Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Coachella 2012 Day 1 - Weekend 1

My music savvy Coachella companion, Doug, will be guest blogging in purple ink, while I occasionally chime in.   

So this is my 5th time at Coachella and the 4th straight year I've gone. As always, it was an exhausting weekend.  I almost didn't go this year due to the quick sellout and the festival finally hitting that mainstream sector of society, where people will go just to be part of the big party in the desert regardless of what acts will be performing. Getting tickets and a place to sleep was the hardest it had ever been, but I'm glad I went.  Despite the pain in the ass it can be, going to Coachella is always a fun experience.
FAIL:  Two Weekends? WHY?  Still seems unnecessary.  This first weekend was just as crowded as ever. What was the point? (Other than making more money) 

WIN:  Last minute hotel booking.  Once I decided I would join Hey Hey Scenester, thus began the quest for a reasonably priced hotel room.  Last year I had some luck buying a reservation from someone on Craig's List, and was able to split it with 4 people.  This year there was just two of us, and Craig's List's cost for reservation and hotel rate made it almost not worth it. However, thanks to Expedia, we found a reasonable room in Palm Springs that was much nicer than the bed bug receptacle I stayed in last year at the Motel 6 next to the Del Taco I refused to eat at. 

WIN:  Even though I felt like I was in Gattaca, the futuristic wristband scanners did make it much quicker to get into the festival.  Also, the cloth wristband was a huge improvement over the uncomfortable plastic one from 2 years back. 

FAIL:  Admittedly, the iPhone app was better than the one from two years ago (I appreciate the alarm feature.  I still think there needs to be some sort of indicator if you have favorite bands with a time conflict), but I still don't understand why they didn't link the band favoriting under Schedule and Lineup.  I had to favorite the same band under each section.  Who wants to do that twice! 

WIN:  Watching in amusement as kids shiver because they dressed inappropriately for the weather.  Don't know why people still stepped out in the rain and wind wearing barely anything.  Maybe I'm just an aging hipster

FAIL:  Rain.  The first time it ever rained at Coachella.  It made Friday horribly cold and it made me sleepier than I already was. But it wasn't all a fail (more on that in Day 2).  

WIN:  Rain.  I was in 3 layers of clothes and still freezing, but at least it lessened the size of the crowd, and I didn't have to deal with being pressed up against sweaty, smelly people.  

WIN:  Mid-afternoon power nap music.  Because we're old and lame, the first thing we did Friday was head to the Outdoor Stage, plop ourselves down on the floor and take a nap to the sounds of Neon Indian.  I can't really remember what Neon Indian sounded like, but I remember it being very pleasant and conducive to a nice, refreshing power nap in a field.

FAIL:  The sound for the Outdoor Stage is terrible unless you're right in the middle towards the front.  I don't know why it's so difficult to fix this because the sound is great for the Main Stage almost everywhere.  The audio almost ruined The XX for me 2 years ago and I still can't tell if I like Neon Indian or not.

WIN:  Arctic Monkeys.  Having lost track of these young Brits after their first album, my friend James made sure I was up to speed by giving me their last two albums a couple of months before the festival. I'm glad he did.  It's always better to see a band knowing more than one or two songs. They were very fun to watch and even more fun to sing along to. Highlights of their energetic set included Brianstorm and Fluorescent Adolescent

FAIL:  Overpriced food.  $4 for one chicken taco or $5 for one "grass fed" beef taco? Not cool, bro.  On the upside, someone had forgotten two sealed shrimp cocktails by the register.  
We took that as a sign to enjoy 1 of them as compensation for waiting in the wrong line and paying over $10 for merely 3 tacos.  

WIN:  Pulp.  I'm not super familiar with their music but the half hour of their set that we saw was very fun and frontman Jarvis Cocker's warm-happy-to-be-here sense of humor was a nice counter to the cloudy weather.  

WIN:  The Rapture.  I can't dance for shit so when I find music I can bob and weave to, and not draw much attention to myself, I am happy. Added WIN for being in a tent with a warm crowd. As for the actual band, I probably looked up their music about 10 years ago because they had a cool sounding band name but I didn't remember it well.  Fun dance punk and easy to get into.  I was most pleased.
One of my favorite bands and they always put on an amazing show.  Even though I just saw them last year, I still can't get enough.  Wish they could have played a longer set. 

FAIL:  The Black Keys.  After seeing their third performance in four years, I'm just kind of sick of them and their music still never impresses me.  We also caught the more boring slow part of their set.  I'm just over them. I can't even really give a good reason for disliking them other than I think The White Stripes did this retro, blues-infused southern rock music thing better.  They just don't click with me. Sorry.
I may have overplayed their albums because by the time I got to Coachella, I was a bit burnt out by their music.  I had been looking forward to hearing them live, but once I saw them, it felt like they knew how to cater to their fans, but not to a festival audience.  Their newer songs translated well to the outdoor stage, but their older duets didn't work for me. 

WIN:  Refused.  Some nice aggressive punk to end the day. Their first big show in well over a decade.  They have not lost a step.
They are still very punk rock and anti-government at their ages.  Too bad we experienced Titanic-like temperatures by midnight and had to leave halfway through the set. 
We be old.  This is a young person's festival.


More:
Day 2
Day 3 
Coachella 2010
Photos - Pitchfork
Photos - LA Weekly
Pulp's Entire Coachella Set
Best of Coachella:  Friday - LA Weekly
SpiritHoods (Reading this and being at Coachella kind of made me hate all things furry)