This year's Coachella lineup mostly favored artists not necessarily known for guitar prowess, but let it be known this year's festival did feature some fantastic fretwork. And we're not even counting the Black Lips going full monty on the guitar here; that deserves it's own hall of fame entry. (If only more people saw their 2:15 p.m. set on Saturday!) Texas blues appears to be on its way back in vogue if Gary Clarke Jr.'s Coachella reception means anything, but the proggy art rockers did what they do best, as did the indie surprises. Here are five standout moments that happened on six-strings this past weekend.
Friday, April 13
Gary Clarke, Jr., "Third Stone from the Sun" into "Bright Lights"
Comparing a guitarist to Jimi Hendrix is pretty annoying, but hey, that's what happens whenever a young, black man stands out playing blues-based rock & roll. Clark, Jr. made good on this comparison with this tribute to the god of the electric guitar, winning a huge reception at Coachella.
Saturday, April 14
Manchester Orchestra, "Shake It Out"
The fierce double-guitar attack of guitarists Andy Hull and Robert McDowell rattled the collective solar plexus of the Mojave Stage this weekend. The climax came in the intense ascending outro of this 2009 hit during which the festival audience worked itself into a frenzied, sustained applause--definitely a high-energy point of the weekend.
St. Vincent, "Black Rainbow"
Annie Clark may have been pissed-off this weekend. The first sign was her near-destruction of a theramin during the set opener on Saturday night. Another indicator was this brutal jam from her 2009 Actor album, which she completely annihilated during the discordant final throes of the closing chord progession.
Radiohead, "15 Step"
It's tough to select one moment from this set. During the second song from Saturday's headliner, Radiohead lead guitar player Jonny Greenwood kicked on his POG (Polyphonic Octave Generator, duh) for a quick solo. Coupled with the eerie light-blue digital wash of the onstage visuals, the solo took on an awesome icy ambiance. That shit was glacial, man.
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Sunday, April 15
Wild Flag, "Carrie"
Sometimes it takes witnessing live performance to "get it." Having never seen Sleater-Kinney live, then, this meant that watching Wild Flag shed light on the greatness that is Carrie Brownstein's approach to the guitar. Classically speaking, her technique is rudimentary at best; but what comes out is pure steeze: visceral and unique to the player--unafraid and unabashed to play what she wants when she wants to.