The Knife led a Viking bacchanal over two nights at the Fox Oakland, putting on what might have been one of the best shows of the year. The Swedish outfit expanded from a brother-and-sister duo to a nine-piece phalanx of drummers, singers, and dancers. They skidded across the stage in pastel jumpsuits, executing Broadway-like choreography under a dazzling light show. It was utterly irresistible.
Then there was Queens of the Stone Age, who reminded a sweaty Bill Graham Civic Auditorium that hard rock is supposed to be lurid and transgressive. Over nearly two hours, the desert misfits proved that they sit atop whatever throne remains in mainstream rock, pairing powerful new songs like "If I Had a Tail" with even wilder and more devastating old ones, like "Sick, Sick, Sick."
Panama-via-Oakland duo Los Rakas celebrated the release of its major-label debut with a look at the failings of immigration in America. The tragic video for "Sueño Americano" shows how a the well-meaning but undocumented migrant can have his hopes squelched by a system that offers little opportunity and even less concern.
Outside Lands sold out in record time this year, with both three-day passes and single-day tickets selling out within about 24 hours of their release. All the general admission tickets are gone, though some VIP tickets remain as of press time. That's great for the festival, but hard on curious fans who didn't make up their minds early.
Coachella seems to get worse and worse. This year we saw a deluge of Tweets from festival attendees that those stereotypes about who goes to the event and what people wear there are more or less true. "When I got into music," one Pitchfork editor tweeted after looking at photos of Coachella, "it was partially to not be in the same room/desert as these guys."
Well, Courtney Love went and said something stupid again. This time it was that "saxophones don't belong in rock 'n' roll." To which we say, what about E Street Band member Clarence Clemons? And what about M83's "Midnight City"? Or PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake"? Must we go on, Courtney?