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19 Apr 2015

Coachella Day 2: Rock Music, Mosh Pits and the Mysterious Jack White

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Benjamin Booker sounded a bit like a young Elvis when he performed at Coachella's second day. Benjamin Booker sounded a bit like a young Elvis when he performed at Coachella's second day. Guillermo Prieto/Irockphotos.net

National media sources have repeatedly pointed out that Coachella 2015 is heavy on electronic dance music.

However, it seems logical that if AC/DC is a headliner, the rest of the festival is also going to have a large rock presence—and that certainly proved to be the case on Saturday, April 18.

Around 2 p.m., Perfume Genius caught our attention on the Outdoor Stage. Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, was wearing in a long, white Betty Boop T-shirt, black fishnet stockings and lipstick. His music was down tempo, and the bass—strong enough to at times shake the ground—drove some of the songs. His dancing looked like something someone would do in his bedroom when no one was watching. His performance was provocative—in a good way.

Around 3 p.m., Royal Blood took the Outdoor Stage in front of a large crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of this rock duo from the United Kingdom—and Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher gave these fans a performance they’ll never forget. There was a huge mosh pit in front of the stage; half-full bottles of water flew through the air. Their performance made a rock ’n’ roll comeback seem inevitable in the near future. Royal Blood had people chanting the band’s name in between songs—and the chants became louder and louder as the 40-minute performance went on. At the end of Royal Blood’s performance, Ben Thatcher dared to go crowd-surfing, to a massive ovation. I hated to miss any part of the Bad Religion show, but Royal Blood made my decision to do so more than worthwhile.

I did manage to catch the last half of Bad Religion’s set on the Coachella Stage. The large gathering responded beautifully to classics such as “21st Century (Digital Boy),” “American Jesus” and “Generator.” Seeing a mosh pit and the crowd-surfing, it felt almost nostalgic. Bad Religion ended their set with an awesome performance of “Sorrow.”

As the sun went down, Belle and Sebastian took the Outdoor Stage. The Scottish band that transcends genres played a variety of songs from its albums, including the recent release, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which has more of a disco/electronic vibe. Strange videos accompanied some of their songs. One looked like a home of a 1950s couple, where people dropped in to dance. At the end of the set, frontman Stuart Murdoch invited some members of the audience to come up and dance to “The Boy With the Arab Strap,” as is the band’s tradition.

After Belle and Sebastian, Father John Misty appeared on the Outdoor Stage. With a heart-shaped LED sign that hung in the background saying “No Photography,” Misty made his stage performance hard to photograph with red and blue lights and strobes. He was quite animated and put on a passionate show, falling to his knees to sing emotional parts of songs, and dancing all over. Toward the end of his set, he said he had his first “wardrobe malfunction” and asked for the light to shine on one of his pant legs, which was ripped at the knee.

When Jack White went on the Coachella Stage around 9:20 p.m., the first 10 to 15 minutes of his show seemed like one long, improvised jam. Among blue lights and on a stage setup straight out of the 1950s, Jack White kept playing guitar solos and the same few chords over and over as his band jammed. When White finally began to sing full songs, he paid tribute to his late keyboardist, Isaiah Ikey Owens, who died earlier this year.

White’s performance was energetic—and loud. For almost two hours, he played both White Stripes and solo material—and yes, he even played “Seven Nation Army.”

White’s performance was certainly headliner-worthy, even if at times, it seemed like he had to fill in the blanks.

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