Just Like Heaven serves up indie gold, just like you remember

Interpol at Just Like Heaven (Photo by Susan Moll)

After a successful launch in 2019, the Coachella Alumni Assn. — dba the Just Like Heaven music festival — reconvened in Pasadena on Saturday, and thank goodness Peaches, M.I.A. and the Hives got their invitations.

The music spanned the Oh-My-Y2K Era, the Got-a-Dubya-Joke Years and the Early Man Bun Epoch, with the artists on the lineup having totaled 34 Coachella appearances between them. (Trivia: Which two bands at Saturday’s festival each played the Empire Polo Club in Indio four times?*)

From a polo field to a golf course: The alumni — working on two stages at Brookside Golf Club adjacent to the Rose Bowl — performed not to indie kids, but indie-kids pushing their kids in strollers, or wrangling them between stops for overpriced ice cream. The fans didn’t wear nametags, just T-shirts asserting their identities. Besides the festival-ubiquitous Rolling Stones and Joy Division tees, there was Just Like Heaven-appropriate apparel repping the Strokes, the National, Placebo, Bright Eyes, Vampire Weekend, the Bravery, Silversun Pickups, Cursive, Razorlight (!) and Editors. (OK, so the last one was mine, because I couldn’t find my British Sea Power tee.) Hot Hot Heat fans, where were you?

Amid misty memories from friends, like “I remember listening to this record [Wolf Parade’s “Apologies to the Queen Mary”] and getting high for the first time!,” here’s where nostalgia met nice:


Nothing like a little air fellatio to raise the eyebrows of any Pasadena city fathers who might have witnessed Peaches’ set. The provocatrice and electroclash survivor celebrated the 20-year anniversary of the then-shocking “Teaches of Peaches” by devoting her set to it. She took the stage in a vagina hat, peeled off layer after layer of clothing (one later costume-change peel revealing a leotard that read: “Thank God for Abortion”) and did a tentative crowd walk, saying “Cameras down ’cuz if you drop me, the show’s fuckin’ over.”

Circus-ringmaster braggadocio turned up to 11, Swedish garage-rockers the Hives busted out two decades ago as a welcome antidote to the Strokes’ practiced NYC cool. We are happy to report nothing has been toned down, not the outsized immodesty, not the sartorial splendor, not Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s repartee, not his pleas for “audience perspiration.” So there were nine songs, one new one (“Paint a Picture”), much hilarity even when most of the crowd ignored his command to sit down, the return of drummer Chris Dangerous after some scary surgery and a shout-along to “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Only in subtle ways did you know this was 2022 and not 2003. Howlin’ Pelle, who is wont to make loud pronouncements by starting with (add dramatic pauses) “Ladies … and gentlemen” amended that on Saturday: “Ladies … and gentlemen … and everyone else.”

M.I.A. has been teasing a new album (“MATA”) for a couple of years, and as she closed out Just Like Heaven’s second stage Saturday night, she lifted the lid on a new song, “Marigold.” The rest of the set was mesmerizing, colorful, confrontational, empowering and extravagant, especially later in the set when she dressed as the Greek goddess Iris and was backed by a children’s choir. “Paper Planes,” still relevant 15 years after its release, sent the crowd into a frenzy.


Maybe some of the aforementioned T-shirts revealed some paunch, but there was nothing but muscle in the main-stage sets by Interpol, Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand. Interpol’s strobe-strafed headlining set, a few months short of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Turn on the Bright Lights,” sizzled (in frontman Paul Banks’ stentorian way) with five tracks from that record and another five from 2004’s “Antics.” Oh, and their seventh full-length, “The Other Side of Make-Believe,” comes out in July (we heard both singles released so far), so maybe Los Angeles will get one more show from them before the year is out?

Modest Mouse were typically Brock-tastic, which is to say frontman Isaac was focused, and as prickly as songs like “Fuck Your Acid Trip” (one of five songs played from their 2021 “The Golden Casket”) needed him to be. The band saved “Float On” for late in the set, when the crowd was hungry for some peak 2004.

And being called upon by the Goldenvoice gods to conjure up the old times couldn’t have worked out better for Franz Ferdinand, who this spring released the 20-track best-of compilation, “Hits to the Head.” All those songs still do, bless them. Especially “Take Me Out.”


If you were a Coachella regular in that era, you know that somebody pleasant invariably plays at sunset. Local Natives, the National, Neutral Milk Hotel, Devendra Banhart … you know. On the main stage Saturday as the sun peeked through the cloud cover and dove over the mountains, it was the Shins — who, speaking of anniversaries, will be back in L.A. in July performing their 2001 album “Oh, Inverted World.” James Mercer seemed particularly upbeat during an hour-long set that included three songs from that album. It was Just Like Heaven’s makeout moment.


“At a festival like this, we gotta hit y’all with the classics,” Dave Macklovitch of Chromeo told the dinner-hour crowd at the second stage. Sure enough, the electro-funk outfit, who could have pimped any number of recent songs, played only one song that came out post-2014. Not so with Bloc Party, who devoted half their set to the album they released in late April, “Alpha Games.” Between the unfamiliarity of the material and some technical problems due to water being spilled onstage, the set dragged, despite frontman Kele Okereke’s charm. Still … “Banquet,” “Helicopter” and “This Modern Love” (Where the hell are my old mix CDs?). Somewhere in between were Australian synth-poppers Cut Copy, dividing their nine-song set between material from five albums and not neglecting “Lights and Music” and “Hearts on Fire,” which after 14 years have lost none of their ability to move bodies.


Just Like Heaven fell precisely on the 15-year birthday of the Cribs’ third album, “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” (produced by Franz Ferdinand’s Kapranos, bingo). They are still the same irascible brother trio making deliciously sawtoothed indie-rock, but they didn’t play “Hey, Scenesters!,” and, yes, this time we will be one of those people. Also, the Raveonettes’ debut EP “Whip It On” turns 20 this year, and here the Danish distortion demigods were, eight full-lengths later, playing all eight fuzz-bombs from that EP, front to back. And 16-plus years after its release, Wolf Parade’s “Apologies to the Queen Mary,” performed front to back, has lost none of its yelpy charm.


“This is my first show since before COVID, I don’t even know how to open a water bottle,” said Santigold, 10 years removed from “Master of My Make-Believe” but clearly energized and the owner of a new single, her first solo jam since 2018, “High Priestess.” Backed by dancers/backup singers who looked like 1930s space-age brides, she brought her kids onstage and kept the spirits high. She played bass on one song — “the scariest part of this set,” she said, “because … I don’t really know how to play bass.” She performed “L.E.S. Artistes,” of course, and a new song ostensibly titled “Shake.” Hopefully, the kids got some ice cream.

* Trivia answer: Interpol and Chromeo.

No/me, S.Lo and Susan Moll contributed to this report.

Photos by Susan Moll, except where noted