San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coachella 2012 Review - Friday

(This, and pretty much all other photos by Mike on this page)

Last night, I sat in a dirty motel room, covered in the filth of three days of wandering aimlessly around a polo field and having my mind repeatedly blown.  The only thought in my head was a question:  "How can Coachella 2012 be over?"

Technically, it's not over, because Goldenvoice has expanded the festy into two full weekends with "identical" lineups.  While I had my doubts when they announced the presale last June, I think the changes they've made may have optimized some really basic stuff about Coachella, like traffic.  While I still feel like the first weekend is the real festival, I'm excited for anyone who's going next weekend.

Friday started pretty typically, with us waiting for the gates to open.  The whole thing takes place on a polo field, and it's a much different place when it's relatively empty.  While the sun shone, we headed over to the Sahara tent to see Mea.  Not quite sure what to make of her, we agreed.  Sort of industrial, sort of good but the jury's still out.

I thought Wallpaper. could be good, but Oakland's answer to Party Rock Anthem took themselves a little too seriously to be truly entertaining.  If they'd taken themselves less seriously, or way more seriously, it would have been funny.  But the only thing that would have made it good would have been changing the band members and the songs they were performing.

The first great surprise of the day came on the big stage after that, with Mexico City's Hello Seahorse!  They kind of reminded me of a more poppy, Mexican version of Lush.  And the singer was easy on the eyes.

Other Lives were actually really good.  Normally, a band that's opening for Radiohead is good in their own way, but you just don't want to sit through their set before you get to see Radiohead.  These guys were less like that than most of Radiohead's opening acts.  Fairly mellow, but well-placed in the early day in the Gobi tent.

Stuck around for EMA.  She was great.  I figured she wouldn't open with the song California, but she did end with it, as I predicted.  I reckoned that if she wanted to sing, "Fuck California / You made me boring," she would have to win over the audience first.  She's one of those artists that Pitchfork lavishes attention on, and she's actually worth it.

Blues man Gary Clark Jr. was up next, once again in Gobi.  I was pretty impressed but Mike thought he was a bit overrated.  Mike plays guitar very well, so he's probably right.  But still, pretty damn good as far as I was concerned.  Right in the middle of his set, the rain started coming down.  Despite the fact that we were in the dead center of the tent, that shit blew in and gave us a tiny little splash.  The crowd actually cheered the rain, not because it was refreshing, but because this was the first time in Coachella history that it had rained during the festival.

Dreading the rain, we headed over to the main stage to see Jimmy Cliff & Tim Armstrong.  It had stopped raining, but ironically it started again right before I Can See Clearly (the one that goes, "It's gonna be a bright / Bright sunshiny day").  We feared the worst, but by the time the set ended, we'd gotten splashed about ten times in five minutes, nothing serious.  It felt like someone standing over us flicking water droplets from wet fingers.

We beat a retreat back to the car thanks to the recent "ins and outs OK" policy, and were accosted by an obnoxious high school chick wearing a poncho (not a real poncho, a Sears poncho).

"Are you COLLLLD?!" she shouted?

"Um, YEAHHHH!" I replied, hurrying past and rubbing my bare arms.

Headed back to the car, grabbed our sweatshirts and ditched the sunglasses and hats for the nighttime wear.  Made it back to the field, all within about 45 minutes.  Had our usual Asian BBQ stand fare (our only meal other than breakfast all three days), and then headed for M. Ward in Mojave.  I stuck around for three songs and split.  Not my thing, but Mike liked 'em.  Or him.

I, on the other hand, was getting a decent spot for Frank Ocean in Gobi.  Gobi used to be the bastard one-eyed stepchild at the festy, being the smallest of the tents.  I guess it saved up to get implants or something, because this year, Gobi was just as big as Mojave!  Now they can share an inferiority complex, comparing their mutual size to Sahara (which is The Hedgehog of tents, if you know what I'm sayin').

Frank started a little late, singing a few notes before he stepped onstage, and causing the crowd to totally lose their shit.  I swear, this guy is like a modern day Frank Sinatra, if Sinatra was part of a group of guys who rapped about bitches and hoes all the time.  Wait, did The Rat Pack do that?

Anyway, Frank was great, though this was yet another example of the sound problems we were forced to endure on day one.  I didn't think it was that bad, but I don't think he could hear himself, because at one point he addressed the crowd, saying, "I don't mean to be unprofessional, but..." then he turned to the stage sound engineer, and asked him if he was in charge of doing sound on stage.  He cut the mic and walked over to the guy, and I can only assume tore this guy a new asshole somewhere near his ears.

Despite turning in what I thought was a great set including Strawberry Swing, Swim Good, and Novacane (and a special guest appearance from Tyler, the Creator), Frank Ocean walked offstage without saying goodbye, before the music even stopped.  Dude didn't even wave.  He must have known we were loving it, people were singing along to every line in the songs from nostalgia, Ultra, and we lost our collective shit when he sang the line "Met her at Coachella."  Still, I'm hoping to see him again soon, for a full set with sound he's happy with.

After that, I headed over to the poorly-attended Mazzy Star show to catch up with Mike.  He was way up front, so I just chilled in the back while Hope Sandoval looked about as excited as someone trying to get a puke stain out of a carpet.  I swear, she looked downright ANNOYED to be up there.  I guess that's her thing.  While the music was actually really well-performed, it was a bad slot and stage for Mazzy Star.  At least she's not fugly, as you can see in these bomb-ass pictures Mike shot.

Onward we foraged to the Mojave tent for M83.  These guys are just absolutely fantastic live, and they performed very, very well, but it was too quiet.  I'm normally OK with a band that's not super loud, especially at Coachella and especially late in the day.  However, I don't know if there's any other way to listen to these guys than at a blistering volume.  That's what earplugs are for, use 'em if you need to.  The whole effect was lessened somewhat because the music wasn't as visceral as I wanted it to be.  It felt like we were listening to it because our mom was on the phone in the next room and she told M83 to turn down that racket.  They were still a highlight, but I truly hope next weekend they crank that shit up to a billion.

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