For the record, poor Billy Dilly never stood a chance. As fans acquainted with the Murder Ballads favorite already know, "Stagger Lee" wins every time — doubly so when Nick Cave sings the old standard whilst standing atop his fans. The Bad Seeds came to Coachella's main stage on Sunday night, and planted a foot firmly on the back of any who would stand in their dastardly way. The oft-repeated tale of that infamous titular bastard Stagger offered a perverse highlight: hearing Cave scream-sing, "Suck my dick," into an audience that began only inches from his belt buckle. The children's choir that accompanied two of the band's songs were notably missing from the stage for this one.
But first, there was the children's choir. The band's set, which felt all too short at 50 minutes, was bookended by a pair of songs from February's Push the Sky Away — "Jubilee Street" and the titular track — and each was helped along by an adorable squad of singing tykes courtesy of Flea's Silverlake Music Conservatory. ("We got these little kids from L.A.," Cave explained.) Many of them wore shirts that read "Bad Seed," though we imagine they were firmly advised to cover their ears during "Lee."
In between, the Seeds treated the nighttime crowd to 1984's clanging "From Her to Eternity" (best part: watching madman Warren Ellis conduct the string section with demented glee), slowed things down for 1994's "Red Right Hand" (picture Cave doing his own virile version of the Pee-Wee dance), led a fist-pumping chant-along via punk ripper "Deanna" (1988), and delivered a particularly Biblical rendition of "The Mercy Seat." Oh, and there was "Jack the Ripper," to which Japandroids singer Brian King air-drummed furiously from within the often too-cool-for-school guest viewing area.