Yuck’s brand of sludgy rock may not have been the ideal listening in the 100+ degree heat, as the crowd may not have been willing to invest the energy into their peppy sound and the band themselves seemed a little slovenly onstage (it didn’t help that Daniel Blumberg was dressed in a denim jacket and jeans). However, their slower songs such as “Shook Down” floated nicely on the breeze, and the irresistible crunch of “Get Away” certainly started to loosen everyone’s joints and get them moving. If they had opted for “Operation” over one of the b-sides they played, things may have become even more lively, but nevertheless by the time they closed with the colossal “Rubber” bassist Mariko Doi could be seen hopping up and down on the spot while the two guitarists shook their instruments violently to attain the desired feedback, a nice moment of festival excitement prevailing despite the conditions.
Despite Alan Polomo wearing all black and even more layers than any of Yuck, he and his band managed to put on an extremely energetic show in the desert heat. The meshing of several textures of electronic bleeps, creating some colourful sounds which would have enthralled any members of the audience that happened to be celebrating 4/20 (a lot, by my guess). The cheer that heralded the opening notes of “Hex Girlfriend” indicated that a lot of people had been awaiting its arrival, and the performance did not disappoint; the inarguably catchy synth line infusing energy into everyone in the audience. Despite their time being up, Palomo insisted on overrunning in order to fit in “Deadbeat Summer,” which he believed would be the perfect song in these conditions – and he was absolutely right. An impressive end to an enlightening mid-afternoon set.
At the start of their set, it seemed like Death Grips’ music was exactly not what was desired at a music festival. This had nothing to do with the band’s performance, as each individual’s charisma was clear to see, particularly MC Ride as he prowled the stage, spitting aggressively and throwing his arms and down with the harsh beats being produced by his bandmates. But, the mix was messy and songs like “Guillotine,” dropped early in the set, seemed more like the type of music that resides in dingy back alleys, not bright festival arenas. However, when the band pulled out two giant inflatable pills to bounce around the crowd the atmosphere started to shift to a more lighthearted one. The band then played some of their more synth-infused tracks and the melodies cutting through the dirge certainly lifted the atmosphere to a more fun one. “The Fever (Aye Aye)” and “I’ve Seen Footage” were obvious highlights, and the overall performance undoubtedly will have left an impression on everyone in attendance – I’m not sure they would have all been positive though.
Arctic Monkeys’ confidence as performers has skyrocketed as late, and this is ideal in a festival atmosphere, as they’re not concerned necessarily with promoting their latest release and are more interested in performing as energetically as they can. This meant an opening salvo that included “Brianstorm,” “This House Is A Circus” and “Still Take You Home,” which had the crowd not only bouncing but singing along maniacally. This newfound aplomb brings with it a lot of laughs from the band stopping and starting their songs at will, Alex Turner bantering with the audience, and the members playing up to the cameras. The good humor of the band infected the audience easily and huge sing-alongs ensued for “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” and “Fluorescent Adolescent.” But the highlight of the set was the surprising ace that Arctic Monkeys had up their sleeves for the finale; rather than play an old favourite they played their new single “R U Mine?” and the song’s colossal chorus and guitar fireworks finished off the set in a monstrous fashion.
It’s somewhat amazing that someone as outspoken, flamboyant and ubiquitous as Pulp’s singer Jarvis Cocker is not more divisive – everyone seems to love him. This has a lot to do with his on stage persona, which teeters between lunatic vagabond and poet laureate as he dashes around the stage leaping up on the speaker stacks dramatically and spouting his humor laden lyrics without missing a word. Of course Jarvis is the focal point of the performance, but he would be nothing without the band backing him up. Whether it was the pumping “Disco 2000,” the playful “Babies,” or the bombastic “This Is Hardcore,” they were always on point and combining this with their dazzling lights they sounded and looked as fresh as they would have done in their prime (and who’s to say this isn’t their prime?). Jarvis was also keen to get the crowd involved whether by using his toy camera to project faces onto the screen or leading the crowd in sing alongs of “Underwear” and “Common People.” That latter song was the finale, and as predictable as it was, and as many times as we’ve all heard that song, the moment unified everyone in a singing and dancing frenzy that capped off a tour-de-force of a performance that will be talked about for years to come.
Mazzy Star were the perfect come down after the sugar rush that was Pulp. Even though a large portion of the audience was laying down, it wasn’t that they weren’t paying attention, it just seemed that Mazzy Star had cast a spell over the audience. There was a calm in the air as the band delivered ther imperious dream pop and everyone seemed to respect it’s beauty – even the conversations amongst audience members seemed more hushed than usual. The band’s sound may have been calming but it was also large enough to fill the space and warm everyone in attendance.
The Black Keys
While The Black Keys headlined the main stage, another band was getting a headliner-like reception way over on the Mojave Tent. Anthony Gonzalez’s M83 have exploded in terms of popularity over the last year, and although “Midnight City” is certainly the song that everyone was waiting for, the reception that all the songs leading up to it received proved that they are a band truly on their way up. There were several times during their performance when it felt as if the whole tent might blast off into space; the band’s humongous sound skyrocketing out of the speakers combined with a thrilling light show made it seem like we were all approaching warp speed together. The wordless chanting along with the chorus of “Reunion” felt spiritual, the unified singing in “We Own The Sky” felt like a moment of collective heavenward ascendance, while “Steve McQueen” was a colourful aural thrill ride. As for “Midnight City” itself, well that just felt like a good old part – Earth style. The band finished with “Couleurs” which turned the whole place into a rave and capped off a performance that was truly headliner-worthy. Let’s hope the band can keep up the momentum they have currently and eventually reach that peak.