Jay-Z -- and even Beyonce -- rock Coachella fest
By Darryl Morden
INDIO, California (Hollywood Reporter) - After a slow start owing to traffic backups and a massive tangle at a two-fold ticket and security check-in for tens of thousands, southern California's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was in full swing by late afternoon Friday and back to its happiest-musical-place on-Earth status Saturday.
According to officials, 75,000 or more attended daily, and that's not counting the many thousands working the event, as well as performers, their crews, entourages and guests. At times, it felt like perhaps too many in the venue; navigation was not easy, making it more difficult than during past years to catch a little of this and that.
Several acts, including Bad Lieutenant, the Cribs and Frightened Rabbit, were grounded in Europe by the volcanic ash from Iceland.
Friday's headliner, Jay-Z, turned in a commanding performance backed by a 10-member band that included a drummer and percussionist, a cut-loose guitarist and a brace of horns. It was slick and flashy at times but brought to mind soul revues of old, with a contemporary cutting edge.
The rap kingpin and marketing mogul seemed touched by the crowd's enthusiasm, overwhelmed by the event -- wanting to be part of it, not above it. His set ranged from openers "Run This Town" and "Takeover" to "Hard Knock Life" and a surprise finish with a cameo from wife Beyonce for a duet on the romantic "Young Forever." While her music is as non-Coachella as it comes, it was hard to deny it was one cool festival moment. Jay-Z was cocky, he was humble and, most of all, showed he can be more, certainly onstage, than just a crafty studio hitmaker.
Equally powerful and quite epic Saturday was bill-topper Muse. The melodramatic British prog-art rock trio delved into its current album, "Resistance," and delivered such anthems as the demand of "Hysteria" and the yearning pulse of "Starlight" (ATTN: "Green Lantern" film-music supervisor: this song must be on your soundtrack).
Singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy played the ax hero, quoting from Hendrix several times, including Woodstock's "Star-Spangled Banner." The urgent "Time Is Running Out," one of many audience-refrain sing-alongs, brought to mind the world's recent slew of disasters, man-made and natural. A lengthy encore featured the galloping, cinematic sweep of "Knights of Cydonia," which still evokes the feel of a great, lost U.K. sci-fi TV series theme. Muse's sound was made for arenas, stadiums and festivals, not bloated but just huge -- an awing super-massive black hole that sucks one into its gravity well of power.
Coachella's most anticipated reunion of the weekend, Faith No More, did not disappoint true believers Saturday night. The grunge-era band of the early 1990s, best known for its hit "Epic" and the sarcastic novelty number "We Care a Lot," fiercely pummeled on the main stage. Continued...