Sexiest Parlaying of Equipment Failure Into a Metaphorical Witticism: Metric’s Emily Haines. Poured into an eye-poppingly tight, short, silver shorts jumpsuit, Metric front-siren Emily Haines kicked off her band’s set with an immersively rockin’ performance of “Dead Disco.” On the back of one song, Haines had the audience eating out of her Amber Valleta-like palm, so it was no additional sweat off their backs when her vintage Pro One keyboard started acting up. “It’s just like a woman,” she announced like a practiced, super-foxy comic before supplying the bullet pointed punchline: “Impossible to understand, lots of knobs you don’t know what to do with, gets emotional when it’s important.” With Pro One back on its best behavior, Haines trotted out the band’s new self-proclaimed “stoner rock” tune “Satellite Heart” with a coy Roger Waters wink: “I hear acid is coming back.” (Click here to check out Metric’s acoustic performance of never-before-heard new song “Give Me Sympathy,” recorded live at SPIN’s Coachella house)
Best Breaker of Bad News: Gobi Tent Guy. Passing the Gobi Tent after departing the Duffy showcase, one couldn’t help but notice a compelling Q&A in progress. This wasn’t the first of the day (Sean Penn started his political rant itinerary here earlier as a buzz-builder for his main stage appearance — more on that later), but it did have the distinction of being the most geographically illuminating. “So who here travelled the furthest?” a bespectacled hipster authority figure inquired to the crowd, pointing to eager contestants raising their hands to answer. “London you say? Wow, you had to get on a plane. Japan? That’s far!” Like an experienced doctor greeting a patient’s family in the waiting room, the guy on the mic drew us in with his kindness — he made us believe he genuinely cared. And then he ripped off the band-aid:”Just a reminder: The Field cancelled. So if you came to see them, you’re bumming out. Any other questions?”
I’m From Barcelona / Photo by Lucy Hamblin
Most Likely To Employ a Buddy System When Leaving Indio: I’m From Barcelona. “Baby Shower chic” was the look on the Mojave tent stage, when I’m From Barcelona emerged to greet their afternoon audience bearing giant red balloons made for volleying into the audience. Accompanied by a spray of confetti, the superfluously staffed band opened with “Treehouse,” miming the house-building process to the audience like a preschool class whose teacher happened to be Wayne Coyne. The Swedish twee pop troupe ran down their choral setlist (“Surrounded,” “Collection of Stamps,” “Oversleeping,”) with post-naptime jubilation, interspersed with amusing asides from frontman Emanuel Lundgren (“[That song] was our gift for you tonight. It’s not night, but let’s say night. It’s cooler”). Despite the semi-contagious glee of the outfit’s delivery and the MVP additions of the ensemble’s sax player (seriously, they’ve got five people on “ba ba ba” duty and that dude and Lundgren could probably run this thing on their own), we outgrew the shtick about halfway through.
Most Likely to Receive a Cease-and-Desist From Phil Collins: Stars.Keeping with the decorative theme of the day, Montreal’s Stars blanketed the main stage with red roses for their show, offering a visual cue for those who may not be familiar with the band’s laser beam lyrical focus on all things lovelorn. Amy Millan’s wispy, clear-as-a-bell vocals shined throughout, but co-vocalist Torquil Campbell set off a few alarms. Looking every bit the middle-age “cool dad” figure, Campbell seemed to strain on “What I’m Trying to Say,” and made us think of him as “Dad you’d rather not have drive you home after your babysitting job,” with a Phil Collins-riffing lead-in to the group’s “One More Night” (“Gimme one more night. ‘Cause I can’t fuck you to death forever.”) The band’s late-in-the-set performance of “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” emerged as their frontrunner for the highlight reel.
Duffy / Photo by Lucy Hamblin
Most Dusty, Least Springfield: Duffy. British songstress Duffy has been hyped as Petula Clark 2.0 with a Motown side. So when she joined her band onstage with all the confidence of a jittery American Idol contestant we were immediately concerned. After battling early mic difficulties — which only added to the first date awkwardness factor — the petite blonde looked to have regained her footing, navigating the single “Rockferry” with carefully choreographed country star moves. But for all its well-rehearsed engagement with the audience, the singer’s self-proclaimed “first official festival performance” translated less as trendy throwback and more as next-stop-the-shoe-department adult contemporary.
Most Likely to Be the Next Tom Cruise: Sean Penn. We must have been playing one crazy game of telephone with the rest of Coachella, because we could have sworn Sean Penn was supposed to be introducing Eddie Vedder at some point during the day. First we heard it was gonna shake down in the Gobi Tent, where Penn was scheduled for a 40-minute time slot. I mean, what’s Sean Penn gonna talk about for 40 minutes? Answer: We’re not sure. Once we’d figured out that Vedder wasn’t gonna show, we bounced. After all, we knew we had another chance to catch the Penn show before My Morning Jacket on the main stage, where we were certain he’d produce the cameo we’d been hearing so much about.
I mean, what else was he gonna do with 15 minutes? Use the time to pitch some sort of Jerry Maguire-gone humanitarian scheme to lure young, able-bodied Coachella denizens onto a biodiesel bus with the promise of a campfire with Ben Harper in New Orleans? Urge them to help him save the world and tell them their lives would be empty if they persisted with filling their days with web surfing and work? Rally the troops with the battlecry: “Revolution is a Young Man’s Job!” and issue a Back to the Future-esque invite to meet him the next day at the clock tower at 1 P.M.? Then finish up by enthusing, “Let’s party!”? Yep, that pretty much sums it up.