So in theory we try not to sacrifice quality posts around here in favor of getting something up the fastest, but in practice it’s so hard to find the time to spend on an elaborate post that we end up throwing something together last minute anyway. So for that I apologize and now 2 weeks after the fact I’m finally getting around to giving my Coachella reports.
Having taken so long to finally go up one would think this post would be comprised of in-depth details and meticulously re-sized and touched-up pics, but yeah… not this time around. In the two weeks since the show I’ve had to deal with catching back up at the job, my cousin coming through town with the band he tours with and remembering what it’s like to be a rockstar for a few days (I’ll probably talk about that when they come back through on the last leg of the tour), preparing for an old college buddy to show up this week, coping with a relationship falling apart in a rather ugly manner, and one other HUGE life changing event that I still can’t talk about with the general public for another few weeks at least. So I’m sorry, but I’ve been busy.
They say everyone’s Coachella is different, and from the other wrap-ups I’ve read, my experience and line-up was expectantly unique, so I hope to give some information that you haven’t already heard by now. There were also several other friends of The Alternakids hanging out that weekend so maybe they’ll eventually chime in with their stories as well. We’ll start things off for now with how the day ended up for me on Friday.
TOKYO POLICE CLUB
My kick-off started in the Mojave Tent with a highly anticipated set from Tokyo Police Club. Playing a set comprised from the majority of their A Lesson in Crime EP and a handful of what I must assume are songs from their pending full length debut, TPC served as a great way to get me and everyone else who was just starting out warmed up. There was good energy coming from the stage and looking forward to their show as much as I was I have to say they didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately I was so busy taking in the initial experience and atmosphere of the festival as a whole, I forgot to snap a few pics to post here.
After that I had about an hour to go check out the merch tents and get oriented as I headed over to the main stage to check out Silversun Pickups.I managed to overhear Satellite Party doing a Jane’s Addiction cover and was surprised later on to find out that they are also actually fronted by Perry Farrell. Before that day I pretty much knew nothing about the band at all.
When I finally made my way over to the main stage I was able to walk right up to the front directly under the speaker array on the left hand side. Turns out this position must be pretty easy to come by because I found myself right back there the next day for Pharoahe Monch…. who knew. It was also here that I met a few people who were “camping out” all day for Bjork’s headlining spot at the end of the night. One very lovely young lady and who I assumed was her boyfriend proved to be rather friendly and were actually enjoying the discovery of the other bands playing the main stage that day. Another trio of girls sat at the base of the barricade with their backs to the stage the whole time I was there looking rather bored and exasperated with the whole ordeal. Kind of makes me wonder why they didn’t just wait until Bjork came around with her own tour and save themselves the trouble.
Silversun Pickups were another highly anticipated act by me as I had as of yet to experience them in concert for myself. I can understand how a lot of people have started to back-lash against them without having given them a chance because of the ridiculous amount of hype surrounding them these days, but I was lucky enough to have heard them before the overzealous media push and can enjoy them for the merits of their music alone.
There was minimal between song banter and in spite of a slight air of tongue in cheek cockiness, at one point during the set Brian Aubert seemed rather amazed at how far back their crowd actually extended when he asked everyone to put their hands in the air.
I even had to start nodding in agreement when he expressed bewilderment at the fact that they were playing the main stage and Blonde Redhead was on the secondary “Outdoor Theatre” the next day. He also made sure to give a nod to several other bands he thought that everyone needed to check out. Maybe Jeff over at Passion of the Weiss misinterpreted Brian’s reaction to his exuberant compliments earlier this year when they met. I mean he is naturally cross-eyed, but I wasn’t there so I can only talk about my impression of the guy from what I saw.
A great performance for sure, in the live setting I finally saw where all the Smashing Pumpkins comparisons come from. They really do give off a similar vibe. The set consisted mainly of songs from their Carnavas LP as well as “Kissing Families” from Pikul. Since I’ve already covered Carnavas here before I’ll post another one of my personal favorites from Pikul.
At this point in time I was previously undecided about who I wanted to see next. A lot of great choices, but no stand-out that I just absolutely couldn’t miss. I mean I would have hated to have trekked all the way across the field to the Gobi tent to find a belligerently intoxicated Amy Winehouse making an embarassment of herself, regardless of how good I think her album is. What it came down to right then was the fact that I was already at the front of the main stage and to be quite honest I was enjoying the um… aesthetics. Boyfriend or not you’ll never hear me complain about being tightly pressed against a beautiful woman who doesn’t seem to mind it so much.
THE ARCTIC MONKEYS
Now the reason I can relate to how some people might feel about the Silversun Pickups and their over-hyped presence everywhere you turn is because that is exactly my experience with The Arctic Monkeys. I mean it’s not really their fault at all, but around this time last year, these were pretty much my sentiments exactly and that was before their album had even been officially released. To be quite honest with you I still haven’t bothered to listen to their debut all the way through and I will say that the few tracks I did hear were pretty cool. Sometimes you just become a victim of your own machine, that’s all I can say.
So I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed their set. In spite of the fact that Alex Turner was rocking the douchebag trademark of an upturned polo collar, the band themselves wasted little time reveling in the spotlight and tightly kicked out the jams in quick succession. At one point Alex pointed out that the girl hoisted up on someones shoulders in the middle of the crowd was actually Lily Allen, and just as I looked away from the giant monitors on each side of the stage apparently she flashed her boobs at the camera… hang on, I gotta go do a YouTube search. I’m thinking it’s about time I gave these guys a fair chance and go listen to their latest release in full.
After a quick break for lunch where I was able to listen to the Jesus and Mary Chain from afar I had to make the toughest decision of the festival. I knew when they announced the initial line-up in January that friday was going to be the hardest day for me, and when the actual schedule came out it killed me that Sonic Youth, El-P and Interpol all played between 9:30 amd 10:30. My feelings for Sonic Youth go without saying, and El-P put out one of my favorite albums of the year so far. I’ve never seen Interpol live, but I’ve been a fan since I first heard “Obstacle 1” about 5 years ago.
The deciding factor here was that I’ve seen Sonic Youth 3 times already in the past year and I have tickets to see them again in July. Chances are from past experience that their set list wasn’t going to be much different from the last time I saw them, so this was a rare instance where I would give up a chance to see them (turns out I’d end up catching about half of their set anyway, but more on that later). Now I did see El-P do a couple songs last month at the Paid Dues Festival, but that’s nowhere near the excitement of a full show, and other than that I hadn’t seen him since college right after Fantastic Damage came out. What sealed the deal for me was the lead -in. It’s pretty common knowledge that you have a better chance of getting closer to the stage if you hang out for the previous act and move up while the stage is being switched out.
So after I finished my lunch and stood in the nice extended line to the bathroom I sauntered my way back over to the Mojave tent where I was able to walk right in and stand up front under the right hand side speaker stack. (At this point I’m beginning to realize that for a Coachella newbie my timing was impeccable.) Now I first became aware of Peeping Tom back in October at the Detour Festival where Rev. Mitcz from M+ told me that if I saw one act that day it had to be them. I trust his opinion and all, but I also am aware of what a rabid Mike Patton fan he is… he’ll endorse anything the man touches. Unfortunately by the time their set came around at Detour I was letting my friend Koleeta call the shots as to where we should hang out so I missed them that day. Nueve did see the performance though and said it was pretty damn good.
While waiting for the stage to be set I started talking with a few people around me and started to realize how friendly the Coachella atmosphere really is. When the sound check began, for the only time all weekend I started to lament the fact that I was directly in front of the speaker stack. Luckily the lady next to me was pretty resourceful. Let’s just say that tampons are pretty good at absorbing sound as well as anything else. In fact you could still actually get clarity out of the music as opposed to the muffled tones you sometimes get with regular ear plugs… who knew?
I’ve heard it said that no Coachella experience is complete without a Danny Devito citing and I got mine right then as he came out to introduce the band.
With that Dan the Automator came out and took the stage much to my surprise as I wasn’t sure if he actually toured with the band or not. Scratch another name off of my “must see before death” DJ list. I think it’s pretty much complete now. From the looks of things it seemed as if the Automator was having issues with his levels, at the begininng, but eventually those were worked out and everything was coming through clearly. A loud, raucous, high energy affair for sure Mike Patton led the crew and rocked the house all while sporting a bulletproof vest and skull cap.
Being as how The Roots and Bjork were also performing that weekend I had kinda hoped to get an appearance from Rahzel during the set, but apparently he had commitments elsewhere. I’m not complaining by any means though because instead we got Butterscotch who can definitely hold her own. Check out her solo:
Consider me officially rocked at this point, but there was definitely even more awesomeness to come for the rest of the day. According to plan after Peeping Tom wrapped up their set the majority of the crowd dispersed and I seized the opportunity to slide a little more towards the center for El-Producto.
Again, being one of the performances I was looking forward to the most there was nothing to disappoint about El-P’s set. The Jukies were there and ready to get down for sure. I heard a few reviews of the other shows on his current tour, so I knew a little bit of what to expect as the lights went dark and the mood was set with Gary Jules version of “Mad World” (A.K.A. The Donnie Darko song). El spit the first half verse of Tasmanian Pain Coaster from off-stage and came out to a very anxious crowd. Those familiar with the new album enthusiastically joined in to chant “The whole design, got my mind cryin’/if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’… shit!!!” And when the beat dropped all hands were promptly bouncing in the air with a sea of nodding heads underneath.
From there no time was wasted as we were taken right into choice cuts from “I’ll Sleep When Your Dead” (which you can still win a copy of from us here at The Alternakids). After a few songs Producto acknowledged the audience saying “My name is El-P, some of you already know me. This is for those of you who do.” With that we were treated to “Deep Space 9MM” and a verse from “Vital Nerve”. “Oh shit… some of you know this one” he said from the stage looking genuinely surprised. The hip-hop heads definitely came out to represent. Needless to say I was loving it. It was nice to look around several times and notice the giveaway involuntary neck movement and look of bewilderment that signals someone just discovering music that’s blowing their minds.
You’ll have to excuse me for a second here as I remark about how fitting it is for me to post the following track right now considering the aforementioned relationship issues I’ve had recently. Without a doubt I was already in love with ISWYD but in the past week or so several tracks have provided some excellent break-up music… particularly this cut and the central verse of “Poisonville Kid No Wins” And that’s the sum of any bitterness you’ll see me post about that situation in this forum.
From here I began to realize how much fate was on my side that weekend. I realized that at this point I had completely missed Interpol and I hope I can still catch them at a show sometime in the future, but technically Sonic Youth were still supposed to have 5 minutes left in their set. If I hurried maybe I’d be able to catch the last little bit of their finale. As I hurriedly made my way over to the Outdoor Theatre stage I heard the opening riffs to “100%” and being one of my favorite SY songs my rushed pace turned into a full on sprint as I began to sing along.
As I got to the stage I began to ask the people who were already there if they had played any older material or if the set was similar to the other ones I’d already seen this year. I guess there’s a little discrepancy as to what qualifies as “older” material because I couldn’t get a consistant answer. I did however find out that they had only been playing for about 20 minutes at that point because apparently things were way behind on that stage. (As a side note I did notice throughout the weekend that there were technical issues with most of the performances I saw on the Outdoor Theater.) The set was a typical Sonic Youth affair consisting mostly of songs from Rather Ripped. At one point they assumed their time was up, but were told they could still get in one more much to their surprise. So they decided to close things out old school style with “Shakey Hell” I was pleased.
Once again a majority of the crowd departed after the set presumably to head over and see Bjork on the main stage, but I made my way towards the front to see what DJ Shadow would decide to pull out of his bag of tricks.
Logistical issues prevented me from catching the last tour when it came around, but I still have unused tickets to the show he did in Berkeley with Massive Attack. I was able to catch the latter at the Hollywood Bowl the next week, but I’m still kicking myself for not being able to make the Berkeley trip happen.
Raising the anticipation level of the crowd by coming out to check his own levels and such Shadow apologized for the late start explaining that he was sans fancy production crew to preset everything for him. Towards the begining of his set there were plenty of signals to the sound tech on the side of the stage who for some reason just couldn’t get it right, but from my perspective everything played out fine for the most part.
I’m not gonna lie, I was a little concerned about how much of this particular set would be pulled from The Outsider and how the crowd would react. Now Shadow will be at the Bowl himself with Cut Chemist next month and I plan to go to that show, but I’m sure that will be another 45 showcase along the lines of Brainfreeze and Product Placement (I really can’t wait!!!!!!!!). Fortunately this set proved to be a decent showcase of his entire catalog and I had a front row seat.
Mid-set Shadow eased into the newer material with the preface that everything he played tonight was actually his material, be it from an album, b-side or production he did for another artist (Personally I was quite pleased to hear the beat from Cage’s “Grand ‘Ol Party Crash” represented). Honestly, I don’t detest The Outsider as much as some other people I know, I just haven’t had a desire to listen to it as a whole more than 2 or 3 times since I bought it. In a live setting though the songs he chose to play from the album fit into the flow of things rather nicely and I was nodding my head just as exuberantly as I was for the rest of the set.
Shadow got playful with the crowd during the intro to “Organ Donor” and extended it out to tease everyone a little bit. The visuals that played behind him scrolled some sarcastic text about how he pulls that song out at every show and he knows it’s repetitive, but the crowd always seems to love it… so go ahead and get into it. If you find the first part of this clip on YouTube, you can hear me yell out “DROP IT!!!!” during the first bit of silence.
Unfortunately with things running late the set had to be cut short and the stage hands were telling him it was time to go. “Fuck that… I’m just gonna throw on this last one and let it play until they cut it off man” With that he let it spin and walked off the stage taking time to wave goodbye to the crowd. About a minute and a half later one of the tech guys came up and faded down the mixer signalling us all that it was indeed time to go.
Saturdays Coachella recap should be coming shortly… I promise.