I attended the Coachella Music and Arts Festival from 2005 to 2013, which would make this year’s festival my tenth one. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that I will go to this one. I like the lineup very much, but too many financial considerations stand in the way. I will miss the drive between El Paso and Indio, the beautiful Empire Polo Field, the little cities that make up the Coachella Valley, the windmills along the mountains, seeing the friends that I’ve made over the years, the frozen lemonade, the sandwiches from Ruth’s Chris, the Spicy Pie, and (of course) the great music that brings the whole festival together. This event has become a holiday for me and my family, kept in the intensity of Halloween to Halloween Town – “There’s only 365 days left till next Coachella!” April will pass with some grief.
With that out of the cannon, I want to take a look at each day, starting with Friday: I’ve followed the rumor mill and wishing well of this festival for a long time, and The Knife was always a name that one came across. Also, even before Coachella introduced its “Hip Hop Headliners,” OutKast kept appearing among the hopes and speculations of certain lineup lookers. I feel as though a prophecy has been resolved, that the insane shouting in the streets was sane after all… I’m also intrigued by the presence of Bryan Ferry (frontman of Roxy Music) and The Cult. I’ve always loved Coachella’s tendency of looking to the past and inviting these veteran acts, because they usually end up among my favorite performances.
Saturday is the day that makes me say, “Damn it! I’m going to miss it!” I’m talking about Pet Shop Boys, a band that I’ve been wanting to see on the lineup for a while now, and a band that I was especially hoping for last year. Rats! They would be my #1 priority… If I didn’t have tickets to see Queens of the Stone Age and Mogwai in the near future, Saturday might’ve destroyed me. Still, I would love to see those bands in my favorite venue, among the colorfully lit palm trees and surreal landscape of giant flowers, roaming sharks, and a robot named Hotshot. I also like seeing Fatboy Slim on the lineup. It’s always a bit tricky for me to see those electronica acts, because they usually come in painful conflicts with other good acts, but I’d keep a close tab on that one.
Finally, Sunday highlights my sadness in not only skipping the tradition of Coachella, missing the complete decade, but missing Arcade Fire, in particular. I saw that band for Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs; I wish I could see them for Reflektor, which was one of my favorite albums from last year. It is also always a pleasure to see Beck and Jeff Mangum. Seeing the latter with Neutral Milk Hotel should be a treat… Another reason that I always choose Coachella over the other festivals is the “Britpop Factor,” the magical attribute that brought acts like Blur, Pulp, and Suede to previous lineups. This year, the band is Beady Eye (the reincarnation of Oasis), which isn’t too bad of a skip. I would still check them out, if nothing crazy comes into conflict with them.
As is always the case, some of the greatest things on the lineup are included in those tiny names that you can hardly read. I recognize a few, but there are plenty of unknowns for me, and I’m afraid to research any of them.