The Real Coachella Trunk Space Saturday, April 28 Having attended the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the blistering Calfornia desert last weekend, I can state with certainty that The Real Coachella held last night at the Trunk Space is absolutely nothing like event it riffs on.
And that's not a bad thing.
While it didn't feature six separate stages, a ginormous Ferris wheel, and more than a hundred performances by rock and pop tastemakers stretched across three days, the Real Coachella was far funkier experience that was major fun and featured a true indie spirit.
But where Coachella has become a self-important haven for hipsters and douchebags, The Real Coachella (which has been organized by zany performance artist Ryan Avery and his cohorts) on the other hand, is a goofy blast of hilarity that also showcases some of the more interesting musical oddities that occupy the Phoenix music scene.
That's not to say there weren't parallels between the two events: Both were exhausting experiences aiming to shoehorn as many short sets as possible into their lineups, the musicians involved ran the gamut from rock and indie to funk and hip-hop, there were jags of hand-clapping and singing along with bands, and spectacular stunts and guest stars were featured.
For instance, gutter-fuzz art rockers Man-Cat claimed on Facebook that they'd offer a "very special guest" during their performance that would "make your dreams come true." The tiger-masked band delivered on their promise while riffing on Coachella's much-ballyhooed Tupac Shakur stunt by trotting out "Hologram and Oates," a dude wrapped in Christmas lights and dressed as both members of the '80s pop rockers, to perform a strange mish-mash of hits by the duo that included "Maneater."
That certainly wasn't the weirdest sight to be seen at The Real Coachella, which also included Avery performing an entertaining Tony Clifton-like lounge rock act called The Douglas Patton Experience (which is in similar vein to his character in local punk band Fathers Day, where he dons the persona of an evil dad and sings about hating his kids). Before that, a 15-year-old white boy hip-hopper named Glass Popcorn who proclaimed he was the "only black rapper" in the game today.
Speaking of unbelievable claims, there was the fact that "M. Ward" appeared during the event, or at least a dude purporting to be the alt-country star. While he didn't belt out any emotion-tinged songs with a six-string, the faux folkster held a microphone and told hammy jokes and groaners about Zooey Deschanel. In reality, he was local filmmaker Eli Kruger, who was fulfilling a funny tradition of The Real Coachella.
Each year, Avery lists a couple acts with similar or identical names to artists performing at the actual Coachella festival on the fliers for the Trunk Space event. They typically wind up being jokey or humorous send-ups of said acts, like the year Avery and cohort Andrew Jemsek performed a two-man act in the gallery's photo booth and called it "Depeche Mode."
According to Trunk Space co-owner JRC, the tradition has led to some genuine confusion from locals and a couple phone calls from concerned members of the music industry. To wit: "Scissor Sisters" were listed as participants during last year's edition of The Real Coachella, leading to members of the band's management contacting organizers and a few nasty Facebook messages from perplexed local fans.
Such a kafuffle resulted this year when the joke act called "D.E.A.R.H.U.N.T.E.R." was originally listed on The Real Coachella lineup, but was reportedly nixed when the band Dear Hunter got their panties in a twist over the matter.
Besides jokey stunts and funny bits, The Real Coachella boasted plenty of excellent performances throughout the evening. The aforementioned Man-Cat was outstanding during their energetic set, which included renditions of "What's Your Damage?" and their porn-filled favorite "Yeast"
Meanwhile, Andrew and the Feisty Felines offered a 20-minute set of potent surf rock via killer guitar work filled with distortion. Fronted by Andrew Jemsek, the foursome powered through surf guitar tunes along the lines of Link Wray and Ventures retro-rock style
Andew's brother Tristan Jemsek also provided a double-dip of musical madness when performing with a couple of his projects. The Dogbreth Orchestra featured the 20something walking to the stage in a graduation robe and holding a glass candle before thrashing it up with some guitar rock. He also earned plenty of attention with his duo Hug-of-War, which involved an interesting performance of funkiness that was infused with the rhythms of old school '80s hip-hop.
Local pop practitioner Serene Dominic, who's a longtime New Times contributor, also offered a showstopper of an act towards the end of the night that was filled with props aplenty. He busted out with a gigantic inflatable Christmas snow globe and donned a knit cap before conducting a revival of the "Winter Trance Party" and filling the Trunk Space with his unique pop verve.
It was an unusual and entertaining end to an unusual and entertaining night. At least I didn't have to choke through clouds of pot smoke and wait in line to use the bathroom.
Last night: The Real Coachella at Trunk Space featuring Man-Cat, Andrew and his Feisty Felines, The Douglas Patton Experience, Serene Dominic, and others.
Personal bias: Trunk Space co-owner JRC used to live in my apartment building.
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The Crowd: A slew of Trunk Space regulars (read: Geeky indie kids with colored hair, nattily dressed spazzers, and hipster wasteoids)
Random Notebook Dump: This isn't the REAL Coachella unless they have overpriced churros.
Overheard: "Does anyone have a quarter-inch guitar cable?" -- Andrew Jemsek
Also of Note: The after-party was held over at the equally eclectic Funny World where Treasure Mammal performed.