It's easy to forget how much momentum can be created with just one bass, one guitar and one percussionist. New Orleans guitarist and singer Benjamin Booker and his two-man band served a tight, chunky reminder in the Gobi Tent on Saturday afternoon.
While around them on the field musicians were crafting tones with miraculously sophisticated instruments and delivering alien noise, Booker harnessed an Epiphone hollow body guitar and went to work.
FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2015
On "Wicked Water," drummer Max Norton offered memorable pound to augment Booker's rockabilly-tinged guitar work. But rockabilly wasn't what drove Booker to heights. Instead, it was the deep blues and R&B as delivered by artists like Furry Lewis and Otis Redding — the heritage that rockabilly mimicked and drew inspiration from, that made Booker's work resonate. He honored blues player Lewis with a hot take on his "Falling Down Blues," and Redding with a cover of "Shout Bamalama." Booker has also cited Los Angeles band the Gun Club as inspiration; you could hear that post-punk tone throughout.
Word is Booker messed up his voice in a pre-show the other night, and the scratch was evident. "Violent Shiver" sounded like he meant it, the way his throat scratched and fought. But Booker understood: This is Coachella. He can rest after the set.