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Coachella 2011: Cold Cave tries to keep out the light; !!!'s eternal love for the cowbell

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Cold Cave isn’t the first band at Coachella, nor will it be the last, to have its goth credentials mocked by the presence of palm trees, sunshine and girls in sequined baseball caps texting through the entirity of its set. They waged a valiant war in the Mojave tent against such betrayals with the accouterment of the black-on-the-inside set.

An abundance of black leather and/or shredded gloves on all band members? Check. A disaffected blond on keyboards? Yep. Clinical detachment from frontman Wesley Eisold on all matters of the heart? Uh, yeah, does Peter Murphy sleep in a coffin?

Teasing aside, the New York City collective turned in a solid show of goth-dance classicism, the two synth players flanking Eisold toiling endlessly to fill the atmosphere with a sense of dread that coiled and snapped. Around the middle of its set, Cold Cave broke things open. Jennifer Clavin, formerly of L.A. riot-punks Mika Miko, retreated from the synths and picked up the bass for a song that shined a bright light into the band’s murky vision. Who knows, maybe all that sunlight penetrated their souls at last.

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Before Cold Cave, !!! played on the Outdoor Stage, while the Moving Units played on the Main Stage, a bit of booking that should’ve been switched. Neither band is at the front of the blog-darling pack, but !!! at least showed at both this year’s South by Southwest and at the FYF Fest last year that they still know how to turn that mother out, beating on a cowbell till it rides all the cowgirls and cowboys back to the range.

Alas, though relentlessy funky, the crew (who’ve played at least a couple of Coachellas before) didn’t seem quite as energized as they were closing the party last September. Then again, it’s hard to shut down a party that’ll last another 62 hours or so ...

-- Margaret Wappler


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