Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Big Fat Coachella Review

This past weekend, thousands of people flocked to the scorching desert in Indio for the hipster-fest known as Coachella. It was my first venture to the festival, so I was pretty excited. I went with my roommate and two of his friends and we camped out...it was pretty fun, except for the 612 degree sun melting your soul at 6:00 AM each morning. It makes sleeping pretty difficult. Well that, and the inebriated campers stomping around at 4 am with noisy drum circles and chants.

The campground area was pretty nice, except for the one little tent where you could charge your phone/camera (two of the most vital possessions for any Coachella-goer all weekend). What steps are taken to accommodate the thousands of wandering campers? Well, they provide one little green cabinet of electrical outlets. Observe:

How this thing didn't explode by Friday afternoon is anyone's guess. It was a madhouse at this thing, constantly packed with people struggling to find a spot for their stupid charger.

Oh yeah, there was also some kind of concert going on........we ventured into the event around noon Friday, and walked around. Throughout the rest of the weekend, I watched 47 bands/artists/dj's. Meaning, I devoted at least five minutes to watching 47 different artists perform. I'm particularly proud of that, as my group with me kinda had to crash and rest up in the shade a lot....but I didn't want to waste any time. 

Friday, I saw:

El Gran Silencio -think of Spanish mariachi music with rapping..pretty interesting

Dear and the Headlights -decent, but weren't overwhelmingly great.

the Aggrolites -alright, typical-sounding reggae stuff, but they covered the Beatles' 'Dont Let Me Down', which was AWESOME. 

Cage the Elephant -easily one of the best performances all weekend. I was pysched to see them, and they were excellent. Great up and coming band. 

Check out the videos I shot:

Los Campesinos! too crowded in the Gobi, but they sounded good....

Ghostland Observatory - absolute ridiculousness, great light show in the Sahara

We Are Scientists -watched for 10 mins, pretty solid, but it was too damn hot

Airborne Toxic Event - alright, but kinda blahhh. I knew that beforehand though...

the Black Keys - excellent. One of the highlights of the whole weekend. How two guys can rock so hard is crazy and amazing.

Morrissey - I wanted to see what all the fuss is about...he complained about the 'smell of burning animal flesh' making him sick, which was funny. Eccentric older British gentleman, interesting and offbeat performance.

Paul McCartney -obviously, I was really looking forward to him, and he blew me away. So damn amazing. Hearing 'Blackbird' and other Beatles tunes was the definition of epic. 

Check out the videos I took:

I skipped Silversun Pickups to get a good spot for Paul, and I don't regret it, no matter how 'amazing' I heard Silversun were. Paul was in the Beatles, so he wins.

Saturday's highlights:

Thenewno2 - This is the band helmed by Dhani Harrison, George's son. The guy looks exactly like George and the music is a creative amalgamation of sound. Their performance was solid but they seemed a bit disjointed. Impressive overall, though.

Tinariwen - A weird band from Mali that was very cultural and a definite change from most of the other acts on the bill. 

Mastodon - This was face-melting. My face was a liquid by the time they were finished playing through the new album 'Crack the Skye'. They blasted through their set in the Mojave, leaving nothing back. These crazy bearded men rock so hard it almost seems illegal. 

Oh, and this was going on in the pit the whole time, which to me is THE perfect Coachella moment I saw:

Travis Barker & DJ AM - I wasn't expecting this to be so good. Travis absolutely DEMOLISHES his drum kit, he smashes them so hard. He and AM put on a great-sounding show, with amazing lights and colors behind them. I was thoroughly impressed with their gig, and pleasantly surprised. 

Check out my video:

Oh, and I skipped the Killers to watch Mastodon. Meh.

Sunday highlights:

Brian Jonestown Massacre - I was really anticipating this set from the moment I saw the band lineup months ago, as I had just watched 'Dig!' and was really hyped on BJM. Anton Newcombe is such a weird guy, but this time he was rather well-behaved.....BJM was amazing. I've only heard one of their albums, 'Give it Back', and luckily for me they mostly played stuff from that disc on Sunday. And, Zia from the Dandy Warhols came out to play on the song 'Not if You were the Last Dandy on Earth', which is the song BJM made about the Dandy Warhols, a song that caused some friction between the two camps years ago....so Zia appearing was a shock and was pretty cool. I guess they're all friends again! yay!

....Here's my video of that performance:

My Bloody Valentine - Musically, their set at Coachella just made me more confused as to what the fuss is about MBV...the songs are so same-ish and the vocals are so low you can't even hear them, which confuses me. I know it's supposed to be brilliant due to its shoegaze-yness and whatever, but I just don't get it. HOWEVER, they were VERY VERY LOUD, so loud you could hear yourself going deaf. At the end of their set, they decided to just play this one note for FIFTEEN MINUTES. One eardrum-shattering, soul-shaking note for FIFTEEN MINUTES. It was the loudest, most absolutely ridiculous thing I have ever seen, and I liked it. I didn't care much for the rest of their set, but this silly one note thing was pretty cool and strange. It felt like the world was dying, or time was moving backwards. Or perhaps it is the soundtrack to after you die and are falling into Hell.....or maybe it was like the earth was opening up and collapsing on itself. Who knows? it was frickin' intense.

The Cure - We only watched about an hour of this before heading to Etienne de Crecy's cube thing....the Cure apparently played for almost 3 hours, and got the power turned off during 'Boys Dont Cry', which I could hear back at the campsite. Apparently they continued past that, playing 'acoustically' without any video screen or PA system. that must have been pretty cool to witness. They were pretty good, as expected.

Etienne de Crecy - wasn't really a highlight, but his cube thing in the Sahara tent was interesting. It pulsated to his techno beats, and all the tweaker kids in the crowd went nuts. It could have been a lot cooler or more amazing, but it was alright. 

Late of the Pier - This was another band I had been looking forward to...they kinda remind me of Klaxons, but with more instrumentation.....we watched them for about 30 mins and they sounded great. 

Fucked Up - This band is named perfectly. The singer is this big huge fat guy who smashed his head with the mic and was bleeding....he spent most of the set in the crowd singing over everyone, which must have been insane for the kids up close getting a full view (and probably scent) of this ginormous dude bleeding and yelling. It was pretty silly. He also climbed up the side of the stage at the Mojave, which looked dangerous, but he sure didn't care.

Check out that video:

I saw other bands, of course, but to write about them all would take a day or two. I tried to watch M.I.A. for a few mins, but it was a big annoying mess. Her dancers were in cool Kanye-esque glow in the dark outfits, which made for good eye candy, but her DJ played this excruciating horn sound every three seconds or so that ruined everything. It sounded horrible. Meh.

 In all, my first Coachella experience was fantastic, and hopefully I'll get back there next year. Camping was fun, except for an hour of sleep and the sun melting through your soul at 6 in the morning. 

I can see why so many people go nuts for Coachella each year...it's an amazing experience, if you do it right. Drinking copious amounts of water is vital to your survival, and I made sure to do that. It was so unbelievably hot Saturday and Sunday though.....shade was hard to find and was probably still about 90 degrees. By the time we got back to the Valley at 4 am Sunday night/Monday morning I could barely stand, I was so exhausted and completely drained. 

Oh, and I did see Deryck from Sum 41 watching Billy Talent from the stage...and David Hasselhoff leaving the Sahara after the Bloody Beetroots. ahhahahhaha so random.

Best quote I heard all weekend was from some dude on the night we got there:
"Man, this hipster scarf is making me so comfortable right now".....ahha

So yeah, that's my Coachella review. It was pretty fun. Til next year.....


Trish said...

what about michael franti? damn son, that shit was off the hook. best reggae ive seen in a looooong time.

Harry said...

Yeah actually I heard word that Spearhead blew. What did you think Adrian?