INDIO, California – For a two-day festival show held in the middle of a hot desert, I'd say that Coachella went off without any serious hitches. Aside from the nasty attitude that Oasis fans seem to carry around, the atmosphere stayed friendly and peaceful, and it was all good, happy fun in the sun. With over 50 artists performing I didn't get see everyone, but I saw most of the bands I wanted to, and they were amazing.
With a list of artists that included Chemical Brothers, Bjork, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Jack Johnson and Pete Yorn on the main stage not to mention Queens of the Stone Age, the Charlatans and Cake on the side stage, this was a pretty packed day at Empire Polo Field.
Pete Yorn dazzled the audience with his golden pipes as he sang his hits like “For Nancy” and “Strange Condition“; and pro surfer turned rocker Jack Johnson didn't do too bad for himself either. He opened with a Jimmy Buffett song and played some tracks off his debut release Brushfire Fairytales, including the current radio hit “Flake“. I missed everything after the first three songs of Jack Johnson's performance because I was rushing over to the side stage to catch Queens of the Stone Age. I did see the end of the Charlatans set though, and they sounded amazing.
Because of technical difficulties, Queens of the Stone Age actually ended up going on twenty minutes late, which in turn made me rush back to the main stage to get a good spot for Siouxsie & The Banshees. What I did get to see of Queens of the Stone Age was pretty cool. Dave Grohl, formerly of Nirvana and currently of the Foo Fighters, was drumming for them, and the performance put on was outstanding. It was so awesome to see Dave Grohl drumming again.
My favorite performance on Saturday had to go to Siouxsie & The Banshees. They went on at 7:30pm with an awesome sunset behind them making for a surreal backdrop to an amazing performance. As the sky turned from a blaze of blues, oranges, and pinks to black, I got to enjoy the splendor that is Siouxsie & The Banshees live. For those of you who are on the younger side, like myself, and haven't had this opportunity you must take the next chance you get. Even though they have been around for quite some time and are getting older, they are still just as cool as ever, and Siouxsie still looks great.
Next up came Bjork. I knew she was talented and that people liked her, but I was not expecting the turnout or performance that I got. People were going nutty over her. The kids in the front row had gotten there as soon as the gates opened and stayed put all day long. There were about eighty or so people in the photo pit, and the crowd was getting quite rowdy. We started getting warned by security that we may only have one song to take pictures because if people had to be pulled over the barricade, we would all have to leave. Luckily this didn't happen, no one got hurt, and we got to stay for three songs as scheduled.
I've always liked Bjork, but haven't been too familiar with any of her songs. But I must say I was really impressed with her performance. She has an absolutely amazing voice that can almost hypnotize you; not to mention she is totally adorable. She is very polite as well; she said “Zank yoo” after every song.
I was really mad at myself for deciding to go back to my hotel instead of staying to watch Cake. This also meant I missed most of the Chemical Brothers who went on just before them. My thinking was this…I am tired, hungry, dirty, drained from a day in the sun and I don't want to spend two hours waiting to get out of the parking lot. Well, had I known it was going to take me an hour to find my car in the pitch black polo field turned parking lot, that looked much different at night and after a few beers, I would have stayed for Cake. At least I still got to hear the Chemical Brothers while on my fearless search. Getting to hear such great music helped lighten my mood a little. Onward to day two……
I was so exhausted from day one that I over slept and was a little, o.k. a lot, late for day two. That was all copasetic with me though because I still got to see who I had come for. I got to the venue at about 3:30pm, while Mos Def was playing; they were alright. The next band to play was The Strokes, who I was eagerly awaiting.
I had once read a review of The Strokes that said Julian Casblancas (vocals) was so drunk that he was just slumped over his microphone mumbling to the music; I was not hoping for a repeat. But Julian was right on that day. Although he was still visibly drunk, he sang great. The whole band was incredible. I liked The Strokes before I saw them live, but now I love them. They played a pretty long set which included their breakthrough hit “Last Night” and current radio regular “Hard to Explain“. The sun was high and the sky was a vibrant blue as the charming tunes of The Strokes roared throughout the field. I couldn't have asked for a better performance.
Next to come was supposed to be the Foo Fighters, but we all got a surprise interruption. Actor Jack Black's band Tenacious D came out to open for the Foo Fighters with a short three song set. There isn't really much to say about Tenacious D, except that they were hilarious and entertaining; the pictures give a better description than I can.
Having Tenacious D come out first threw the security for a loop when it came to what they should do with all the photographers. So, they decided to kick us all out after one Foo Fighter's song. The Foo Fighters totally rocked. They were another first on my in concert list, and once again I was highly impressed. I was waiting to see how they were going to do “Everlong“, given the popularity of both the regular and acoustic versions. I must say I was relieved when Dave Grohl broke away from the acoustic version after the first verse and went full fledged into the rocking version; the fast one is so much better. The Foo Fighters kicked ass!
Then I was off to relax in the shade since Prodigy, the next band to play, didn't allow anyone other than there own private photographers to take pictures. Prodigy sounded really good, and probably even better from the cushy couch I was enjoying instead of standing. You've gotta love being considered “Press”.
I knew that Oasis was going to be a media frenzy, but I thought it was worth a try to head down and try to take pictures. By the end of the second day the fire marshal had limited the number of people aloud in the photography area to twenty. There were certain people who were expected to be in there, magazines & newspapers etc., and so I didn't get in, oh well. I thought, hey I'll just squeeze by and get some picture from the crowd right? WRONG!!!! I have never in my life encountered such rude people as I did that night. I guess if a band is known for being dicks, you can't expect much from their fans either. The Gallagher boys sounded good even though I wasn't really watching because I was just too annoyed to try to get past anyone at that point. They closed with The Beatles song “I am the Walrus” and all was well. Coachella was over.
Luckily I didn't have trouble finding my car the second time around. I had time on my two-and-a-half hour drive back to L.A. to reflect on the times that were had that weekend. All in all I had a blast. Although these festivals can be wearing, at the same time they are refreshing. How can you beat free parking, beautiful weather and awesome bands?
shannon at unearthed dot com