Weekend One Review
President, lover of the people and Coachella attendee. You know it’s gonna be an epic trip when get on a plane and the President is there to greet you. That’s exactly what happened as I left New York City to head to Indio, California for 2013’s version of Coachella. Pay attention to the signs.
Writing this review always serves as the easiest and hardest review I write all year. Easy, because I look forward to these three days in mid-April like no other. For all the craziness that is going on right now (Boston, Votes on our Gun Laws, etc.,) California puts life in proper perspective. And as I sat thinking before I made the trip out, that maybe, eventually, one day the experience of Coachella will get old, that perhaps I’ll grow tired of it…the moment you get into Indio and see the sun and the mountains, you realize that’s a huge falsehood. Coachella never gets old, because no matter how many times you go, it’s new every time. Appreciate the clarity Mr. Carter.
What makes this the hardest to write? There are way too many fantastic bands! Never has a problem been so so good. If you’re with a group, as I am every year, one of the most difficult things to do is leave your crew to go off and discover new music on your own. I often end up missing bands I wanted to see and lose track of my people in the process. Two things always happen though: One, I discover a new favorite band. And two, somehow the Coachella Gods find a way to reunite me with my friends in the midst of all the beautiful madness going on.
2013 started out with a lil Dam-Funk. Nothing like Coachella main stage action to get the party started.Their back and forth beat drops provided an excellent jumpoff for what had already started out as a grand journey. Check out Dam-Funk’s “Rare Type,” if you get an opportunity, it’ll get you going. And we were officially off! From there we moved on to Polica at the Gobi stage. Each stage has a certain special significance all its own, but the tent stages (Gobi + Mojave) are always the best for enjoying live music. Porque? The covering above the tents bring the feel of an indoor venue together with the natural outdoor setting, creating the best sounds of the entire festival. Past years on these stages have given us glimpses of Phantogram, Sleigh Bells, Gary Clark Jr., Sia and the Head and the Heart to name a few. If you take pleasure in listening and actually hearing your music, these are the stages for you.
You hear that Bon Iver played this year? Yup! We play. For real though, bringing it back to Polica real quick, Justin Vernon took the stage with the band, as they debuted new tunes and the crowd merely smiled. Having seen Polica open for Bon Iver last year at Radio City Music Hall, it was pretty cool to see Mr. Vernon performing again (Bon Iver is touring outside the U.S. for the next two years). Harmonious indie rockers Alt-J followed up the Polica set with sweet songs of their own. Unison, killer keyboards and cool vibes were all you felt during their short set. High-pitch vocals just intensified their music, solidifying Alt-J as a band living up to all the current hype surrounding them. Walking away to check out the next band, they started playing their hit single “Breezeblocks,” and well shiiiit, it was a great send off. Set complete.
Do you Love Spoon? Dying to see them again? They played too! Not really, but catching the Divine Fits with co- front man Brit Daniels (Spoon), is the equivalent of seeing Spoon 2.0. People can go back and forth all they want about the differences, or lack there of, between the two bands, but if you actually are a Spoon fan, this group is for you: the correct amount of hard hitting rock, slight poppy twinge, a touch of electronicness…straight up recipe for a kick ass performance simply. As day turned into night, we knew it was time to move on.
Speaking of dusk, Coachella sunsets are part of what makes this place truly special. They are magical, as your favorite bands tend to rise to the occasion and play up to their ultimate potential during this time. This year was no different, as the Local Natives took us to what felt like paradise on the Outdoor Stage. Perfect weather, their solid musicality and the sun coming down behind the mountains mid-set, set the mood for magnificence. From “Airplanes,” to “Shape Shifter,” they captivated the audience, and as they played “Colombia,” we all knew we were finally home for the night. “Take me to bed or lose me forever!”
Next up, Beach House. With the Local Natives creating the mood for love, it was up to Beach House to keep it going. And they did, well kind of. Some bands are more equipped for the huge outdoor stage than others, and on this night the sound wasn’t quite there for them. Maybe it was the wind, the fact that I was tired, or the chill vibe the were releasing, but it just felt off. Doesn’t take away from the fact they’re a terrific band, just need to see them again ASAP.
A pick me up was needed. It was time to get nectar, Bassnectar. Having heard a lot about the long haired dude from Santa Cruz, California, I was excited. Closing out the night strong, he rocked day one Coachella harder than Mr. Draper hitting the bottle. Bass bomb after bass bomb (a.k.a getting Nectarfied as I’ve come to learn) is all that was dropped on us and afterwards I was definitely spent. All in all, first day success.
The second day at a festival tends to be a bit of a shit show. Friday gives you a taste of the fast life and most people don’t have enough will power not to get after it on day two. You can never have too much of a great thing right? It was no different for us. Starting a little late, the group was divided between Ben Howard and 2 Chainz. In one of several festival detours, I went to 2 Chainz. Now I’ve experience a lot of things during Coachella, but I have never seen a crowd this massive at the Mojave Stage. Never. After about a song or two I went back to finish the Benzito Howard (who killed it by the way) set because the crowd was just too much. But please know that 2 Chainz has not only arrived, but is loved on a huge arena rock scale. It’s like that. Good job Ben?
Keeping it slow we saw a break out performance by Natasha Khan or simply put Bat for Lashes. The one-woman band stole the show, killing the crowd with a voice that sounds like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Cat Power. She’s a show stopper. Cool thing happened while we were watching Ms. Khan. We met a little dude named Max, who was in the audience to see his uncle — Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing. Max’s parents were kind enough to let us take a pic, and Jack chatted us up a bit. Cool dude. I love how Coachella just brings out the best in people.
Major Motherfucking Lazer. There’s no way to describe what Diplo and company are doing right now, other than providing crowds the most pure, utter, fun on the scene. During a Major Lazer set: you sing, you dance, you jump, you clap, you get naked, you get down super low, you get up high, you even do the Harlem Shake (entire set, Harlem Shake @ 18:25). Hardest workout in all of music. It was nap time for sure ya’ll.
After getting lazered I was pretty much done for the rest of the day. Sure, I caught bits of Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip (Fun Ass Dance Party), Yeasayer, Moby and Knife Party. But I was never the same. Beware — Coachella is fully capable of knocking you out in a single shot. A nap was necessary and as I look back on day two, all that comes to mind is total shock and awe (shout out to D and Mitch). I was dealt a deadly blow, thanks Mr. Bush.
Best day. Period.
Not that the first two days were bad, that could never happen here. But all those things I wrote about earlier, going out on your own lil Coachella adventures, then reuniting (feeling so good) with your friends again — all that happened. Gloriousness. Kicking off Sunday Funday with the super young and talented Grimes, we were on our way! At merely 25 years of age, Grimes hits subtly, setting a mellow tone that matched up perfectly with the gorgeous Sunday afternoon vibe that was going around. Check out the track “Oblivion,” and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about…she started us off right.
Where we landed after that was the Lumineers. Their set was arguably the best set of weekend. Energizing a crowd of fun loving Coachellers, we all sang lyrics together, hearing “Be in my eyes, be in my heart…but classy girls don’t kiss in bars you fool…lovely girl won’t you stay…oh my my, oh hey hey…it’s better to feel pain…” These are the moments you never forget, hugging your friends and loved ones, expressing genuine thoughts and feelings — these are the moments people travel from far and wide to be apart of. To be apart of the experience, an experience that’s never not been worth it. It’s why Indio is so beloved.
After that it was onto Tame Impala, who impressed despite the high winds that started to blow about. I caught a little James Blake before moving onto the other performer who put up the most comparable performance to the Lumineers, Father John Misty.
Hilarious, odd, quirky — Future Mother Fucking Rock Star. If you don’t know this cat, get on it! Father John Misty’s a folky white version of James Brown, with more swag than any rapper you’ve seen lately. Breaking it down with his throwback Bee Gee’s apparel, he simultaneously keeps it intellectual smart with songs like “Only Son of the Ladiesman,” “I’m Writing a Novel,” and “Well, You Can Do It Without Me,” while electrifying the crowd with his rolling around the floor, mic throwing, stage antics. He’s got so much soul, he’s coming back in the next life as a black man. The man is a natural entertainer and no doubt was my favorite set of the entire festival.
Helping to close out Coachella was legendary hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan. To my surprise they brought up to the stage pretty much every living member, as they ripped through classics like “C.R.E.A.M,” “Bring Da (Mother Fucking) Ruckus,” and “Shame on a Nigga.” Listening to them perform, you couldn’t help but think about Ol’ Dirty Bastard and for this writer, younger days. If you’re going on Weekend Two, they are a must see.
With the wind still blistering about, it was time to dig in for the final act —The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Chilis!!! Still lost at this point I headed back to an old familiar main stage spot (A3 is a great place to meet friends if you’re ever lost) and found my family! Coachella was showing me love yet again. Settling in for the last set, Anthony Kiedis, Flea and CO., thrashed out the hits, among them “Otherside,” “Under the Bridge,” “By the Way,” “Can’t Stop,” and countless others. Again reminded of earlier days, I couldn’t help but sing along with everyone else in the crowd.
And that’s exactly what music is all about, that’s what Coachella is all about. No matter how you feel about it or how you feel towards festivals in general. As a good friend put it to me, “It’s important for people to feel comfortable liking what they like. It’s such a personal,vulnerable thing (music).” Ultimately Coachella is personal and means many different things to many different people. To me, it’s the rite of passage into Spring, an opportunity to hit the reset button and allow perspective inside my head. It lets me know that life is meant to be lived, we’re out here to celebrate every moment and enjoy all that the world has to offer. It’s a sunshine filled reminder telling you to let go of the bullshit. Life’s too short for that.