Friday, May 17, 2013

Coachella 2013 Day 2 - Weekend 2

Guest bloggers:  Doug writing in purple, Chris in orange, and me in white.

Okay so Day 2, I did a poor job of actually walking around the festival and mostly stuck to the main stage and the adjacent beer garden.  It was a relaxing day, but a sad day for adventure.  As usual, I fail as a Coachella goer.

FAIL:  BIGGEST SUPER FAIL ON MY PART - Getting there too late to see Savages.  So every year, it seems, someone plays at Coachella who is about to break big.  I miss their set, everyone says they were awesome, and I don't get that cool hipster feeling of finding a band/singer before they're famous and pretending like I discovered them.  A couple of examples:

In 2009 I missed Mastodon rocking the Mojave Tent at 11 pm when they played their latest album at the time, Crack the Skye, in full because...I don't even remember why. I'm looking at the 2009 set times right now and have no idea what I was doing at this time.  I THINK me and my ex didn't feel like walking anywhere and sat on some bleachers to watch f***ing Atmosphere.  Atmosphere! Jeez. Luckily, I've gone to a couple Mastodon shows since then and they're awesome but it's this kind of breakout performance I never end up catching at Coachella.  It's especially rare to have a metal band get to close out at a tent.  

Then last year, I missed Frank Ocean (actually I caught one song).  I don't remember who I went to see instead. But this was three months before Channel Orange would come out and holy shit I love that album (and I don't even really usually like R&B).  Plus he did a cover of Bob Dylan's Long Time Gone, which I would have just loved to see.  Missing this one was on me, I just make bad choices sometimes.

This year, I think my missed opportunity will be Savages, an all-girl British post-punk band whose debut album Silence Yourself just came out this week and is all sorts of great.  They were playing at the butt crack of 2pm (getting to Coachella at 2pm is the equivalent of getting up at 4am to go to work), so obviously I wasn't going to make it.  I'm still mad about it. *cries*

My BIGGEST SUPER FAIL will be a yearly tradition, I think.  This depresses me.

FAIL:  I don't know what about me screamed drug mule, but a security lady decided to make an example out of me Saturday and held up the line for a good 10 minutes rifling through every single item in my bag.  What did she find?  Vitamins in my Altoids case along with some mints.
"What are these?"
"They don't look like vitamins."
"You can throw them away if you want."
So she throws away the entire case in the trash.

I had no idea what to say about the manufacturing of vitamins to explain why they look the way they do.  So what else could I say?  BTW, amount of drugs I brought in all weekend:  ZERO.  And if I were to bring any in, wouldn't that be the WORST place to hide them?  Come on!  And she didn't have to throw away the entire tin.  Now I had no vitamins for the rest of the weekend AND no mints.  I was pissed.  Chris was behind me and security barely looked in her bag and merely asked "Do you have any drugs?" then let her through.  Seriously?!  I thought maybe Chris' innocent demeanor would transfer over to me, so at the second security checkpoint, I had her go first.  She got through pretty quickly and RIGHT when I got to security, a new grumpy lady came in and made me take everything out of my bag.  She even tried to make me toss my reusable water bottle.  WTF, I'll pour the water out, but I'm not throwing it away.  My day at Coachella was starting out terribly.

FAIL:  Thanks to the holdup at security and the Coachella app update from the night before (my iPhone app was displaying Violent Femmes' time change before the weekend started.  After the update, it was showing the original set time), I missed the first song (the ONE song I wanted to hear most live) off the Violent Femmes debut album (they played the entire album), Blister in the Sun.  My anger and body heat was increasing, so I separated from Chris and Andrew and went straight to the Main Stage to hear the rest of the set and find some shade. 

WIN:  BEST MUSIC TO LAY DOWN ON THE GRASS IN THE BEER GARDEN WHILST DRINKING BEER AND CHILLING:  TIE - The Violent Femmes and Cafe Tacvba.  Obviously, everyone's familiar with the Violent Femmes from such hits as Blister In The Sun and Gone Daddy Gone, but me being a child of the late 90's whose first introduction to music was KoRn and Limp Bizkit (I've come pretty far, huh?) I'm not well-versed in the song catalog of the Femmes, who came a bit before my time, but they sounded fun and a refreshing counter to the more modern hipster crap that usually pervades these festivals.  It's nice to see earnest and non-pretentious at these things.  Also cool: they played their whole first album all the way through.  A fine time on a sunny afternoon and despite their age they still sound great.
Despite missing the first song, I did enjoy the rest of the set.  They sound great after all these years even though their looks and lyrics didn't really match up.  I still loved them and all the songs.  Gawd, I still can't believe the album is as old as I am.  And I found a new favorite shady spot: the fence along the VIP beer garden. 

As for Cafe Tacvba (I don't know why it's spelled that way if the V is not pronounced), this energetic Latin rock band from Mexico were a fine pairing to my Heineken Light that cost $9.  I don't know any of their songs, but they were pleasant and while I laid on the beer garden grass I found myself bobbing along to their songs.  Go me.  

WIN:  If you’ve ever been to a Make-Up show, you know how infectious their music is. But it’s not just their music, it’s the way they perform, the way they move on stage and totally suck you in, especially the singer, Ian Svenonius. That guy is crazy. The tent was packed and as soon as the band came out the crowd went wild. Of course, the entire band was dressed in black suits with collared shirts and ties in the heat I now refer to as the desert inferno, but that didn’t stop them from playing one of the best sets I saw all weekend.

WIN:  I was able to get right up front for Selecter. Where was everyone? I thought it would be totally packed, but people didn’t really start showing up until the band started playing. Even then, there was still lots of room in the tent which turned out to be great because everyone was dancing. I may have breathed in more dust at that show than at any other, though it’s hard to say now. Everyone at the front was older and the two guys beside me told me a story about seeing Selecter in 1979! I couldn’t believe they could even handle a festival like Coachella at their age, but at the same time it was really encouraging to see some old scenesters still hanging out. Plus those guys could dance! The Selecter show had a super high fun factor because of all the dancing. Even Pauline Black commented on how active a crowd this was compared to the week before. And because of that they played two extra songs! Total awesomeness.

WIN:  COOLEST BAND LEAD BY A GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE THE NERDY DUDE FROM THE OCEAN'S 11 MOVIES (I THINK HIS NAME WAS LIVINGSTON, YOU KNOW, THE GUY WHO HANDLED ALL THE COMPUTER STUFF) - Hot Chip.  I've heard the name Hot Chip but never their music.  To my surprise their singer is not a hot guy named Chip (See what I did there? ...I'll see myself out...) but their frontman is this little nerdy British dude and a bunch of his nerdy friends.  Their electro infused dance music made for fun times while the sun went down but after a while all their songs started sounding kind of same-sy to me.  It was also apparently the main guy's birthday (screw it, I'm calling him Chip).  Happy Birthday, Not-Really-Hot-But-Kind-Of-Average-Looking Chip.
Hot Chip's new songs were good, but I was disappointed that they didn't play more of my old favorites.  They played one or two and the rest were new.  I did enjoy the group of guys next to me bonding over the love of dance music and glowing objects.  I did not enjoy the guy next to me who thought he could dance without spilling his beer...

FAIL:  It was finally dark and I was trying to make my way towards where Hot Chip was playing. It was so crowded around the stage I knew it would not even be worth it for me to try and find anyone so I was just hanging out around the periphery. All of a sudden this guy grabs me by the wrist and starts dancing with me. He spun me around and out and he had such a firm grip on me that I couldn’t get out of the dance, nor could I hear what he was saying. It was particularly bad because he was trying to ballroom dance with me and I’m a terrible ballroom dancer. Finally, he stopped and bowed. It was over. Relief! I stood there for a moment trying to wrap my head around what had just happened when the guy grabbed me again. No! I couldn’t believe I was trapped in the same bizarre dance that I’d just escaped from. After what seemed like an eternity, the guy stopped and bowed again. What was with all this bowing? No time to think about that because I had to get out of there. Fast.

WIN:  BEST MUSIC TO PLAY WHILE STAYING HOME ALONE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT TO CRY INTO YOUR SOB JAR BECAUSE SOMEONE JUST BROKE YOUR HEART - The Postal Service.  I never bought or illegally downloaded Give Up, so I really only know Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, and really more so the first song because it was on The Garden State soundtrack and because KROQ never stops playing it, so I figured their music sounded all chipper but with kind of depressing themes, and that's pretty much what happened.  I also just realized I had no idea what Ben Gibbard looked like before I saw him on this day.  He was always that bastard who married my 2009-2010 celebrity crush, Zooey Deschannel.  And God damn it, he had great hair.  
I have to say, Ben Gibbard looks really good post-Zooey Deschannel and far better than he looked in the Death Cab for Cutie concerts I had attended back in college.   
But they're divorced now so I guess she's back in play...ANYWAY, Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley was also there to sing things.  She looks like an older more mann-ish looking Zooey Deschannel to me. 
Maybe it's because I've seen Lewis live back in the day, but I thought Zooey Deschannel was trying to be a brunette, less talented Jenny Lewis.  BTW Jenny Lewis looked and sounded fantastic.     
Anyway, I can't say I'm a HUGE fan of their music, this sort of computer pop isn't really my thing, but it was definitely a highlight of the night.  Being among a crowd of thousands who had obviously been waiting the better part of a decade to sing along to these songs being played live was very fun and since they only had one album I'm pretty sure they squeezed in every song they ever made, so you get that cool feeling where you somehow heard every possible song you liked. 
Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard had great stage chemistry.  The set really brought back memories.  I practically cried singing along to two of my favorite songs:  the playful Nothing Better and Clark Gable.

The show was amazing.  My grumpy streak was slowly coming to an end...

BEST NUDITY - This drugged out dude who walked into the crowd after the Postal Service, who just took off all his clothes except for his socks and then just walked around like this was normal behavior and then later wandered off.  I would post a picture, but this is a family blog.

FAIL:  BEST BAND YOU NEVER EVER NEED TO SEE LIVE - The xx.  Ok so I started listening to The xx a few weeks before Coachella.  I really like their music - it's very minimal and atmospheric and moody, but I also thought that minimalism wouldn't translate well live.  I was mostly right - seeing them live pointed out how much more layered their music is, but the singers are two depressing stiffs who are not fun to watch.  The guy looked kind of creepy, and the girl was wearing a large sport coat which was distracting to me.  Costume choices are always important.  It was nice to see them play bass and guitar live but the bulk of the sound was all Jaime xx in the back doing work on a large rig with various keyboards and computers and electronic percussion instruments.  Other than some fog and some lighting, they're not worth actually seeing.  I like their music, but man I needed a nap.  Also, I just saw the Postal Service sing about depressing shit while still managing to sound happy about it, so The xx just continued my Saturday downward spiral of depression and really need to work on their showmanship and stage presence.

WIN:  Franz Ferdinand's lead singer, Alex Krapanos, rocked a leather jacket and the Mojave Tent.  The band played the tent as if it were a stadium.  How they didn't end up on one of the outdoor stages, I'll never know, but they absolutely killed it with such danceable tracks as Michael, The Dark of the Matinée, No You Girls, Do You Want to, The Fallen, Can't Stop Feeling, Outsiders, and the hit Take Me Out (which I've always wanted to sing along to live.  It was magnificent!).  It was hard for me to pull myself away from the music and miss the rest of the set, but I had to run over to the next tent to catch Janelle Monáe. Thank you for helping me decide when to leave (they had last weekend's set list posted). 

WIN:  The Gobi Tent could hardly contain the powerhouse that is Janelle Monáe.  Great singer, great dancer, great theatrics.  I loved that it felt like a party on stage with her and her band.  Everyone was dancing.  I was impressed by the amazing sound that came out of this small, energetic woman.  Her voice was perfect for I Want You Back (even though that Jackson 5 song is a bit over-covered, she did a great job).  I really wanted to hear Wondaland live, but it probably wouldn't have fit well with the rest of her high energy set.  Lucky for her fans, she went over the allotted set time and closed the night by singing Come Alive, in which she got the crowd to sing along, lower themselves to the ground, rush to the front when she jumped off the stage, running back and forth (she brushed past my fingers.  I turned into a squealing fangirl).  She then SWAM over the audience to the back.  My heart was racing afterwards.  Amazing.  This was the highlight of my night.  I would've been happy if she was the last performer I saw that day, which is probably why...  

WIN:  I was too exhausted to get back into a crowd for Phoenix.  That and Chris and I kept barely missing each other several times until I finally gave into Baohaus, which Doug kept recommending.  I wasn't going to NYC any time soon, so why not try it at Coachella of all places.  I had their version of chicken and waffles, Coffin Bao Fried Chicken (a large fried bao stuffed with their fried chicken and topped with chili condensed milk syrup, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro).  It sounded like a weird combo, but taste-wise made complete sense.  I don't know how Eddie Huang comes up with these flavors, but it was delicious (besides the bao being a bit dense).  I picnicked at the fringe of the Main Stage and enjoyed my late night snack to the soundtrack of Phoenix.  I didn't mind not being in the crowd since I had already experienced a pretty much perfect performance a few years back at Coachella

WIN:  AND LASTLY, I COULDN'T THINK OF ANOTHER FAKE CATEGORY, SO HERE'S WHAT I THOUGHT OF...Phoenix.  My Saturday night ended with Phoenix and me finally having to use one of the Porta Potties.  Phoenix was pretty good.  I only know their most recent singles.  I liked their new songs "Entertainment" and that one about being cool.  Can't really say much here.  They were crowd pleasers.  Alas, neither R Kelly nor Daft Punk showed up, so us Weekend 2 kids got the short end of the stick there.  My friends were super impressed that the singer crowd surfed at the end.  They thought it was the most awesome thing ever. I thought that was cute.  They need to go to more concerts...

So that's my Saturday.  I did a poor job of adventuring, but I had fun.  It was definitely a day of hearing a lot of computer music though. 

FAIL:  We had to walk through a Disneyland-like maze to get to our shuttle and wait in a line that also felt like we were at the theme park.  The delay felt like forever compared to yesterday when we immediately boarded the shuttle.