By Amrit Singh & Brandon Stosuy
Well, this was the best Saturday we’ve had in awhile. We started the day with an afternoon set by SM & the Jicks. Malkmus, properly protected from the UV rays in his shades, outback hat, and long-sleeved shirt rolled-up just so, tempered the heat with his as-usual funny between-song banter: “M.I.A. says hi,” “I’ll get Jack Johnson on your ass…,” etc. At one point, commenting on the temperature, comparing April in Indio to July in Stockton (Mike Clark chimed in that it was like Portland in 20 years), he rattled into an a cappella chorusing of “Black Hole Sun” before noting “If I had that song, I’d be there,” (i.e. the main stage). “But I don’t, so I’m here,” (i.e. not the main stage). That’s right, bitch. And the music? They sounded great and noisy, focusing on Real Emotional Trash: “Dragonfly Pie,” “Elmo Delmo,” “Hopscotch Willie,” “Cold Sun,” “Gardenia,” “We Can’t Help You,” etc. Sorry, “Range Life” requester guy — maybe some other time.
After Malkmus we headed to that aforementioned Main Stage to see Death Cab’s Narrow Stairs stuff live. As someone in the audience noted the moment the band made their way onto stage: “Ben, you’ve lost weight!” Also, he lost the glasses. And bassist Nick Harmer gained the ability to look exactly like Zach Galifianakis…
Also, he rocks out like he’s in TheDeathSet, not Death Cab. We applaud the effort. DCFC started with new LP opening cut “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” later playing “I Will Possess Your Heart” (complete with four minute intro), “The New Year,” “Soul Meets Body,” and of course, “Why You’d Want To Live Here.” We’re near L.A., after all.
Kraftwerk followed Ben & Co. on the main stage. Where Death Cab moves around a lot, the seminal Düsseldorfers don’t. At all. But the flickering images behind them do — we learned to count in German and brushed up on our basic German vocab. We also had a fun time trying to remember every song that’s sampled “Trans Europe Express” (yo, Afrika Bambaataa), “Autobahn,” “Man Machine,” etc. Their laptops sounded great, but unless you like watching old German men standing and tapping buttons, the real draw here, and what separates it from listening to Kraftwerk records at home, is the giant track-specific visual accompaniment that shifted across huge screens for each track: You got architectural models, stenciled-looking words (“maschine,” “machine,” “ding,” “human being,” etc), lots of red and black. The crowd was definitely into it, various folks breaking off into different dance circles. Überragend.
Of course, Prince inspires a different sort of booty shaking. Unfortunately, for the first part of the Purple One’s set we were next to a fucked up speaker … or a failed attempt at surround sound, or some strange kind of delay that made the drums ricochet in such a way that we now know what Prince would sound like as a noise band. A raucous “Glamorous Life” Sheila E. drum solo actually came off like Lightning Bolt in this set-up. The sound was so bad for a while that we were curious how people could be getting into it — we took a straw poll of the folks around us — and then 20 feet to the left, and 50 feet to the right — and as one shirtless drunken guy let us know: “I’m no sound expert, but that’s fucked up.” Agreed. We were surprised that instead of talking about the shredding version of “Jungle Love” or “1999,” we were making like Steve Albini and talking sound. So we moved again, past David Hasselhoff (for real), finally locating a sweet spot in time for “Little Red Corvette.” It was difficult recovering from the let-down of the early-set sound woes, but then, Prince covering Radiohead has a way of making you forget. When YouTube of his “Creep” surfaces, it shall be yours. Oh, and Portishead? Epic. More on that in a sec. For now enjoy the pic platter.
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
[Photos by Amrit. Sorry gang, no photo pit for Prince. But as you can see, he's sexy from any distance.]