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 feedback and crawling into the crowd like they were trying to get out of a quicksand pit, might have been the best closer to set I've seen all weekend.
The crowd was utterly blown away at the sheer volume and physicality of their set at that hour of the day. The few hundred fans awake and seeing music then were, quite literally, running from across the field to see it for themselves. The set ended with one guitarist uplugging her cable, shocking themselves on the live exposed end of it, to generate even more inhuman furies of bent metal and electricity. The band's bassist and singer threw himself onto the drum set like it was an altar they were ready to die on top of.
If you're coming out for Weekend 2, book your appointment to see Bo Ningen right now. But have a bit of sympathy for the London trio Factory Floor, who had to follow that set. The noise-dance trio put out one of last year's more intriguing releases, a self-titled LP on the disco-friendly DFA Records that borrows from dance music but rarely ever falls into an obvious groove.
On stage, Factory Floor solved that perpetual problem of live electronica ("What are they doing up there anyway?") by transparently crafting almost every sound from a monolith of synthesizers and drums. Good for them, it would have been much easier to just run a laptop and call it day. However, it meant that their songs — so meaty and lively on record — felt a little academic in person, because they were doing so much by hand on stage. Instead of a big chorus, a commensurate payoff in the Gobi was when they turned stereo panning on a synth and a song bloomed into stage-spanning color.
I didn't hear them stop at any point of their set, and their ability to call up the best sounds on their record with real-time modular synthesis was beyond laudable. But by the time they truly found their beat at the end of the set, they had to stop right when the crowd finally got dancing. That's kind of Factory Floor's deal, to be sure, but I'd have forgiven a little pre-programming if it meant they could cut loose as performers. Is Bo Ningen up for a collaboration?
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