Mulberry firepit and pool parties, The Parker Hotel, Palm Springs, April 13-14
California knows how to party,” the great hologram Tupac Shakur once said. And so even though Coachella’s festival site is 150 miles from LA, the fun times find a way of rolling long after the festival has been packed away. It’s not a new phenomenon, either.
The small desert towns surrounding Coachella are steeped in glitz and rock’n’roll behaviour, with every hotel wall having a story. The Vaccines
tell us that Nancy Sinatra learnt how to swim in the pool of the hotel they’re staying in. NME, meanwhile, is holed up in the Parker, a country-club retreat once favoured by Frank Sinatra and members of the Russian mafia, and now the location for Mulberry’s Coachella parties and gigs.
Friday night’s Firepit party sees Kasabian play a semi-acoustic set in a hastily built marquee (this is the first rain in Coachella’s 13-year history), while Azealia Banks and Metronomy huddle for warmth around the bonfire. ‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’ is dedicated to Freddie Vaccine, who’s stopped DJing indoors to throw himself around among the supermodels and flying bottles of Bud Light.
The highlight is a cover of ‘We Could Have Been Anything’ from the soundtrack to Tom’s favourite film, Bugsy Malone. Delivered in questionable cockney accents, it’s a vaudevillian, Libs-style knees-up, made even more ludicrous by a line of burly roadies bobbing around playing tambourines by Serge.
But Saturday’s Pool Party is the show-stopper. Emma Watson and Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood turn out in the midday sun to see brother-sister Chicago duo Wild Belle – currently the hottest unsigned band in the world thanks to their self-released debut single and certifiable summer anthem, ‘Keep You’. It’s a rocky, dizzy, lovers’ headrush of scorned woman lyrics set to synth-pop and parping sax.
Today, with a full band in tow, Natalie and Elliot Bergman cover The Troggs’ ‘Our Love Will Still Be There’, but it’s their self-styled ‘island soul party music’ that wins out. Raised on a muso diet of Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and a ‘Studio One Women’ rocksteady compilation, Wild Belle’s music may be breezy but Natalie’s voice is like molten lava – closer to Amy Winehouse’s liquid jazz baritone than the Lily Allen comparisons she’s previously caught. “Jump in the pool!” she commands as their set winds up, and the party people are happy to oblige.