Girls in white-rimmed sunglasses and summer dresses are leaning over the barricades. At a practically precise 5:12 P.M., Silversun Pickups stroll out onto the Coachella Stage to hoots and hollers. We’re not quite in Los Angeles, but this four-piece from Silver Lake gets a kind of hometown welcome. For a band on a stage this size, they look strangely like the people watching them. The jumbotron even captures a close-up of bassist Nikki Monninger’s right foot tapping in slip-on Converse low-tops. Singer Brian Aubert has a gee-whiz moment, awed by the size of the crowd, jokingly pleading with them to stay and check out “the rest of the bands.”
When they begin playing “Little Lover’s So Polite” and Brian sings the line, “Well, so much for the light show,” it seems that the first of the darker bands of this evening are doing their best to tug at the sun, to bring it down a bit for Interpol later on. A guy walks by wearing a Radiohead pin and a Beatles pin, sort of summing up the spirit that’s growing here, a place where Silversun Pickups are playing on the same stage as the Jesus and Mary Chain.
While this band has their moment here, off in the distance, the bike rodeo is in full gear, with people pedaling on a thing called “Cyclecide.” A locomotive engine is set off and something called “The Dingus Smashing Show” is underway, involving a flame-thrower wielded by a sooty-faced gent in filthy tuxedo tails. Someone is overheard saying, “When I listened to them on your computer, they sounded like any other band. Live, they’re totally different.” GREGG LAGAMBINA / PHOTOS BY CHAD WADSWORTH