When David Crosby wrote “Déjà Vu,” the song that would become the title track for the 1970 debut by rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, it was a meditation on recurrence.
When Crosby sang on stage Monday night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the song’s recurring refrain “And I feel like I’ve been here before,” it was personal memory, plain and simple.
Crosby is one of many important rock figures who got their start on the Troubadour’s stage, and for him that was nearly a half century ago. “The Byrds -- right there,” he said, pointing to the stage from his perch on anupstairs sofa between sets at the second of five sold-out solo shows this week at the venerable club.
In fact, Chris Hillman, another founding member of the Byrds, joined Crosby at Sunday's opening show to sing "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Aspiring artists face few challenges more daunting than escaping the shadow of a family member who has established a reputation in the same field.
That goes double for Carlene Carter.
The veteran singer and songwriter not only is the daughter of one of the most prominent female figures in all of country music -- June Carter -- but she’s also the granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter, who along with her brother-in-law A.P. Carter and his wife was part of the Carter Family, a trio whose recordings and radio performances played a crucial role in bringing country music to the world nearly a century ago.
Oh, and her stepfather happened to be Johnny Cash.
Rock 'n' roll has a way of romanticizing the tortured and the libertines, especially ones with a little poetry in them.
Singer Greg Dulli, whose band Afghan Whigs returns Tuesday with its first new album in 16 years, "Do to the Beast," clearly has a cultural standing to uphold. Booked for this month's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the indie rock veterans are the festival's older, musically adventurous misanthropes, but misanthropes nevertheless.
Yet his reignited passion to get the old band back together came from an unlikely place.
Last year Dulli was unexpectedly asked if the Afghan Whigs would appear with Usher at the South by Southwest music festival and conference in Austin, Texas.
"We had 48 hours to put together a show with someone we had never met," said Dulli, 48. "I had only spoken to him on the phone. There was something really thrilling about doing something quickly. For lack of a better word, it made me feel like a...
Coachella's great if you're rich, tan and beautiful, but those who fall outside that demographic should know that it's not all rose gardens, $15 artisan cocktails and Baco Mercat wraps.
In fact, those with body image issues or a flat-lined bank account can be forgiven for sensing the occasional gag reflex at the displays on the Empire Polo Club in Indio. For all the music permeating the scene, it can be a very hostile and humbling environment, both socially and musically.
To use the words of one attendee who, trapped in a mass of people trying to get a glimpse of Zedd, said flatly, "God I hate people."
He may sound grumpy, but over three sun-baked days, he often had a point. Though the wonders of the musical weekend are many, it's not all bliss on the polo field. Below, a primer on a few red flags Coachella attendees will have to overcome to prevail. (Note: Many of the observations below are just as likely at other big-ticket festivals this summer.)
It was an offhanded comment by singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, but it stopped Elvis Costello cold when he was chatting with Winchester for his short-lived music-interview series “Spectacle” on the Sundance Channel a few years ago.
In an aside, the inordinately gifted songwriter casually identified “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” (one of the first songs for which he’d gained acclaim in the early 1970s) as the first song he’d ever written. Then he nonchalantly moved on to finish the main point he was making about the art of writing songs.
Costello interrupted, in utter disbelief: “You mean to say that was actually the first song you ever wrote?”" He knew all too well that it had been widely recorded by artists including Joan Baez, the Everly Brothers, Ralph Stanley and Patti Page, whose 1950 “Tennessee Waltz” was the reference point for Winchester’s song.
When Jhene Aiko sang the opening lines of her Drake collaboration “From Time” during her set Sunday night at Coachella in Indio, the crowd -- singing the bone-chilling lyrics back to her -- knew what was coming next.
The Gobi tent was already lighted up by hundreds of smartphones when Drake emerged onstage. The deafening screams were likely heard across the festival grounds. He eased into his verse, gliding across the stage slowly to give everyone (OK, mainly the women) a lasting image.
Drake’s surprise appearance during Aiko’s set -- she also brought out Childish Gambino -- capped a weekend of performances from a who’s-who of rap not featured on the bill.
Electronic music might have dominated the lineup of 2014's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but rap won the buzz this year.
After the first few days of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, some of the 90,000 people in attendance each day no doubt left the desert feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and yet exhilarated, with significant moments burned into their brains. Some highlights from Weekend 1:
Weekend No. 1 of Coachella is now officially a memory, but weekend No. 2 is careening down the road, gearing up to do it all over again.
If you're getting ready to partake in the fun and want to find a way to hit some parties, you would do well to start digging up those elusive invites now. Yes, Coachella has expanded into two weekends, but the party scene really hasn't.
That's because the parties are extremely expensive to throw. They're branded platforms with open bars at pricey private estates geared to draw attention to products and fashion labels like Guess, Corvette, McDonald's, Lacoste and H&M.
When the first weekend is over, so are most of the exclusive parties.
A brand wins when it can nab a photo of a celeb trying out its wares. Example? Saturday at the Bootsy Bellows Estate in Rancho Mirage when Leonardo DiCaprio showed up and took a bite out of a McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Burger in his private cabana.
Ozomatli is taking its polyglot music and attitude from the streets into the halls of academia.
In preparation for Ozomatli Day on April 23 in Los Angeles, the long-running East L.A. rock-R&B-punk-funk ensemble will visit UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center at noon Monday for a question-and-answer session and an acoustic performance. Unlike many such sessions where attendees are advised against documenting them with smartphones or tablets, Ozomatli is encouraging the audience to shoot the session, then personalize it and share it on the group's web site.
The band's label, Vanguard Records, also is giving students permission to use the title track from Ozomatli’s latest album, “Place in the Sun,” as a soundtrack for their video pieces.\
Because she was on the West Coast, Lana Del Rey said, she thought it made sense to unveil her new single midway through her performance Sunday night at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Titled, um, "West Coast," it's a characteristically bleary number that sounds like Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" slowed down to a narcotized crawl; there's a bit of "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak in there too, as, indeed, there is in all of Del Rey's music.
But Coachella's location wasn't its only appeal to the singer. She also called it "the sexiest concert of the year," and if there's one judgment Del Rey is prepared to make, it's that one.
Wearing a filmy above-the-knee dress that ruffled just so in the desert wind, she put plenty of sex into her 45-minute set, which surrounded "West Coast" with tunes from 2012's "Born to Die" and its companion EP, "Paradise."
She tossed her long brown hair and crouched down to the stage; she made a...
Like a fisherman casting a lure, Beck on Sunday night offered a lesson in how to draw a tired, coming-down crowd and muster one more burst of adrenalin.
Moving through the quick-tempoed party jams before going deep with songs from his new album, "Morning Phase," the Los Angeles singer understood that nothing gets the crowd hooked like a singalong anthem with a beat. Hence a roller coaster set that was front-loaded with early jams "Devils Haircut" and "Loser," two '90s oldies that helped bridge a gap between rock, electronic dance music and hip-hop, and served the role of party starter.
In doing so, he presented a convincing argument as being a godfather to this holy Coachella mess, one in which said pop music subgenres could not only live harmoniously but also spawn a new vibe. His set, in fact, was timed perfectly -- astrologically speaking. After the rush of fast-tempo groovers, the singer paused, took a breath and pointed above.
Who was Sunday's Coachella headliner? The band that played last, to wrap up the weekend on the main stage? Or the act that drew probably the weekend's biggest crowd, and certainly its most fevered rush of fans?
If the answer is the former, it's indisputably Arcade Fire, which closed out the festival with a set drawing from the downtown disco of its latest album "Reflektor." But if it's the latter, then it's probably Calvin Harris, the Scottish EDM producer whose main stage set around 8 p.m. drew an instant crush of ravers who practically vacated the rest of the festival.
Or it might have been the English neo-house duo Disclosure, whose sprawling Outdoor Stage set absolutely beat Arcade Fire's in numbers during the few songs the two overlapped (and more to come on their set, which featured a cameo from Mary J. Blige, later).
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
INDIO — As a giant impenetrable scrum of attendees waited for New Zealand singer Lorde, 17, to take the Outdoor stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Nearby, MGMT played the main stage, and the chorus of its song "The Youth" gusted in toward Lorde's crowd like a portent.
"The youth is starting to change," offered singer Andrew VanWyngarden as the band's psychedelic disco slow jam drifted in. "Are you starting to change? Are you, together?"
A few minutes later, as if conjured by MGMT's query, arrived Lorde. Dressed in white and seeming every bit a future figurehead, she took the stage just after the distant song had arrived at its ethereal ending mantra: "the youth … the youth … the youth." It felt like a clarion call.
INDIO — The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been referred to by some as Bro-chella since at least 2008, when the annual desert gathering featured such dude-friendly headliners as Jack Johnson and Roger Waters.
The latest edition, which ran Friday through Sunday at the Empire Polo Club before repeating this weekend, had a bit of the bro about it, with performances by dub step king Skrillex, stoner-rap MC Kid Cudi and jock-jammy alt-rockers Foster the People. But a different atmosphere seemed to settle over the festival during its initial three-day blast.
Widely considered America's most glamorous festival (thanks to its scenic locale and its appeal to young Hollywood), the event in its 15th year rolled out some remarkable creature-comfort upgrades, including a reservation-only four-course dinner and a so-called beauty studio sponsored by the cosmetics maker Sephora.
Two years ago during a performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Teri “Gender Bender” Suaréz climbed to the top of a lighting rig, locked her legs around a rung and then hung upside and sang. Standing between her skull and a stage was little more than gravity, and while the move was certainly of the don't-try-this-ever variety, Suaréz and her trio Le Butcherettes are committed, aggressively, to the visceral.
But the reckless antics would be just that if the music wasn't also incendiary, where every rant or tear shed is amplified for its maximum emotional venom. Yet after releasing a debut album in 2011 with "Sin Sin Sin," the Los Angeles-via-Guadalajara band has largely been missing in action. Suaréz has spent much of the past two years working closely with creative collaborator Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (of Mars Volta and At the Drive-In fame) on his Bosnian Rainbows project.
While Bosnian Rainbows gave Suaréz room to sing over more abstract, electronic-...
An epic sandstorm raged Saturday night, reportedly sabotaging Pharrell Williams' set and causing festival-goers to walk with kerchiefs wrapped tightly around their mouths.
"Finally, hipsters have a real use for their scarves," one heavily bearded, suspiciously hip-looking man dryly commented Saturday night while waiting in line for the Neon Carnival, the weekend's biggest party.
Produced by nightlife mastermind Brent Bolthouse and hosted by Nylon, Guess and Olay Fresh Effects, the gathering attracted recent Oscar-winner Jared Leto and pal Emile Hirsch to an airplane hangar in Thermal that was outfitted like a vintage fair complete with neon-lighted rides, ring tosses and adult-sized slides.
The fashion at the party could be called Leto-influenced. The actor had been spotted wearing zebra-striped tights (or maybe just really, really tight pants) at Future Islands earlier in the day. That evening striped tights, or spandex were seen on an...
This post has been corrected. See below for details.
You could have had a Bloody Mary on Coachella Sunday to brighten your eyes in the morning. Or you could have wandered anywhere near the Gobi Tent for the first few hours of the day, because two of the earliest acts were some of the fest's most pulverizing.
Right out of the gate, the Japanese-via-London quartet Bo Ningen played with the kind of incendiary force that usually sets this part of California on fire for months. If Primal Scream had twice the pedalboard and quadruple the swinging black haircuts, it might have approximated the blowtorched, hallucinogenic punk that Bo Ningen riled up. [UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. Mon., April 14. This post orginally misidentified the sex of some members of Bo Ningen]
All 20 minutes of the band's set that I saw seemed to be one outro of one song (and only one continuous chord of it to boot). But the way they wandered in and out of a Krautrock groove, twisting pedals to call up squalls of satanic...
Whenever talking about Solange, the conversation inevitably steers to her superstar sister Beyonce.
It’s understandable, albeit a bit unfair. Beyonce, the teenage girl-group frontwoman turned pop queen of the universe, casts a mighty wide shadow -- a shadow that stretched to the Gobi tent stage at Coachella, where Solange performed Saturday night. Beyonce's kid sister has surely led a life of constant comparison, and Solange’s first album, 2003’s “Solo Star,” did follow in the sassy, pop-tinged R&B of the mega-selling Destiny’s Child.
It didn’t strike with listeners, nor did its underrated follow-up “Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams,” but the conversation changed with 2012’s seven-song EP “True.” Stuffed with shimmering '80s-era R&B, funk and alt-pop, "True" provided the source material for Solange’s enchanting set Saturday night.
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Between songs during Lorde's striking, sparse set just past sundown on Saturday night, the singer paused for a moment to wonder on the year that she's had.
She's 17 years old and co-penned one of last year's biggest anthems, "Royals." With the first gusts of a looming windstorm rolling in, she explained that this Coachella gig was the first big festival she booked at the onset of her whirlwind 2013.
"I think we booked this in May of last year, and since then we've been all over the world. We've seen so much," she said, her voice filled with awe as she looked out on Coachella's after-dark neon beauty and waves of humans absorbing her every word.
She wasn't exaggerating. In that time she's won Grammys, earned critical praise and become a household name. And here she was at another career pinnacle, gigging one of the biggest, hippest festivals in the world, a first circle in the midst of being completed.
That's a lot of weight for any artist, and she carried it...