Coachella Report 07/10 – My New Favourite Band: The Hives

I didn’t even think I was going to see The Hives at Coachella until Sunday rolled along. I highlighted The Gaslamp Killer, thinking I’d just stay in the Gobi Tent after I watched Thundercat – who, by the way, put on a fantastic set. But almost without any logic, as if completely random, I said, “No, let’s go see The Hives,” with no intended offense to The Gaslamp Killer. So I stood by the handicap platform and watched The Hives for the first time, without knowing anything about them, and having only heard a compilation of their songs a few times. Well, if you’ve been following the events of Coachella – at least, prior to Weekend #1, seeing as how The Hives only just played for Weekend #2 today – you might have come across many accounts on how amazing The Hives were – this is another such account. They proved to be another one of Coachella’s gifts to the unaware – the act of stumbling upon some great thing that you did not expect. We, the audience, were told that The Hives were our favorite band, and at that moment, when they conquered the stage, it was completely true.

I last wrote about Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and his wild stage antics/banter, but even he does not come close to the madness that is Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, the sun-child leader of The Hives. I’ve enjoyed reading many peoples’ reactions to Howlin’ Pelle, which often say something like, “I couldn’t stand how full of himself that guy from The Hives was! Can you believe that they started their own encore? If you have to tell us that The Hives is our favorite band, like, ten times, then The Hives probably isn’t our favorite band.” As you can imagine, Howlin’ Pelle said a lot of strange things up on the stage, but most of the people in attendance were not blockheads, and almost everybody greatly appreciated the frontman’s stage banter. He even got everybody – except for those who were too cool for school – to sit down on the ground, which was a marvelous sight that let me pretend that I was over six-foot-tall – instead of my measly five-eight, which means that I’m usually standing on my toes to look over somebody’s shoulders at a concert. Even after their fake encore, people shouted for a true encore – it couldn’t happen, given the way Coachella works – because of how enjoyable and energetic their set was.

But what more can I say about The Hives other than that they were great? Instead, I’ll talk about Coachella, via jumping off talking points that were raised by Howlin’ Pelle. When he asked us all to sit down during “Tick Tick Boom,” he made sure to call out all the folk in the V.I.P. section, who did not think that his stage banter applied to them. That is a good Coachella topic: very important people. I’ve never been considered a very important person at Coachella, so I cannot really say much about their festival luxuries and going-ons; however, I can talk about how the V.I.P. experience bleeds into the general admission – where us commoners roam the polo fields. Beginning last year, 2011, after the chaotic mess in 2010 – which happened because of too many tickets – the tents became bigger, and at the stages (I think all of the stages), V.I.P. sections were railed off in territories that once belonged to all people. I’m not sure how I feel about this, because V.I.P.s always had these nice spots on the side of the stages, and if they really wanted to get against the rail, they could have entered the wilderness and stood with the rest of us. Perhaps that isn’t civilized, but it certainly looks better than when their V.I.P. section is empty – save for some photographers and, maybe, a handful of fans – during a performance. Especially when the area around their fenced-off place is filled with people. We could have used that space!

And another good topic that Howlin’ Pelle brought up is the weather. He said that the “main course is best served hot,” and they “requested” the hottest part of Coachella. Well, we saw something very interesting happen with this year’s Coachella – split into two weekends for the first time: Weekend #1 was the coldest Coachella (aside from the first, perhaps, which was in October), and it appears as though Weekend #2 stands amongst the hottest of Coachellas. It rained during the first weekend! If you would have told me, at anytime before those outrageous weather reports surfaced, that it would rain during the Coachella Festival, I would have had you institutionalized. The Coachella I know is a three-day battle against heat exhaustion and sunstroke, not something I arrive to with a thermal shirt, long-sleeve shirt, and a jacket – with that not even being enough by nightfall! Normally, if I dressed the way I did – as in, if I showed up to Weekend #2 in those clothes – I would have died. This year’s Coachella was a temperature ying and yang.

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