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California streaming: The best of Coachella via YouTube

by Ryan Snyder

Not that it did any good, it’s easy to rationalize missing out on the Coachella Music and Arts Festival this past weekend. It was something like 98 degrees out in Indio, Calif., all the people were probably on drugs and Kings of Leon suck. Plus there are taxes to do, tomatoes to plant and laundry to fold. But the truth is, outside of Coco Crisp’s afro, Coachella was the biggest thing going in California, and maybe the country. The festival sold out in only six days, and if it weren’t for the magic of the internet, it’s likely that the hundreds of thousands who missed out might’ve spent their weekend kicking cans down the street. The three-day YouTube webcast did have its benefits: Conflicts were present, but easier to navigate; beer was cheaper; taxes got filed; and few actually at Coachella got to experience the breathtaking folly that is Rosanna Arquette. Even through a limited — and often filtered — lens, there was a lot of gold to be mined.

Best comeback: The easy answer is to just say Lauryn Hill and be done with it, but Death From Above 1979 was relentless. Their profile stewed and simmered during their hiatus, and it’s boiled over with gangbuster shows at SXSW and now Coachella. Honorable mention: Still not Lauryn Hill. Sometimes it doesn’t get much better than goofy-looking Brits playing heavy rhythms, and Mick Jones and Big Audio Dynamite Clash-less set embodied that in all its glory.

Best collaboration: Not that Chromeo needed any help in being awesome, recruiting Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Pound to play sax made their ’80s cheese even more savory. Honorable mention: Clipse’s Pusha T rapping alongside Kanye. At least it wasn’t Katy Perry.

Best micro-trend: French electro-pop singer Yelle (who’s playing the Cat’s Cradle this week) is helping bring the field-tactical look into vogue by opening her sets in the top half of a ghillie suit. It works well with contrasting layers, as the skin-tight, hooded onesy that she later revealed underneath left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Absolutely. Nothing. Honorable mention: Props to Death From Above 1979’s Sebastien Granger for copping the white suit and black hat get-up that Alejandro Jodorowsky’s character wore in The Holy Mountain.

Best performance under the influence: Wiz Khalifa, in a laugher. The guy makes James Franco look like Lemonade Lucy, and his giggly deportment is infectious even through a 17-inch laptop screen. Keeping the Rolling Papers tracks to a minimum only helped his cause.

Worst performance under the influence: Rosanna Arquette, and it’s not even close. Good God, where to begin. Between affecting an accent and speaking loudly to Mexican-born members of Caifanes and France’s Yelle, and her slurry of inane questions (“What would you do without music?”), you have to wonder if the actress was auditioning to replace Jane Krakowski on “30 Rock.”

Cutest moment: Bob Forrest’s bubbly infant son with gigantic earphones trying to suckle a boom mic during an interview with Arquette. So precious. Honorable mention: Arquette asking Forrest if this was his eight-month old’s first Coachella. So precious.

Biggest disappointment: Watching Coachella say “Forget You” to a late-to-the-show Cee Lo as he explained to the crowd that his plane was delayed was pretty poor form, especially just before Lauryn Hill went on 20 minutes late herself and was allowed to finish the set. His cantankerous stage banter was almost worth it though. Dishonorable mention: As much as I was looking forward to Duran Duran, their insistence on providing awkward exposition before every song somewhat derailed what could’ve otherwise been a great set.

Most in need of another band member: I get that the Kills are all about this highfalutin artistic aesthetic, but hire a freaking drummer already. Dishonorable mention: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti should be auditioning for someone to replace Ariel Pink.

Most anti-climatic moment: Not since Geraldo opened Al Capone’s vault, has there been a moment of “no s*it” equal to the shadowy TBA spot Sunday night to close out the webcast. It throbbed like a sore thumb all weekend, but spoiler alert: It was Kanye. Was it still worth it for East Coasters to stay up until 1:30 a.m. to catch Kanye’s Dark Fantasy? No s*it.

Best new discovery: Something about Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears’ conjugation of blues and soul seems out of place at the cutting-edge Coachella, particularly without the name Daptone or Stones Throw stamped on their album, but to misquote Rasheed Wallace, “Guitar don’t lie.” There’s a home for unbelievable chops like Lewis possesses at any festival. Honorable mention: Foster the People is a band you’ll be hearing a lot about in 2011.

Worst new discovery: I used to love “Unsolved Mysteries” as much as anyone, but turning the show’s theme song into a 45-minute minimalist movement is not as good an idea as it sounds. I’m talking to you Brandt Brauer Frick. Dishonorable mention: You can’t deduct vehicle registration fees in North Carolina? What the hell, mate?

Follow Ryan on Twitter @YESRyan

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