I arrived at the Outdoor Theatre still buzzing with electricity from Pulp, Madness, James, and all the other Friday acts that brought Coachella to the right start, and when I arrived, Mazzy Star had already begun – though I did not miss much – so I sat down on the ground and let myself enter a more tranquil state for one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend. Finding peace proved a little difficult by then, because my legs were absolutely killing me and it was getting a little chilly. I still had my wits about me though, and I watched the performance; every now and then, standing up to look at the members on the stage. It didn’t turn out as one of the most memorable sets, but I think I’d stop myself short of saying that I disliked it. I think it is more a case that so many acts at Coachella were just very good; meanwhile, Mazzy Star was simply okay. They were what they were.
A lot of these Coachella reports have praised bands for their exciting and energetic performance; and many other acts, which I didn’t mention very much – Grouplove and Death Grips, for example – became highlights, as well, for their frenzied performances. But how do the serene acts go about creating great performances without the luxury of being able to make noise and act crazy? Would an act that creates ambient music need to change the music – in the way I described in SBTRKT’s report, only to a much greater extreme – to make a good performance? Well, I think that acts can perform their peaceful music – unchanged – and people can enjoy the sets. I think we usually bring the mindset to a concert that expects high energy, but that we have the capability to go into something and take great pleasure in silence, slow movements, and atmosphere. A lot of those elements exist in post-rock music – like Sigur Rós and Godspeed You! Black Emperor – and they work just as well in a live setting as they do on the albums.
I’ve seen forums on the Internet that ask, “Which was the worst band at Coachella?” and there appears to be a lot of agreement on that band being Mazzy Star. As sad as that makes me feel, I’m afraid that it might be a valid response; however, it might have a lot to do with people wanting Mazzy Star to have been very good, and then being disappointed, rather than the band actually being the worst at Coachella – surely there were worse acts that many people avoided altogether. But as to why Mazzy Star was not good, I believe it was a mixture of atmosphere and the band’s excitement, because the performance itself sounded good – at least, where I was it did. Ideally, I would like to see Mazzy Star in an indoor setting; perhaps, sitting down at a table. But that cannot really be dealt with at Coachella – not without avoided Coachella altogether. What seemed bad about Mazzy Star’s set, however, was that, although there is inherent low energy in their music, the band seemed intent on taking the energy to its absolute lowest. In other words, Hope Sandoval did not look like she wanted to be there. If the band makes their audience feel like an inconvenience, then… well, the band might end up on some “worst of” lists.
Destroyer almost seemed like that at times. Dan Bejar only said, “Thanks,” every now and then; in-between singing songs and drinking his one can of Heineken. But he snuck out a few smiles and gave us some great vocal work. He seemed serious, but not ungrateful. On the other hand, Hope Sandoval was making faces. Maybe she was really cold; but if that was the case, she could have said something about it. She could have said anything about something to make us feel less like a burden. Instead, she would also say her thanks, but somehow when she said it, it felt more like she was saying, “Whatever.” But don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that she hated us – at least, I hope not. I mean, she wasn’t making a big fuss like Ariel Pink did last year – although, his anger didn’t seem directed at us as much as it was toward the sound engineers. For all I know, she was very happy to be there. The point is: The opposite is what was reflected, and what is reflected is all we have to work with.