Monday, April 30, 2007

No food today but Coachella (day 1) is something to write about

This weekend I embarked on the human endurance/entertainment show that is Coachella. My buddy Derek Halet and I got a slightly late start on Friday morning to head out 120 miles eastbound on the 10 to Indio. Surprisingly we had zero traffic almost the entire way out there and showed up in great time to catch some In N Out before we got in the long car line off the Indio exit. Let me interject and say that when going to the desert and you have to wait in a long car line make sure you have was like being punished for sins you hadn't done yet! We waited about an hour from getting off the exit to getting into the parking lot. Might've been the hottest time I spent during the entire weekend.

We get inside the festival and try to catch the end of Nickel Creek who were performing on the outside stage at the the festival. There are 5 stages at Coachella; those being the main Coachella Stage, the outdoor stage to the right of it, the Gobi tent is next, then the Mohave tent and lastly the Sahara tent. Nickle Creek broke up last year so it was great getting to see them once again bring a little instrumental, down home organic jamming to the masses.

Next we had a laughable moment at the gimmicky "Tilly and the Wall". A super poppy band with the unique quirk of tapdancing with the percussion. Wasn't too tight of a set but the crowd was fresh and enjoyed it.

From there I moved on to catch a little bit of the set from "Of Montreal" at the outside stage. I must admit I felt bad for them as they were having insane monitor issues and spent most of the set playing charades with the sound guy, but usually having to walk over to him. In the end though, even when things were going well on stage they really didn't have much life to them, which is very unlike them. Maybe just too darn hot.

Next stop was Gillian Welch who played with David Rawlings. Dressed in matching folk Grand Ole Opry outfits A beautiful set with class and they really just held things together sweetly. David's excellent chops gracefully and sometimes fiercely embraced Gillians great songwriting. Together their voices were delightful to hear as the accompanied the breeze that was slowly start to come through the Empire Polo Fields of Coachella.

The nature of Coachella is that you really have to pick and choose wisely who and when you catch the acts you want. Many of them overlap and are sometimes far from each other not to mention that sometimes they are in tents that fill up or are so crowded you can't get close. We learned this quickly when we stepped away from the tent that Gillian was at to get something to drink (by the way a nice change was that water was $2 in the entire festival and gatorade, which I lived on, was only $3...incidentally they sometimes had the Kirkland version of Gatorade which tasted better) and when we came back to the tent it was completely and utterly filled to the brim cause Amy Winehouse was going to be playing there next. Sadly we did want to see her and all I got was the tiniest glimpse of her and heard her from the outside. A nice thing though is we did get to see Silverlake's pride and joy, the Silversun Pickups, on the main stage. They initally seemed to not know how to work a festival audience which is a different thing than a club but they eventually worked it right and the sonic fuzz mayhem reigned. Here they are killing it:

We moved onto the next tent where we saw a band by the name of Circa Survive...sigh. Wish we hadn't but Rufus Wainwright was playing in there next and we weren't about to miss that. Circa was just a boring show to watch and consisted of a cross between muscle and jock rock. I particularly found it funny being a bassist that the bassist was rocking out and you couldn't hear one single note he was playing. It was hot and we sat through their set specifically for Rufus Wainwright so that we could catch a close spot.

We were hooked up with a super close position and Rufus packed out the tent as far as I could see. He played some material from his new album and some of the hits from he's 3 previous discs. Despite being plagued by feedback that was practically making him deaf from the squeals on stage, he did a fantastic job and trudged through it. In the end it was one of the most solid performances for the weekend. He was also one of the only performers to give an encore that wasn't a main act.


We hustled out of the tent to race back and catch some of the set of premiere shoe gaze grandads "Jesus and the Mary Chain". What can I say... the sound was stupendous and washed over you with such an intensity but you must only listen cause shoe gaze bands don't really do anything on stage. They were no exception. There was one plus and I'm bummed as all get out that I didn't get a picture, but Scarlett Johanson came up and sang a song with them. She wasn't the greatest singer but it was cute and weird all at once.

We stayed at the main stage to catch the rest of the mainstage acts, which first up was Interpol who were solid. Clean and excellent playing and the crowd ate it up. The only complaint EVERYONE had was: how many times were the techs going to tune their guitars before going. I counted 6 times on the same guitars at like 5 minutes intervals. But still a great show:

Last up was Bjork. What an incredible spectacle! We were maybe 10 rows from the front and squished to death but it was soooooo worth it. She comes out in this amazing head dress that sadly I couldn't capture cause of the movement of the crowd, but you've probably seen it online already. Needless to say the stage was amazing with a drummer, a 10 girl horn section that also sang heavenly, a digital mixer that had this device that could best be described as CHAOS pad but with a completely versatile real time ability to control and add varying distortions and logorhythmic variances to the patch (it looked like a huge radar screen that he placed circular runes was freaking amazing), and a keyboard player. She was so adorable and endearing to the crowd. After every song was a "Senk You" or "Graciasssss". She also had new versions of some classics like "Hyper Ballad". In the end she fulfilled every myth about herself musically. Her voice was huge and soared and she proved once again why she's an artist not to be missed ever.
Day 2 and 3 should be up on Tuesday!

Here's the cool device I was talking about:



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