San Diego Radio Sucks Quite A Bit

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coachella 2009 Review - Saturday

Robochrist 's Hand of Man picked up cars, crushed 'em and dropped 'em

Coachella 2009 - Friday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

I won't lie to you, people, we were not excited about the Saturday lineup. Then again, we weren't excited about the Friday lineup either, and that turned out OK, hey? So we do our usual ritual of Monster, water, pills (aspirin), ice (frozen water), beer (Mexican), lime juice (we bought like a 2-liter from the local Food 4 Less), and beef jerky. This was all after our second consecutive breakfast at Denny's on the corner of Highway 111 and Monroe.

The funny thing about that is, on Thursday when we were preparing for the weekend, we watched about three Simpsons and four Family Guy episodes right in a row. In one of the Simpsons, Homer says something to Marge like, "Even though I'm mad on you, I would never take it out on you physically. I'll take it out on my own body. Come on, we're going to Denny's." As we knew we'd be frequenting the place and we were about three sheets to the wind, this made us laugh until we coughed hairballs.

Mmmmm, Coachellaaaaaaaaaa

Got into the venue just a little bit later than the day before. The full body cavity search of years gone by is now tantamount to a friendly handshake and a look in the eyes. I guess they don't need to know the exact diameter of your colon if there's no meathead headliner band, and that's OK with me. The old search really set a negative tone for the event, and this new, more reasonable, respectful search just makes a lot more sense.

We started the (much hotter) day in the shade of the Mojave tent. The annoying flies that were absent the day before had returned as they had in previous years, and seemed to live to pester us humans who had only come hundreds of miles to blow our minds. These things live for like a day and they spend a really big portion of their lives making ours hell. I'm so deep.

So we're sitting in Mojave and Minnesotan rapper P.O.S. comes on. I have to say, for a genre I don't like, I was pretty impressed. He had a very positive message, and talked about the fact that if you love what you do, it doesn't matter how much money you make or how much vacation you get. It's not a new thought, but still a good one. He played guitar as well, sometimes, and made beats on a drum machine at other times. And his DJ was absolutely phenomenal.

Next up in Mojave, a band I was really excited to see, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. I thought they would sound like Marilyn Manson doing downtempo. Man, let me tell you, I'm not too big to admit that I was wrong. These guys were more like The Beach Boys meets Frank Zappa and The Mothers. There were moments of sheer genius, musically, but the singer is such a fucking tool. Any band that starts out with the singer shouting, "You can all kiss my arse!" had better be able to back it up, musically or physically. Sadly, the only thing these guys had in common with Marilyn Manson is that I bet they got the shit beat out of them in high school a lot, too.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti kinda sucked

It was just as well, because we headed over to the Gobi tent to see Bob Mould Band. This turned out to be a fantastic show, chock fulla hits ("If they were hits," I joked, "we'd be watching this show on the main stage.") from Bob's career with such cornerstone Minneapolis bands as Husker Du and Sugar. Not to mention his like seven solo albums. It was just a barrage of upbeat, uptempo rock and roll from start to finish. And you could just tell that the crowd's high expectations were exceeded every step of the way.

We hurried back over to Mojave to catch the tail end of TheNewNo2, which as it turns out is George Harrison's kid's band. I liked what I heard online a little better than what I heard in person, but I did like what I heard on that stage. I'd like to hear more of them, and Conner agreed.
TheNewNo2 were pretty good

Hit the Outdoor Theatre for the first time Saturday to see Drive By Truckers. Country, but thoughtful country music. Maybe it's actually "western." I don't know, but it's got that certain something that makes me think, this doesn't suck nearly as much as it should.

Drive By Truckers are pretty cool, actually

Bopped over to Paolo Nutini for a few songs, trying to find Tina (who recommended me to A Place To Bury Strangers and also suggested I check out Bajofondo). Bluegrass. Good for what it was, but a little goes a long way.

Paolo Nutini at Coachella 2009

Next up, Amanda Palmer. I had no idea she was the singer for Dresden Dolls, but if I did it wouldn't have mattered much, because this turned out to be The Moment that everyone is going to be talking about for years to come when they talk about Coachella 2009.

We always like to stand dead center in the middle. At Coachella, it's on a polo field, you know, so they bury the "snake," the long cables that connect the soundboard at the back of the tent to the stuff on stage. So you can see where they buried the snake. We like to stand on that strip of sod.

So Amanda Palmer comes out and makes this grand entrance. All these people got all painted up and ran out with her to the theme music from 2001 (whatever it's called, leave me alone, I don't know the title). There must have been 20 of them, all painted up and stuff. So she comes out with another woman who played electric stand-up bass, and just threw down a set that would have been impressive with any of the elements... her voice, her piano playing, or the bass. She regales us with tales of writing songs with Neil Gaiman, her book of photos "shot all around the world," and how one of her songs got banned in the U.K., "for... I don't know what the fuck for... because it was funny," as she described it.

She drank from a bottle of red wine the whole time. She had a filthy mouth. She covered Our Time Is Running Out by Muse beautifully and reverently. She played the piano like she was classically trained. She took a picture of herself and her bassist with a Macbook laptop and had her bassist tweet it on during the set.

She had the crowd in the palm of her hand.

All of that could have been a moment at Coachella. But she made sure that she had The Moment. The one that everyone would be talking about.

"OK, so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to attempt to crowd surf from this point," she started, pointing at her feet, "to that point," she continued, pointing to the soundboard at the back of the tent.

Just over our shoulders.

"Are you gonna drop me?"

"NOOO!!" the crowd roared back.

"Have you got me?!" she asked.


And with that, it started. She jumped into the crowd, mock-swimming her way over the hundreds of fans who passed her back, slowly towards us and the soundboard, all to the tune of Flight of the Valkyrie. As we helped to hold her up, I managed to take this video.

After that, someone handed her a ukulele. She addressed the crowd, "OK, we're going to try this, is the sound working?" It was. "OK, I need everyone to sing along on this one OK?"

The crowd happily obliged her, as we all, every one of us, sang along to Creep.

Next, we headed over to see Calexico on the Outdoor stage. They were great, but we couldn't get very close at all, and after what we'd just seen, I'm not sure anything could compare. It was like seeing Mogwai. You just can't watch anything else too soon after that, and have it make an appropriate or accurate impression.

We jockeyed for position for Fleet Foxes, who put out an album that Bitchfork named as their best album of 2008. A pretty high honor, really, but you have to take with a grain of salt sometimes. If they say something's good, it's probably great, and if they say it's great, odds are it's amazing. But if they say it sucks, well, judge for yourself (note: If I say something sucks, it does. End of discussion).

Fleet Foxes had the most amazing harmonies of any band at the festival. Despite the fact that they claimed to be having problems onstage, you'd never know it. Although, I have to admit, I'd never heard them before. Conner and Pitchfork's recommendations are enough for me to take it in good faith, and I'm glad I did. They sounded better than Crosby, Stills and Nash on their best day at times, and their musicianship shone in the dying light of the day.

Next up, Band of Horses. As Bamoe put it when I described this to him, "There's no middle ground with those guys." Or, to translate it into my language, what I liked, I really liked, but what I didn't like, I HATED." They were just too generic, overall. They could be a band that makes a guest appearance on The OC if it were still around. They could play some stuck-up bitch's pool party and play a sad song when the cute guy from Bumblefuck Idaho doesn't get the cheerleader who's dating the abusive football player or something. I don't know, I've never seen the show. I just know it sucks. But oh well, what was I missing? M.I.A.? Fucking puke. Junior Boys and Electric Touch? Don't know 'em, sadly. Crookers? What I heard of Crookers sounded like the musical equivalent of a sushi fart.

We dug in for Jenny Lewis, who I guess used to be the singer for Rilo Kiley. I don't know anything about Rilo Kiley other than they're supposed to be good. Hearing Jenny Lewis I can guess that might be right. Her voice was amazing. Her drummer was great. She had a guy playing slide guitar and another she was playing off of onstage. But the sum of the parts added up to "I like her voice," and that was about it.

We kind of hung around Glass Candy for a while, and I liked what I heard a lot. Not sure about much with them, other than they covered Computer Love by Kraftwerk, so they get mad points for that, but that's all I know. I wish I'd seen more.

Finally, we were off to see Toronto's answer to all the other big DJ duos in the world today, MSTRKRFT. While I'm a huge fan of their album The Looks, I'm a little slow warming up to Fist of God, which just came out. I'll give it a few more listens, but this just sounds a little too hard and too much like a Justice clone to me at this point.

Unlike Daft Punk, you could actually see these guys. But there was a catch. From where I was standing, you couldn't see them onstage AT ALL. You could see them in the circular movie thingies on either side of the stage, rocking out and chain smoking cigarettes. But then, when you've got a song on your album called 1,000 Cigarettes, you might expect that sort of thing.

The show was a lot like the new album. Though they mixed in stuff from The Looks, it seemed to mostly be harder stuff from that album and stuff from Fist of God. I have hope I'll grow to like the new stuff because I loved their last one so much, but we decided to leave a little early so we could hit the waiting cooler full of Tecate sooner. It turned out to be a good move. We went from Sahara to the motel in 50 minutes. The only sad part was that we were so tired and sore we couldn't stay up long enough to get any serious drinking in, and crashed at 2:15, a full hour earlier than the night before.

Coachella 2009 - Friday review
Coachella 2009 - Sunday review

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