Jonathan wanted to leave really early in the morning but was cool when I suggested we take the longer way to Indio. I assumed with morning traffic and Coachella 3-day campers, we'd be better off taking CatDirt's back way all the way east on the 8 and then north along the Salton Sea. I've lived in San Diego my whole life and never saw the Salton Sea, so it was kind of a cool drive to take. We should've eaten before leaving San Diego county or packed a cooler with us because it was slim pickins along the way, but we managed.
We arrived in Indio then hunted for food and grabbed some ok but not exceptional Mexican food then made our way to the concert. The parking was kinda nasty, all dirt and smelling of horseshit much like the Del Mar Racetrack (duh: polo fields), but after walking a ways, we got to the crazy lines. It took us about half an hour to get in but once we did, my eyes were wide open. It was everything I expected but nothing like one could expect. I mean, I understood the general layout, with a couple main stages and some side tents and thousands of people and art structures and stuff, but when you see it, you really are kind of in awe. Not to mention the weather was amazing, right around 90 most of the day, with an occasional breeze.
Jonathan is a good friend, but let me just say that you learn a ton about a person at a festival show and Jonathan was my hero. He invesigated and was told that for $10, we could buy reusable Coachella water bottles and get free cold refills all day. On top of that, he had some bands he wanted to see but didn't have a rigid plan, he carried my backpack all day long, brought SPF 1000 sunscreen, and most important, he tolerated a whole day with me. This is all after he let me play my iPod the whole drive and let me choose the long route. Thanks Leah, for letting me borrow your boyfriend.
So as we entered, there was this giant bamboo structure. I thought I'd post the day vs night photos side by side. All the structures had some ecological/artistic reason, but I didn't really care to waste time reading about them. I figured it was all online anyway.
I'm not really sure what this one is on the left. In fact, I don't remember where it was, but I'll guess it was near the bamboo and the mainstage. This is that stage early in the day.
This is the DoLab, which would become my most loved and most hated place of Coachella. The area had misters and hoses and was between the mainstages and tents so I continually passed through to cool off, but I really, really HATE techno, and to me all I could hear all day long was that bass of techno music. And someone will probably correct me and say it wasn't techno, it was electro or drum and bass or jungle or world beat or something else, and to that I say, I don't care. I wish they would've shut off their music during bands on the main stage.
The first performer we caught was Ryan Bingham. I did merch for Ryan when he played the Casbah so I thought I'd check him out. I attempted to say hi to his manager but he couldn't see/hear me so we just chilled an enjoyed his tunes. There were a lot of people in the tent checking him out, so that made me pretty happy.
This was a giant mechanical claw. There were two control seats about 15 feet off the ground, and I guess they were pulling people from the crowd to maneuver the machine. The 'driver' would put their arm into a control sleeve/glove type thing and all their real hand movements would control the mechanical hand for the most part. It was pretty slow and I think one finger busted, but it was cool watching them pick up cars and drop them. Kinda makes you realize how cars are just tin cans in the scheme of things.
We wandered to the outdoor theatre stage and caught Noah and The Whale and I'd never heard the band but loved them instantly. Good, happy, mellow music to ease into the day.
I couldn't not take a picture of this photographer's extension. A bit ridic but I'm sure it came in handy for him later. At Street Scene people brought their own mini ladders and shit for the big stages so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'm gonna buy Natalie some stilts for Christmas so she can kick everyone's photo ass next year.
We caught We Are Scientists on the mainstage and it was pretty clear my photographs were going to be lame but this maybe shows perspective for how massive the stage was. We wandered from WAS to Cage The Elephant because I knew I'd be seeing them at House of Blues the next day and wanted to see if they were worth it, but we missed their whole set. We did, however, see the singer stage dive into the crowd and get passed over them all the way to the sound board, which was enough evidence that I wanted to see them at HoB in the Delta Room.
These pics are really awful, but I heart Airborne Toxic Event. I think it is pretty funny that the entire crowd that was at their House of Blues show could've fit in the photo pit of this show. If you used the whole width, 3 times the San Diego crowd could've probably fit. I love the band, but I wasn't really digging the main stage in the daytime. The heat was much more noticeable there and as in most things, I prefer the most intimate stages I can have. Still, they're awesome, and the mostly Angelino crowd actually cheered when they said "We're from Los Angeles". Not that San Diego boos, but usually the band will follow with, "you can boo if you want to."
Somehow we kept hopping around. from ATE, we watched The Hold Steady for awhile where I ran into Andy from The Henry Clay People (shocking!) Then back to the main stage we caught some of The Black Keys but from where I was, the DoLab couldn't be ignored. Jonathan wanted to see Silversun Pickups at their CD signing, so we bought copies of Swoon in the record store day tent. I think I've seen Silversun Pickups at every show they've played in San Diego (House of Blues sidestage, Belly Up About The Music show, X-Fest, and a couple others) and I've met Brian before and he's super nice and kinda always seems to remember my face. On this day, however, boy was lit. I mean, I'm sure he was overwhelmed with all the station interviews, people, the signing, what have you, but the boy was stoned. Good for him, I suppose...living the dream, right?
After the signing, we wandered around, grabbed some food and I got another shot of the mechanical hand.
We saw Conor Oberst & His Mystical Band but I was so far away from the stage that photos were a waste. I ran into Xander from Run Run Run and Angela, a music rep I've worked with for a while, and it was nice seeing them out and about. I also ran into Carlos from The Moviegoers at that stage. I was actually a little surprised by how few people I actually bumped into at Coachella but it was all good. I don't do well with herds of people anyway. So Conor was great. His voice kills me inside every time I hear it and this performance was no exception.
After Conor, we stayed at the stage for Leonard Cohen. Jonathan and I found a spot that I thought strategically would work out for photos since the stage lacked video screens (WTF??) but we had to fight people to hold our spots. I got excited when he was finally about to start because Conor was standing about 3 feet away from me in the photo pit area. In fact, the pit was full of Leonard's guests, bands, VIPs, etc. so Nats said the photo situation was a total cluster. Bummer. I used to listen to Cohen a lot when I was in high school but haven't so much over the years, but his voice was amazing and I was completely overtaken with emotion from the very first song, and when he played Hallelujah? Yes, I was there with tears streaming down my face. For as much as I dislike festivals, there is something to be said about thousands of strangers all singing along in unison, especially to a legend like Mr. Leonard Cohen. My pics are pretty grainy, but not bad considering I was probably about 50 feet away from him. Leonard Cohen's set went about 20 minutes over and there was penetration of Morrissey. I would've hated to be the sound man that had to yell "you have to stop" at Leonard Cohen through his monitors.
So I was utterly impressed.
I wanna revisit the whole thing about Jonathan being my hero. From the moment he asked me if I wanted to go to Coachella with him, I tried to talk him out of going. I told him it was gonna be hot, miserable, crowded, loud, unorganized- pretty much everything to talk him out of it. He insisted on going, that it would be great. I didn't decide officially until Thursday night about 6 pm that I was actually going to go. And all day I was proved wrong at every turn. Unfortunately, I don't know that any amount of arm twisting or bribery could get Jonathan to go back. His glasses got stepped on by some chick, no matter where he stood, people were trying to push in front of him, and at the end of Cohen, some assholes tried to rush the stage in anticipation of SSPU and kicked his shoes. Then when he retaliated, some hippy dippy bitch told him some bullshit about the "loose ends" he was putting into the environment. He had a rough day. He decided to go watch Morrissey. I went with him to see where he'd be, but left to enjoy SSPU. I was really far from the stage for SSPU but they played a killer set with old favorites and new stuff from Swoon, and they were totally in awe of how many people were watching them. They also commented on the Morrissey vs. Cohen awkwardness. I chilled there for a while until Natalie was done shooting and she met me for the rest of SSPU. After the set, we found Jonathan and settled in to watch Sir Paul McCartney.
There is so much to say about that performance, but I should start by saying I had no desire to see him. I know he's one fourth of The Beatles, I get that, but I just kinda thought he'd be cheesy. I could not have been so wrong. Paul played about two and a half hours, an hour over the time Coachella was supposed to end. I mean, certainly there were some Wings songs I could've skipped, but the intensity and energy of the show were really like nothing I've ever seen. Plus, dude is a pro. He was engaging with the crowd, reading out signs that people were holding, and sharing that it was the 11 year anniversary of Linda's death, adding a heavy emotion to the night. Standouts for me were his newish single Dance Tonight that had the crowd on it's feet, Blackbird which will forever remind me of Steve Poltz, Give Peace a Chance and Let It Be which were crazy intense sing-alongs, Hey Jude which always makes me weepy anyway, and then I was just blown away by the encores. This set list has the show at two encored, but he left the stage again making it seem like three. It was amazing and I'm glad we stayed the entire time to experience it.
Drive My Car
Only Mama Knows
Got to Get You Into My Life
Let Me Roll It (with a coda of Purple Haze)
The Long and Winding Road
Sing the Changes
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Something / I've Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life > Give Peace a Chance
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
First encore: Birthday
Can't Buy Me Love
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
After the show, we got out of the festival pretty quickly and headed back south along the Salton Sea. At one point Jonathan's navigator told us to cut to a highway and he did, which took us some CRAZY long ass way through mountains and windy roads and Julian. I get really carsick so I had to sleep and I can say it was the only time Jonathan lost his cool with me, which considering how many hours he endured, still made him a hero that day. I got home sometime around 4 and passed out before my head hit the pillow.
that place turned into a majical disnay-dreem land when the sun went down.
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