Day 3 was about a perfect a day one can have at a music festival. The desert was not angry. Rather than dust, a nice, cool breeze kept things from getting too hot and it was a day of amazing performances. A nice clip poolside in the morning at the compound and the group was off to catch The 1975. The thing The 1975 they could fit in many contexts. You could put them in matching suits with some choreography and they'd be a boy band. Acoustically, a coffee shop quartet. I don't mean this in a negative way. Their songs are truly catchy. Lead singer, Matthew Healy, is a cross between Aldous Snow and Christopher Martin of Coldplay. His voice is great live and he has the swagger it takes to sell it. I could tell because every hot lady around me was belting out the lyrics like gospel. Mr. Healy is tattooed and leather clad, playing up the rockstar persona, which may have been lacking otherwise at this year's fest (aside from Queens of the Stone Age, which I only caught a glimpse of). Leather pants in 90 degrees, no problem. Accompanied with a brunch of pizza and beer The 1975 was a great way to start the day on the Outdoor Stage (clever name, I know).
I stuck it out in the beer garden (the last day, you've gotta go big) for the artist I who was at the top of my list, Blood Orange. I've had their album playing non-stop since I discovered it in February. Blood Orange is the brainchild of Dev Hynes, who was also in the short-lived, but grandiose Test-Icicles then went under Lightspeed Champion for a spell. Very different sounding projects from one another, but all great in their own right. The best breakdown to describe Blood Orange is Prince meets Frank Ocean. This is baby-makin' music.
Before planting our flag at the main stage the group was lured to the adjacent Gobi Tent by the a familiar groove. A familiar sound, know to us from junior high parties. The sound of Montell Jordan, but it wasn't Montell Jordan. It was AlunaGeorge singing Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." Dancing, we hung out and watched the sexy AlunaGeorge while admired the final sunset we would witness over Empire Polo Field.
Calvin Harris took the main stage and did the opposite of what Fatboy Slim did the day before: he played the hits. Opening with, "Feel So Close" to "We Found Love" to Icona Pop's "I Love It." He demanded the audience show their hands and not miss a beat. He kept the hits coming and no once seemed to mind.
Finally, another must-see, Beck this the stage opening with "Devil's Haircut" and, like Calvin Harris, the hits kept coming. A highlight for me was the surprise selection, "Debra" from "Midnight Vultures" - a song touting the benefits of picking up women at JC Penny and driving a Hyundai. Beck was on a role, telling stories about playing the first Coachella between songs and reminding the audience why he is so revered by those who really love music and live performance. Therefore, it was quite disappointing when Goldenvoice cut him off during "High 5" for going over his allotted time. I know these things need to run like trains and not airplanes, but come on! It's a headliner and one with Coachella tenure. Beck shrugged it off, danced a bit and then was disappeared by his band as they surrounded him and shuffled him off stage, forcing smirks and chuckles from the crowd.
It was now meat and potatoes time. We bumped and hustled as close as all 11 in my group could get to the mainstage to see what Arcade Fire would finish the weekend off with. They did not disappoint. A thing, covered from head to toe in mirrors announced himself as Fred, then announced the band who promptly opened with the title track from their latest, "Reflektor." I can say this song paces better live. All the songs they performed from "Reflektor" paced better live including my favorite, "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)."
Many would say, including myself, the highlight of the show was Debbie Harry, looking amazing, joining the band on stage for her own "Heart of Glass" and the epic "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). The set was passionate, defiant (Win Butler calling the VIP section "bullshit" to the pleasure of the crowd. Well, those not in VIP, anyway) and at times heart-breaking. The set and the show ended with warnings the sound may be cut off again, just as it was with Beck.
Luckily, they made it through the closer, "Wake Up" with a few folks around me actually tearing up. As the rise of whatever was left of the 90,000 plus in attendance singing, "Whooooaaa ohhhhh, ohhh, ohhhhh, ohhh, oh, ohhhhhhwhooaaa..." the sound was eventually cut, the band pulled together some acoustic instruments and, accompanied by a small brass section, leapt into the crowd, marching band style. The crowd chanting for as long as everyone realized the weekend was over. We would all be leaving Coachella on this bittersweet note and back to real life until next April.
Even though Coachella is a desert paradise, it’s still a desert and the desert was angry that day. Wind threw up and spit dust everywhere (I'm in the blue shirt in the picture above - pure Bedouin style). The road into Coachella was an hour and a half parking lot, which eventually dumped my group into a dusty dash to our first must-see of the day: Holy Ghost! Some sadistic programmer placed them opposite of Julian Casablancas. At Coachella you remind yourself that this isn't really a problem and move along. The festival has been more crowded than any year I can remember. Elbow to elbow. Hipster to hipster. Holy Ghost! was great, though. They starting with “Dirty Disco Ideas” and closed with “Wait and See.” It was a good day to dance and this was a nice warm up.
Morale was strong at this point and we headed toward one of the three luscious beer gardens for Spicy Pie (a pizza maker who only shows up at music festivals) and a cold one to drink, preparing ourselves for Fatboy Slim. Norman Cook did not give the performance I assume many were expecting: a mash-up of the classics. There was a bit of that sprinkled here and there, but this was anything but a trip down memory lane. It was a hard-core dance party and nothing more. “Eat. Sleep. Rave. Repeat.” was the mantra pounded into the crowd the same way Alex was re-programmed in “A Clockwork Orange.”
We should have not left the Sahra tent for another break after Fatboy. Take all the Wal-Marts in the bordering states on Black Friday and it wouldn't hold a flame to how crowded this enormous tent was packed. Literally busting at the seams. There was no way in, so we turned our blinky light toys off and walked away. I can’t say I was heart-broken, though. At Coachella there's always options. We headed over to Pharrell Williams’ set. Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Diplo and Gwen Stefani joined Pharrell. The latter putting a massive sing along of “Hollaback Girl.” Shit was bananas, indeed. Pharrell also played his Daft Punk collaborations "Lose Yourself to Dance", "Get Lucky", and some N.E.R.D. material...even his verse in "Blurred Lines." This guy is truly the King of Pop...not that other guy...who isn's around anymore anyway.
The wind wasn’t getting any better and the air was making our teeth brown and morale dingy. However, I was looking forward to Muse and/or Pet Shop Boys, but the group was quite tired and didn’t want to spend 2 or more hours trying to get back to the homestead. Rock N’ Roll was sacrificed that night in the name of adulthood. I will work on regressing for tomorrow, the final day. It’s Calvin Harris, Beck, Arcade Fire and Blood Orange today. Time to rally.
There's no doubt if you have friends who hitched, flew or road tripped down to Indio for this year's Coachella music festival that your social media has been slammed with pictures of their sweaty, sun-drenched music holiday. Coahcella is a bit more though. It's situated in the progressive triangle: Los Angeles (creativity), Las Vegas (pure entertainment) and San Francisco (technology and know-how). That's why people often call it an “experience.” Nevermind the drug culture aspect (even though two Austrailian girls stopped me and asked me if they could buy some drugs. It must of been because I was wearing a backpack. Needless to say, their barter isn't fit for this blog. I pondered giving them two of the vitamins from GNC I had in my bag, but decided not to). The sun was cooking the green off the grass when me and my long-time Coachella co-conspirators made it from the pool to the venue.
It’s always pretty impressive when you walk onto the Empire Polo field. It’s huge and flat and it’s full of immodestly clothed, sexy people eating, drinking, dancing and hustling to the next stage – often with their pinkies in the air, a giant picture of Jim Carrey from “Dumb and Dumber” on the end of a stick or glowy-blinky objects in the air to keep track of their posse. I started the day off with Aloe Blacc, who you know from his Avicci remix, which is a song many could argue is country music. He he really stretches across any genre you can think of. Blacc is a very impressive, live artist.
From there I hit one of the few beer gardens and then off to catch a glimpse of Haim before I headed over to catch A.F.I. who stood in front of a modest, but appropriate black banner reading, “A Fire Inside.” “Day of the Pheonix” and “I Hope You Suffer” got the set going. It was set that had some technical problems seeming to make Mr. Havok none too pleased and the crowd less responsive as they might have been. It was the closer, “Miss Murder” that brought everyone around. By that time the stage crew had removed their backdrop. Boo!
At that point I wandered looking for my group as none of them had interest in watching A.F.I. They lived for the rumbling beats of the Sahara tent. As my phone dropped in battery life the sun was setting. I knew if I didn’t find them before darkness dropped, I wouldn’t find them until morning. Eventually, I made it to Martin Garrix who blew the minds of a strong fraction of the 90,000 attendees...all in a tent (and when I say tent, I mean a portable aircraft silo).
And the The Knife, who hasn't toured in...well, I can't even recall. They (and by them I mean Karin and Olof - brother and sister along with about 12 other dancers, singer, percussionists all dressed in shiny-colored jumpsuits. The crowd there to see them were about the most rabid fans I had seen at the festival up to this point.
The night ended with, what I think, was a lackluster holdout from the reunited Outkast. I was never much of a listener. Their first four songs were strong: “B.O.B.”, “Rosa Parks”, “Skew It on the Bar-B” and as I am not a huge fan I don’t recall the other. “Hey Ya” ended up be the soundtrack for our walk to the car for the hour plus wait to get out and make out way back to the compound and getting ready to do it again...stay tuned. Nas, Muse, Holy Ghost! and many more to come.