Coachella, Day 3 at Empire Polo Field -- Concert Review

Concert Review: Coachella Day 1 and 2

Coachella magic was at work most of Sunday's closing date of the three-day festival in the Southern California desert, from the hot-rockin' Gaslight Anthem out of New Jersey to the headliner, celebrated Britrock mood icons the Cure, playing until the plug was pulled just shy of 1 a.m.

The Cure's performance was slow-building with low-key songs. Then came the first round of crowd-pleasers including "Love Song," "Pictures of You" and "Just Like Heaven" as the crowd was taken away on dream-guitar fatalistic romance for more than 2 1/2 hours.

By the third encore, singer-guitarist Robert Smith informed the remaining audience that he was told he could do only one song but played three anyway. The final number, "Boys Don't Cry," turned into a sing-along as the video screen went dark and the sound system began to power down. It was the perfect finish to another wide-ranging year of offerings at the annual arts and music festival.

The Cure followed the highly anticipated My Bloody Valentine, which was bloody loud to the point of clearing nearly three-quarters of the field during a closing, seemingly endless white-noise drone. The band's earlier reined-in songs with actual melodies buried beneath the feedback architecture, still at painfully high volume if you were too close -- and that meant thousands of feet away.

Much more engaging were the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose Karen O is one of the most appealing rock frontwomen to surface since Chrissie Hynde. From thumpy struts to surging, hooky tunes, she charmed the crowd with self-effacing antics, warmth and plenty of smiles.

Like social networking sites, Coachella offers a make-your-own-festival approach, so no two people might have the same experience. Highlights from one

of many possible versions included a late-afternoon set of pop delights from sublime Swedes Peter Bjorn and John on the Coachella Stage and the country-tinged electric folk of Okkervil River. In contrast, bad sound and cliches meant rapper Lupe Fiasco lived up to his last name.

Those willing to brave the event's hottest day, with temperatures in the low 100s, were rewarded with the Gaslight Anthem on the Outdoor Stage. The quartet is not really punk or alternative or whatever but instead is an honest-to-goodness rock 'n' roll band with heart-and-life-on-sleeve songs. The same field stage at night hosted Brit music veteran Paul Weller and the return of Public Enemy, which wasn't sure if it was delivering commentary or comedy -- a little of both, really.

X marked the spot for punk and postpunk of various eras in the Mojave Tent, anchored by the legendary Los Angeles outfit playing as though it was a club gig for friends. The tent also hosted appearances by the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the artsy Kills and another vet from the punk wars, London's reunited Throbbing Gristle.

Those seeking a detour from the Cure's extensive time onstage could've headed to the other side of the field to the Sahara Tent for varied dance experiences including Groove Armada playing DJs and the audiovisual performance art of Etienne De Crecy.

The 2009 edition further cemented Coachella as America's leading music festival.

Venue: Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif. (Sunday, April 19)