Monday, May 07, 2007

Coachella 2007 - The BAnD

As far as music goes, I guess you could call me a freak of celebrity proportions. I'm the guy sitting in the back of the theater in the gray tweed suit with rosy cheeks and bow tie sullying my fame at the risk of exposure. Now, when you throw LIVE music into the mix, I'm flat out Tara Reid. For a Concert-a-holic like myself, Coachella is like Betty Ford and not too dissimilar based on the distance between the two!
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Shhh! Jacob Theile of the Faint guest DJ'ing in the Dome (Coachella's best kept secret)
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This year was a three day music lovers dream come true and although I still have my own sharp Miss Olsen-esque critique of the lineup (and it's lack of heavy-hitter electronic acts), there was plenty of ear deliciousness to go around. The first day was by far the weakest day for me as far as the lineup went (IMHO...ahem) with only one major conflict toward the end of the night. I should say however, that Coachella can make a conflict like no one else. They are the Shaolin freakin' masters of conflict arrangement. There could be literary tomes filled with how Coachella can royally screw up someone's ear candy. But I digress....Now....After I've had a week to cool off. I was faced with dividing myself up between seeing Peaches, Rufus Wainwright and The Jesus and Mary Chain or faced with catching the potential "B-Sides" of each set. So....



...I chose Peaches. I had seen The Jesus and Mary Chain in my youth during Lollapalooza in 1992 in the scortching heat with no protection from either the sun's harmful skin blistering rays or William Reid's harmful ear blistering riff on "Sugar Ray." As much as I wanted to watch the potential train wreck of the newly re-formed Reid Brothers, I figured that they might be loud enough to catch from a distance (and I was right! I got to hear my fav. "Reverence" as I was dodging flying boobies at Peaches). One of my biggest regrets of the festival was not seeing Rufus but I had seen him at a more intimate setting in Orlando at the House of Blues before all the Want One, Want Two nonsense and even got a hug after the show so I didn't want to sully that memory much. So after waiting through the what, 4th Marley brother to play Coachella?, I got my spot at Peaches about 5 folks back right in front of Peaches keyboardist J.D.'s set up (I love me some Le Tigre) and waited for the innevitable crush forward of a half a million sex freaks, walking canker sores or worse...novice curiosity seekers. I'll take a wallet chain to the forehead any day versus a beer doused frat boy hoping, however misguidedly, that he might see some exposed flesh....at a Peaches show. The set was fantastic with rigging climbing, prosthetic breast milk spraying the audience, Ron Jeremy making a guest appearance and best of all, some crowd surfing by Peaches herself not more than 2 feet in front of me. Aaaaaand, (eeeek!) I got her guitar pick! Hooray for free stuff!
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The end of the first day culminated in the unveiling of Bjork's Volta on the States. For her second appearance at the festival, the Icelandic naif wore a cross between an octopus and a costume from Katamari Damacy, which I love, so that was cool! Gashapon based almost the entire trip on this set so I was bummed that even though Bjork had the most advanced technology ranging from something that looked like an iPhone as a sound mixer to what resembled an illuminated craps table that was actually an instrument played with giant Plinko chips, my ratty cellphone couldn't muster a simple text to catch up with him. The set was incredible though and I enjoyed being able to zone out underneath the stars on our first night listening to the savvy other worldliness of Bjork and all of the cool kids who appreciated her triumphant return to the Polo Fields. I was so glad I was there! Now, if the camera operator had enough sense to actually show the divine Miss B on the jumbotron instead of a techno dueling banjo's between the Lemur and the ReacTable, I would have been all is full of love.
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Day Two was the most highly anticipated day for me so far. From the get-go we were treated to an up close and personal view of Pop Levi and his Prince Doppleganger guitarsit. Call it what you will, but I call it hippie rock with a dandy twist. The five minute guitar intro to "Sugar Assault Me" was almost as distracting as Pop's (Mr. Levi's?...Mr. Pop's?) stained glass shirt but it was good to get the body moving a little and shake off the Peaches hangover. Did I mention that his guitarist might have actually been Prince? Did I?
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Then came the moment that I have been waiting for (actually, the moment came at approximately 4:10), for more than three years...
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Awwww yeah!!!! That's right! After single handedly petitioning on the Coachella message board with a solid following of exactly two other people to begging (read: stalking) Joe Goddard from Hot Chip on MySpace, the lads from Leeds actually landed in my orbit and I was up close and center for their blisteringly hot set. I give much thanks to my good Coachie pal Kelis for standing much longer than humanly required to get a good spot for what seemed to be an eternity in a sauna, but it was worth it if just to see her shake it to "Over and Over."
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Joe Goddard (my hero) from Hot Chip doing the work of ten roadies. Seriously, I love this man.
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A nice collection of balloons, a lovely inflatable 8 ball and BONGOS!

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Alexis Taylor shaking it.
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Now add Joe beatboxing (I think) to the mix.
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Hot sh!t

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Okay, because I love you all and I respect honest and virtuous journalism, I will admit that seeing Hot Chip after waiting so long, standing so close to other festival goers that I was practically wearing their clothing and being placed perfectly in the center of two giant sub woofers, the sound experience was less magical than I expected but nevertheless, seeing them up close and personal and not in a cleverly directed video was not lost on me. I live in such a Hot Chip fantasy world that if they weren't shooting lightning out of their fingers or pedalling imaginary bikes in front of a green screen, it just wasn't going to cut it. I don't blame these guys really, I just blame myself for not trying harder to get them to come to Orlando and play in my bedroom.

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What happened next can only be acutely described in the privacy of my diary. Let's just say though that I peed a little. "The Dome" at Coachella is a little way station in between the bigger and "better" things going on at the Main Stage and the rough and tumble goings-on of the small Gobi Tent. This year however, the Dome was like the party in high school that all the cool kids were at that you just WISHED you had known about sooner. First off, there was a secret appearance by Jacob Theile of The Faint DJ'ing on the first day, then...on a whim, Gashapon, Britton, Kelis and I decided to see if the rumors we heard were true, that Deee-Lite's Lady Miss Kier was DJ'ing a set on the second night. So, while everyone was either getting neon bibles read at the Arcade Fire or Wu Tingling over Ghostface Killah, we were treated to a front row..... ummm, I guess you could call it a show .....courtesy of Lady Miss Kier and two fabulous drag queens and virtually had the place to ourselves. It was great!!! Not only did she spin for us, but she also treated the group to several songs off of World Clique including "Good Beat" and "How Do You Say..." It was like high school all over again. With a drag show thrown in. There was bumpin', groovin', and pretend peanut butter sandwiches being made, and then eatin'...it was DeLOVELY!!!


















You Go Girl!

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Sadly, I think we might have missed "Groove Is In The Heart", but making the tough choice, we left the bathwater warm comfort of our own private freak show to head over to Girl Talk and catch what the other cool kids at Coachella were up to. Greg Gillis has the most amazing name for a DJ...ever but I find it amazing that there's more party in one 5 minute loop of his set than in an entire show put on by a group that sounds like a good time like, oh let's say, Satellite Party? Don't get me wrong, aside from playing some of his old Jane's Addiction songs (which were spot-on and great), nothing Perry Farrell can do, even with a moniker like that, can beat seeing over 40 concert-goers ON STAGE at Girl Talk....throwing shit into the crowd, including a pre-jailtime Paris Hilton. That's right, throwing shit.

Paris is the one in the back, in the giant sunglasses. Oh, just say you see her because she's there, trust me.
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We're all talking like Girls. It just seemed like the thing to do at Girl Talk.
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After working up a sweat, we headed over to catch my second-most anticipated show of the festival and fellow labelmates with Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem. Again, being an Orlando resident, I couldn't believe my good fortune seeing two DFA artists in one night! Unfortunately, we were so caught up in Lady Miss Kier and Girl Talk that we completely missed the Justice set but good things come to those who don't plan correctly and as soon as we walked into the tent, Kelis's eagle eyes spotted Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip trying to skulk away, presumably on his way to the Mike Relm set. I had another total panty squirt! He was so gracious and personable and like a rabid daytime soap fan, I made sure that he saw that I was sporting my very own Hot Chip shirt. I stopped short of comparing the fact that we were both wearing glasses to tone down my utter girlishness. A normal celebrity would have bitten my ear off at this point but not Alexis (he's quite the properly mannered Brit). He simply thanked me for coming out to see them, shook my hand and graciously posed for a photo. I think he was about to pull out either his cowbell or maraccas and jam with me but Coachella's tight set list waits for no man, so we parted ways. Call me A.T. ...'K?

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Man crush #2 in my life, as far as music goes, James Murphy, hit the stage with a blistering performance of "North American Scum" and bulldozed through an amazing LCD set that included an ultra jazzy "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" and "Tribulations." I would have loved to have heard "Someone Great" or "Disco Infiltrator" but I've always respected James' perfectly unperfectly moussed and toussled hair and any longer in that heat might have turned him from a glittering disco ball into a pumpkin.

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LCD Soundsystem kicks it up a notch to 11.

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I could have honestly cashed in at this point after seeing both Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem with the added bonus of seeing Jacob Theile and the crazy Lady Miss Kier set but from what my friend Mike kept describing, Cornelius was something that was unique enough to warrent standing upright for the twelfth hour straight. He wasn't kidding. Hailing from Japan, Cornelius, like any other uni-monikered artist such as Beck, Prince, Bright Eyes (okay, Bright Eyes is two words, I know) is a genius and is something to experience live and in person and not through earbuds or via phonograph if that's how your get your kicks.

The show starts off with a giant bed sheet showing only the shadows of several James Iha look-alikes moving about, setting up their instruments. Protecting the magic no doubt.
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Suddenly, the Powerpoint comes on and the crowd starts hallucinating. I see Neopolitan ice cream!
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Words flash on screen welcoming the enthusiastic crowd. with a sweet little "H-E-L-L-O." Then...
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Each song was accompanied by a wonderful visual demonstration on yet another bedsheet (which looked really inviting this late at night). For every vocal, cymbal, or guitar lick, the moving images matched up perfectly with what was being played on stage. There was even crazy cool Japanese Hello Kitty-esque characters dancing along! Everyone was mesmerized. Not even the jock in the terrycloth headband behind us could yell out "Freebird" like an idiot.
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Check out some of the Cornelius magic here!
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Eye see you there, shakin' that ass, shakin that ass!
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What an unexpected discovery and an amazing performance by Cornelius. I give much thanks to my friend Mike, who sold me and Christy on the idea of checking these guys out. The best part was the outpouring of support that the Cornelius group got at the end of the show. I'm not sure what they were expecting from the crowd at Coachella but by the looks on their faces as they took their bow, it was far greater than they had originally thought. They're big in Japan but in the desert too!

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Day 3 - Uncharted Territory

Hey! You in front! That's copyrighted by Betamike!

Day three. Wow! Coachella has never before added a third day to their festival and this comes on the heels of last year's rampant rumors that 2006 "might" be the last year for the festival. Way to make a comeback baby! With three days, there's more bang for your buck, more time to soak in the delicious sno cone delights and more opportunities to see white hot acts like Mika! Unfortunately, it also gives campers one less day to bathe. Wretch!

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Mika put on a SHOW! He was charismatic, energetic and gave a performance as if it were his last. Hopefully Life in Cartoon Motion isn't also his swan song but with songs like "Billy Brown" and "Lollipop" you never really know how this musical nitche that's got me itchin' will be filled. The amazing thing about kicking off the day with Mika was that he was appropriately enough placed on the Main Stage to accommodate both the completely converted as well as the curiosity seekers. Since his August debut, Mika has gone from unknown to having a permenant satellite orbit in even the most conservative of iPod playlists. Mika has us up off our asses completely dancing which was amazing considering how ragged out we all were after two full days of festival plus, who wants to dance at high noon in the 100+ degree heat? We do!!!! Well, almost everyone. The downside to playing the main stage on the last day had something to do with sharing the same stage as the newly reformed Rage Against The Machine and even though they would headline on this last day of Coachella some 10 hours later, hundreds of burly, black-clad Cholo boys had already staked their claim at the front of the stage. It was the most surreal image to flail your arms around in the etherial rainbow magic of Mika in this forest of unimpressed Rage fans. Secretly, I know they all had a gay old time. Not surprisingly but a little disappointing, Mika ended his set sans "Lollipop" which had almost become the unofficial Coachie anthem during this trip.
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Most of the afternoon on day 3 consisted of me sitting in the Mojave Tent knowing that doing so would reward me with a triple shot of Junior Boys, CSS and the Klaxons. Getting up close proved a long but rewarding challenge as our little group began toward the back of the tent for the wonderful Junior Boys set then inched closer during the CSS set, albeit to my chagrin mostly attributed to having to stand next to a really drugged out version of the creepy old man from Family Guy. The only thing he didn't do was offer me candy. But hearing Lovefoxx actually perform and dedicate "Meeting Paris Hilton" to Paris Hilton (who was sitting stage right) was almost a surreal as hearing this dance rock band cover L7's "Let's Pretend We're Dead." Right on!
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Surprise #2 at Coachella this year was the amazing, I saaaaiiid AMAZING (with little sparkles and exclaimation points) performance of the Klaxons. The tent was packed but despite the rowdiest crowd that I had experienced yet at Coachella, the fellas from Klaxons tore it up like they knew what for and completely rocked the place like it was made of granite.
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Visually, I imagined them coming out in gold lame' robes with blacklight reactive face paint or something. I mean, have you see their videos? But they were totally normal guys. Sadly, I missed the opportunity to rub elbows with one of them as I saw him at the Junior Boys and CSS show right before this wearing his un-Klaxy Dr. Dre t-shirt.
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A purple haze
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Lifechanging experience #1 this year Coachella was stumbling in on Jose Gonzalez as he gently tranced me into much of the hits from his Veneer album plus "Heartbeats" by The Knife and "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat. After the festival, I have done everything I can to get my hands on good quality cuts of his live show so I can send myself back there any time I want. The crowd was small... too small for something as quality as this, but I was able to reap the benefits. I'll never forget the way I felt listening to his set. He made me feel like I was the only person in the place.
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Life changing experience #2 (in order of occurance) but #1 in order of importance!
The Teddybears!

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The Teddybears had been in my peripheral vision for a little bit but as if I had walked through some archway in a magical forest, I started anticipating the potential magic of their performance as soon as we hit the parking lot the first day of the festival. As a matter of fact, I grabbed a Teddybears t-shirt on the first day, sight unseen without even knowing if I would get to make it to their set or not. Crazy I know! But totally like me of course!
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Don't look under the giant bear head! Being on the front row was maybe the most exhilerating experience I've had so far but I don't know, call it the Santa Claus effect or whatever but there was something disturbing "checking under the hood" if you will. Here's video of the pay-off from the end of the show though.
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The Teddybears rocked the Gobi Tent. This year's Daft Punk and no, not because of the costume gimmick.
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Check out the Teddybears in action here.
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By far my favorite musical memory from Coachella 2007. Each year has been special in its own way. 2005 was my first experience, when the gild totally came off the lily and I cherish it to this day as one of my most life changing experiences. 2006 had the best lineup and of course the ass kicking Daft Punk set which has still yet to be surpassed as the single best concert experience that I have had the privilige to witness and the first time the group known as the Coachies first came together like some magical Justice League or better yet Voltron Force...the cool ass vehicle one, not those ghetto lions. This year saw a cohesive music and arts festival plus some of the most sought after musical performances (personally) that did not disappoint.
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Who knows what next year will bring but one thing is certain, as long as there's a group of friends like mine, we'll be there just so we can "be there" together.
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2 comments:

JohnnyBerry said...

I would be worried about the hygiene there. Some of those people do not look right.

gashapon said...

Wonderful, spectacular, sanjaya...I can't think of enough words of praise for this! I'm setting my reactable to "techno fart".