CVIndependent

Tue04072020

Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 5pm

The Coachella Valley is home to some of the biggest music festivals in the world—so newcomer 4xFAR had to bring its “A” game to Empire Grand Oasis on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19.

That mission was accomplished.

The first thing that greeted attendees was a big “4x” statue; stickers with every state printed on them were available to place on the statue. Moving past this and into the festival grounds, there were many attractions: One could sit in a brand-new Land Rover and do your own version of Carpool Karaoke; or you could have a video taken of yourself by a drone. There was even a little tent where you could get an insulated drink container with a personal engraving—but they ran out pretty quickly.

While “music” and “adventure” were the festival’s main selling points, the venue itself was also a highlight: The main stage and all of the adventure and activity tents surrounded a huge lake—that even had a waterfall. Much of my time at the festival was spent admiring the view. Empire Grand Oasis is a place that certainly lives up to its name.

But let’s get down to the music.

Mahalia, aka Mahalia Burkmar, brought some R&B and charm to the Saturday early-afternoon crowd. The sun was out, and it was a little hot, but that didn’t stop the 21-year-old—with help of her drum-and-bass-only backing band—as she fired through her set, gaining new fans along the way. “I’m a Brit, we talk a lot,” Burkmar repeated many times as she gave each song’s inception story and entertained the crowd with tales of love and loss. Go check out “I Wish I Missed My Ex.”

Tijuana Panthers were next up—bringing less talking, and more music. The Long Beach natives blasted through a 22-song setlist of bad-ass surf rock, backed by cool ocean visuals on the big screen. Guitarist Chad Wachtel expressed gratitude to the few of us waiting on the barricade for the show to start, yet as soon as the band started playing, only a few thank-yous were muttered. Each member of the Panthers shared vocal duties, with each having a different sound. Their stage presence and jumpy songs were just what the crowd needed as the weather began to cool down. Go check out “Creature.”

Kurt Vile and the Violators performed next as the sun went down. His Neil Young-style vocals and low stage energy were made up for by his guitar prowess and jamming ability. A few people were dancing, but most were relaxing, as Vile provided a chill performance of his hits. Check out “Pretty Pimpin.”

Kaytranada, aka Louis Celestin, got the night-crowd moving with a DJ set featuring many of the songs he produced over the last decade, as well as works from his two solo albums. He didn’t say much, and the stage was dark with minimal visuals, but Celestin provided a set filled with dance-able music leading up to the headliner. Check out “You’re the One.”

As for that headline: Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals closed Saturday night in a blaze of glory … literally. He brought pyrotechnics to 4xFAR to heat up the crowd. Everyone at the festival was enthralled by the performance—consider that .Paak’s first break in the music to address the audience consisted of loud cheering for a minute straight. The band played a hit-laden list set, and even paid tribute to Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller. The crowd demanded an encore, but a strict 9 p.m. curfew left many fans hungry for more. Check out “Come Down.”

Music duo Sofi Tukker was the first act I saw on Sunday, on the recommendation of photographer Guillermo Prieto. The stage was adorned with greenery as the two walked out in eye-catching attire. Their brand of EDM, combined with their stage presence, led to a rather fun performance—including a synchronized dance by the crowd, which seemed to baffle the duo. They invited a fan onstage, who happened to be a dance teacher, and he taught the whole crowd a dance number. Check out “Purple Hat.”

I found myself in one of the “hammock stations,” which were located around the festival grounds, for Young the Giant, and I’m beginning to think it was fate: The smooth indie-rock sounds were the perfect accompaniment to the nighttime air and the beautiful landscape. I could hear the crowd’s roar as the band played hit “Cough Syrup.”

A DJ set from Q-Tip and Mark Ronson closed out the weekend in an interesting way. Despite the seemingly unlikely pairing, they managed to play off each other very well. Q-Tip hyped up the crowd with some music from his rap roots, including songs from his very own A Tribe Called Quest, while Mark Ronson played some pop hits in which he had his bands, including songs by Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars. The set reached a peak when Mark Ronson put on “Uptown Funk” and Q-Tip passed out cups filled with liquor.

While the music was grand, an equally powerful draw was the adventure portion of the festival. 4xFAR was presented by Land Rover, and the one of the main attractions was being able to test-drive the new 2020 Land Rover Defender. While I couldn’t drive—I fall below the 21-year-old age limit—I was able to be a passenger. A multi-terrain driving course put the vehicle’s limits to the test, including dips, turns, rocks and drops.

Ax-throwing, a bicycle course and a horse-racing track were all part of the festival, and even a non-adventurous sort such as I was able to experience some thrills.

I’m excited to see what the future holds for 4xFAR—and I hope the weekend’s success pushes the limits for what other festivals offer.

Scroll down to see photos by Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net.

Published in Reviews

We truly do live in the land of music festivals.

As the 2000s have progressed, the Coachella Valley has become a hotspot for music festivals, with up to 125,000 attendees flooding the streets from Palm Springs all the way to Indio and beyond for one weekend event alone. Whether it be for the extremely hip Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (best known as simply Coachella), the country-tinged of Stagecoach, or any of the one-offs like the headbanging Big 4 or the classic-rockin’ Desert Trip, there is no doubt: The Coachella Valley is one of the world’s most popular places for music festivals.

The year 2020 brings yet another festival to the fold: On Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19, 4xFAR, presented by Land Rover, will bring a new kind of festival experience to the valley—specifically, Empire Grand Oasis in Thermal.

Some of today’s top artists are set to perform, with a little something for everyone. Saturday headliner Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals’ beautiful combination of funk and hip hop is sure to get any music fan bobbing their head. (.Paak plays the drums and raps at the same time; it’s truly a sight to see.)

Sunday’s headliner is a DJ set by acclaimed producer Mark Ronson, and A Tribe Called Quest alum Q-Tip. Both have producer credits scattered across the past 30 years, so this set should be as interesting as it will be dance-able.

Other notable acts include folk-rockers Kurt Vile and the Violators, whose music will remind attendees of some Neil Young and Tom Petty tunes; and indie group Young the Giant, which makes music that just makes you feel good.

But music isn’t the only thing 4xFAR will have to offer. It will feature an “Adventure” section alongside the musical lineup. Land Rover is bringing its brand-new 2020 Defender to Thermal for festival-goers to test-drive on a 15-acre course. Other activities include mountain-biking, rock-climbing, ax-throwing and even fly-fishing.

The festival will take place at the Empire Grand Oasis, which is one of the most beautiful locations in the valley. It includes 35 acres including date-palm groves, a freshwater lake and a waterfall!

A standard one-day ticket costs $95, with a weekend pass sitting at $185. There’s a VIP option for $349, which allows earlier entry into the festival, as well as access to a VIP-only lounge with elevated seating and premium food and beverage. Or, one can go all out and purchase the Private Palapa ticket for $3,000, which will provides a party of six with a private hangout spot for the festival, complete with a service staff and two VIP parking passes.

Garth Trinidad, a DJ and host on KCRW, is the festival’s music curator. “4XFAR is set to be the first experience of its kind in lifestyle focused entertainment—an intimate, celebratory adventure where guests can taste the cross pollinated nectar of music, art, adventure and culture in a gorgeous oasis under the desert sky,” he said, in the type of quote that could only come from a press release. “I'm elated to be in the mix as music curator!”

The 4xFar festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18 and 19. For tickets or more information, visit 4xFAR.com.

Published in Previews

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical as I walked into the Empire Polo Club for the start of Coachella Weekend 2—but a relaxed vibe and above-expectations performances led to a wonderful Friday of music.

Here are some of the things I took in:

• Just after 3 p.m., I found myself at the Coachella Stage watching Los Tucanes de Tijuana for the second time this week. The Coachella performance was much different than the one at Chella—and the Coachella crowd couldn’t seem to get enough. The band played 1994 hit “La Chona” early in the set and also at the end. “La Chona” has become a verb, of sorts, as people like to post online videos dancing to the song, and the Coachella crowd was happy to do so as well.

• Late in the afternoon, I was blown away by Calypso Rose’s set in the Gobi Tent (right). The 78-year-old calypsonian from Trinidad—she announced she’ll be 79 in two weeks—is now the oldest performer to grace the stages at Coachella. Despite falling down last week, she stood right back up as if nothing happened. She can no longer do the crazy calypso dances, but she teased the crowd a few times by pulling up her ankle length dress to her knees and moving a bit. She’s adorable … and she’s fierce. In fact, after her second song, she declared herself the “Queen of Coachella.” She also told the men in the audience to never raise a hand toward a woman, because they spent nine months in a woman’s womb, and they wouldn’t want anyone to hit their daughters—and she spoke from a place of authority, as she’s battled sexism in the calypso scene from men who were intimidated by her or felt inferior to her. It’s a wonder why more people weren’t at her set—because she is a true living legend.

• Anderson .Paak (first below) started off his early-evening set on the Coachella Stage with a blasting performance of “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” from his 2016 album, Malibu—and then was seen performing behind the drums. When I saw him perform at Coachella in 2016, I figured he was only going to become a bigger name—and he’s now a main-stage talent. He joked with the audience that the first-week jitters were gone, so he could relax—and that he was happy to see a turnout bigger than last weekend’s crowd. There were times in the set that felt like a Stevie Wonder set in the 1970s, and there were times that felt like a high-energy rap concert.

• U.S. Girls’ Meghan Remy is a bit eccentric, and the group’s headlining performance in the indoor Sonora Tent was a bit strange (second below). Performing right after punk/hardcore band The Frights was probably not easy for a psychedelic pop band—and the crowd was pretty dismal, to say the least, despite all the positive press the group has garnered over the last year. After about the third song, there was a minute of very awkward silence as Remy stared into the audience and calmly asked: “Are you out there?” The end of the performance was also strange, when she and two other band members got down on the floor of the stage, performed some strange movements, and literally crawled away to conclude the performance … something the audience wouldn’t have known if one of the band members hadn’t walked by and threw some guitar picks to the crowd while waving goodbye.

• As I waited for Lady Gaga’s headlining performance two years ago, DJ Snake’s wild DJ set—complete with a crazy light show accompanying it—offered great entertainment. On Friday, DJ Snake returned to the same stage, with almost the same scenario—playing right before the headliner. This time around, I decided to actually watch rather than just listen, and it was … let’s call it over the top. It was an absolute banger of a set that could probably be heard all the way in Palm Desert. DJ Snake went hard, and—other than an earsplitting number using high-pitched bird sounds—it was flawless.

• Childish Gambino’s intro was the same as it was last week: He started off on a platform about 25 feet off the ground that slowly lowered him down. His eyes were wide, as if he were ready for war, as he walked through the gospel choir accompanying him. After the first song, he took it down a notch, giving the audience two rules: Get down to the performance as much as possible; and put down the fucking phones and live in the moment. He saved his best and newer material for the end, after delighting the crowd with some of his lighter-hearted material.

Published in Reviews