Coachella 2013: Confessions of a Violent Femme

Brian Ritchie, left, and Gordon Gano of the band the Violent Femmes perform onstage during day two.
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Watching the Violent Femmes at Coachella is a kind of existential angst for a millennial guy.

The trio’s acoustic punk reveries on the Main Stage were perhaps the most articulate depiction of young male desire that any band could conjure for a twentysomething male. Sure, you can rage in the dance tent, or profess your affections in a smaller arena, but for real, uncut adolescent masculinity and its attendant frustrations, there is the Violent Femmes, and no one else.

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Hearing them play “Add It Up” on the main stage is both a reminder and a warning: The world is big and wide and nothing can replace that first gasp of musical influence as a document of how to feel attraction. But the emotion that the Violent Femmes conveys -- that of thwarted lust and unmet need -- remains hot and vital at Coachella.

All things considered, they sounded great after so many years (their first record was released 30 years ago), and sounded all the better with a feral punk instinct leeching into their pop savvy hits. But as one who grew up on them, it’s a pleasure to see the Violent Femmes reunited and at the vanguard of male frustration once more.


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