Sundays at Coachella are bittersweet. On one hand, your body is beginning to feel the effects of festival life. On the other hand, most attendees don’t show up just to have a seat in the back, sip water and then go back to camp for a bite of trail mix and an early bedtime. People are on vacation, away from the worries of daily life and in the virtual bio-dome of Coachella. They come to party and they party hard, and for me, Sunday’s line-ups always seem to have shows I’m anticipating the most.
The sun is a little brighter, you still can’t sleep for long after sunrise due to the fact that you’re camping in the Mojave desert, and despite the fact that its on grassy polo grounds, it is not an hospitable environment. Everybody gets up within a range of about a half hour, then the scheduling talk starts. Personally, I always seem to screw the pooch at some point on Saturday and miss a big name I meant to see. Last year it was New Order. This year it was either RL Grime or the Pixies. As a result, I’ve learned to be more diligent about scheduling on Sundays.
I explained to my fellow campers that even if I came down with food poisoning, and both my legs were broken and I had to crawl through a wall of fire and drown a bag of puppies in order to see Disclosure, that I would still make it happen. For the record, dead puppy jokes are very unpopular.
Like many people, I ‘found’ Disclosure last year, not long after Coachella 2013, where I closed out the festival with Eric Prydz instead of the Lawrence brothers. (A decision without a real downside) I first got into house music in the mid-90’s, and while the sound evolved as the equipment improved and the producers got better at using their equipment, that basic house sound will always hold a death grip on my heart.
The two members of Disclosure could easily take to a shared pair of decks, a laptop and mixer like a lot of other duos, but they take their live performances a step further, playing live bass, keys, drums, drum machines and singing on top of queuing up samples and beats from their laptops. It’s a refreshing change from the prevalent fist-pumping everybody’s grown accustomed to in live EDM. It’s certainly not a despondent Benny Benassi merely playing song after song while he spends half the time on his phone.
I did not break my legs. I did not have to weather a wall of fire. I ate numerous slices of Spicy Pie with no food poisoning. Best of all, no puppies were hurt, nor drowned. They just popped on stage at the appointed time.
Their set started just as their album does, with the snippet of the “hip-hop preacher,” Eric Thomas at the onset of “When a Fire Starts To Burn.” The packed crowd knew all the words, and many people started to dance even before the beat dropped and the music kicked in. We were a ways back, the two brothers like tiny figurines on a model stage set-up.
AlunaGeorge were conveniently schedule to play Coachella earlier the same day, so it came as no surprise to see Aluna Francis take the stage to sing her part on the understandably popular, “White Noise.” They moved quickly from song to song, and Francis departed the stage as unceremoniously as she’d come on.
The high point of the set, and perhaps the entire festival, was when Mary J. Blige stepped onstage with the duo and belted out their version of “F for You.” Watch the video below and just listen to her belt it out, the pitch of her voice a perfect compliment to their throwback style. She also looked smoking hot in her leather vest and shorts. I have no idea how she moved around on heels like that.
They finished out their set, and for many, the entire festival with “Latch,” featuring a third special guest, Sam Smith. This guy…his voice is amazing as he is awkward looking. He’s like a younger, slightly overweight Boy George mixed with Morrissey. But wow, what an outstanding voice. The crowd knew all the words, but very very few of us could get anywhere near as high as Sam Smith, or the vocal sample “Oh-Oh!” they use throughout the song. As a result, there were a lot of falsettos and cracking voices as the crowd attempted to keep up.
I came into the show a little tired, ass dragging a bit from the long weekend, but it didn’t last long because they had me up and dancing as if I didn’t have a choice. That’s the power of good music and great performances, is that they remove distractions, irritations, aches and pains and it gets you out of your head, into the swirling sea of humanity surrounding you. There was no more pain, just smiles and happy feet. By the time they left the stage, I felt like I could dance on and on for days.