Coachella Music and Arts Festival 04/14/12
Empire Polo Fields – Indio, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
I had three goals for Coachella on Saturday. See as many acts as possible while getting inebriated enough to enjoy Radiohead after having my Kasabian live cherry popped. All I have to say is Mission Fucking Accomplished.
One of my top twelve bands to see at Coachella, I made it to the stage about ½ through the Flower Punkers set. I saw no barfing; I saw no guitars being played by cocks. Instead I saw a rather small crowd gathered around the band. Oh and I saw the wonderful Adrian Garro, who I then spoke with instead of actually watching the band. How is that for a deep journalistic review? (Update – per the user comment below I guess I missed the cock show. This is why you should never hang out with your friends).
I don’t watch a lot of TV, and what I do watch certainly isn’t on NBC (and if it was, do you think I would actually admit here that I am a fan of Parenthood?). So while I can’t talk about the skills at his day job, Donald Glover’s side job as a rapper is pretty fantastic. With a massive crowd at the main stage in the hot afternoon sun, Gambino delighted the crowd more with his charm than his mic skills. Highlights included “Heartbeat,” “Fire Fly” and a cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” I think for most in the crowd (at least the two in front of me) the highlight was no so much Gambino’s ZZ Top T-shirt, but his song “Asian Girls Everywhere (UCLA).” Then again, how could that song not be a hit in sunny Southern California?
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
There was a moment on Saturday when Miss Potter was dancing on stage in her bikini top and leather shorts and she spotted me amongst a sea of hippiesters. Perhaps it was the Phish shirt, or the fact that I was not moving to the groups hit “Paris (Oh La La)” but she gave me a look and it clearly said the following: “Hey, what am I supposed to do, I can play tiny shit hole clubs as a respectable jam friendly musician or I can be a whore. You whore in a cube all day, I whore on stage all day it is what it is honey now stop looking at my rolls when I turn to rock out with our drummer.” I get it Grace you are living the rock and roll dream we all have and I refuse to knock you for that. But damn I wish you had stayed more Bonnaroo instead of going Hollywood and for the record this performance was 1,000 times hotter than anything you have done in the past two years.
After checking out some of the installations at the festival/finding out Kasabian had cancelled their signing I decided to check out Zed’s Dead on the recommendation of our pal Jakob. The fans inside the Sahara tent were obnoxious and I really wanted to like the music but as more time went on it got on my nerves. This was the first real sign on this particular weekend that there is now an entire generation of music after the generation of music I grew up with. I am the old timer and I am going to need to learn how to accept that.
Just stopped in for a quick hello. They are legends after all. I dug the song I heard, it reminded me of Phish. On to the next thing.
The Head and the Heart
Knowing it was a long day, I sat just outside whatever tent these indie country types played at and found it rather enjoyable. Mellow, which was exactly what I was looking for at that point in time. Perhaps better in a small club than a festival tent but the band sounded good. The only thing that bothered me about the set was the pants worn by Charity Rose. Dreadful.
As far as old punk bands go, Buzzcocks came into my life about a decade ago. I was drawn in by their unique melodies and how they incorporated things like keys into their jarring sounds. With a massive circle pit causing a large dust cloud to rise inside the Gobi Tent, the few fans of punk who made it into Coachella were pumped for the career spanning set. The Buzzcocks saved most of their well-known songs including “Orgasm Addict” and “Something’s Gone Wrong Again” saved for the tail end of the set. I tell ya, the kids go crazy for car commercials as “What Do I Get?” got the biggest reaction from the crowd. Personally I am just glad I finally got a chance to see these guys live, a great high energy set performed by the boys from Bolton.
Caught the tail of the set by catching up with an old friend I grew up with. Not bad, but it felt like they tried too hard. But hey, better them on the main stage at 5pm than Kasabian. I did feel bad when the band begged fans to tell all their friends about them. Perhaps it is time I start a PR firm that promotes solid UK acts who never get a chance stateside? Oh and how bad ass is the above photo as I took it from about 800 feet away?!?!?!?!
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Gallagher’s stop last year at UCLA’s Royce Hall was magical. I didn’t know how well Gallagher would do on the main stage during dinner time but as it turns out that just shows you how lame I am. Gallagher is a genius and after playing show after show in the worlds largest venues he knew just what to do. He cranked the distortion up to 11, made sure the drums were heavy in the mix and rocked the fuck out. Songs from his self-titled solo effort like “The Death of You and Me,” “If I Had A Gun,” and “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” were transformed from well crafted pop songs into all out stadium rockers. While many in the audience shows zero reaction to Oasis songs like “Mucky Fingers” and “Little By Little” they did indeed go nuts when the band performed “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” This of course was problematic to Mr. Gallagher as scolded the audience for cheering when he said he had a final song and not boooing. Well played Noel, well played indeed.
We all know St. Vincent is incredible. Where Grace Potter failed at being sexy, St. Vincent oozed it. Opening with “Northern Lights” St. Vincent was not only confident she was dominant in seducing the large Gobi Tent crowd with her music. A flawless version of “Cheerleader” followed as the sun was now fully set upon the Empire Polo Fields. “Chloe In The Afternoon” came next and sounded even heavier than on the record. I would love to know what kind of pedal she is using to get that beefy crunchy low end distortion from her guitar. After being won over by her set last fall in Hollywood, I wish I could have seen the entire set, but as she launched into her fourth song “Actor Out Of Work” I knew I had to depart in order to experience a life changing event.
No, Squeeze was not the life changing event. They were just the act playing to all the parents who brought their young kids out to the desert. The song I heard, well I will just say if you don’t have anything nice to say, you must be listening to Squeeze.
If you have read the site, you know that this band has been my long running obsession. As soon as Squeeze finished I forced myself up to the front of the Mojave Tent and quickly discovered that it is not just I who had waited a long, long time for this moment. I met fans from Europe, Saudia Arabia and Reno who had made the trek to Coachella just to catch an hour with Kasabian. In the minutes before the band hit the stage, fans began singing to chorus to the groups hit “Fire.” It was the only time I have seen this kind of pre-set energy at Coachella. When the band did hit the stage at 8:35 pm sharp they opened with a fierce 1-2 punch of “Days Are Forgotten” and “Velociraptor!” I see a lot of bands, but I was truly freaking out like some 13 year old girl who just met Justin Bieber. It was Kasabian and they were loud and three feet away from my face.
The band playing a much shorter set than their typical headline shows did a superb job of mixing new material in with classic jams from their first and third records. With no proper US tour for West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum it was a treat when the band tore the tent to shreds with “Underdog” (which included some sweet improved lyrics from lead guitarist Sergio Pizzorno about the large amounts of marijuana being smoked in front of the band). Joking about how they were kids when they last played Coachella in 2005 “I.D.” from the bands self-titled debut was not only a welcome treat but the perfect song for the electronic heavy festival.
From what I could gather the band was winning over fans left and right, especially after a jaw dropping take on the Noel Gallagher dedicated “Club Foot.” A humorous moment came right before “Re-Wired” as lead singer Tom Meighan pointed out a fan with a mask of the Queen of England before promptly booing her Majesty. Sadly before things really began they were coming to an end. Now with a full on mosh pit going down in front of the stage, the group closed with the effective combination of West Ryder classics “Vlad The Impaler” and “Fire.” It didn’t matter how tired I already was at that point, I gave it my all jumping up and down per the instructions of Pizzorno. In closing, I have noticed many times in life you long to see a band you love and when you finally do see them it’s amazing yet expectations are not met. Kasabian in 50 minutes are the one act I have seen who went above and beyond my high expectations and I can’t wait to do it all over again on Tuesday night.
All I can tell you is that he was bummed he was almost out of time. Honestly, having just seen Kasabian, I don’t even remember what I heard here.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Godspeed is one of those bands I have always heard of yet never heard. Nothing like I expected, I think I assumed these guys were more like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. With little or no lighting, what appeared to be about eight musicians sat down and made these crazy post rock instrumentals. Really mellow, really different. Took in about two or three songs before going to grab a quick bite and beer before Radiohead.
I tend to be a music snob and have hated everything this band has done since OK Computer. I often get into fights with folks on twitter by comparing their music to “pussy farts.” Yes, two hours was way too long to be alone in a field, but I actually really enjoyed most of Radiohead’s set. Sure, I recognized the hits like “Karma Police” “Lotus Flower” and “Idioteque” but it was some of the non-hits that most intrigued me. The opening song “Bloom” reminded me a lot of Phish which was awesome. I was shocked to hear the band play the song “Lucky” but perhaps that is just because I recognized it. The entire presentation from the light show and video screens was incredible (I can’t believe I am calling something Radiohead related incredible). Hell they even teased Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” before playing “Everything In Its Right Place.” So perhaps I was wrong, perhaps Radiohead is more than pussy farts?!?!?! I am not rushing to call them the greatest band, but they no doubt changed my feelings on them with a pretty spectacular Saturday headline set.