May 1, 2008

A Coachella Story: Volume Two

Hovering over the set times late Friday night, I declared that such a stacked lineup had never been seen before, on paper. Our only concern was finding time to see it all, in reality. It’s still hard to believe this caliber of talent was cued up for the day without a single break. Seriously, this was something I live for. Ask The Hoff. It was legit.

Mike is in the process of building a Bill & Ted-like time machine. Its sole purpose will be to bring us back to the Saturday, April 26th, 2008, over and over again. We’re rooting for you, Mike (sorry Bobby for re-using that material, you'll always be my Billy).

Our desert dragon house woke up around noon. Some housemates went straight for the booze, others to breakfast, or to the pool, but most did a variation of all at once. We would learn later that one guy passed out at 4pm, never actually making it to the festival. He is a legend in his own right. Our team was out that door by 2pm. We were feeling rough, and raw, in the prime of our lives.

*Note: most song links lead to videos from the show, so relax, spend some time with them. And pro-photos can be found here.

3:00 Once inside the gates, it was a sloppy b-line to the Mojave tent for Man Man. Towards the end of their set, these animals had already earned full control over the crowd. Man Man is one of a kind.

In standard white outfits and war paint, each member had such an aggressive inventiveness about their instrument slaying. Vocals and percussion came from all directions on stage. This video of “Mister Jung Stuffed” might display that better. I think we heard “Top Drawer” in there too. I’ve been getting into the new Rabbit Habits LP from time to time.

3:40 Already in position for our first “must see”, MGMT, we waited, hoping to recapture that rapture felt back at their January show. After an extended sound check (or deliberate build-up), those dreamboats broke into a steady stream from Oracular Spectacular. They kept the audience anxious though, keeping the holy triad of psychedelia, “Electric Feel”, “Time To Pretend”, and then “Kids” for the final centerpiece. This band is on top of the world right now. It’s neither the first, nor the last time they will be praised on this page.

4:35 Kati claims to have no recollection of the subsequent Boys Noize set at all, proving that people under 5 2' have BAC levels that operate differently than ours. Within 30 seconds of being in that tent, I remember thinking, “now this is something we can dance to”, as opposed to the Friday night’s Fatboy Slim sleeper. So as a disco ball-skull flashed over the stage screens, that’s just what we did. Boyz Noise is the German version of Justice, who is the next Daft Punk (More on Justice tomorrow). His dirty, buzzing electro got everyone doing this synchronized pulsing jump move.

5:20 The little Gobi tent brought us a treasure, St. Vincent. Everyone was mellow, even the security guy, who let us into the press photo area (explaining the ECU of the lovely lady below). Along with Marry Me standouts, she covered The Beatles’ “Dig A Pony.” I wanted to jump up and hug her at that point.

6:10 The big bonanza came at the Sahara Tent with our most anticipated act of the day, Hot Chip. Ironically standing in the same area as their set last year, I couldn’t wait to have our crew experience it. The situation was one upped when our LA friends Jessie and Elena appeared out of nowhere. Hot Chip owned it. They balanced choice hits from The Warning with their new stuff. I wouldn’t have made a playlist any differently. Last year’s highlight “No Fit State” might have taken second this time to world pleaser “Ready for the Floor.” This was the peak of sweaty. This was out of control. Video below.

7:10 Where do you go after a show like that? If the answer is next door to Islands, than you must have been living in the same suspended reality we were on Saturday. Islands took the cake for most underrated band there. I had that realization the night before as we fell asleep with 2006’s masterpiece Return To The Sea blaring from the kitchen speakers. They furthered that notion live, bringing the new Arm’s Way material to life. The stage was full of violins and such. Everybody lost their sh*t when Rapper Busdriver showed up for his cameo during "Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone", and then disappeared.

Singer, Nick “Diamonds” Thornburn, is a genius songwriter. His music, in some form, whether it's The Unicorns or Islands or something else, will be around for a long time.

8:25 Seeing Animal Collective live has been an estranged oasis in the desert for a long time. I’ve missed them on both coasts (this totally rationalized skipping the mess at M.I.A). I didn’t take one video or picture or even say much of anything to anyone during the set. I was frozen; eyes shut for long periods with the stage colors seeping through, my mind surfing on the beats. I’d occasionally glance over at Kati, who was spaced out as well. I think we managed to have a conversation telepathically.

They opened with a slowed version of “Chocolate Girl.” Every song started off like a mistake, gradually repeating itself until gaps were filled and beauty was shown. Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) even graced us with a track off his personal, Person Pitch, “Comfy in Nautica.” This went into a new song called “House (Material Things).” Both video and the lyrics are worth posting:

Is it much to admit I need
A solid soul and the blood I bleed
With a little girl, and by my spouse
I only want a proper house

I don't care for fancy things
Or to take part in a precious race
And children cry for the one who has
A real big heart and a father's grace

I don't mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status
I just want four walls and adobe slabs for the girl Ow!

Elena took this one

An extended “Essploding/Fireworks” served as the climax. While we hanging up there, a tropical new song “Brother Sport” brought us celebration. Every time Avey Tare screamed an angel got its wings.

9:25 We wandered to the main stage neighborhood, Kati still had this glossy eye-ed, just-seen-a-pretty ghost-smile about her. I asked, “You okay?” To which we heard a “what, woah…ya” response.

Suddenly, Portishead’s “Machine gun” drums demanded everyone’s attention. It’s weird to walk into a place where everyone is way into something and you’re like, “hey what’s-ohhh...” We were right in the middle of a solid performance; one that people couldn’t stop talking about after. Tracks off Third were equally if not stronger in ringing bells with me.

10:45 Prince was up. It wasn’t until that guitar god took the stage that it really hit us. It’s freaking Prince! Here’s a breakdown told only through direct Prince quotes:

“Hello Co-a-chella. You’re at the coolest place on earth, right now!”
“When I agreed to play Co-a-chella, I told them I wouldn’t ‘play’ Co-a-chella, I’d party Co-a-chella.”
“Co-a-chella. Come on.”
“Clap Co-a-chella.”
“I need you to clap”
“Who’s gonna quake? You gonna quake? Ya. Earthquake.”

No one will ever pronounce the word Coachella quite like that adorable little man. His cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” left us baffled. Only Prince could change every lyric, skip all verses, and still come out on top. Looks like he made Youtube take down all evidence of it. The outside world may never understand.

We rode home like a couple of kids who couldn’t wait to tell their neighbors about Disneyworld. Our already damaged bikes rattled in the night. Having eaten one cliff bar all day, the thought of Peanut Butter and Jelly followed by a shower was a powerful one. We sailed. You’d think E.T’s life were at stake.

We arrived at the house that was in full swing per usual, just in time for the gentle placing of a lawn chair in the pool. The chair, of course, had another passed out legend on it.

Sunday's flying pigs still to come.

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