May 8, 2008

A Coachella Story: Volume Three, The End.

It took a few miles on the bikes that morning to snap back into festival mode. I’d be lucky to see another day like Saturday in my lifetime. You couldn’t help but feel like a kid on December 26th. Think of this entry as if it were Back to The Future III; entertaining, yet still desperately in need of more florescent colors. But hey, nobody saw that final western chase scene coming, where the train explodes off a cliff right? Or in this case a giant pig released into orbit.

Gone was the mad rush mentality to see every act. Instead Sunday brought about a sense of togetherness, a chance to actually hang with the people around us. We entered the polo fields in a larger pack this time. Floating between tents at the recommendations of others, with no real agenda until the headliners.

Again, most links lead to actual videos of those happenings.

4:00 We were willing to give The Field another chance after his boring solo opening show for !!! last year. Word was he had since added a full touring band to liven it up, but this time the guy was denied entry into the US and had to cancel. We figured that out after some waiting and moved on to the tent we could hear from a mile away, Deadmau5 (pronounced Deadmouse). There is a fine line between stuff I can dance to and straight-up techno house. This DJ was comfortably sitting on that line. Either way, it was necessary to get the blood flowing again. We didn’t stay long though.

4:55 Stars was on the main stage. I’ve seen them live a few times, enough to declare that they are consistently passionate about life in general. I was happy that of the few songs we heard, “You’re Ex Lover is Dead” was one of them.

5:10 If you have a name like Does It Offend You, Yeah?, I want so badly for you to be good. And they were pretty fun, lots of grimy synthesizer and British posturing. The ridiculous, “Let’s Make Out”, got the crowd into it. “We Are Rockstars” has been steady on the radio as of late. And the place went bananas for it. I’ll grant style points for cowbell use and also that outfit.

5:50 Mike was way into seeing Gogol Bordello. And I had no idea what Gogol Bordello was. This was a healthy exercise for me. The crazy Gypsy Punk scene going on was immediately approved. Even Pink was into it. There’s a time and a place for this band, live and outdoors. Our dance circle in the outskirts grew with every song, eventually collapsing into a pile of panting… people. The guy sounds like Triumph the insult dog.

If for no other reason, this video is posted for the absolute babe at the beginning.

6:15 Coincidently of the same Broken Social Scene-Canadian constellation that Stars are from, Metric was causing a stir at the outdoor theatre. A certain little someone loves Metric. I, well, don’t know any of Metric’s songs, but singer, Emily Haines, was lovely. Her band’s equipment was crapping out and she handled that well. I did have to make the executive decision to leave early and camp out in position at that main stage. Initially this broke Kati’s heart, but she came around.

6:45 We crept closer until landing about 20 feet from the main stage. This would be our glorious home for the next four hours. Who better to kick off the circus than, Sean Penn. Yes, the actor. Clearly a bit off, he bravely addressed the thousands about some non-music stuff. Video here. His fragmented rant covered war, elections, poverty, environmental activism, and revolution. I couldn’t quite gather what his “Dirty Hands Caravan” was specifically going to do, but it was something about our generation having an impact, and meeting at "the clocktower" taking 300 kids to New Orleans on a bus. He may have been hard to follow, but it was still a thing cool to do. He's kind of an America hero. And he even said something he hadn’t said in 28 years.

7:00 My Morning Jacket is another band I’ve waited years to see. They’re music is big, perfect for a big venue. Perfect for a sunset. And perfect as a weekend closer. Sporting some sweet moon boots, Jim James got straight into with “One Big Holiday.”

Mixing old favorites with some new LP, Evil Urges, MMJ simply put on an inspired show. I saw a few folks convert to fans right there. “Highly Suspicious” was a poster boy introduction to that “new directions” sound. The song feels strange on the album, but really worked well live. “Wordless Chorus” was easily the highlight, as James got to his knees and howled. James might have the best pipes in the biz (well besides Yorke).

8:30 We dreamt of water, we really did. But we weren’t about to leave our prime spots right before Roger Waters. Thirst subsided as awe overtook. A zone best described through internal monologue:
“Pink Floyd!”
“Is this real?”
“Holy Sh*t (at the first chord of every song)”
“Waters kind of looks like Richard Gere. No. He looks exactly like Richard Gere.”
“Oh I should take a picture with my phone and send it to every person who ever watched The Wall in my childhood basement. No Dave, you should stop thinking and start losing yourself in this moment. But how will I ever document this unprecedented greatness? You can’t, Dave. You’ll just have to write a dumb blog or something. Fine.”
“Woah flames. Weird how that pig is being released into the sky. Did they mean to do that? (Turns out they didn’t). Pretty dramatic. Wonder if they go through one giant expensive pig per show.”

You go to so many of these “indie shows” that you sometimes forget about that theatrical full package, where music becomes larger than life. To my right, a pack of 12 yr-olds were passing a joint to an old, baby booming dude. I’d check over at him a few more times; he was near tears, hanging on every lyric. Generation gap closed.

64 year-old Waters was beyond polished. His backing band filled Gilmore’s parts seamlessly. The first hour was a Pink Floyd greatest hit-fest, pulling from The Wall, Animals, and Wish You Were Here. And of course that Obama pig took a lap around the park during set one closer, “Sheep.”

That's a video I took of the pig, one of the many on Youtube. “Thank You. There's my pig. We’re going to take a short break and come back and do Dark Side of The Moon.” – Waters

He didn’t lie. The whole album was played.

11:00 Somehow we made it to the center of the Sahara tent for the ultimate, end-all dance party, brought to you by Justice. This was not for the novice festival-er. This was for the die-hards, with no conscious regard for their bodies or their Monday morning jobs. The tent was at capacity. With a giant glowing cross on stage, the song “Genesis” serving as an intro, and two symmetric French men fixed in various self-worshipping power poses, you might assume these guys thought that they were gods. And by the way the crowd responded to every peak and valley in their electronic world, the thought really wasn’t too far off. Their remix of "We Are Your Friends" was the agreed upon finale.

Justice @ Coachella - Phantom (insane dancing)

They played for well over an hour. Apparently, it’s a $10,000 fine for every minute over curfew in the city of Indio. Justice (or the Goldenvoice company) alone owes Indio somewhere around $300,000. Prince was in the same boat the night before.

Random final cheers could be heard as we rode through the last of the crowd. I don’t think one word was exchanged this time on the bikes. It could have been deep reflection, or just deep fatigue, or harsh realization.

Thanks for reading. Now I promise to not write the word Coachella or say “Co-A-chella” until this time next year.