Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coachella: Part 2. Day 1.

Friday morning. 8am. I wake up from the heat. It pierces my skin through the windows of my rental. A Jeep Patriot. Pea Soup Green. Unable to get back to sleep, I lift my body from the back seat. My temporary sleeping quarters for the weekend. The spot where my party is occupying is completely still. I exit the vehicle and peer out over the field as I am surrounded by literally thousands of cars and tents. A few people walk around. Some going to the showers. Some returning from the showers. Some getting food. Others smoking their first joint of the day.

I make my way to the seemingly endless line of porta potties that grace literally every side of the camp grounds. I counted maybe 50 per side. It's about a 250-300 yard walk by my guestimations. I do my business in the extremely hot john and I exit with my stomach asking me for a meal. I then realize that all the food huts are at the other end of the field. From this point, it's about a 600 yard walk. I start my journey. I make it there with sweat running down my skin. It's about 8:15 and roughly 85-90 degrees already. I say, "fuck me" to myself and then realize, yes, I am in a desert.

After breakfast, which if I remember correctly was pizza, I hang out in my camping spot next to my car. One by one, my new friends wake up. Some of us drink coffee. Some of us smoke pot. Some of us do both. We sat under this big green fixture that protected us from the sun. A canopy of sorts. We sit there for about 4 hours talking about music and pretty much nothing else. It's now 11:00am. The doors have opened. I make my way inside.

I get frisked as does my backpack. I bring aspirin, Gold Bond for the chaffing, extra batteries for my camera, an extra memory card and enough room for watter. Walking around Coachella for the first time was mind blowing. I had about an hour to walk around and see things (people, art installations etc.) before the music started. The Empire Polo Fields are a massive force of green grass in the middle of high mountains and the great blue expanse. I don't recall the actual size, but this place held roughly 90,000 people per day.

I make my way to the Sahara Tent, which is known as the "dance" tent at Coachella. All (if not, most) artists are in the electronica, dance, techno, dub step genres. I love these genres so I was pretty excited to start my day off in this tent. The first artist I get to see is a guy who goes by the name of Pablo Hassan. Here was my first mistake of the weekend. Not only was his kind of dance very, VERY dull, he also happened to have this DJ running around on stage telling everyone to get up and live life to the fullest and love everyone. This didn't sit well with me, so I booked it. I did more walking around and sight seeing. I took probably 200-300 photos per day. A lot of these were done during down time between artists I was waiting for.

After getting some good shots and some bad ones, I make my way back to the Sahara Tent. I'm sitting in the back of the tent right in front of the rear speaker watching this dreadful act come to a close when a very attractive girl stops just to my right maybe 5 feet from me. I look up at her and she looked over at me. I turn back to the stage to see the mess that is Pablo Hassan finish up. The girl walks in front of me and sits next to me. Like, right next to me. She then starts to ask me questions about the guy on stage and notices that I'm lugging around a backpack with the Texas Tech emblem stitched squarely on the back. She asks if Im from Texas. I say no and simply reply that my cousin went there. Which is true by the way.

Soon Pablo leaves the stage and we get to talking just about random stuff. Life, work, where we're from. Me from South Dakota, she from Austin, Texas as of now from L.A. I learn her name is Lauren. We discuss what acts we are most looking forward to. We really didn't match up on a ton. Her was She & Him. I was Dillinger Escape Plan. A band she felt was angry. A very fitting description of the band. We had one artist we were both looking forward to. Sleigh Bells.

Soon DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba shows up on stage and is doing his thing, which by the way, was VERY entertaining. The set ends and we part ways. I now have 4 hours til I get to see DEP. But up next is Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells is a duo from NY who make really loud noise pop. It's just fucking loud. That's it. Poppy, but noisy. To me, a great combination. SB consists of a guy on guitar and a girl singing/screaming. They use a drum machine for all the beats. These beats, accompanied by said screaming punish the crowd for 45 minutes. Probably the loudest set of the weekend (including DEP). The beats however get and keep the crowd jumpin for the entire time. The atmosphere was inescapable. Everyone there for a common goal. Great music. As Sleigh Bells wrapped up their set with their hit song "Crown on the Ground", I notice a little blond girl walk up right next to me. She starts to sway to the music getting into the song. Then she just falls over. She hits the guy in front of her who turns around to see what the commotion was.

Her sunglasses fell off her eyes but hooked on the edge of her nose leaving her eyes staring into mine. She is unconscious but her eyes GLARE at me. Very scary moment. The guy does the right thing and takes her right out of the tent. Coachella seemed to be a decent crowd and the people watching Sleigh Bells were very gracious in letting this guy get the girl out. It was a hot day. She must've not realized they sell water at Coachella.

Sleigh Bells end and I make my way around some of the other tents. The Mojave. The Gobi. Back to the Sahara. Are we seeing a common idea here? I make my way to the Mojave Tent where Yeasayer was about to play. A fantastic indie band that melts different genres into oddly shaped rock music. Hard to describe. I didn't go into the tent but I stood outside and watched. They sounded good, but it wasn't very loud. I'm split about my viewing of Yeasayer. I enjoyed the music, but only when I heard it.

I make my way over to the Main Stage to watch a little bit of Street Sweeper Social Club. Tom Morello's new band. They are a good live band, but I had seen them before when they opened for Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. So I did't waste too much time there. Besides, the band I had been waiting to see was about to take the stage. Enter...The Dillinger Escape Plan.

The Dillinger Escape Plan took Coachella to a new level on Friday. For 50 minutes DEP PUNISHED the 3 or 4 thousand people who filled up the Gobi Tent to witness the destruction of ears. It was a glorious set. They played literally every song I wanted to hear. "43% Burnt", "Farewell, Mona Lisa", "Black Bubblegum". Even the ungodly epic "Sunshine The Werewolf". People who were walking by outside had to have paused even if it was for a minute to witness something truly spectacular. For 50 minutes, bottles of water were thrown at people. Guitars were flung. Guitarists jumped of their stacks of speakers. 3 microphones broke just in the first 10 minutes alone. The Dillinger Escape Plan simply brought it Friday to Coachella. And they are the band that the weekend would be measured against. I didn't want it to end. But it did, and I moved on.

At this point in time it's maybe around 6:00 or 6:30. I make my way to the Main Stage to finish off my night. The ska band The Specials were playing and fuck me, do I hate ska music. But I'll sit through that shit to get a good spot for Them Crooked Vultures. The Specials ended quickly and I got my spot.

Out walk the Vultures. A supergroup comprised of members from Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana/Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin. Immediately they crank out their first (and best) song, "No One Loves Me and Neither Do I". They rip through set on fire from riff after riff. I have seen QOTSA twice so I knew Josh Holmme (singer/guitarist of TCV and QOTSA) would put on a show and they did. Great, great lead in for LCD Soundsystem.

LCD Soundsystem is one of the best groups around right now. They also have one of the best new albums of the year called This is Happening. They play a lot of long songs. Ranging from 6-10 minutes. So thanks to James Murphy, the leader of LCD talking a lot in between songs, we only got maybe 6 songs or so. Didn't matter. LCD put on a CLINIC on how to do a show. With a massive glitter ball said to be around 300 pounds hanging above the band the show got underway and it was a blast.

Pouring out dance beat after dance beat LCD had the crowd bumpin as they say for 50 minutes. It was a glorious time had by all. Bravo.

Up next was the day's headliner. As Hov himself was readying backstage, about 40,000 people poured in taking the already 15,000-20,000 there for LCD to a staggering 55,000 or so music fans. The Main Stage was packed. Coming on about 30 minutes late, Jay-Z rose from the bottom of the stage and immediately took command of the crowd playing all his hits from his entire career. It was a lot of fun watching him thrown down lyric after lyric, beat after beat.

About an hour into his set, the fatigue set in as did the frigid temperature. It must've been the lower 50's by now and I was freezing. Even in my hoodie. Add to that, I was literally starting to fall asleep standing up. Being not a huge fan of Jay-Z, I made my way back to my jeep for rest.

As I laid down for the night to prepare for Day 2. Jay-Z's music reverberated off my head as I lay in the back seat attempting to sleep. I pass out and dream of tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Welcome to the World of Coachella Part 1

About 9 months ago I decided to attend The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This would be the biggest trip of my life this far. The festival actually started exactly 2 months ago today. I've wanted to write about my experiences there for awhile now, but I've held off. I've been waiting for the right time. Looking back at my time there was what I needed and now that 2 months have gone by, I think I've finally got the right bearing on how I actually feel about my time spent there.

I've been infatuated with Coachella ever since my favorite band got announced to headline one of the nights back in 2005. I had never heard of the festival before. After that I purchased the DVD Documentary about the festival and then I just fell in love. I can't say what took me this long to actually GO to the festival, but October of last year I finally decided to go no matter what.

It didn't matter who was playing or headlining, I was going. For 8 months, I saved every extra cent I could manage to get to the festival. Jay-Z, Muse and Gorillaz were announced as headliners for Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. Under them were a wealth of very talented and eclectic artists from all kinds of genres.

I arrived in Los Angeles around 10:30am local time and quickly got my rental car and drove to a Wal-Mart in Baldwin Hills to pick up supplies. After that made the 2 hour drive out to Indio were the festival is held every year. I waited for abour a half hour in the parking lot of a Food For Less, a local grocery store, for Marquis. Marquis was a fellow who had sent me an email after I put out an ad wanting to know if anyone who didn't have a camping ticket wanted to stay in my spot. He showed up, we took off.

We arrived at the Empire Polo Fields around 3pm. We waited in line to have my vehicle searched four about 3 to 3 and a half hours. We forgot that glass was not allowed in the fields, thus we had to pour out a bunch of water and dump our beer into it.

After our car check, we got to our spot in the camping grounds and started setting up shop. We quickly made friends with two fellas from the Greater San Jose area. Will, whom I affectionately called "WillChella" and his buddy Mickey, whom I called Mickey.

Soon after that 4 other fellas I whom also responded to my ad showed up and soon started setting up their massive tent. Jeff, Kevin, Ramon and Chris filled out the group for the weekend.

As 20,000 people set up camp around me, a sense of completion came over me. With the mountains surrounding me and the sun retreating for the night, calm settled in and I was beside myself. Giant strings with balloons attached reached far over the tents and vehicles that littered the grounds. Spanning the night sky it was something to behold.

One thing that totally made the weekend was something that you have to be apart of to truly understand. As rows and rows AND ROWS of cars and tents adorned the grass, you could hear a far off yell. The yell got closer and closer and closer. And louder and louder and louder. Then soon passed by and went off past you in the other direction. Known as the Coachella Yell. Thousands of people just screamed and yelled at the top of their lungs and it spread throughout the fields. Think of it as a wave at a game in a stadium but except it was with people screaming instead of people waving their arms in the air. One of the greatest moments of my life.

The first night ended with a beer and a game of Uno. I retired to my jeep to get a good night's sleep for the long day ahead.

Part 2 coming soon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Mean, Why Not?

Got this from One of the biggest movies of the year. Oscars moved to 10 films. It's got a chance. Not a big one, but where there's a will...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(500) Hours of Reflection

Awhile back I saw the film (500) Days of Summer and I wasn't looking forward to it, but my interest was high enough to pursue it. So I watched it and was pretty surprised to find out that it's a very creative and unique romantic comedy. Being a being of the opposite target of these films, I am not a huge fan chick flicks, but this has to be one of the best ones I've ever seen.

I, and I'm usually on my own plane when it comes to thinking, am the only one who saw this as not only a unique rom com, but the movie felt like a love letter TO films and it's variety throughout history.

Going from silent films, to European Arthouse, to Musicals. This movie is full of energy. It also helps that the film has a superb soundtrack featuring one of my favorite songs from Doves:

Throw in great performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel and some beautiful cinematography and you have yourselves a winner.