Coachella Observations: Jake Bugg, The Neighbourhood, & Dillon Francis Prove The Kids Are Still Alright
“Fill my head with the future, fill my eyes with the sky. All of my life I’ve been left behind, but I’ve never felt more alive.” 19-year-old Jake Bugg writes jangly guitar-centric British rock music for the plight of the working class. He has the stoic demeanor and a gravelly voice reminiscent of Bob Dylan, but the talented young singer-songwriter has an unabashedly British baby face and his conversation is sparse at best.
Bugg is an old soul who imbues his sonic storytelling with classic tales of angst, otherness, youth in revolt, the common-class person in evolution, and something so indescribably timeless that decked out in a blue button up shirt and non-descript jeans, Bugg looks and sounds like he could come from any era.
Making music has always been a young person’s game. With a slew of musical veterans on the Coachella roaster, it’s sometimes hard to remember because of their aged appearances and relentless musical notoriety that the Beatles or the Rolling Stones ever started their careers as fresh-faced, artistically-ambitious youngsters. Yes, once upon a time the Beatles weren’t famous. They were just some young dudes trying to live their dreams.
It’s hard to compare the star-power of some of the younger performers with that of our classic greats, but if we think far into the future of rock ‘n roll (or music in general because hip-hop and EDM are currently more rock star than those banging out guitar hits), some of these kids have what it takes to be “classics.”
Bugg is a prime example. His musical ascent has been as bold and brilliant as his single “Lightning Bolt” which brought him to international recognition. Everything about him is sublimely minimal. Even his stage set-up at Coachella lacked any glossy lighting tricks or random frippery. With his talented crew of equally as young musicians behind him, Bugg creates tight, honest music that his slightly-petulant face and British lad swagger only serve to highlight. Bugg actually reminds us of Johnny Marr, stylistically and musically, who would go on to play later that day at the Mojave tent.
Earlier in the day, we saw Bugg playing ping-pong backstage with a buddy and it reminds us of Marr’s stories of his backstage antics with Andy Rourke. In twenty years, what sort of stories will Bugg tell?
Given his placid demeanor, probably not as many as another youthful and differently-but-equally-as-talented band, The Neighbourhood. Dusky, edgy indie R&B acolytes, The Neighbourhood exude stylish, swagged-out Southern California style. They are the perfect fusion of different genres of everything; musically and fashion-wise. Tatted frontman Jesse Rutherford has the charisma of a hip-hop guru; he reminded us of this with his t-shirt that read “Ross&Meek&Wale&Staley,” paying homage to some greats. In the crowd were a mix of grungy, skater kids wearing Odd Future shirts, FIDLAR hats, and fashion-forward accessories.
The Neighbourhood (and their fans) reminds us that it’s rarely enough these days to just do one thing well. Jake Bugg is an exception, probably based on the transcendent classicism of his style, but The Neighborhood are good at everything. Playing in a style that fit any format they appeal to the suburban yupster as much as genre-bending music lovers kids their age. “Sweater Weather” isn’t their only hit, but like Rutherford himself said during their set at the Outdoor stage tonight—it’s what brought them to this moment in time.
Two years ago, they were “getting in” to one night of Coachella to see Arcade Fire. This afternoon, Rutherford was crowdsurfing and singing about a story that had “just begun” in 1991.
For 25-year-old moombahton-dubstep king Dillon Francis, we were witness backstage to the actual people that game him life—his parents. Playing around with the artist area photo booth, Francis’ father took a flower and told the young DJ that he should hand it to his mom while onstage.
Such a sweet innocent scene was juxtaposed with a jam-packed Sahara tent, going down with half-clothed young ladies bouncing on top of tan shoulders. On giant screens were frownie faces, weird cats, and the acronym IDGAFOS. “I don’t give a f*** or sh**” –the sentiment of a talented young person with the personality and sheer volume of fan power to back it up. And two supportive parents dancing happily in the guest viewing area.
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles