Coachella was bananas! It was packed, hot and full of unexpected moments. Love was in the air...or, maybe I should say, infatuation was in the air. Oh, young love. The plethora of emotions evoked from this weekend was like something out of a Fellini flick. Between the sea of screaming fans, dancing nomads, empty liquor containers, blazing balls of fire, earplugs, lawn smoochers, unfortunate mishaps, and broken dreams, I’d have to say people got their money's worth. Looking back at who I was most excited to see and who, I felt, gave me that tingle after watching their set, I realized just how hard it is to put on a show of that caliber and pull it off with rave reviews. Golden Voice did a pretty superb job at making sure fans would leave with enough awwww and ew moments to fill a thick book. I made a list of my favorite and not so favorite moments from Coachella ’09. I had some unfortunate mishaps of my own, so I missed a few key players, but the journey is what counts. So, here in no particular order, are the highlights:
The Black Keys, who I was so amped to see, were something else! The blues rockers really know how to bring it. Fearless. There was enough thick smoke in the air to make me assume viewers from every angle were enjoying themselves plenty. Their set was flawless, from start to finish. They didn’t disappoint. It was like watching a baby Jimi Hendrix and mini Buddy Miles up there. Superb!
TRV$DJ-AM gave an unexpectedly stellar performance. There were so many people gathered around to see the humbled two put it down, security had to be increased. People were spilling out of the sides, seams, and crevices nearly into the Gobi tent some distance away. I felt like I was an entire football field away from the stage and still I felt the rush and the roar they evoked from the adoring fans. Kids were singing the words to almost every song they played. Travis Barker and DJ AM took folks down memory lane, cruising through a set packed with classic punk rock, classic hip hop, and classic electronica. A packed crowd in the Sahara went nuts when they had special guest Warren G bust onto the stage to "Regulators." Some kind of serious!
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were unbelievably good live! I’m now their biggest fan. The group has got mad stage presence. There were more people gathered out side of the main stage to watch them than any other band I saw perform while the sun was still out. Karen O put everyone under her spell: she was absolutely mesmerizing.
Fans gave Paul McCartney a nice warm welcome and full round of applause as he graced the stage, by far the best welcome I saw over any other artist at Coachella. Mad respect. He played a handfull of his new material then graced his fans with pure Beatles hits for the last hour of his 3-hour show. Can’t imagine how much Golden Voice charged him in overage fees. McCartney didn’t seem to be to bothered about it.
I met a man wearing a Snuggie in the scorching 100 and something degree heat.
The Cure tried to pull a Paul McCartney by playing beyond their time limit, but they got the plug pulled on them mid song. Ouch!
Public Enemy is always amazing to see live. But their Coachella performance suffered a major set back: There was no bass the entire performance. Made it hard to nod your head to the beat. Chuck D still knows how to rock the mic! Some kind of sweet.
MSTRKRFT had some technical difficulties at first. There was mad stress going on back stage. You could just feel the sheer panic exuding from the stage crew about 15 minutes before set time. The time came, no curtain call. 10 minutes after, still no curtain call. Finally some 12 minutes past, the curtain opened with the smoke machine on full blast to MSTRKRFT on the wheels. The crowd went nuts! They played an intense, high energy, 50 minute set, but unfortunately I was not there to witness any of it. I left after the first song. A little birdie told me John Legend performed the closing song! Word.
I did catch a little bit Beirut, but only by default. Peanut Butter Wolf was having some technical difficulties, so the first 15 minutes or so of his set was dead air. I wandered out of the tent in a daze at the sound coming from the adjacent Mohave tent. It was a full on Jamboree: women were holding hands, dancing in circles like young giddy school children, everyone was singing along; boys were chasing girls, girls were chasing boys, the spirit was in the air. Wow, what a turn out. The crowd was full on participating. Makes it easy to enjoy yourself.
Peter Bjorn and John seemed to be in good spirits. Although the unpleasant sound of feedback crept up on them a couple times throughout the set, the crowd seemed far more open to error than the disgruntled crowd from SXSW. They played the song that made fans first fall in love with them, “Young Folks.” It's the type of song that makes you wanna kiss you Grandmother on the lips just because. People were dancing everywhere. The following song was interrupted by a short introduction: the band called upon two friends who were waiting back stage. Out walks UK pop singer Robyn with another singer whose name has escaped me. Then the kids’ vocals kicked in-- it was the intro to “Nothing to Worry About.” The two blondes sang over the vocals of the children, another crowd pleaser. The song came to an end and the crowd happily cheered them on. I looked down at my watch and noticed they still had 15 minutes left in their set. The album has been out only a week or two so I wasn’t familiar with the last three or four songs of their set. I wasn’t the only one. It’s tuff when bands put all their eggs into one basket too early into the night. It would have been cool to see the two most notable songs at opposite ends of their set. I was fed plenty, though and enjoyed the enthusiastic crowd while it lasted.
Oh yes, back to Peanut Butter Wolf and his mad video mash up skillz. I was standing at the outer edge of the Gobi tent watching Beirut when I caught the bass from the Gobi tent. It didn't take more than a second to register that my feet had their own agenda and marched me straight over to the front of the stage. The crowd had cleared out because of the delayed start, but it felt like I blinked and the place was back to fully packed. I was so enraptured; it’s all one big blur. All I remember is some kid next to me wilding out, head banging when Metallica was on. PBW just demands that type of response, you really can't help it. I also remember this sick mix from Nancy Sinatra to The Doors. Ridiculous. He brought it, for sure!
M.I.A. was M.I.A.: rebellious, charming, witty, colorful and 100% open to whatever happens, happens. She came out with a bang! The intro to her set was bananas! There was so much going on, real eye candy. There were images of M.I.A protesters streaming through all these bright, beautiful, color galore graphics, soldiers, and street dancers. It was jaw dropping. Then the floor opened up and about 5 male dancers in sweats outlined with flickering neon lights marched down the small flight of stairs to center stage in unison, crazy sick! It looked like something out of a coloring book come to life. They displayed it on the jumbotrons on either sides of the stage and it looked like a video game. Nuts. Out of the stage emerged M.I.A. behind a podium drenched with mock press microphones. She wore a sash with patches and symbols all over it, a boat captain's hat and some red or maybe green hipster shades, all outlined with flickering neon lights. She looked like a politician out of The Fifth Element giving a speech at a press conference to foreign creatures and androids. She keep the ball rolling when she brought Rye Rye out to perform "Bang Bang". She even paused the show to invite fans onto the stage. Security freaked. She made the night for about 40 Coachella goers. She gave security a heart attack. She was wise and saved "Paper Planes" for last. Everyone in the joint knew the lyrics, sang along, waved an arm or two and lit a torch. Finally, the type of response she well deserves.
Coachella was good to me this year: I didn’t lose any of my belongings, I managed to avoid anyone getting sick and using me as their regurgitating canvas, I discovered new things and managed to only get lost from my crew only once. All the bands seemed to be in good spirits, except for Morrissey, who walked off stage mid performance after complaining about the smell of meat in the air. Bummer. Clipse was a no show, Thievery Corporation was spellbinding, Fatlip performed with N.A.S.A., Paul Weller performed The Jam and, well the rest is history. ‘Till next time…chew the corners off.