For many, the final day of Coachella was all about the reunion of Rage Against the Machine. But Sunday offered a kaleidoscope of ways to rage against the machine before Zack de la Rocha and company took the main stage with their political, revolution-minded music.
Earlier on the same stage, hip-hop group the Roots mixed a potent cocktail of party and protest. The set offered originals such as "Act Too (Love of My Life)," but a recurring motif was live mash-ups, blending classic rock, surf music, disco, funk and more. This foreshadowed guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas' mind-blowing mash-up of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" and "The Star-Spangled Banner." Dylan's lyrics fit breathtakingly well with the national anthem's music — and then the song segued into a more recognizable version that sprawled and sprawled, smoldering with righteous fury and cementing the relevance of this 44-year-old tune.
FOR THE RECORD: A review in Tuesday's Calendar of the final day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival referred to a mash-up of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" and "The Star-Spangled Banner," attributing the number to hip-hop group The Roots member MC Black Thought. It was performed by the group's guitarist, Captain Kirk Douglas.
Willie Nelson and his band had several down-with-the-man moments, including Merle Haggard's "Workin' Man Blues." British ska-popper Lily Allen voiced rebellion with "Knock 'Em Out," a kick back at club lads who persist well after repeatedly getting "no" for an answer.
Swedish group Teddybears' double-drummer-fueled mutant funk was more about outrageousness than outrage. Performing in the overflowing Gobi Tent, some players wore costume bear heads as the band played in front of clips from classic films ("Taxi Driver," "This Is Spinal Tap," "A Clockwork Orange," etc.) in which bear heads were superimposed on the main characters. Wiggy and fun.
Other raging was of the dance-floor kind, including the appealing electro-punk pop of youthful Brazilian sextet CSS, whose drummer announced at the beginning of their Mojave Tent set that they'd just met Paris Hilton backstage. This apparently was not a joke evoking the group's "Meeting Paris Hilton," which melded a tootling toy-music melody with a ginormous rolling beat.
In the Sahara Tent, techno hero Richie Hawtin built subtle grooves from floaty electronic champagne bubbles and shimmering beats. Later, fans of world-famous trance DJ Paul van Dyk kicked up a literal dust storm. He conjured pulsating tribal thunder, let it dissipate into airy washes that skittered apart, then reassembled it with relentless rhythms.
Nobody raged, but French duo Air lost listeners after it started late and many decamped to the high-volume Manu Chao on the main stage. Air's organic/electronic music burbled from ethereal to muscular, but Manu Chao partially washed away Air's pleasant, though slight, sound.