" and was caught up in the group's new single, "Metroland," but by the time OMD closed with "Secret" and the fast-paced "Electricity," I could actually feel the ground moving below my feet from thousands dancing frantically.
Lisa Gerrard, left, with Brendan Perry. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Mojave hosted one of the final performances of the fest, from genre-defying Dead Can Dance. Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard led an ensemble of four other musicians through an hour-long set of songs that blended world music, gothic rock and neoclassical together with trademark mystique. Perry's mighty baritone is as forceful as Gerrard's soaring soprano, and both took turns on lead vocals over the course of eight selections.
"Children of the Sun" opened with a range of percussion and keyboards used to cast a vast soundscape around Perry's delivery, while Middle Eastern sounds later graced "Agape," with Gerrard's voice in full flight. DCD's set ended with the wonderful "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove," the outfit's stirring atmospherics providing an otherworldly backdrop to Perry's resonate vocals.

No comments: