Aimee Mann : Ice T :: Tupac : Biggie?
The “hot” modifier seems especially mean and gratuitous. Mann spent her next few Tweets backpedaling,concluding with, “He’s out there doing his job. He doesn’t need any heckling from the peanut gallery. So, I am sorry, Mr. T! You get out there and DO IT!” In the original Tweet, Mann was likely referring to a late-night episode of Law and Order: SVU, since it’s on TV at any given hour, on one network or another. Ice-T’s been on the show since 2000, but he also put in pretty good performances in New Jack City and (especially) Tank Girl.
Yes, it's the greatest music festival in the world
The lesson to take away from Coachella 2010: Side projects are the new headliners. Also: Bobby Womack is a weird dude.
Three of the weekend's most spectacular sets came from offshoot bands: Saturday it was the Dead Weather, featuring, among others, Jack White of the White Stripes and Alison Mosshart of the Kills on the Outdoor Theater stage and, on the main stage, Them Crooked Vultures, comprising John Paul Jones of Led Zep, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age.
They weren't official headliners, but Sunday belonged to Atoms for Peace, Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke's brand-new solo project. Yorke and crew—including Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea—played a late evening set on the Outdoor Theater stage to an enormous crowd, most of whom hung on every note of ever song from Yorke's 2006 solo album The Eraser. With this new quartet, Yorke has filled in the blank spaces that made The Eraser such a willfully distant, bleak affair—while fully clothed and all but leashed to his spot on the stage, Flea still flogged his bass with his trademark rubber-slap style, boinging spastically behind Yorke's guitar and trebly vocals. Minimalist laptop songs were racheted into emo-funk dancefloor candy and dubbed-out space jams; the crowd, even as far back as a quarter mile from the stage, spun madly. (Special note to prospective Coachella attendees: Due to impossibly large crowds, you probably won't actually see the bands you can to see, but you will hear them. Sound production here is top notch.) Yorke encored by himself and an acoustic guitar with a couple Radiohead tunes: a beautiful "Airbag" and the always-eerie "Everything in Its Right Place." The performance was a reinvention, Atoms for Peace a revelation: Even after 15 years as frontman of the world's most important band, there's much about Yorke we don't know.
Equally inscrutable was Gorillaz festival-closing slot on the main stage. These guys, too, could be considered a side project, albeit a more loosely-knit, intermittent one: Masterminded by Damon Albarn of the defunct Britpop band Blur, Gorillaz have released three albums of sci-fi pop, funk-rock, and instrumental hop-hop, each one featuring a cornucopia of special guests. Their most recent is Plastic Beach, and songs from that record dominated their performance. In a strange way: cameo performances from Snoop and Del the Funky Homosapien were pre-recorded, or merely played from the album, begging the question, what the hell is Del the Funky Homosapien doing on a Sunday night that he couldn't make it to Coachella for what would've been the biggest show of his life? "Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach" and "Clint Eastwood"—Snoop and Del's respective Gorillaz tracks—went down strangely thanks to the replacement of the lead vocalists with video projections.
The band itself was real enough. For previous shows, Albarn et al were concealed behind curtains while animated avatars were projected in their stead. At Coachella, each musician was clearly visible on stage and the animation was beamed onto IMAX-sized backdrop screens. Like Die Antwoord (see yesterday's review), this animated visual aspect is critical to the band's mystique. With Sunday guest appearances by De La Soul and members of the Clash, it seems Albarn is bringing his cartoon band into the real world. He let '70s soul singer Bobby Womack—seated, disheveled in black baseball cap and sweatshirt—close the entire festival with "Cloud of Unknowing" while Naval air disaster footage rolled behind him. Gorillaz post-apocalyptic Toontown aesthetic was a strange way to end the festival, and this tune, which closes Plastic Beach, was stranger still.
As was the fact that Pavement was one of the most rockingest bands at Coachella. Reunited for the first time in ten years, the indie-rock pioneers were unafraid to tear through their catalog, led by solo-happy slacker demigod Stephen Malkmus. Fans—far fewer than expected at the main stage pre-headlining slot—were overjoyed that the band was doing its thing; the band was in champion form for tracks like "Frontwards," "Shady Lane" and "Stereo."
Coachella's other indie-rock elders, Yo La Tengo, turned in an engaging, adventurous set on the main stage earlier in the day that included fan favorite/one of the best indie rock songs ever "Autumn Sweater." Thematically inappropriate on a 90-degree Coachella day but sonically delicious.
French phenoms Phoenix were the lucky recipients of a choice time slot, Sunday evening's sunset set. Though members of their technical crew were missing due to the Icelandic volcano, the band slayed the Outdoor Stage crowd with typical verve. "I can't see the back of this," singer Thomas Mars said of the crowd. "I can't see the end." Fittingly, the back of the crowd couldn't see him either. Despite the distance, songs like "Consolation Prize" flaunted the band's classic rock roots as much as their penchant for slick, shiny pop.
A note on the Sly Stone performance: He showed up five hours late. By that time giving him the honor of attending his set felt like enabling. At Coachella, there's too much other stuff, world-class stuff, going on to permit any dallying.
Legendary MC succumbs to cancer
Legendary Gangstarr artist Guru has succumbed to cancer after a lengthy bout with the disease.
The artist, born Keith Elam, died on Monday April 19. He was 43 years old.
Solar, Guru's partner, expressed sadness over the loss.
"The world has lost one of the best MCs and Hip-Hop icons of all-time -- my loyal best friend, partner, and brother, Guru," Solar said in a statement. "Guru has been battling cancer for well over a year and has lost his battle! This is a matter that Guru wanted private until he could beat it, but tragically, this did not happen. The cancer took him. Now the world has lost a great man and a true genius.
Guru, a Boston native, rose to fame in the 80's as one half of Gangstarr, the iconic rap group with DJ Premier.
The group released six highly regarded albums in their tenure until 2003 when they broke up. After his successful run with Premier, Guru founded 7 Grand Records with producer Solar.
Solar went on to tend to the rapper as he fell ill, seemingly controlling the flow of information and access to Guru. Many of his family members complained that they were denied their right to see him.
Solar also said that Guru wrote a letter to fans and sent it out through a press agency.
"For the fans that reached out with love and support, I can't tell you how much that meant to Guru and myself. Guru prepared this letter (read below) while he was in the hospital for the fans," the producer continued. "I hope now that Guru has moved on to a better place."
In the letter, seen below, the rapper explains his illness, expresses gratitude to supporters and offers some parting words for DJ Premiere.
I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.
I have a non-profit organization called Each One Counts dedicated to carrying on my charitable work on behalf of abused and disadvantaged children from around the world and also to educate and research a cure for this terrible disease that took my life. I write this with tears in my eyes, not of sorrow but of joy for what a wonderful life I have enjoyed and how many great people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
My loyal best friend, partner and brother, Solar, has been at my side through it all and has been made my health proxy by myself on all matters relating to myself. He has been with me by my side on my many hospital stays, operations, doctors visits and stayed with me at my home and cared for me when I could not care for myself. Solar and his family is my family and I love them dearly and I expect my family, friends, and fans to respect that, regardless to anybody's feelings on the matter. It is my wish that counts. This being said I am survived by the love of my life, my sun KC, who I trust will be looked after by Solar and his family as their own. Any awards or tributes should be accepted, organized approved by Solar on behalf myself and my son until he is of age to except on his own.
I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. connected in anyway to my situation including any use of my name or circumstance for any reason and I have instructed my lawyers to enforce this. I had nothing to do with him in life for over 7 years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ. As the sole founder of GangStarr, I am very proud of what GangStarr has meant to the music world and fans. I equally am proud of my Jazzmatazz series and as the father of Hip-Hop/Jazz. I am most proud of my leadership and pioneering efforts on Jazzmatazz 4 for reinvigorating the Hip-Hop/Jazz genre in a time when music quality has reached an all time low. Solar and I have toured in places that I have never been before with GangStarr or Jazzmatatazz and we gained a reputation for being the best on the planet at Hip-Hop/Jazz, as well as the biggest and most influential Hip-Hop/Jazz record with Jazzmatazz 4 of the decade to now. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time. And we as a team were not afraid to push the envelope. To me this is what true artists do! As men of honor we stood tall in the face of small mindedness, greed, and ignorance. As we fought for music and integrity at the cost of not earning millions and for this I will always be happy and proud, and would like to thank the million fans who have seen us perform over the years from all over the world. The work I have done with Solar represents a legacy far beyond its time and is my most creative and experimental to date. I hope that our music will receive the attention it deserves as it is some of the best work I have done and represents some of the best years of my life.
Coachella Day 2 Highlights
Muse was Saturday night's main stage headliner; the UK trio flaunted the sort of big-budget pyrotechnics unseen at Coachella since Roger Waters' 2008 festival appearance. The connection was apt: Muse played classic rock--big, dumb, dramatic, proggy, more akin to flamboyants like Styx and Queen than Pink Floyd--updated by vague post-millennial paranoia and lit up with eyeball-searing stage production. Despite the sinister overtones, musically it all felt safe and familiar, though presented with such flash and grandeur that it was impossible to remain unimpressed. During "Black Holes and Revelations," as a shower of white sparks rained down behind the band, Muse proved themselves the pop music version of a Michael Bay film.
Meanwhile, at the same time in the faraway Sahara Tent, Die Antwoord was presenting their musical version of a David Lynch film. The South African hip-hop trio—upstart subjects of 2010's most vigorous blog hype—were added to the Coachella lineup just a week ago and made the most of their miniscule 20-minute set. It opened with the visage of Leon Botha, a progeria victim and spiritual advisor to the band, projected weird and larger than life as the band took the stage in their trademark graffiti-streaked jumpsuits. "Enter the Ninja," their techno-soul mission statement, was a coming out party for lead MC Ninja, helium-voiced singer Yo-Landi Visser, and DJ Hi-Tech. "This is the coolest fucking concert I've ever seen in my whole life," Ninja rapped, changing the song's lyrics to reflect the setting. By the end of the set, Ninja was stripped down to his Dark Side of the Moon boxers and Visser almost bursting out of her skin-tight silvery tube top.
As main stage pre-headliners, the reunited Faith No More sounded, in the best possible way, like1992. The band has been on hold for over a decade but was in fierce, fighting form at Coachella. Singer Mike Patton, hair slicked back, dressed in a pressed red jumpsuit that matched the IMAX-screen-sized red velvet curtain behind the band, struck arm-outstretched poses like an Italian opera divo, snarling and crooning through the band's extensive catalog. His mercurial voice was ballasted by FNM's towering low-end rhythm section of bassist Billy Gould and drummer Mike Bordin. "Midlife Crisis"—with a quick interlude of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke"—and "The Real Thing"—the band's MTV-boosted, 1989 hit—were flashbacks to the alt-rock heyday, angsty, punchy, peak-energy jams that had the massive, adoring singing along word for word.
During their sunset set at the Outdoor Theater Stage, MGMT leaned on songs from their just-released Congratulations, guitar-heavy pscyh-rock that afforded the band plenty of space to stretch out. "The cool thing about Coachella is that there's a lot of cool bands here, and they all signed my pants," said singer Andrew VanWyngarden. "I wish you could all sign my pants." Though new material like "Song for Dan Treacy" and "Flash Delirium" sounded wonderfully textured and interwoven, the biggest crowd response came for tracks from their 2008 breakout Oracular Spectacular—"Kids" and "Time to Pretend."
Afterwards, the Dead Weather—a supergroup side-project helmed by the Kills singer Alison Mosshart and featuring Jack White of the White Stripes on drums—played an intensely smoldering set of old songs and new ones from Sea of Cowards, their sophomore album, out this May. The music mostly adhered to the Jack White/White Stripes blues-rock prototype, beholden to Led Zeppelin. The stark, slinky mood was ruffled when Dutch trance DJ Tiesto fired up on the main stage with his volume turned up to 111. For the rest of their set the Dead Weather battled Tiesto's techno.
Best band at Coachella not on the main stage: Gossip. The Portland trio attracted a huge, dedicated following to the Gobi Tent and delivered a sweat-drenched set of soul punk and high-energy disco. This is a group treated like royalty in the UK but underappreciated in the US; hopefully powerhouse performances like Saturday's will change that. And celebrity endorsement should help: In attendance were film director John Waters and LCD Soundsystem bandleader James Murphy, who came onstage to play cowbell during a cover of Grace Jones' "Pull Up the Bumper."
Earlier in the day, a shockingly sparse crowd turned up at the Mojave Tent for the Dirty Projectors. Despite the heaps of accolades and best-of's the Brooklyn band has won, they seem at the wane of their hype cycle. Bandleader David Longstreth unveiled several new songs, but his intricately composed numbers seemed lost on a crowd already confused by heat and festival hysteria.
Miley canceled, Westerberg talks Townshend, and Brian May has some badger worries
The eruption of the volcano in Iceland has disrupted thousands of flights, cost millions of dollars and has no end in sight. The upside: It saved London from Miley Cyrus.
Miley Cyrus: London's not calling.
Billy Joe Armstrong and Paul Westerbergtalk about meeting their heroes. Westerberg:"I rode an elevator with Pete Townshend once, and I couldn't even muster a word. Not hello, couldn't meet his eye."
Another one bites the dust, and that’s just unacceptable, says former Queen guitarist Brian May, known these days as a “badger activist” working with the Badger Trust in England.
Finally, rock 'n' roll jobs explained: "Getting into catering gave me an excuse to sneak around backstage. I've had all the strange demands. Van Halen wanted M&Ms minus the brown ones, and 'Coney Island Whitefish,' which I discovered meant condoms."
Coachella 2010 is debauchery in the desert
This is the exalted status of
Coachella: Not only does Jay-Z perform the first headlining slot of the festival
with a 10-piece band, but he enlists a cameo from his old lady, pop goddess Beyonce
Knowles, to go out with a
short-shortsed, chestnut-tressed bang.
Signs suggest this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which began yesterday near Palm Springs, CA, and runs til tomorrow, is the biggest in the fest's 10-year history. It's completely sold out for the first time, meaning an estimated 75,000 three-day tickets are gone, and thousands of ticketless fans were left stranded outside the gates.
Yesterday, those inside were treated to an endless parade of flesh and music. Defying desert heat and good sense, sweaty-browed dance parties of barely-dressed revelers broke out throughout the day, starting with MSN-favorites the Avett Brothers at 3 pm. Playing on the sun-drenched Outdoor Theater stage, the banjo-smashing, bluegrass rocking North Carolinians worked through technical problems to belt out old favorite "Colorshow" with the aid of a new drummer and delved into last year's brilliant I and Love and You for "Laundry Room," "Slight Figure of Speech," and the gorgeous title track, which ended with brothers Scott and Seth Avett humbly leading the crowd in a heartfelt singalong: "I and love and you."
Brooklyn band Yeasayer, one of festival's most anticipated acts, delivered note-for-note renditions of would-be anthems from their new album, Odd Blood. In this setting—Mojave Tent, broad daylight, thousands of dancing fans—Yeasayer's lineage between Pink Floyd and Duran Duran was firmly established. Tracks from Odd Blood like "O.N.E." and "Ambling Alp" were beholden to both woolly psychedelia and synthetic, polished pop. Along with MGMT (who plays today), Yeasayer is probably most representative of indie rock's playfully trippy zeitgeist, which is exactly what Coachella is made of.
On the fringe of that DayGlo party vibe is Portland electro-soul quartet Hockey, who played to a small but exuberant crowd in the Gobi Tent. Microhits like "Song Away" and "Too Fake" brought out the Motowner in lead singer Benjamin Grubin.
The antithesis? Gil Scott-Heron's dirge-like soul-blues. The iconic spoken-word poet and musician's gravitas was like a hammer over the head of Coachella's party-minded attendees. The song "Work for Peace," with its repeated mantra "You gotta go to work," felt out of place surrounded by the indulgence and narcissism of the rest of Coachella, which was probably why his set at the Gobi Tent was sadly under-attended.
The more inspired contrarian was John Lydon of Public Image Ltd. PiL's 11 pm Outdoor Theater stage set was directly up against Jay-Z, but both Lydon and his small but devoted audience were consumed by PiL's industrial dance pop. Lydon is touring with PiL for the first time in 18 years with all new members save guitarist Lu Edmonds, but Lydon, spiky haired and odd-looking as ever, will forever be a profound agitator. His extended version of "Warrior" spiked the punch with a little bitterness, an anti-capitalist sneer in the face of Jay-Z's showboating.
The Outdoor Stage also hosted UK goth rockers Echo & the Bunnymen, whose version of "Roadhouse Blues" sounded like Neil Diamond doing the Doors, and, as Jay-Z's tee time approached on the main stage, Vampire Weekend, whose breezy, worldly indie pop and new material ("Cousins," "Run") sounded far more substantial than the Brooklyn band's 2008 Coachella set.
Prior to the Jay-Z show on the main stage were Street Sweeper Social Club, the Specials, and LCD Soundsystem.
Street Sweeper is the unfortunate rap-rock side project of former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Boots Riley, MC of Bay Area political-rap crew the Coup. Each of their originals sounds like a rehash of Rage's "Killing in the Name Of"; maybe that's why they, thanfully, played some choice covers: MIA's "Paper Planes" and a guitartastic version of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."
Pioneering UK ska band the Specials played their first US show since 1981 with almost all of their original members. With a huge, horn driven sound, they blew through "Monkey Man," their cover of the Toots and the Maytals classic, and a slew of other influential tunes which sounded just right as the sun set and a cool breeze took over the polo fields.
LCD Soundsystem was the first
main stage act to fully live up to their hype, with lead singer James Murphy playing the ubercool ringmaster of his
loose-but-tight punk-funk dance band. "Drunk Girls," a wry ode from
the band's upcoming This Is Happening,
was especially apt. There's no better place than a massive music festival to
hear their sentimental favorite "All My Friends," and, underneath a
room-sized disco ball brought out above the stage, "New York I Love You,"
a bittersweet ballad that had the crowd crooning along.
And then, starting at 11, there was his Hovaness. Jay-Z arrived on the mainstage from underneath, elevated by a hydraulic lift so that he rose and appeared full-form from within the stage itself. Backed by the ten-piece Roc Boys band, including horns, percussion, guitar, and rhythm section, he dove straight into "Run This Town," his pre-emptive strike at total festival domination. From there, dressed in black jeans, t-shirt, and shades, he ran through a 90-minute set of hits old and new, tweaking tunes to maximize their rocking-ness—a heavy-metal "99 Problems" ("Instead of turning it up to ten, we're gonna turn it up to 99," he said by way of intro) a Doors-sampling "Takeover," an extended, sampled singalong of Oasis' "Wonderwall," and an MIA-nod with "Swagger Like Us." Live-band hip-hop is a risky move, and though the songs didn't bang with 808 bass like the originals, the band made for a far more stimulating stage show than a DJ would've.
Z's set was meticulously produced, seemingly leaving little to chance but ensuring every gesture and pose was a grand one, almost as if the performance was more for the giant screens on either side of the stage than the fans in the front rows.
But as Coachella's first hip-hop headliner, he made a major impression. Rumors of a guest appearance by Dr. Dre went unsubstantiated and instead, at the very end of his set, he brought out Beyonce to duet on "Young Forever."
"I felt like a child up here tonight I had so much fun," he said before the "Single Ladies" star came out. "I felt y'all energy and spirit. I want you to do one thing for me: I want you to always stay forever young." As Beyonce sauntered on-stage in Daisy Dukes and a punky, off-the-shoulder t-shirt, the crowd—one of the largest ever at Coachella's main stage—couldn't have been happier to oblige.
What do they all have in common? Read on
Wayne Coyne remembers. And he still goes. The frontman for the Flaming Lips spent his youth the same way many of us did – combing through the stacks of vinyl or CDs at record stores, finding the music that would form their lives – stuff that didn’t get on TV or the radio, things you had to find on your own.
So it’s no surprise that on Saturday, April 17 – Record Store Day nationwide – the Lips are releasing their interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” a creation originally available only through iTunes at first.
The Lips collaborated with Coyne’s nephew’s band, Stardeath and White Dwarfs. A CD version arrives in May, but on Saturday you can go down to your indie record stores and pick it up on colored vinyl. The Lips will also perform the album in its entirety at Bonnaroo.
Coyne, talking from his home in Oklahoma City, spoke to us recently about how the album came to be and why he’s releasing it the way he is.
I was told the Pink Floyd camp gave their blessing to your version of “Dark Side” sight unseen. Are they fans?
“I would say that’s not true. I would say the fact that you get to do it and you’re not stopped is kind of the way you get to know that they approve. We began doing it as just a whim. We didn’t conceptualize about this for years. It was really just a whim. We suggested it with iTunes. We checked into it legally and publishing-wise. But the way it works you really have to do the whole thing before Pink Floyd says yes or no. You gotta take a risk by doing all this work – I don’t call it work, music or whatever. Then phase two: I’ve done it. It moves forward. Even a day before it was supposed to be released on iTunes, it was still ‘Hold on, let’s see what happens here.’ They let us made one video of ‘Breathe’– that’s again saying ‘We don’t have to let you do any of this. If we don’t like you, we will kill you.’ The ultimate approval came later when we heard from their merchandising camp that thy wanted to make a t-shirt with Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd on it together. That’s the only time you ever got a feeling (it was approved). But I don’t know if that would really be the guys in Pink Floyd themselves.”