Photos: Photos from the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
Photos: Blur performs at Coachella
Photos: The Stone Roses Perform at Coachella
Special Section: Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
INDIO – The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival headliners of Blur, The Stone Roses and How to Destroy Angels were each disappointing in their own way Friday night.Blur, the innovative London alternative rock and Brit pop band, drew a clearly smaller than probably expected crowd to the main Coachella stage when they hit the stage at 10 p.m. Friday night. There was plenty of room for fans to sit down and take a break before the performance, which is a rarity for a Coachella main stage headliner.
But audience members ran to the group’s set when Blur performed the uptempo “Boys & Girls” but the rest of the set lost steam with slower tracks or the group’s overall lack of charisma despite the antics of lead singer Damon Albarn, with eyes that looked red and facial expressions went from dazed to crazed when as he performed.
The group performed “There’s No Other Way,” “Country House,” “Tracy Jacks,” “Beetlebum,” “Out of Time” and “Coffee & TV” among others but fans kept noticably leaving despite the elaborate light show and core group of fans who knew all of the songs line for line.
Perhaps if the set started with a different song to lessen expectations or the song selection was a bit different but things didn’t flow well after a great starting song so I left after awhile to see the reunion of Los Angeles hip-hop group Jurassic 5 on the adjacent stage.
Meanwhile, English alternative rock band The Stone Roses were even worse than Blur on the main stage in terms of lack of audience. If you wanted, you could go up near the front of the stage to see The Stone Roses because the crowd was that small.
Vocalist Ian Brown is not a great singer and that was more than evident Friday night with his performances on songs like “I Wanna Be Adored,” Sally Cinnamon” and “Ten Storey Love Song” so I left the set early. The Stone Roses’ band sounded great for the most part but their overall performance of vocals and instrumentals was not coming together so I left to catch “How to Destroy Angels.”
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor’s How to Destroy Angels started off promising with a set that featured the band behind a screen which was great for fans but obviously bad for photographers because you could not see the group’s faces.
Group members could not be seen, in a creative way, as computer images would change the outfits and look of the band in time to the brooding music.
But after the computer tricks, a band comes down to music and experimental and industrial act How to Destroy Angels was unremarkable.
Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandig, who previously was a vocalist for West Indian Girl, was the primary vocalist and her higher-pitched sound did not really fit the darker music. Reznor would also sing at times but his heavier style and Maandig’s clash in a negative “which member do I listen to” way.
The best example of this is “And The Sky Began to Scream” where Maandig sings “Worn the skin off both my knees/Waited oh so patiently” and the song on Friday ended with Reznor’s “I will, tear it down, to the ground, and build another one” and the screen in front of the band then was briefly opened.
Outside of the visual, which looked really good, the lyrics just came off as awkward because Maandig and Reznor didn’t seem to connect vocally and the end point was a plastic looking screen opening. Additionally, the Mojave Tent where the group performed had plenty of space to watch the group.
The instrumentals also made me wonder what Reznor could do on his own outside the group dynamic because there are some great instrumentals which would fit him perfectly but others just seem made for Maandig and her voice.