San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

16 Days 'til Coachella - it's not just about the music

My good friend and partner in crime recently wrote me to say that "Coachella could only impress" him at this point. I have to say, I know where he's coming from in a sense, but take heart, everyone. Keep in mind, I never thought there'd be a year to top Pixies / Radiohead / Kraftwerk, and yet in 2008 we got Kraftwerk / Portishead / Prince. Yes, I'm still talking about both of those, and I'll never forget either one.

This year, so far, I'm totally underwhelmed by the lineup overall. I mean, I'm starting to see the bright side in Friday now, and I really feel that Sunday is so filled with strong artists that there will have to be some overlap that leaves me pulling my hair out. But when I look back at my year in live shows last year, I know why I'm jaded.

This is the list of shows Mr. Conner and I saw last year. This doesn't include anything I forgot, or anything he saw without me:

22-Feb The Album Leaf The Casbah San Diego, CA
24-Mar Saul Williams The Casbah San Diego, CA
25-Apr Coachella 2008* Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
26-Apr Coachella 2008** Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
27-Apr Coachella 2008*** Empire Polo Field Indio, CA
30-May Swervedriver / Film School The Casbah San Diego, CA
24-Aug Radiohead The Hollywood Bowl Los Angeles, CA
27-Aug Radiohead Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre Chula Vista, CA
13-Sep The Juan Maclean El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
1-Oct Sigur Ros Copley Symphony Hall San Diego, CA
2-Oct My Bloody Valentine Santa Monica Civic Los Angeles, CA
3-Oct David Byrne The Greek Theatre Los Angeles, CA
14-Oct Antony and the Johnsons Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA
8-Nov Electric Six / Local H The Casbah San Diego, CA
15-Nov Mudhoney The Casbah San Diego, CA

* DJ Mehdi, Midnight Juggernauts, Sebastian, Architecture in Helsinki, Cut Copy, Mum, The National, Aphex Twin, The Verve
** Man Man, DeVotchka, Cafe Tacvba, Hot Chip, Kraftwerk, Portishead, Prince
*** I'm From Barcelona, Stars, Swervedriver, Spiritualized, Love & Rockets, Simian Mobile Disco, Black Mountain, Justice

As I said when I realized this, "It's been a great year, from what I can remember." I stand by that statement 100%.

But this is the thing: It's not just about the music. I remember last year when I started my drive up to Indio, as always, the day before the first day of the festival. I kept thinking, I am one with the cars, I am one with the traffic. I am just part of this great flow, and eventually, I'll drip off of one of these massive concrete petals and splash into my hotel room in the desert. NOTE: I do *not* normally think like this.

All the way up, we always listen to a compilation I make. It's always called Coachella or Bust, and it lasts the whole ride up there. This is all planned. We have victory beers in the fridge waiting for us when we get home, and we've packed the trunk of the car with as many beers, pouches of Pemmican, bottles of water and cans of Monster energy drink as we can fit. We get to the hotel, start drinking immediately, stumble to the nearest place to eat, and then stumble back to our shelter to pass out.

Each morning, it's a ritual. Wake up, drink a monster, get ready, find a decent sit-down place for breakfast where we can load up on salt, and head to the party as early as possible. "We've got an agenda," we say, and we stick to it. Each night, we stay as late as we possibly can, catch as many bands, art exhibits, conversations and do as much freak-watching as we possibly can. Then we head back to the hotel on the back roads, sit around and drink and smoke and eat jerky, reminisce about everything that's happened so far, that day, that year at Coachella, and every year before that.

Why do we do it?

Because even when the lineup isn't the best we've ever seen, when we're pining for a bigger, better Saturday headliner (which I still think we'll get), when we see the initial lineup and think, ehhh... it's still all the Coachella we're going to get for a whole year. You just don't find that exact je ne sais quoi you get, call it community or a shared delusion, when you're sweating, dirty, baked from the sun, tired, aching and having the best time of your life with 50,000 strangers, you don't get that anywhere else.

Not until next year.

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