So, I was a bit hesitant to tackle this whole festival thing, but in the end, I had a great time. I actually loved it. Not only was it a great weekend of great music, it was great to go to shows and be surrounded by people who unabashedly love what they are hearing and seeing. When you go to shows in LA and NY, people are too cool to even clap, or as Nikki so brilliantly says, Indie Don't Dance. But, in the end, we all want to dance, don't we? We all want to sing along to every lyric of our favorite bands and come home tired, dirty, sweaty and exhausted. It didn't matter how hot or how tired you were, you clapped and you danced because, if you didn't, the crowd would make you. This is why I loved this past weekend. Spending Saturday running around singing aloud, jumping, dancing, going crazy to everything I heard was just great. I loved it and wouldn't trade that experience for anything.
That being said, here is a more detailed, day by day breakdown of my Coachella experience:
Friday: A total wash. Our entire commute (including a stop for dinner, and dropping off our stuff) took over 6 hours. We got there just in time to see the always wonderful Bjork. She played a great set, singing a few new songs and mixing in all the classics. She was backed by an all blond horn section/back up singers, a few percussionists, a few sound dudes and a guy that appeared to be playing an electric card table. If anyone knows what this amazing piece of machinery is, please do tell. I have never seen anything like it.
Saturday: Oh my. What a day. Saturday was hands down the best lineup of the weekend and I took advantage of every second. I ran around like a kid in a candy store to see as much as I could. I enjoyed the following: Regina Spektor / Hot Chip / The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello) / Andrew Bird / A bit of the Decemberists / Arcade Fire / LCD Soundsystem. By the end of it, I was just exhausted and nearly passed out after the unbelievable set by James Murphy (aka LCD Soundsystem). But, all day, everyone just played their hearts out. Hot Chip killed and got everyone dancing despite it being at least 110 degrees in that tent. Tom Morello ended his set by inviting up Perry Farrel and Bootsy (from the Coup) to play This Land Is Your Land.
Andrew Bird played a strong set mainly playing material from his wonderful new album, Armchair Apocyrphya. The highlight though was closing on Fake Palindromes from the also superb Mysterious Production of Eggs. As the sun set and the sky went dark, Arcade Fire came on and played an incredible set. I don't care what anyone says, there is no other song that I would want to hear and sing along with 50,000 other people other than Rebellion (Lies).
After fighting all of the kids coming in to see the Chili Peppers, all the hipsters headed over to see LCD Soundsystem. We snuck in through the side and were right up front for all of the set. Hands down, LCD Soundsystem delivered the best set of the weekend. He killed. It was one of those great moments in music where your obsession with an album ties in perfectly with seeing the band live. It seemed like everyone there was as excited to see him and just dance and sang until they couldn't anymore.
By then, I found myself a bottle of water, an ice cream and a patch of grass. I was done for the day.
Sunday: A much different day. We got there later and hung out in the Beer Gardens the most of the day. Saw the Roots and Willie Nelson from afar. Then, Crowded House came on and I wanted to be up close for what I was sure was going to be a great highlight of the weekend. Only problem was the Rage Against the Machine fans were already there and they didn't care who was playing, they wanted to be heard and let everyone know that Crowded House was not Rage. It was horrible and I felt genuinely saddened to be a music fan. The boys did their best and played on despite the crowd yelling "Rage" over and over again and throwing things at the stage. Their highlight was playing "Locked Out" which managed to get the crowd going a little bit, but nothing would satiate these Rage fans.
We tried to check out Air next, but they were running very late and ended up back at the Main Stage to see a bit of Manu Chao. Sadly, that didn't last long as I left since all the scary dudes around me were moshing. Definitely not my idea of fun.
But then came the surprise of the weekend: Teddybears. 3 guys from Sweden who wear giant teddybear heads as they play. The crowd, dwindling from its closeness to the start time to Rage Against the Machine, was as happy as ever, dancing the entire time. It was a great way to end the evening and I was exhausted. Just like Saturday, I bought some water, ice cream and watched Rage from far, far, far away.
So, that was my weekend. Of course, there were some lessons learned. Be sure to remember these next year:
Its about the accommodations. After a long day of jumping around and singing to your favorite bands, you want to sleep on a nice bed, wake up with the prospect of jumping into a pool or a hot tub. You don't want to tip toe around a house hoping not to wake your friends parents as you prepare to sleep on a floor.
Wicking Underwear. This is no joke. I actually have a few pairs to go hiking in. They do a great job of ensuring your privies stay dry. I am not sure what I was thinking when I didn't pack these guys for the weekend.
Don't follow the rules. I didn't bring my Digital SLR because the Coachella rule book said they weren't allowed. Everyone and their mother had a Digital SLR. Another item of note that I would have loved to have brought, but didn't know was able to sneak past the guards - a camelpak.
Take Monday off. I did and it saved me. I can't imagine coming back to work today. I would have been useless.