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.

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