After the let down that was the Coachella ticket release, there was only one response any rational and sane person would have… create your own mini-festival. Often times living in Arizona comes with having to forgo seeing artists, especially in Northern Arizona, however with Coachella Music festival moving to a split weekend arrangement, there were hundreds of artists having to stay in and around the area for the week. What does this mean? Well simply put, the amount of artists to come through the southwest, saturated the area with the possibility, to make up and catch some of the key artists that one may otherwise miss out on. The following is the detailing of such a trip. Traveling hundreds of miles over the course of a few days, bouncing from once city to the next as if they were individual stages themselves, and operating on little to no sleep, at the end of the day it would appear as if a small part of Coachella was indeed captured.
Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas 4/19
“Sin City,” “What happens here stays here,” well for French electronic duo, Justice, this may not apply. Set atop the Cosmopolitan casino in one of their 4th floor pools, (drained out of course,) these two performed to a full capacity crowd. With the world famous Las Vegas Strip as their background, the tiresome scheduling of their current tour, didnt seem to lessen their energy. Then again its Justice, they electrify any stage they touch.
So what is it to be at a Justice show? First off, you best be willing to be cramped in with a few hundred of your soon to be best friends, dancing, otherwise you’ve made a grave error for your evening’s activities. Secondly, knowledge of how essential water is, and most importantly, how powerful a commodity it can actually be, (especially when the closest place to procure any will set you back at least $5 a bottle.) This can be the key element in determing the rest of the night. Third, toss out any pre-conceived notion of what to expect you have no clue.
Justice isn’t about their light set-up, ( though they do have a better than average setup,) there’s a certain modesty and cleanliness to their stage presence, especially in a day and age where bigger has become synonymous with better. Toss in about a dozen Marshall amps, with LED trimmings, a massive table setup seemingly pulled out of Tron’s: “Digital Grid,” and a wall of LED bulbs to cap it off… you know pretty average.
Justice isn’t just two dudes mixing a bunch of tracks; Xaveir de Rosnay (the really skinny one,) taking periodic breaks to sit at the electronic piano, that appears magically out of the front of their turntables, is just one of the many examples of these musicians, being musicians, having full knowledge of arrangement and musical composition.
Justice is about YOU! They are puppet masters, toying with every fiber within, vibrating your world down to its core. Feeding off their fan’s response, going faster with each bass drop burning trough any noticeable signs of tiredness or pain, stopping only so YOU can get your perfect shot of them, no seriously, they literally stop, posing like statues for minutes on end, so you can get your memento of the night, “power-fists,” in air, and the solemn “cool guy,” look and all. Then again theyre French DJs, thats how they all look right?
Comerica Theatre, Phoenix AZ 4/20
Florence + The Machine
Playing to a sold-out audience in Phoenix AZ, Florence + The Machine showed up in all her glory. There was always a fight within, trying to understand how Florence + The Machine managed to skyrocket to such notoriety, as she has over the last few years. This isn’t to say she isn’t talented enough, or deserving enough, not at all, but to go from complete obscurity, (at least in North America,) to a major powerhouse selling out arenas ,and closing stages down at major festivals, is a pretty big jump.
With the graciousness of a heavenly priestess, Florence began by thanking her fans, for being the motivation behind her work, and ultimately success–a comment that she would make several times throughout the night. Most concerts create excitement through being able to experience one’s favorite music, it’s a rarity when a concert is sincerely a show, but thats exactly what Florence provided the audience.
Never standing completely still, Flo would cross the stage in an instant, maintaining an inexplicably large smile, and never skipping a “Heartline.” Her energy was contagious, and the joy that could be heard deeply embedded into every note, helped to create a moment in time shared by the crowd at large. Bringing everyone out of their seats at one point or another, the jumping and dancing wasn’t something reserved to only those fortunate enough to have purchased pit tickets.
Opening up with, “Only If for a Night,” Florence, set the tone for the evening, this was going to be something, “so surreal.” The intensity present in her live performances change the sound of her songs significantly, a change which took a moment or two to get use too, however once that was accomplished, there was no going back. Throughout the night, with her stained glass screens behind her stage setup, and the angelic spotlight that would rain down during those deep belts, one couldnt help but see a high priestess conducting a séance. Not in a dark or evil way, that association is due solely to the misconceived notion embedded deep within us all, by a culturally biased society…. instead what Florence was doing, could be more related to connecting deeply with the world around us all, bringing everyone together for an indelible experience.
Only If for a Night (Ceremonials)
What the Winter Gave Me (Ceremonials)
Cosmic Love (Lungs)
Breaking down (Ceremonials)
Rabbit Heart/ Raise It Up (Lungs)
Leave My Body (Ceremonials)
Shake It Out (Ceremonials)
Dog Days Are Over (Lungs)
Never Let Me Go (Ceremonials)
You've Got the Love (Lungs)
No Light, No Light (Ceremonials)
Orpheum Theatre, Flagstaff AZ 4/22
Explosions in the Sky
As the weekend drew to a close, the strain of the last few days were beginning to wear thin. After traveling over 800 miles, and spending over 12 hours in a car, the adventurous spirit that drove us to embark on this journey was beginning to be questioned. However the thought of Explosions in the Sky at the end of the tunnel proved to be the best carrot at the end of the stick.
After having try to see Explosions in the Sky for the better part of the last ten years, this was the third time within the last year, that this was going to become a reality, and by far the most intimate of all the settings thus far. In a small, yet surprisingly spacious concert hall nestled in the hills of Flagstaff, AZ, Explosions driving through from their second weekend at Coachella, back home to Texas, decided it was time to see what this little city had to offer. What they found was a crowd awestruck and amazed by the incomparable artistry that is so often lacking in its small confines.
Having only witnessed them out in the open, at various festivals, the change of witnessing the majesty that is Explosions in the Sky at a small and intimate venue, like the Orpheum is something that can only be created in dreams. There isnt a break during an Explosions show, and its because of this that they dont play encores; they forge an experience with the audience, and to change that experience by giving the crowd anything extra would imply that they hadn’t given it their all yet, or at least that was their argument.
Never fully knowing where one song ends, and the next begins, never fully understanding where which sound was coming from Explosions forged an atmosphere that justified their name.
The Birth and Death of the Day (All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone)
Catastrophe the Cure (All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone)
Be Comfortable, Creature (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care)
Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean (The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place)
The Only Moment Were Alone (The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place)
First Breath After Coma (The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place)
Postcards from 1952 (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care)
Last Known Surroundings (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care)
(*Note* This isnt the full setlist, and there may be some errors, but this is done to the best of recollection)