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One of the greatest things about music megafests like Coachella is the potential for breakout moments — that instant when a band next-levels on the strength of their live show, hype be damned. Sunday afternoon at Coachella, that designation clearly belonged to Rudimental, a hydra-headed dance collective whose audience ballooned to a bulging mass in the Mojave tent.
Bolstered by MCs and singers that each gave the air of a mix-tape — when one was done with the microphone, the other would retreat back to their instrument — the set was essentially a backbeat round-robin. It’s a conceit that’s very of-the-moment, and Rudimental own it, begging for fist pumps and hand claps as they nailed complex tempo changes (like a double-time meets electro wub-wub in a single song, for instance), giving them the versatility of a great DJ while maintaining the feel of a live band.
Also exciting, though in a far more traditional sense, was power pop-rock troubadour Frank Turner. In a Coachella culture veering more and more towards EDM and dance-pop, Turner’s rock songs about rock songs were a welcome change of pace, and the U.K. songwriter delivered each with a fevered passion he clearly learned from idols ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Shane McGowan.
Operating at the other side of the classic spectrum was buzzy outfit Blood Orange, who matched funk grooviness with a let’s-go-to-bed mentality, all while smoothly setting down a retro seductiveness. If that sounds like a description of some amalgam of Hall & Oates and Prince, you wouldn’t be far off, especially when frontman/guitarist Devonte Hynes tosses on a guitar, conjures up purple, and lets rip. It’s derivative and effective all at once.
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