But, When Do We Switch Seats?
Festivals are always different when you camp at them. In fact, let us get the differences between Lollapalooza and Coachella out of the way first, so that we don't have to come back to this every 4th paragraph through the course of this recap.
1. We're camping. Sure, it's car camping, but the car doesn't have a shower nor a microwave and that pretty much removes most people from their element completely. Oh, and the car only has a sleeping space for one. Therefore, sexy time for one tent, ends up being sexy time for a few tents. I'll take the backseat.
2. The skyscrapers and oak trees of Chicago have been replaced by mountains and palm trees of Southeast California. The air is drier, the sun beats a little more intensely, and in the evenings, the wind howls a bit more. So the landscape is just as impressive and just as distracting/enhancing.
3. Coachella is smaller on all accounts. Fewer bands, smaller space, fewer people. Yet the action feels just as intense and perhaps even more vivid due to the surrounding ecosystem. And even with the smaller scale, Coachella demonstrates a significantly lower level of organization... Strange, but not necessarily a bad thing.
4. Coachella allows bands to compete with one another more readily. At Lollapalooza, once the headliner goes on, everything else stops. At Coachella, the pre-headliner act is still playing once the headliner takes the stage (generally). And, there is at least one other band playing at one of the 3 "tents". So, you got options, even when the guy that made your ticket cost so much take the stage.
5. And, Coachella takes place just outside of LA. Therefore, it's filled with LA people. More on this later, but this absolutely paints the festival in a very different light.
It's a struggle from the start on Friday. Some of us are sick, hungover, reeling from the audible sexy time (slash verbal coercions) overheard from adjacent tents the previous night, and struggling with some serious ultraviolet radiation. So, of course, we head to the tent-side Energy Station (beer tent) to down a few before it all gets started. First notes are heard from Canada soft-pop (sensations) Jets Overhead (not really). Not sure if the name is an attempt at irony or if they just though it sounded magical and airy in a Waking Life sort of way. It's certainly magical in a I just yawned a couple times, kind of way, so we finish our beverages as rapidly as possible before determining that we should be spending our inaugural dance moves over at Obe-Wan (Gobi).
P.O.S. - Coachella stacked the hip-hop deck on Friday almost as if they were trying to clear out the riff raff prior to the My Super Sweet 16 filming that Coachella would eventually become throughout the rest of the weekend. Who knew such racist tendencies would be so overt? P.O.S.'s impression lies more in his open-minded attitude toward the festival rather than his music. I'm struggling to locate and latch onto his beats, but trying my hardest to appreciate what I am hearing. Fortunately, we got other priorities.
The best thing about Fridays at a festival is the low turnout. No matter where the festival occurs, for various reasons (car/traffic trouble, bailouts, Friday "sucks" philosophies, aneurysms) things are more spacious on Friday, allowing for a lack of congestion on the festival grounds and plenty of space on the dance "floor". It also allows for shots like this to happen:
Deer Tick - Easily one of the most anticipated shows of the entire weekend for me. It's taking place at the Outdoe (Outdoor Stage), which is exactly what it sounds like. Frontman, John McCauley seems to be his usual, happy self, albeit more feminine on this occasion. The music is good, but there just seems to be something off. The crowd is only sort of into it, McCauley is self-admittedly on codeine, and my own health issues seem to be increasing in severity. That being said, the boys debuted a few songs off of their forthcoming album, as well as one courtesy of McCauley's side project (MG&V). So it was interesting, but vocal troubles plagued the set, leaving me wanting for more.
We, as in, Deucey and his Deucette remain in striking distance of the Outdoe since the Avetts are up next, but we're basically stumbling around like zombies without a whiff of human flesh. Maybe water will help? No... More beer? I hope not. Take the pain away!!!
Avett Brothers - I've been terribly unimpressed with the Avett Bros. live performances to date. Saw them in Boston last Fall and it was fine. Saw them on Austin City Limits and it was flat. Saw them at Coachella and it was well, pretty okay. Good news is that they hired a drummer for the show, which I've been requesting for some time. As talented as these two are, they're better when they stick to the piano and their string instruments. I try to rock out to the opening track "Laundry Room" but my brain rebels and I'm relegated to wandering aimlessly in search of a cure. Not taking anything away from these cats though, because their potential is huge.
Okay. Get me a bottle of water, a red bull, a two beers. I think this is gonna work.
Glug glug glug...
Give me a minute...
What? There's no time? Yeasayer is on? Fuuuuuck.
Yeasayer - Friday had so so SO much potential. Three of our first four targets had wondrous possibilities written all over them, yet all of them failed to deliver on any truly satisfying level. Yeasayer came into the festival with some of the largest expectations festival-wide. They've been selling out shows across the country and now it was everyone's shot to get a piece. The show took place at the Joshua Tree (Mojave), which was garbage pretty much all weekend. The sound was just never as loud as it needed to be, especially if you were toward the back of the building as was usually the case with wanderers such as ourselves. The music just barely made it our ears, and as a result, never really made into our hearts. It was a constant battle with wayward elbows and callous giants and we never achieve lift off. Maybe next time.
Oh, and the Cribs canceled because Iceland can't keep a lid on its geothermal processes. They're really not good anyway, and Johnny Marr should still be with Modest Mouse, but it's still a shame... Fuck Iceland.
The original plan was to complete a trifector during the 5:30ish time slots. Start with Ra Ra Riot at Joshua Tree, run over to Dillinger at Obe-Wan, then finish up with She & Him Outdoe in order to be prepared for Passion Pit. But, the sorry situation that I found myself in did not permit it.... What the fuck Red Bull? So, we head back to the Energy Station for some continued refueling. But before that, we stopped off to play some Hockey at Obe-Wan, who suffered from on of the worst billings possible (next to King Khan, of course), being set opposite Yeasayer. But they sounded great (better than Yeasayer...), and it was nice to see them moving up the charts, up from their opening slot on Friday back at Lolla in August. Their set ends, and we continue on our original path to the "Main" Energy Station situated close to the Big Top (Main stage) and not far from the Outdoe. From there, She & Him serenaded us as I continued to throw things into my belly searching for a cure.
The sun starts to fall... And I am resurrected. My H2eineken-Bull cocktails have finally paid off and good thing, because the festival was finally about to take off. Who likes to rock the party?
Passion Pit - likes to rock the party. And thank goodness somebody does. Again, another band with a lot of potential, but also with one huge pitfall: their singer is a tiny ball of falsetto. Is that going to work out the Outdoe? In front of (at least) 30,000 people? I was skeptical at first, but come on, Passion Pit ain't just about vocals. It's about the hard beats and the infectious interplay between synth and guitar. And well, the crowd responded. It was far and away the largest crowd of the day and it was packed. No pictures, folks. Mainly because I couldn't even get to the camera in my pocket. But just as I really started to enjoy myself, I remembered that I had a date with a legend over at the Big Top.
Now, about getting about of this swarm... At any festival, these are words to live by as they could save your life:
When in doubt, just dance.
It's how I got out of the Passion Pit crowd. I strapped on a smile, bopped my head, and shook my hips from the belly of the beast all the way out to freedom. And it was a fucking blast. Randoms engaging me and others acting as if it were a pleasure to move out of the way... Glorious.
Night has come and it's show time, y'all
Them. Crooked. Vultures. - Not sure if you are aware of my mancrush on Ted Leo, but if Ted Leo were my boyfriend, then John Homme's name would be on my Get Out of Jail Free Card. Oh, and who's that guy on bass? Oh my... Long story short, they fucking rocked, we were really close, and I don't know how to take pictures at night. Must be the malted hops and bong resin causing the hypertension to increase and my hands to jitter and twitch. But, during the picture above, Homme's cool apparently washed over and allowed me to snap this photo of JPJ playing a keyboard solo, while Josh enjoyed a cigarette solo. The guitars crunched and then soared, the bass wabbled and bounces, and the drums straight pounded. As for us? We raged. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves an early frontrunner.
As I begin to rise, Deucey and the Deucette begin to fade. Sounds like a good time to hit the Energy Station. Couple two-three beers before the next show and we're on our way. Deucey lays down and takes a nap... Pussy. I just polished up my dancing shoes...
LCD Soundsystem - Before James Murphy and company took the stage, Josh Homme dedicated a song to them. Not sure if this was genuine, or if Homme was acknowledging the sheer ludicrousness of LCD being billed over Them Crooked Vultures. But, Murphy acknowledged the dedication and was hoping to thank Homme before the show started, but was apparently in the bathroom. I can only assume that he was vomiting since he was straight shitfaced. After the opening tune, he mentioned that since there wasn't enough time, he was going to refrain from talking for too long... But that's exactly what he did, whether he was talking in between songs or during songs, the whole set sounded like a bunch of chatter. It was some chrystal clear, oft-beat-driven chatter, but chatter nonetheless.
And at the time, I actually thought I was enjoying myself.
Then, without even leaving the Energy Station, I was able to "enjoy" some white, upper class rock courtesy of the Vampsters.
Vampire Weekend - Now, although they were torn apart on a certain, well-known blog, Contra has actually grown on me a bit, and I was intrigued to see how the boys responded after their risk-free time of Lolla '09. After departing from the company Snoozy Deuce and the Deucette, I went to the other side of the Igloos, and basically just bopped around to Vampire Weekend, all while dodging the throngs of people coming and going from the poop tents. It was on par with trying to escape from Passion Pit, but with just a little more urgency from my fleeting dance partners. The set was fairly weak and lacked energy for some reason, but a humorous exchange did occur at one point:
Guy: (sees me dancing and slightly incredulously asks) You like these guys?
Me: Meh. They're getting better and that's the important thing.
Guy: Aren't they, like, "pop"?
Me: Yeah, but so were the Beatles.
Me: They got some virtuosity, so don't count them out just yet.
Guy: (and girl) Great word!
Jay-Z is up next!
Jay-Z is late!
Jay-Z now has a 10 minute countdown up on the HD screens!
... Guess that means I got 5 minutes to finish this beer and get back to Obe-Wan to see see the last few minutes of Ceu the Brazilian goddess of beauty. And wasn't she charming? All 200 of us that hadn't cruised over to the Big Top to close out Hip-Hop Friday at Coachella, were smitten, watching Ceu in her flowing aqua dress, providing some well-needed flare to an overtly American evening. And how about this for irony: Jay-Z just took the stage, yet I'm about to see Whitest Boy Alive.
Whitest Boy Alive - So, in the end, Friday was just a dance party; LCD, Passion Pit, Jay-Z, Yeasayer, the Specials, deadmau5, and my German brethren, WBA. And it was the perfect way to end the ever-so quirky day at the polo grounds. Whitest Boy plays an almost overly obvious form of funk. The bass is pronounced, the drums are minimal, and the delivery is simply hysterical. You can really see why got the name they have. Frontman Erland Oye (also of Royksopp) couldn't be any whiter. I mean, check out that orange-red combination he's rocking in the picture above. But he played the part and I, as well as a strong contingent of South of the Border fans lapped it up, dancing into the night, engaging in all sorts off insider audience participatory gaggery, and even singing fading melodies long after Jay-Z had finished gouging us for our hard-earned dollar dollar bills, y'all. -
And after that, it was back to Spin City (the campground) for some more late night electronica, sex, drugs, and an overwhelming lack of sleep.
Comments and Omissions much appreciated.