Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Coachella 2008: Saturday

Apr 26th – Sat:

My plan was to get 4 hours sleep, wake up at 6:00, and tackle the 18 mile run I had mapped out for myself. That was the plan. The reality is I screwed up setting the alarm, woke up on my own at 7:00, rushed to get ready, do a bit of stretching, and wolf down a banana before heading out at 7:20. My route took me north, outside of Palm Springs to a dirt road that cuts through the desert.

By 8:30 it was already blazing hot and I was about to begin the climb up the mountain to where they have a tram. I was at 500’ and had to reach 2600’ over the next 4 miles. This didn’t seem like such a big deal on paper, however I had not planned on it being so hot or the road so steep.

The first 2 miles were on the same dirt road I was following. I was trying to conserve water until I could make it to the top and refill my two belt containers. Soon after connecting to the paved road, I caught up to an old guy who was walking up to the creek. I joined him for awhile, as I was starting to overheat.

After he turned back, I alternated running and walking until I reached the top. My water was long gone and I was really fatigued. Great view though. Drank from a drinking fountain and filled up my two bottles. Checked the time. 9:30. A little worried since we were supposed to leave for the festival around 10:30. Started down the mountain.

Fast pace the whole way down, but my legs and feet took a beating. By the time I reached the bottom I was beat. It was in the 90’s already and I was getting burned, plus, I still had 4 miles to go. Jogged another mile until my left foot felt like it was broken. Every step was really painful. And even though I still had water, I was starting to get that tingly feeling in my hands, which I know from personal experience, means I unable to cool down and getting close to sun stroke.

So I tried hitch-hiking. I thought someone would for sure pick me up. I was clearly not carrying any weapons, and anyone could see from my red face that I was dying out there in the heat. Nobody stopped. I continued jogging and hitching for another mile without any luck. I probably could have made it home, but it was way past when I should have been back, so went inside a realtor office and used their phone to call the hotel and ask for a ride. So embarrassing. I’ve never had to be “rescued” before.

I only made it 16 of the 18 miles I needed, and some of that was walking, so I’m concerned about whether I’ll be ready for the marathon. Hopefully the heat and hill training will make up the difference. Hurried and showered, choked down a PB&J, and headed to Coachella.

Rachel had two Saturday tickets to scalp and I had 1 for Sunday. She was able to get face value for hers, while I had to let mine go for $30 less than face. If I go again next year, I’m just gonna buy some scalped tickets outside. It seems they always go for less the day off, even if they sell out.

I had to really take it easy today. I was already burned and exhausted from my run, so I sought shade and sat as much as possible.

The Bird And The Bee:

Their jazzy pop isn’t my favorite, but they sounded great and put on a good show.

Man Man:

5 dudes that really get into their performance. They incorporate a lot of instruments and are quite entertaining to watch.


A fantastic band that didn’t live up to my expectations live. Pretty much came down to poor song choice. Plus, I let myself be exposed to the sun for their show. Left early to see…

Cold War Kids:

Glad I did. They sounded great on the main stage, and like The Raconteurs, translated well to a big arena with their indie rock style.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks:

However, did not. I expected much better things, but again, poor song selection led to a disappointing set.

Death Cab For Cutie:

The theme continues, unfortunately, as Death Cab chose to play a series of average songs, instead of the clear fan favorites. Additionally, whoever was mixing their sound was doing a terrible job. A few bright spots, but mostly bland.

Rilo Kiley:

I’ve never been a big fan, so it came as no surprise that I wasn’t thrilled by seeing them live. Left early to see…


Honestly, one of the artists I was most excited to see in the entire festival. Which of course set me up to be highly let down when she played only a few decent songs, and let all of them drone on forever, interspersed with her babbling to nobody in particular when they did finally end. Pretty much a huge mess on stage. I think a good 10 minutes of her set was spent complaining about the lights. Skip the show, buy the CDs.


HOORAY! A band that actually lived up to expectations. They are phenomenal live, and played their best songs from all their albums. Even the new stuff I had never heard before was excellent. Glad I got to see them.


Starting at close to 11:00, he ensured that almost the entire crowd was at his stage, since there was nobody else to see by then. I think 90% of the crowd was there out of complete curiosity. Sure, I like some old Prince classics, but the guy has put out like 30 albums, and 99% of it sucks. Sorry Prince.

Morris Day and the Time (I think) opened things up, which was fun, and then Sheila E. came out to do her thing. Once Prince took over, things went downhill fast. I guess he though people were as familiar with his discography as he was, since he pulled out some real obscure numbers to drive away the crowd with. We caught a couple hits and then called it a night.

With Prince serenading us faintly in the background, we got lost trying to find the car and stumbled around in the dark for an hour before finding it. Poor Rachel had a sore foot and could barely walk. Prince was still playing when we left. He made have gone all night for all I know. He’s Prince after all.

Not sure what time we made it to bed. Sometime after 3:00 I think. All of us felt like we had sparred a few rounds with Mike Tyson. Can’t believe Jon and I went all 3 days last year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Coachella 2008: Friday

I'm just going to copy and paste my journal from Friday into this post, so if you are on my journal email list, this won't be anything new. If you're not, read on. I attended with Rachel and her cousin. Check out her account here.

I will post my pictures later.


Bananas and granola bars for breakfast. That, along with many PB&J’s was the staple of this weekend. Drove from Palm Springs into Coachella, the city and festival, where we parked in a giant dirt lot and then trekked to the main entrance. We had arrived early today, so had about a 20 minute wait at the gates before doors officially opened.

Our big worry for today was smuggling in all our various contraband. The hard stuff: camel packs, sandwiches, and granola bars. I laid a decoy banana on the top of my bag to give them something to confiscate, but they waived me through all the same. Seems fruit doesn’t hold the same threat level as a hash pipe or brass knuckles.

I mixed things up this year by not only approaching a vendor’s booth, but purchasing something from them: a wide brimmed straw hat, which simultaneously decreased my body temperature and my street cred at the same time. But oh how I fell in love with this hat over the next two days. My entire head down to my shoulders was draped in blissful shade. It’s a must have if you are going to spend two full days out in the 100 degree sun.

Thanks to Jon’s tutelage last year, I leaned the importance of a camel pack in maintaining proper Coachella hydration. We had two between us, and filled them both at the “secret” faucet. Last year I spent almost a water bottle’s worth of sweat trying to gather 10 empty bottles to trade in for one full one. One can last an entire day on 1-2 camel pack fill-ups. It’s the only way to go.

A third sun beating strategy gleaned from last year was our recycling bin tower. Stacking them atop each other creates a shaded area from which to enjoy the music. Mix with sun screen, and you might survive Coachella without acquiring a case of heat stroke.

Most of my downtime this year was spent in the DJ village area, where they had shade, misters, and throbbing bass. Plus, it’s where all the crazy people congregated, so it made for a photographers dream. I probably shot 90% of my pictures from that spot.

On to the music. A reoccurring theme for me this year was that most good bands aren’t very good live, and most average bands outright suck live, especially in a large scale venue. Without the polished hand of a professional music producer and sound studio, a majority of today’s bands fail to hold up. Other’s simply are either too prideful or stupid to admit that not all of their songs are very good, and they shouldn’t be played in front of a crowd. Ever. My break down of each days sets will reflect this viewpoint.

Rogue Wave:

Great band on CD, average band live, with even worse song choice. Very disappointed with their 45 minute set. They should have opened up the festival in a big way instead of driving everyone away to the food purveyors instead.

Dan Deacon:

I suffered through 2 weak songs before moving on.

Architecture In Helsinki: They came all the way from Australia to play at Coachella, so I’ll let them off the hook for being a little jet lagged. OK set and song choice. I think the Outdoor Stage was too big for them. Would like to see them in a smaller venue in the future.

The Breeders:

One of the two reunions I was most psyched to see, after Portishead. So it comes as no surprise that my very high expectations were not met, especially since the Pixies reunion show I saw a few years ago absolutely KILLED. That and the Jane’s Addiction reunion we saw in Vegas will go down in history. As for The Breeders, it sounded like they hadn’t got around to practicing before the show. The song choice was great, but their performances were lacking. They are playing in SLC at a smaller venue in like a month. I may give them another chance to wow me.

Tegan & Sara: These Canadian lesbian twins are not only better than I expected live, but also quick on their feet. Their crowd banter was amusing and intelligent. I immediately got the feeling it would be a blast to hang out with them. Good song choice and the best show of the day at that point. I heard they are opening for Death Cab at Thanksgiving Point next month. I’ll have to swing by.

The Raconteurs:

It’s my opinion that loud rock bands are much better suited for huge arenas and festivals. Maybe that’s why Jack White’s side project finally blew the doors off an otherwise lackluster day. Really enjoyed their set and the sound was perfect. Can’t wait to see The White Stripes some day.

The Swell Season:

Or that amazing duo from the movie Once. Sadly, Between the racket from the other 4 stages and the nearby DJ tents, it was really hard to get into their mellow songs. They simply got drowned out. I’m glad I got to see them live, but wish it could have been inside a more intimate venue.

The Verve:

Had to catch a bit of their set, since I used to be a big Verve fan and it was one of the headlining “reunions”. I have to admit, Richard Ashcroft sounded fantastic. The band sounded great together—I’m just not that into them anymore.

Serj Tankian:

Or the solo side project of System Of A Down’s lead singer. Here’s an example of a band (or man) who is much better live than on CD. I wasn’t thrilled with most of his new stuff I heard, but he’s a vocal maniac on stage, and fun to watch. Really hope to catch SOAD in concert one day.

Jack Johnson:

Friday came to an end with a polished and entertaining set from Jack Johnson and friends. (Matt Costa and Mason Jennings showed up to lend a hand on a few songs) Perfect song selection and performance. He’s just as good or better live as on CD.

Then comes the grueling march through dust and crowds back to the car. Between traffic and getting lost in Palm Springs, we didn’t get to bed until about 2:00. All of us were completely exhausted from the day.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Coachella 2008

On Thursday I will be flying out to California to attend the 2008 Coachella Music Festival with my friend Rachel and her cousin. Last year was my first time. I went with my friend Jon who has twins on the way, so was unable to go this time. After he and Joey turned me down, I pretty much gave up hope of being able to go this year. That's when Rachel came into the picture. Hooray!

We decided to do just the first two days. I was never a big Pink Floyd fan, so missing Roger Waters wasn't the end of the world for me. Honestly, I'm most excited to see Saturday's former headliner: Portishead. They were recently overshadowed by the announcement that Prince was being added as a last minute headliner.

I won't go into all the bands I'm excited to see now, since I'll be going into them in great depth after I see them live and post pictures. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Rest Of Vegas

It's about time I finished up our Vegas trip, especially because it's looking like it may be the last one.

From the Wynn we moved to the new section of the Venetian called The Palazzo, which just opened at the end of January. They are hoping to get a jump on the Wynn, which has their new addition, Encore, set to open in 2009.

The suites are very nice. In fact, I almost prefer them to the ones at the Wynn.

Entry way:
Main room. It was great having a pool table. We brought in a large screen for the games too.

Welcome snacks:

Room off to the right:

Larger room to the left:

which held a baby grand piano, just in case.

Gorgeous bathrooms

So if it is our last year in Vegas, it was a nice one to go out on. Thanks for the memories!