The Plastikman Live 2010 North American premiere took place Sunday April 18th at Coachella, the 3-day music festival attended 75,000 souls strong (and tanned) in the California desert. The line-up of talent was pretty mainstream focussing on indy-pop and musical legends like DEVO, P.I.L., Pavement, Sly Stone and Friends, The Specials and big ticket attractors eg. Gorillaz, Jay-Z, Tiesto, and Deadmau5.
Unfortunately there was little time to see many of these acts but we can say that the Plastikman set went off without a hitch and was spectacular! The sound was boomy and bassy and LOUD - as good as it gets, Rich's set embodying minimal, acidy techno at its root. And... the visuals were simply staggering.
Shot from the crowd the videos here give a glimpse of the performance and reception.
On Sunday Hawtin brought back his early '90s alter-ego, Plastikman, for a mesmerizing experience of rib-cage-rattling low frequencies and pupil-shocking white light. While the earlier performance by '90s mainstay Orbital in the same Sahara tent seemed like a nostalgic rewind, Hawtin's performance almost served as a told-you-so.
Tracks from his seminal statements on "minimal techno," Sheet One and Musik, needed little remixing or contextual explanation: The ghetto pulses and snake-rattle snares seemed absolutely contemporary and totally at home in the brooding, dark-wave sound of now that emanates from Hawtin's new hometown of Berlin. We wonder if some of the kids in the tent had any idea that the tracks he was playing were, at 17-years-old, almost the same age.
Sifting through the Coachella blog after the show, Romero's sentiments were echoed in not exactly these words but in some pretty colourful ones and many times over by the Coachella audience. For example, posted by Keo345 at 6:44am the day after the show:
Richie ripped my  world apart.
Dark, evil, bombastic.
Gut-shaking, mind-wobbling, relentless bass.
That's all I can muster right now - hands-down the best set of the festival for me, if not the best in all my 7 years.
Keo345 later qualifies his last post:
btw I was not on drugs.
I feel that is worth noting.
Explicit, honest and enthusiastic reviews of the show - music and visuals - go on for a solid 9 long scrolling pages. Worth a look, really!
In this next video Rich gives URB magazine a tour of the Plastikman house in Palm Springs during prep for Coachella. If you want a good look at Rich's gear then this would be the op! The house was hive-like, buzzing with about 20 production crew and a constant flow of friends and music-industry people who intermitently came and went. Derivative's Jarrett Smith worked with Rich and Ali for an entire week prior to the show, the three remaining intently at work till showtime on the Sunday.
There were a couple of tense moments leading up to the show. One major concern was that Matthias Volrath (chief lighting engineer) wasn't able to make it to Coachella due to the moratorium on flights originating from Europe post the recent Icelandic volcanic eruption (Eyjafjallajokull). The entire German crew's return home the Monday after Coachella was also up in the air - no pun intended.
Another logistical problem was that where in Mannheim Time Warp organizers Cosmopop had provided 2 solid days of rehearsal on the festival grounds 3 weeks before the show and then another 2 days in the actual space prior to Time Warp itself, at Coachella there were a scheduled 3 hours for settup and soundcheck at 3am Sunday morning before the 9:30pm show that night. In that time the entire settup - screen, visual, sound and Synk app wireless network technology had to be erected, tested, and then dismantled again.
As it turned out, things were a little behind schedule and the 3am rehearsal happened in full sunlight at 8am Sunday morning. But regardless, as is clear from what preceeds, the show was a huge success. Visuals went off without a hitch and as can be seen in comments following YouTube videos, were received by all present as... well, variations on mind-blowing!