Last weekend brought the third Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to Indio, Calif. The festival concept is simple: rent a gigantic field, set up a few stages and book about 30 world-class musical acts per day. Over 20,000 people a year spend hundreds of dollars for two days of pounding heat, lung-filling dust and ridiculously priced concessions. Most of Saturday’s performers made it worthwhile.
KRS-One instantly accessed the hip hop heads and the uninitiated alike. He and his cronies – including his DJ, a supporting emcee and a trio of breakdancers – had the crowd screaming. His articulate, thoughtful lyrics were actually uplifting; after nearly 20 years as a well-known emcee, KRS hasn’t succumbed to cynicism and bitterness.
After this, G-Love and Special Sauce was a total waste of time. A white boy with half-assed blues licks and hackneyed rhymes about getting drunk and high has no business sharing a stage with the legends and up-and-comers that flanked him.
We got out in time to see the big news item: the reunion of Siouxsie and the Banshees. After a long sound check, Siouxsie Sioux made her way out and, at the peak of a crescendo, turned to face the audience. She was a truly majestic speck in the distance. Then, unfortunately, she opened her mouth.
Siouxsie’s trademark wail is the Banshees’ defining sound. Unfortunately, the wail has decayed into a tuneless bellow whose slack the Banshees could not pick up. She took jabs at the “sheep-like” audience in between songs, but came off as bitter rather than witty. I kept telling myself that she was just warming up, but after three songs I figured that the Beta Band would be better than continuing to delude myself.
Steven Mason’s simple strummed chord progressions and soft vocal delivery blends well with the Beta Band’s frantic drums, samples and spacey effects. Unfortunately, before I could fully absorb the mellow atmosphere, Siouxsie was off and the promise of Bj