Friday, April 12
I began my ninth Coachella Music & Arts Festival by checking out the new Yuma Tent, which ended up my way of kicking off each day, because of the air conditioning and the couches. I also picked up the Coachella exclusive vinyl of Rodriguez’s Cold Fact from the Zia Tent, along with Blur’s “Under the Westway/The Puritan” single. Later, I bought an autographed version of Johnny Marr’s The Messenger. After settling in, I watched IO Echo in the Gobi Tent, and from their set, I enjoyed the songs from Ministry of Love, which had only just released (or leaked, rather).
One of my favorite sets of the day (and the weekend) came from Deathfix, who played shortly after IO Echo, in the Gobi Tent. They have a self-titled album on Spotify, from which they played just about everything. After they played, I walked over to the Mojave Tent, where a good crowd gathered for Youth Lagoon. A poet, Farid Matuk, told me about them at a reading he did at UTEP once. They played a good set with some of my favorite tracks off their latest album, Wondrous Bughouse. Following their set, I ate a sandwich from Ruth’s Chris.
I watched most of Stars at the Coachella Stage, and it seemed to mostly consist of songs from their latest album, The North, but I got to hear “Elevator Love Letter” and “Your Ex-Lover is Dead,” before leaving early to catch Johnny Marr in the Mojave Tent. Marr performed tracks from The Messenger, in addition to amazing performances of songs by The Smiths: “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and “How Soon is Now?” Afterward, I ran over to the Gobi Tent, where I watched Japandroids, who put on an energetic and excellent performance.
After some time of noodling around the festival grounds, looking at the artwork, I watched Palma Violets in the Mojave Tent. They put on a very good show, and I enjoyed it, despite not being too familiar with their music. Following their set, I camped out at the Coachella Stage, where I watched Modest Mouse give a good performance, but the music was way too low, and he could have talked much, much less. I went deeper into the crowd in time for Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who continued the high-energy excitement that many bands gave on this day. I had never seen them before, so I’m glad I finally got a better idea about their music.
Finally, we came to the moment I was waiting for: Blur. They easily performed the best set of the weekend. They sounded fantastic, the crowd wasn’t too small, and the setlist contained very impressive tracks: “There’s No Other Way,” “Beetlebum,” “Parklife,” “The Universal,” and so many more. I know I’m not just speaking from my bias, because they happen to be my favorite band; I can’t imagine anybody walking away from their performance and not enjoying it. Naturally, The Stone Roses followed them, and they played a pretty good set. I was tired by their set, and I left early, but it turns out that I left during the last song anyway.
Saturday, April 13
I started the next day a little later, past noon, in the Mojave Tent, with Wild Nothing. Having enjoyed their last album, Nocturne, a whole lot, I looked forward to their set in the days leading up to the festival. They delivered very well, and I bought a couple of their shirts from the merchandise stands. While most others saw Biffy Clyro, or did the Harlem Shake to Baauer, I guess, I watched The Evens, who played a beautiful set. They suffered from a little bit of noise bleed, but you could hear them quite fine by the stage, which was easy to approach. After their set, I ate a slice of Spicy Pie and drank a Coke.
I watched a fun, great set from Dropkick Murphys at the Coachella Stage. They’re a Boston outfit – perhaps, the band of Boston – and I can only imagine their reaction to the nonsense that happened after the festival, when those bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. I can’t remember what I did after seeing them, but I went to see Puscifer at the Outdoor Theatre in time to see their silly documentary, and I got to see all of their set, except for the last three songs, because I ran over to the Coachella Stage to see Violent Femmes perform their self-titled album. That went very, very well.
One of the best sets of the weekend went unseen by most people: The Make-Up. They played a perfect show in the Gobi Tent, and unlike many sets that have an audience standing still and seemingly suffering from heat, you could look around and see joy on every face. Ian Svenonius is a master of a showman. Their set was so awesome, I visited the toilets for the first time in my nine years of Coachella. But maybe that was because of the orange Powerade that I downed very fast… After that, I saw a few songs from Grizzly Bear, and a few songs from Spiritualized, who both seemed to be on top of things, as usual.
My most anticipated set of the day was The Postal Service, and they ended up playing a wonderful set that was full of nostalgia for my high school years. They also had a really cool stage set-up, full of nice lights and colors. The crowd in my area seemed decent. I put on my jacket after their set, and I moved to the Outdoor Theatre, where I watched Two Door Cinema Club. I really, really wanted them to play “Pyramid,” which is my favorite track from them, but they didn’t do it. Their performance still went very well, despite their not playing the song. After them came the brutal conflict: Phoenix vs Sigur Rós vs Booka Shade vs New Order.
I went with New Order, which ended up being my favorite set of the day, just above The Make-Up. I somehow summoned the energy to dance to their set, even though it went well into midnight. When they opened with an Ennio Morricone song, I knew it was going to be right up my alley, and when they finished with their encore of Joy Division tracks, I knew that I made the right choice amongst the conflicting bands. Some of the great songs that they played were these: “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “The Perfect Kiss,” “Temptation,” and “Blue Monday.”
Sunday, April 14
Another late start after resting in the Yuma Tent, I kicked off the final day of my weekend with Cloud Nothings in the Mojave Tent. I enjoyed their set, and they sounded great from where I stood, about halfway into the tent. After them, I ran over to the Gobi Tent, into another near-empty audience, for another full-powered performance, this time by The Three O’Clock. Spotify has their music – the best one is Sixteen Tambourines / Baroque Hoedown, from which they played a few songs. I loved them, and I got to see them close to the rail. I stayed close to the rail for Thee Oh Sees, and although they played very well, it was a not-so-good idea for me to stay so deep into the crowd, because a mosh-pit swallowed me. I had a ton of fun, though, and I didn’t break any bones.
I ate Spicy Pie again today, and I drank another Coke, and I consumed these things on the grass, in the breeze, at the Outdoor Theatre, to the music of Kurt Vile and the Violators. I have never felt so at peace at this festival as I did during this set. Everything aligned in a perfect way. It was, however, the “calm before the storm.” More on that in a bit… I stayed to watch Dinosaur Jr., who played a very cool set, and then I ran into the thick crowd, in the Mojave Tent, to catch one of my favorite artists, James Blake. I absolutely loved his set. It was one of my favorites for the day.
After James Blake, a great wind hit the festival, and sand got into my contact lenses. The greater damage, however, came from the massive noise bleed that the wind blew into the Gobi Tent, during Rodriguez, who is the subject of Searching for Sugar Man. I think it was more the fault of the sound engineers than the wind, however, because another act didn’t suffer this later in the night. Rodriguez also had some performance difficulties that brought down the set’s quality, but all-in-all, once I found a decent-enough spot to hear the music, he played and sang in a pretty way.
The wind grew pretty nasty, but that didn’t stop Vampire Weekend from playing a great set, as they’re known to do. It seemed like I got to hear quite a few new songs, and if they’re any indication as to how the new album will sound, as a whole, I think they’ll have a nice third release. After them, I watched my favorite set of the day, in the Gobi Tent, where the sound wasn’t so bad anymore: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. I loved this set so much, even though I had to miss Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds for it. Their new album, English Electric, is really great, and they played “Metroland,” which is a nice song from it. They also played these songs: “Enola Gay,” “Tesla Girls,” “If You Leave,” “Electricity,” and many others.
After that set, we elected to leave before watching Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dead Can Dance. Unfortunate, I know, but the wind defeated us. I was covered in dust, and mud caked my eyeballs. It was ridiculous. After OMD, we said, “Let’s end the festival on a high note,” and so we called it a night.