interlude from reality: Coachella 2010

26Apr10

It’s been a week since I left the desert, and I can still feel the heat.  My ears rang for 2 days before stopping.  The bruises have healed & my tan is already fading (perhaps due to my exposure to fluorescent lighting LOL).

Coachella.  An unforgettable weekend that came and went so fast!  I’m doing my best to recall it a week later, and because it’s my blog/my rules, this post might be a little more verbose than you’d like.  Too bad – hope you like the pretty pictures! ;-)  There’s no way I’ll post them all, if you’re jonesing for more just leave a note.

Thanks to Sugar‘s research, we’d bought tickets on the very first day and 2/3 days of music were our light at the end of the dark tunnel known as Tax Season.  The plan was leave work, get on a plane, and leave it all behind!  Prior 4/15’s have seen me flying to Hawaii and Vegas, so I’m just keeping w/tradition ;-)

Day 1: Friday
Due to some speed bumps in the itinerary, Sugar & I were flying in to SNA and driving to the desert. (Other friends were roadtrippin & would meet us there.) In the spirit of chillaxin, we hung out in Huntington Beach w/friends before breezin’ through the toll roads to get to Palm Springs/Indio.  And then…the realization of 10s of thousands of people all trying to take a bunch of 2-3 lane roads to the same place…


!@#$%^&*(

I remember actually jogging a little bit to get to the Outdoor stage, LOL!  To me, the energy was palpable.  Regardless of any extra-curricular motivation, you could tell that everyone was so damn happy to be there!!  Moving through the crowd, I could hear conversations in French, Spanish, Farsi, Korean, Cantonese, and English accents from across the USA/UK/Australia.  The sun began to set, and I saw what I’d always heard about the colors of a desert sunset.  (I’m sure it’s even better without all the lights, but it was pretty awesome.  My camera couldn’t do it justice, partly because I’d only owned it for 18 hours & barely knew how to use it…)

The photo doesn’t do the scene justice, but the best surprise for being that far back was seeing the screens broadcast in HD!

Admittedly, I never actually made the connection between listening to Passion Pit and knowing it was them.  But needless to say I wouldn’t be making the same mistake again!  They are an awesome band!


Round 2 with La Roux

With Jay-Z as the headliner at about 11pm, we had some time to kill.  Cel service was horrible (too many iPhones!) so I gave up on trying to meet w/the rest of the crew, went w/Sugar to La Roux.  They’d been recommended to me, and people were packing into the staging tent.  Being a concert addict, I’m *that girl* that sings along with the band and generally eats up the experience.  So it was like being a fish out of water having no frame of reference whatsoever, while these totally inebriated girls kept dancing into us and screamed along. (LOL)  La Roux defintely puts on a great live show.  If you’re old enough, imagine them in the synth-pop/rock genre, as an opening act for New Order, Depeche Mode, Human League & the like…which suits me just fine!


Young Forever: A Jay-Z show 14 years in the making

Say what you what, and people say plenty.  But I’m HUGE Jay-Z fan.  It’s gotten me into a lot of interesting conversations, i.e. “How can you like him, he’s so mysogynistic”, “He’s a sell-out”, “You like rap music?!” … blah blah blah.  But starting with Reasonable Doubt, I was a fan and that was it.  (Though he did make a few choices that had me shakin my head along the way…)   I’d missed many opportunities to see Jay-Z in concert, and vowed to break my losing streak this time!  (He was a much easier sell thanks to his “Empire State of Mind” single.) With some advance planning, we got a pretty decent position in the second section back.  But we also got our first taste of people trying to swoop in on the spots we’d worked so hard to stake out!  Our “neighbors” were all in agreement to keep our area safe from predators that had every excuse in the book.  One guy in particular kept rotating his excuses because for some reason he thought we’d forget him after 10 minutes.  Soon enough, the “hyping” countdown started, a 10-minute mix that kicked off with the Beastie‘s “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”.  It pretty much set the tone for the night in my opinion.

The set list led with “Run This Town”, with Rihanna’s part on tape.  I didn’t miss her absence, and had a fleeting thought to who might make an appearance because his latest album was chock-a-bock full of duets.  It was a thrill to have him perform both old songs and new, hits and B-sides, and see that a lot of the crowd were longtime fans also.  You could tell that he was having a lot of fun on stage too — he had his now-established set-up of full band (including horns), DJ, Memphis Bleek on backing vocal, digital set-up behind him, and the HD screens on either side.

Inevitably, “Empire State of Mind” was a high-point, and while Alicia Keys didn’t show, Bridget Kelly did really well.  (I felt bad hearing the boos at first, but they didn’t last.)  Jay also incited his Glastonbury ’08 performance with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” (one of my all-time faves!!).  I heard cynics talking smack about it the next day, and to that I say “Oh get over yourself!”

I guess now’s a good time to mention that the photos and videos I took were my personal enjoyment and for everyday sharing.  I’m not trying to make money off of them or help someone else make money off of them.  That said, if you repost these and call them your own or try to sell them, your fingernails will fall off and you’ll have diahhrea every day for the rest of your life.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah…

I hear someone behind me say “Sweet, we’re overtime already.”  And he’s right — even with our late start, we’re past the scheduled time.  (YAY!)  Almost as if he heard us, Jay starts talkin saying the same thing but that he’s got a few more songs in him.  With that he says “I wanna bring out a very special lady…”, and unless if you’ve been under a rock the past week, you already know who comes walkin on stage…
It was kind of adorable to see them being able to perform together without hiding how they felt about each other.  She sang the hooks for “Young Forever”, and with the crowd singing & cheering along, the fireworks took it home.

Day 2: “Our hopes and expectations…Black holes and revelations”

It was gonna be a tricky day because there were TONS of schedule conflicts.  Tough choices had to be made.  Temper Trap and Muse and Tiesto were top priorities, Tokyo Police Club, Kaskade, David Guetta, Z-Trip, MGMT, Camera Obscura, Corinne Bailey Rae, Gossip, Bassnectar, Sia… dilemma!!!

Sweet Disposition

Temper Trap started relatively early, so first order of business was to make that show.  In spite of an early start & a shortcut, traffic still had us cutting it super close.  But we made it and it was worth every minute.  To make it even better, we were able to link up with other friends and enjoy it together.  We had a false alarm thinking we were sitting near someone that looked like either a Victoria’s Secret model or Charlotte from LOST, depending on who you asked.  It didn’t matter because it was all about the band!!!!  I’m gonna have to say that their live show is better than the album, and I hope they record again soon!  They’re coming to town for BFD, for those in the Bay Area.

That Canadian flag you see was pretty much everywhere I went.  I should’ve asked that guy how he always staked out such great crowd spots!

(Yes, that’s a bra on his head.)

After Temper Trap, we had an open block of time to eat and figure out what the heck to do!  Schedules were negotiated, meeting places were designated and we were off to the races again.  S and I agreed that we’d forgo several acts to stake out prime spots for Muse, that evening’s headliner.  We’d be hangin’ out through Tokyo Police Club, Coheed & Cambria, followed by the Faith No More reunion.  S was in 1st grade when Faith No More had their hits, so that made for interesting context (LOL).  My thing is, I grew up around heavy metal (among other things), so even if I don’t know the band, I can appreciate a good shredder.  C&C put on a great show (they didn’t get a spot on the Main Stage for nothin) and finished off with part of the USC Marching Band on stage!  (Fight On, as my bro-in-law proudly says.)


(L-R: Coheed & Cambria w/USC Marching Band, Faith No More)

Faith No More took a fun approach.  They knew they were older, they knew that a lot of people there wouldn’t even know who they were.  So they show up in zoot suits, with their first song being “Reunited” by Peaches & Herb.  The confusion in the audience was HILARIOUS!  Yet most of them were singing along by the 2nd chorus.  By that time it became clear that everyone (yes, EVERYONE) around us was staking out for Muse just like us, which made me worry.  Then FNM started their true setlist and the mosh pit opened up immediately to my left…oh boy.  I thought to myself “Muse fans aren’t like that.  Right?  Nah…”

WRONG!  Never again do I have to wonder how it feels to be part of those oceans of people in rock concert videos.  IT SUCKS.  (Don’t give up on me, this story has a happy ending.)

Muse: Uprising

We met this guy during our “Muse stakeout”, he said it took 3 hours to make the flag. It looked so great, and it was featured on the jumbotrons. Yay!

To put things in perspective, S & I had been working our way forward for the past 4-5 hours or so.  We had what we figured to be a darn good spot front and center, with about 10-15 “rows” of people in front of us.  And then the waves of people pushing from the back started putting everyone closer and closer together.  Just when you thought you couldn’t get any closer…you did.  Couldn’t move your arms.  Surrounded by taller, sweaty people in the desert heat with half an hour before the show was going to start.

And then it did.

Everyone that had been sandwiched so tightly together suddenly lurched forward, and I got knocked into on all sides as people insanely tried to push in to our area.  One line of people actually managed to (literally) punch their way through on my right side and ran towards the front.  Muse started with 2 recent hits: “Uprising” followed by “Supermassive Black Hole”.  I spent the duration of both songs tryng to go with the flow (at one point I was tilted w/my feet off the ground) so that I could *try* to enjoy the song, or trying to avoid getting my @$$ kicked by moshers.  Seriously, moshing at Muse??  Luckily, my grunge metal days had me trained in beginner’s mosh pit self-defense.  After Supermassive, that was it.  S & I agreed to make our way out and meet after.  The only thing I could say to get people out of my way was “Do you wanna get in front of me?”  Eventually, I made my way into an open “puddle” and enjoyed the rest of the show from there.  AMAZING.

finally, some room to breathe!

!!!!

“breakin bread” w/some pyro

Knights of Celadonia

Anyone that wasn’t a fan before, absolutely was after a performance like that.  The range of musical talent was off the charts!!

Tiësto: Carpe Noctum

When the performance came to its inevitable end, the friends left & it was just me and Sugar hanging around for Tiesto.  It’s hard to describe/discuss a trance/house DJ performance, so I won’t bother.  I have no difficulty describing the CROWD though!  We were standing at least 20 yards away from the “edge” of the audience area for the Main Stage, which suddenly filled with people.  You could also see the more obvious “audience” area was already packed.  I might be totally off in my estimate, but it was as is Tiësto was in one endzone, and we were 100 yards away, with thousand of people dancing in between AND behind us!  The only other analogy I have in terms of sheer # of people is maybe Love Parade in Germany.  Estimates after the fact clocked in 75,000 people.  Personally I think that includes everyone that stayed that late for other acts, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  It was your classic rave-ish situation: near nakedness, people totally in another space & time, costumes (leftover deadmau5 fans?), neon lights.  I didn’t think it was Tiësto’s best, but overall it was a good performance.  Bonus for old-school fans: he remixed his original hit remix of Barber’s Adiago for Strings.  Good times.

And just like that, it was done.  Unfortunately, we would have to miss the Sunday lineup (including Thom Yorke/Atoms For Peace, Phoenix, Gorillaz, Jonsi, De La Soul, B.o.B., MUTEMATH, Matt & Kim) but considering everything I’d already seen and heard, it was easier to let go.  And the extra full day on Monday to recover was equally priceless.

There are plenty of other bloggers out there that railed all the bad points of the weekend, so I won’t bother spreading more negative vibes.  This year was definitely different than ones in the past (which I’d missed out on), and luckily I didn’t have to deal with a lot of the drama people tweeted/blogged about.  If they brought back single-day ticket options and had another killer line-up, I’d be pretty easily convinced. :-)

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