Coachella 2011: Francis and the Lights frontman says Saturday gig ‘could have been better’

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Francis and the Lights didn’t have the luxury of a plum time on the Coachella stage Saturday, nor did they have the name recognition that would make them a top draw to festivalgoers recovering from Day 1 of Coachella.

The New York-based electronic-alternative soul upstart fronted by crooner Francis Farewell Starlite (yes, that’s his real name) played to a slim crowd at the Outdoor theater in the early afternoon.

Starlite and his six-piece band gave the devoted fans (though a crew of twentysomethings aimlessly played Frisbee next to the stage) selections from their 2010 debut album, ‘It’ll Be Better.’

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The singer’s tall, black do bobbed as he dipped, spun, glided and worked the mic stand in a way that suggested James Brown. The fancy footwork was enough to elicit cheers from people in the audience, who started paying closer attention to the band’s funky, soul-driven pop.

After the performance, Starlite said he wished the band’s Coachella debut had been cleaner.

“I felt it could have been better,” he said. “I think it went OK, you know … just OK. If I come back next year, and I hope I do, it will be a much different setup -- I’ll leave it at that.”

Francis and the Lights have spent the last few years working to raise their profile, which was made a bit easier when Jake Lodwick, founder of Vimeo, invested $100,000 in the band.

Between Starlite producing a track on Drake’s debut album, “Thank Me Later,” the band hitting the road with the buzzy rapper, Ke$ha, La Roux and MGMT, as well as scoring a pre-Coachella performance slot on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” they’re off to a good start.

When it was pointed out that a cluster of fans knew the words to his music and sang along with every word, he cracked a smile. But he was disappointed at the glitches that marred his set. “You have to push through it,” he said. “That’s all you can do. It’s always hard to tell right after, how you did.’

As for other bands he planned on checking out at Coachella? Well, that too is a question he didn’t care to play along with.

‘Arcade Fire and Kanye West, of course, are two acts I do want to see,’ Starlite said. ‘But I’ve already said too much. That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t really talk about other bands in interviews. I like to keep it about me.’


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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy