Day 1 High Points | #1 Grizzly Bear
The crowd was packed in tight – too tight - in the Mojave tent, a bad venue choice for this band that clearly has a passionate following. This year Goldenvoice sold 15,000 extra tickets, making seeing some of the bands in the tents downright miserable and impossible.
Edward Droste has one of the most beautiful vocals in indie rock today, and seeing this band again was worth sweating it out with the pack.
Day 1 High Points | #2 LCD Soundsystem
This is the 3rd and presumably last time I will see LCD Soundsystem in action as James Murphy has said the band’s most recent album could be their last. The first time I caught their show was at the El Rey, and I remember leaving that night feeling damp all over from the egregious amount of sweaty ass shaking I had just successfully executed. So much cowbell, so much ecstatic feeling – these are the things that issue forth from this band. Murphy also took the time to hilariously rail against a certain segment of the DJ population, shouting “You’re a fucking DJ, and you can’t carry some fucking records?!”
Day 1 High Points | #3 Jay-Z
LISTEN. I’m not a hater, I just was never the world’s most passionate advocate for Jay-Z. I’m West Coast, people. They fed us Dr. Dre and Tupac and Snoop with our Cheerios during our pleasant sun-drenched So-Cal youth! Still, it’s hard not to be converted when Jay-Z just starts tearing through his many, many hits with veteran aplomb, even throwing in some fireworks for good measure. And then, in one of those great magical Coachella moments, Jay-Z starts looking into the crowd and giving people individual shout-outs, including one “to the guy with no shirt on, lookin’ like The Situation” which cracked himself up. There’s something utterly classy about a man that rich, that powerful, telling a rabid fan in a triangle bikini top “I see you, baby girl.” Oh yeah, Beyonce was there too, wearing a little hipster girl fedora. Her image on the big screen TV caused thousands to leap to their feet and start heading toward the stage. Beyonce inspires standing, y’all!
Day 2 High Points | #1 Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
I’ve had some kind of odd life revelation, and it’s because of this band. Am I…a hippie? Did…something happen to me? Either I’ve fallen and hit my head along the way or I’ve eaten some kind of brave new acid, but this was probably the happiest show I’ve seen at any Coachella I’ve attended, including that blissful Belle and Sebastian set from 2003. ES&TMZ has an epic sound that reminds me of Arcade Fire, if Arcade Fire hung out in Joshua Tree a lot more and maybe eschewed every other shower. Their anthems convey pure joy and delight, and often emphasize a sense of home, community, and friendship. You know, hippie stuff. Folk rock that can stand out at a festival boasting hip hop impresarios and guitar gods is truly noteworthy.
Day 2 High Points | #2 DIE ANTWOORD
LISTEN I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY THIS ZEF-RAP STUFF IS REALLY GOING TO TAKE OFF. I’M TALKING AN ALL CAPS TAKE OFF. Using less all-caps, I’m glad to report this band really delivers in the hip hop energy department and is destined to be bigger than just another internet viral video phenomenon. Their appearance at Coachella was also their North American debut. Hopefully when we see them next they’ll get something longer than a 20 minute set!
Day 2 High Points | #3 DEVO
This show was as satisfying as last year’s X performance. Seeing an act like Devo just makes all the bands in their tight pants, barely only one or two albums deep, look like real rubes and newbies. And think about how many of today’s indie bands wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for the conceptual and oddball influence of Devo. My beloved Deerhoof probably wouldn’t exist! Devo also gave festival-goers a chance to do the robot. During their entire set.
Day 3 High Points | Planting My Lazy Ass at the Coachella Stage for Most of the Day
Yo La Tengo, Spoon, Pavement! Why bother moving? Oh that’s right, we have to head over to see Thom Yorke. That’s the most we moved this day.
Yo La Tengo performs this one song that goes on for nearly 12 minutes or so, with the same drum pattern and bass line repeating throughout, like a meditation. You can’t quite call it jam rock, although Ira Kaplan is improvising through out. It’s a masterpiece performance and a study in concentration, that also manages to look effortless. Solid stuff.
Spoon came on right afterward and brought back the pop. All those *short* yet memorable little ditties from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga are so good live when they have their entire horn section. Everytime I see Spoon I’m mostly reminded by the fact that they have a very female-centric fan base. What can I say? We chicks like an opportunity to do a little dancing.
I skipped Phoenix, who I had already greatly enjoyed at the Wiltern last year, to stick around for the reunited Pavement show. As Malkmus himself said after playing a string of old songs, “that was the 90s in a nutshell”. Pavement was the perfect antidote to the overblown rock theatrics of Muse the night before – they still sound so lo-fi and outsider-y.
Those are big memories from this fest. This year was a tough year to enjoy. Goldenvoice did not plan accordingly for the swell in attendance, so trash piled up everywhere and smaller venues were easily and quickly swamped and overly packed. By day 3, the ground was so littered with food refuse that sitting down on the grass became a rather sticky and disgusting enterprise. I am hoping they hear the feedback and do better next year. Although I have this terrible dark feeling inside that Lady Gaga will be there next year. Shudder. We’ll need 1,000 Pavements to cope with that nonsense.
As always, my Coachella wishlist still includes: Snoop Dog, David Bowie, Neil Young, Talking Heads reunion, and the B52s. See you next year.