127 Bands, 5 Stages, 3 Days and 1 Mean Sunburn.
"Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - April 17-19th, 2009 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Find 30 Reasons To Love a Weekend in the Desert."
-By Scott Butterworth
There comes a time in every boy’s life when he spreads his wings and becomes a man. For me it was moving from Northern California (Modesto) to San Diego to attend San Diego State University in the Fall of 2002. Moving away from home for college is a coming of age ritual that many in this country are familiar with. But as soon as you get to San Diego State, you realize there is a more highly celebrated coming of age ritual looming ahead of you: the fifteen minute drive south across the border (often by party bus) to Tijuana, Mexico, to take part in whatever it is that you’re not old enough to do in the U.S. But for me, my first trip to “TJ” wasn’t the usual first weekend of Freshmen year as a reaction to newfound freedom away from the parents. My first venture across the border was toward the end of college (late 2006, I think?) when my friends and I were hungry for some legendary TJ tacos and heard about a few local San Diego bands and DJs doing a show in TJ one weekend, headlined by something or someone called MSTRKRFT. I was a little nervous heading across the border for the first time, but my friends were self proclaimed “regulars,” so they promised “everything will be just fine."
If you’ve ever been a college student (or anyone under the age of 21, for that matter) in San Diego, I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories from friends or acquaintances about what can and does go wrong when American college kids go to TJ to “just have a good time.” I’ve heard many of them from friends myself: shakedowns by cops, drunk friends getting arrested and stuck in Mexico, losing IDs/passports, being mugged or pickpocketed on the streets, a Marine buddy who’s not allowed to leave the US without permission decides he couldn’t wait for the bathroom and his next best option is the sidewalk outside the border crossing (we’ll leave it at that, haha). But this particular night, we decided nothing was going to stop us, as we successfully filled our stomach with the best food in the world, TJ street tacos, and made our way to the venue to check out MSTRKRFT. It was my first time in TJ, so I was still a little sketched out by the venue and the neighborhood we were in (and don’t get me started with the borderline suicidal taxi driver that barely got us to the place in one piece). We walked in the dark, dingy room with seizure inducing strobe lights and music blasting.
The first thing I saw was two guys wearing hockey masks...yeah, the old school murdering type!
After this visit to TJ, I did a little research to find out just who this MSTRKFRT was. MSTRKRFT (pronounced Master-Kraft) is an electro/DJ duo from Toronto, spawned from the Canadian dance punk duo Death From Above 1979. DFA 1979’s multi-instrumentalist Jesse F. Keeler joined with his longtime friend and DFA 1979 producer Al-P to create the new electronic-based duo, MSTRKRFT. Death From Above 1979 was active from 2001-2006, releasing their only studio album in 2004.
MSTRKRFT started in 2005, with remixes of singles by popular artists such as Bloc Party, Wolfmother and The Kills. They released their first album of original music, The Looks, in 2006 and the singles “Street Justice,” “Easy Love,” and their remix of Justice’s hit single “D.A.N.C.E.” put them on the map in the hipster club scene. Their second album, Fist of God, was released just yesterday (3/17), and features guest vocals from N.O.R.E., John Legend, and Ghostface Killah, among others.
Here's a quick rundown of the metamorphosis of MSTRKRFT, from “what they used to be” and “what they became” to “what they are now:”
“What they used to be” – Death From Above 1979 on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (Don’t worry, Max Weinberg’s got their back):
“What they became” - "Street Justice" from MSTRKRFT’s first album (2006):
“What they are now” – "Heartbreaker" Feat. John Legend from MSTRKRFT’s second album (2009):
Over the past couple of years, they’ve performed around the world, from underground Tijuana clubs to the massive Bonnaroo Festival with the likes of Metallica and Pearl Jam this past summer.
From the looks of the Coachella line-up, the spotlight is going to be on MSTRKRFT as they headline Coachella’s infamous “Dance Tent” on Saturday night of the festival. But this is no circus side show. A headlining spot in the “Dance Tent” is one of the most prestigious gigs in America for a DJ/electronic artist. In 2006, Daft Punk landed their spaceship and claimed sovereignty over the Coachella "Dance Tent." In 2008, Justice closed the weekend with one of the most cathartic DJ/electronic sets I've ever seen. Sprouting from the same branch of the genre family tree as the previous two, MSTRKRFT is set to follow suit at Coachella 2009 and beyond.
By the way:
"FOR A GOOD TIME IN THE CITY OF TORONTO:
Hey, don't kill the messenger!!! It was written on their myspace page...I thought I'd share.