San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Monday, April 30, 2007

Coachella 2007 Review - Part 2 - Saturday

After arriving back at the hotel in Palm Springs after 2 a.m. and drinking like they were filming us for a feature-length film, we managed to crawl out of bed and drag ourselves to the car. Bought another ten pounds of ice at the liquor store to chill out our after-festy beers and waters. Those, in addition to the Tiger's Milk bars, saved our asses at the end of each blistering day.

The thermometer at the gas station in Cathedral City on the way into the event read 101. And that was at 10:30 in the morning. The windows and sunroof were cranked to allow the maximum amount of wind to rush through what was left of us. I felt like I could feel bone poking through some parts of my skin, but I figured we had two more days ahead of us, so I'd better push through it.

It was a good thing I went in with that attitude, because Saturday was, without a doubt, the best day for me. The headliners rarely make a difference to me, because to tell you the truth, I think most "big" bands just suck. Not because they're big, but because they suck.

To prove that there's an exception to this, I love Radiohead. But I wouldn't go to an entire festival just because they were playing.

Needless to say, no, I didn't see the Chili Peppers. Sorry. If that bums you out don't even think about reading Sunday's review.

We made it onto the polo field a little later than we did the first day. Added to the fact that the music started a bit earlier, it was a good move. We tested out our Coachella legs by walking around the field once, and quickly realized we were going to get pretty close to maxing out our water budget for the day (I think we each bought seven-eight on Saturday).

We started to pass by Mojave as Fields were starting, and I was immediately drawn in. I'd never even heard of this British shoegaze band, but their music was nothing short of spellbinding. We stayed for the entire set, and when it was all over, it was the best discovery of the festival.

We ended up in the Sahara tent, waiting for something to happen. Steve Aoki took the stage at 2:00, spinning a series of beats and mixing in samples from tracks like 2 Live Crew's family classic, We Want Some Pussy, an oft-misunderstood song about a beloved cat. Pretty skillful, but we were in search of something a little different, so we decided to walk around some more.

We walked around aimlessly for a while until The Fratellis started. We listened to the first three songs, which ended with the big hit song Flathead. They were ok, but nothing we wanted to stick around for, so we moseyed.

Roky Erickson and the Explosives played the Gobi tent, and so many people told me how great he was I had to check it out. They weren't bad, in fact, if we were looking to go out drinking Miller High Life and trying to get into fights, it would have been the perfect soundtrack. We didn't know of anything else we'd rather seen at that point, so we stuck around until I decided I'd rather have heat stroke than continue listening to it, and headed out for yet another bottle of water.

We passed by Hot Chip, and heard enough of their set to know that was the tent we should have been in. Damn. You can't win 'em all.

Caught The New Pornographers' set at the Outdoor Theatre, which was good but not great. I think they performed well, but the music just isn't my thing. It's weird, they're on the excellent Matador label, but their music just lacks something. I will give them the Funniest Band award though. At one point, the keyboardist picked up a container and announced, "I've got frozen yogurt. Do YOU have frozen yogurt?" As she started to eat it, one of the other band members quipped, "Did someone throw that on stage?" She almost choked, she was laughing so hard. "It's probably got GHB in it," another member joshed.

Dinner time. We headed to the "Panasian" area for some "teriyaki chicken" and "combination plate" dinners, though I'm not sure what they really were. Just filling enough, tasty, but by no means what they claimed to be. It was a good thing we got some sustenance, because we were about to hit the peak of the entire festival: four knock-you-on-your-ass killer acts back to back, nonstop.

First up was !!! (read chik, chik, chik), a California band that got the crowd screaming so loud it was happily deafening. The spoken word vocalist stirred up the crowd like a nest of hornets. "Have you been waiting for this? Yeah, we've been waiting for this too." Every time he paused, all you could hear was the sound of your neighbor's voice raised to a fever pitch. After the first song, the other vocalist smiled and yelled, "Man, you guys are louder than the fucking band!" Which we returned with another happy scream.

Sadly, we had to split after the first three songs to catch The Arcade Fire. As usual, they blew us all away. I'm not sure what it is about this band, but every time I see them I just tear up. It's the same with Bjork. There are certain acts that just tear a hole in your soul.

The biggest difference I saw between Arcade Fire's last Coachella appearance was Win Butler's vocals. I understand he just returned from sinus surgery, but you'd never know it. His voice was steadier than I've ever seen it live. The one downer about this set was that the meathead factor was much higher than when they dominated the Outdoor Theatre two years ago. Win even made a joke, saying, "We appreciate your patience, and as you know, manners are the cornerstone of a prosperous society." Highlights included Laika (Neighborhood #2), Haiti, and Antichrist Television Blues and Ocean of Noise from Neon Bible.

(pic from

After it was over, we had to hurry all the way across the field to the Sahara tent to catch LCD Soundsystem. We got to catch the last 15 minutes of Justice's set, which was pretty damn good. I'm not sure what they were doing, but it was more than just DJing.

When LCD finally took the stage, I thought they started a little rough. I didn't recognize the first song (I assume it was from the new album) and then did Daft Punk is Playing at My House, which was sped up and sounded thin to me. However, as the set progressed, they won me over. The set eventually culminated with a cross between the two versions of Yeah from the self-titled album that seemed to build like a time bomb and explode orgasmically.

I still don't get why they didn't just walk off the stage after that (they finished with the ultra-mellow New York I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down), but I can only guess it was some sort of strategic move. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but hey, it's LCD Soundsystem, and they seem to be leading the wonderful, yet ass-backwards movement of making killer electronic remixes of a band that sounds completely different live. Namely, themselves.

Finally, we rounded out the evening with Cornelius, a band / artist from Japan that we knew we'd never see again. It was tough to stay until the whole thing was over for a second night in a row, but we knew we had to. We were treated to The Cornelius Band's Fully Synchronized Audio and Visual Show.

How to describe this? Oh shit. Just take a ton of ecstasy and listen to their albums, and you might have an inkling of what we experienced. The entire show was spot-on, totally technically accurate, tight as hell, and fantastically fantastic. Each song they performed was perfectly paired with a set of visuals that made you ask which came first, the song or the movie? In the end it didn't really matter. The tent was loosely filled, which was a perfect setting to see them. There was no claustrophobia, no panic, no pushing nor pain. Reminicent of the Kruder & Dorfmeister DJ set of years ago, where everyone was there to see THIS artist, and possibly nothing else.

"Dude, that was worth the $240 ticket price right there," Mike remarked to me on our slow walk back to the increasingly dusty car. I just smiled through dusty teeth, breathing a heavy sigh, knowing the worst, and now, the best, was over.

1 comment:

bereweber said...

this is my favorite sentence of the post: I think most "big" bands just suck. Not because they're big, but because they suck. ha!

and damn perro, i had NO clue that chik chik chuuuk are from California!!! i thought they were from the *dark* mid-west or canada, or something *exotic* like that (ha! for me mid-west & canada are exotic, too damn white & plain couldn't be true...) anyway, excellent post and the photos are great... if i knew they had teriyaki chicken and combo bowls (even if figurative) i would reconsidered going

also, for your big-bands-suck phobia
here 1 man, doing with 2 instruments, one of them a teaspoon, waaay better job that all the Chili-freaking-Peppers Red-hot-Or-Not in the world

this amazing man!