Coachella Music and Arts Festival 04/15/12
Empire Polo Fields – Indio, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
For the final day of my first Coachella weekend I arrived to the Empire Polo Fields much later than I had the first two days. I could tell by the time that I was to the Beats Antique tent that the energy had changed. You could see the exhaustion on the collective face of the crowd, sick and tired of having to walk into a cage to get a beer or take a leak. Security was a bit tighter on this particular day as well as for the first time all weekend I had to throw away contraband at the front gate (clearly Coachella is no place for Gummy Bears, especially the Haribo variety). Most important on this sunny spring day, it was a final shot for me to get my head straight one last time before returning home to reality and a new chapter in my life.
Fitz and the Tantrums
Fuck these guys. No, really fuck these guys. This is not a band, this is a fucking product. They make me so fucking angry that I am left but no choice to overuse the word fuck. The songs are simple, uninspired and I felt for the first time all weekend that I was at a Pop radio station summer festival and not Coachella. This metro-sexual Motown shtick doesn’t work. The fact that “Steady As She Goes” by The Raconteurs was stale, cheap and generic made me wonder if they add it in just to look cool? Fitz is nothing more than mass produced music for people who don’t want to be pushed outside their comfort level. I wouldn’t even bother to steal their retro recordings. Oh and spare me the “they are a fun band” argument, because the world has plenty of fun bands who make great music. Fitz isn’t one of them. Next please.
I’ve had a crush on Carrie Brownstein because she once did an experiment for NPR where she became a Phish fan for a week. I decided to check out Wild Flag because of this. I managed to catch three songs from up front before enjoying the rest with a few friends in the beer garden. While many in my group thought the music was terrible I had to disagree. While it would have been better suited inside one of the tents versus the massive Outdoor Stage, the all-female super group had a good energy going throughout the set and quenched my festival hunger for grrrrlrock.
For those who follow me on Twitter, you know all about my sworn duty to bust wooks. We all hate the dirty crusty scum who sell bad drugs, refuse to shower and call your sister “brah.” Well what if I told you they started a new genre of music to spread their message of filth and dishonesty? WOOKSTEP is here people; I nearly choked on my $5 churro when I saw this in action. Truly dreadful, I went and found an officer from the nearby Cathedral City Police Department but he refused to do anything. Check the footage below and then warn all your friends that WOOKSTEP is coming to a Wal-Mart near you.
I’d be lying if I denied being bored for a good chunk of Coachella on Sunday. I ended up taking a seat along the fence and watched a beautiful California sunset as The Weeknd took the stage. Before a single note played, I already knew this band was going to be huge based off the thunderous cheers from every young girl at Coachella. The Weeknd were not bad, but Canadian indie rock infused R&B sung by pretty boys is never going to win me over. So instead I just watched the day, reflected on the wonderful weekend that was coming to an end and thought about the day when I take my daughter to see a dreamy front man like The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye live.
The Airplane Boys
As I walked in a sea of people to go see Gotye, I noticed the Gobi Tent was deserted as a hip hop act played. I decided to go check it out and what I saw reminded me of being 16 and checking out a local show. The Airplane Boys are from Canada and what they lack in talent, they make up in enthusiasm. From running around the empty tent to getting what few fans were there to raise their hands and scream, you would have thought these guys were arena headliners. Alas they were just a few guys praying for folks to give em a chance on a night headlined by some of hip hops brightest stars.
This dude should have been on the Outdoor Stage and Wild Flag should have rocked this tent as there was a massive crowd gathered to witness the greatest one hit wonder of 2012. I can only assume he played the song everyone will be sick of by Memorial Day and it changed the lives of girls not old enough to get into the beer garden. Good times.
I would like to pat myself on the back as I successfully completed the Girl Talk Triple Crown. Three Girl Talk sets at three festivals in one single year. First we had Outside Lands in San Francisco. Then we had Voodoo in New Orleans. Coachella completed the Triple Crown. What I have realized with Girl Talk is that every show is exactly the same. Stressing that he only had 45 minutes, I stayed for about 20 before leaving the mash up madness and heading back to the main stage to wrap my weekend.
Fuck these guys. No really, fuck these guys. Unlike Fitz they are unique and talented. But the fact is long before Girl Talk started I gathered at the main stage to check out their 7:45 pm set. I watched my watch and 7:45 pm came and past. It was 8:05 pm when I finally said fuck this and left as fans started to get ugly. This is a festival set, you have an obligation to be on time for your fans. Justice wasted my valuable time and it was not appreciated. I heard they finally came on around 8:15 pm and only played for 30 minutes versus the entire hour that was expected. I hope they only got half of their paycheck. I did manage to catch the last song after Girl Talk, so enjoy the one photo I took of these tardy twats up above.
At The Drive-In
This was a moment I have waited years for. I never got to see At The Drive-In and I knew Coachella was my chance. With the sun now set the masses flocked to the main stage for a taste of El Paso in Indio. I knew the second the low end rumbling began that we were opening for “Arcarsenal” and I was ready to rage. For the next hour, the five piece band unleashed an all-out assault on Coachella that managed to sound well-polished while never losing its raw grit.
I really enjoyed the construction of the set and how the songs flowed. I believe it was “Lopsided” that flowed perfectly into “Sleepwalk Capsules” without pausing to quickly tune or allowing front man Cedric Bixler-Zavala to insult the audiences’ choice of clothes.
While I could have listened to the band play all damn night, I am happy that most of my favorites were performed. I was a bit worried that we would see two separate bands (The Mars Volta and Sparta) trying to be one, but on this particular night you could not see any divide upon the stage. The one thing I did find disappointing was the lack of energy from guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. After wishing us a Merry Christmas, the band wrapped the set with their lone radio hit “One Armed Scissor.” No longer yelling at folks not to mosh, At The Drive-In is back and sounds better than ever.
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
Unless you are an E-Tard losing your cell phone out at the Sahara Tent, the final set of Coachella 2012 was the one set I was most intrigued about since the initial artist announcement. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg together again. I managed to catch Snoop last fall at Voodoo and found myself bored to death thirty minutes into the set. Could Dre and Snoop keep the interest of a casual hip hop fan? As it turns out they not only did but put on one of the best performances I have ever seen.
The celebration of West Coast Hip Hop from the past, present and future kicked off with “The Next Episode.” It was clear that the duo were well rehearsed and about to put on a show for the ages. Keeping the parting rolling, “Kush” and “Gin N Juice” followed giving tens of thousands of concert goers the chance to get in the right mental condition for a Death Row history lesson.
Now that we were all in the right mind frame, it was time to pay tribute to Nate Dogg. While we never did see a hologram performance as rumored, we did get to see Kurupt come out for a rocking take on “ Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None).” After the tribute, it was time to get high again as Snoop Dogg brought out Wiz Khalifa to perform their hit “Young, Wild & Free.”
The first half of the show was jam packed with hit after hit. Some not even their own as both Dre and Snoop had a chuckle after a tongue and cheek performance of the House of Pain classic “Jump Around.” From there we got such timeless memories as “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and of course “Ain’t Nothing But A ‘G’ Thang.”
With massive energy in the venue, Dre sucked the life out of the show for a few minutes to show off his newest weapon Kendrick Lamar. Thankfully it was the breather we all needed as 50 Cent came out next shocking the Coachella nation. 50 breezed through three tracks in about six minutes. Fans went nuts as he performed his biggest hits “P.I.M.P” and “In The Club.” 50 sounded great and was no doubt a welcome surprise.
After a massive group rap-a-long for “California Love” it became time to pay tribute to Tupac via hologram. I will be honest, where I was standing, it didn’t look very good. In fact it looked more like a videogame than anything. This was cheesy, out of place and distracting in my opinion and I am going to pretend as if it never happened.
The biggest highlight of the night was Eminem. Em joined the fun for three songs, “I Need A Doctor,” “Forgot About Dre” and “Till I Collapse.” The reclusive rapper had a hoodie over his head the entire time and the good Dr. of course had to beg him to play the final song. Yet the excitement in the air after what had already gone down was not matched all weekend.
The set came to a roaring conclusion with “Still D.R.E.” as the incredible backing band jammed out the songs tail end, Dre and Snoop said their thanks as their respective platforms brought them below the stage. As someone who does not claim to know much about hip hop, Dr. Dre is one of the few artists whose catalogue I know. The set truly was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen as far as pure entertainment level and it was the perfect way to end my first Coachella.