One oft-reported takeaway from this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which ran Friday through Sunday and will repeat this weekend in Indio, is that kids have taken over the place.
Yet while that may have been true on the festival’s rock stages, where newish bands such as Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club dramatically outdrew the wizened Replacements and Afghan Whigs, it wasn’t quite the case in the enormous Sahara tent, Coachella’s home for big-beat dance music.
But huge crowds also flocked to the tent for well-received sets by Fatboy Slim, that balding avatar of late-’90s electronica, and Duck Sauce, the sly New York City duo that pairs the veteran DJ-producers A-Trak and Armand Van Helden.
And those turnouts weren’t about loyalty or scholarship, as you got the impression standing among the hundreds (dozens?) of people watching Afghan Whigs; nobody seemed to stay in the Sahara for a second longer than the music moved them.
Made happy at Coachella, Duck Sauce fans young and old are likely to find equal satisfaction with the duo’s debut album, out this week.
Satisfaction and a sense of recognition, that is: “Quack” features most of the singles Duck Sauce has released over the last few years, including “aNYway,” a club favorite since 2009, and "Barbra Streisand," which cracked the Billboard Hot 100, earned a Grammy nomination and has been streamed more than 70 million times on YouTube. This is a song even Replacements lovers have heard.
The newer tracks here feel no less familiar, with their prominent samples from dusty crate-diggers’ delights such as Melissa Manchester’s “Energy” (in Duck Sauce’s “NRG”) and “Radio” by the English punk band the Members (in “Radio Stereo”). “Charlie Chazz & Rappin Ralph” is a loving homage to rap’s foundational Sugarhill Gang; “Goody Two Shoes” juices THP’s 1979 disco jam “Good to Me.” There are skits too, clearly inspired by classic bits on Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang Clan records.
But as they did in the Sahara (where they performed in front of a giant blow-up duck), A-Trak and Van Helden present these lightweight riffs with so much spirit -- and so much four-on-the-floor momentum -- that the music carries you forward, not back. It's always looking to the next party.