Coachella 2010, Sunday: Rusko, De La Soul, Yann Tiersen, Gorillaz

The final day of Coachella. The lineup wasn’t as packed as Saturday, but Gorillaz proved to be a fitting end to an epic festival.

But first, it was over to the Saraha for some Rusko dubstep.

Rusko got things going quickly and seemed really excited to be playing.  His mix moved fast, almost too fast, like he was trying to squeeze a much longer set into his 45 minutes.  Even so, each beat drop got the crowd going and it was a party from start to end.

Glitch Mob were a no-show, so we chilled near main stage while De La Soul gets their groove on.  We caught the end of Club 75 which was disappointing to say the least, but they at least played one Justice track so it wasn’t a complete loss.

Next, it was over to the Mojave to see Gary Numan.  Unfortunately, Gary’s flight was delayed by volcanic ash, so the stage was mostly empty. Yann Tiersen had moved into Gary’s slot so we decided to stay for a front row spot.

So glad we did.  Tiersen is know for his work on the Amelie soundtrack, but his band was a great mix of  ambient keys, guitar, violin, and melodica that was amazing to see up close.

And, finally.  Gorillaz.

Nobody was quite sure what to expect from Gorillaz, a ‘virtual band’ that have used different performance methods in the past.  What was going to show up on stage?  A video show?  Holograms? Puppets?

Nope.  Instead, frontman Damon Albarn showed up with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash, Bobby Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon, and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music to play almost all of Plastic Beach in front of the biggest, brightest HD video screen I’ve ever seen.  The screen showcased Gorillaz visuals, both new and old, to compliment each track.

After killing it for over 90 minutes and 18 songs, the set came to a rather awkward end with Womack’s “Cloud of Unknowing” and Damon leaving the stage without a ‘thank you’ or ‘good night’.  No encore. Oh well.

So ended Coachella 2010.


Coachella 2010, Saturday: MGMT, Muse, Les Claypool, Devo

Day 2!

Thankfully, parking was not nearly as bad on Saturday.  We got in early enough to catch Old Crow Medicine Show bring some old-timey folk and bluegrass to the main stage.

After that, it was over to the Sahara to see Craze & Klever drop some beats and rock the turntables.  The DJ Kool > Bloody Beetroots drop was way cool.

The crowd for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was huge, so we wandered over to the Mojave to get down with Gossip.

Back to the Sahara for some Bassnectar.  I’ll just say, Bassnectar in the Sahara is quite a different experience than Bassnectar in Bozeman, MT.  He played some tracks I missed before including Churn of the Century and even some Metallica.

We then watched, but couldn’t hear (thanks Do-Lab), Faith No More on the main stage while grabbing a bite to eat, and it was time for MGMT.

I’d heard people say MGMT just isn’t that good live, so I was curious to see what they would do with their new material, and how the fans would react.

Due to the enormous crowd, I had to rely on the video screens to see what was happening on stage.  I think everyone agreed they should have played the main stage.

They kicked things off with Flash Delirium which sounded great, but there was one problem.  The crowd.  It was a  younger crowd, and maybe it was their first concert or something, but there was no dancing, no jumping, and barely any applause.  With a crowd that huge, having dead air in between songs is just wrong.  My hunch that most of this crowd hadn’t even bothered to listen to the new album was confirmed when, after Flash Delirium, I yelled “I don’t think anyone knew that song!”, and a kid turns around and says “Yeah, play what we know, right?”.  I’m pretty sure he wasn’t being sarcastic.

I didn’t stick around long enough to see how upset they’d be when MGMT didn’t play Kids, I needed to get a good spot for Muse.

As expected, Muse’s epic sound was a perfect fit for the Coachella main stage.  The huge lasers and spark showers gave songs like Uprising, Starlight, and United States of Eurasia an extra punch.

After a good hour of Muse, I realized I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I missed Les Claypool, so it was off to the Mojave tent.

Les, who we saw signing autographs earlier, had a relatively small but dedicated crowd who were way into his songs.  The crowd can make all the difference, and Les was putting on a great show for people who really cared.

Next was my wildcard, Die Antwoord.

They might be a parody act, but as stage performers, Ninja and Yo-Landi are the real deal.  DJ Hi-Tek missed the beat drop on Enter the Ninja twice, but it was probably part of the act.  This was a really fun show.  It seemed to catch everyone off guard in a good way.  Die Antwoord may loose some (or all) of their appeal once they hit the mainstream, but I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Devo then closed the Mojave with a good mix of old and new songs.  Despite their age, these guys had a ton of energy and their new material actually sounds really good.  I’ll be picking up their new album for sure.

End Saturday!


Coachella 2010, Friday: Wolfgang Gartner, Them Crooked Vultures, Fever Ray

Friday starts at 4:45 AM in Billings.

Hotels near Coachella aren’t cheap, so to save money, we had the awesome idea of only booking the hotel for 3 nights.

So we catch our 6:30 flight, arrive in LA at 9:30, hop into a rental car, and we’re in the Coachella parking line by 1:00.  Awesome, we might be able to catch DJ Lance Rock at 2:15, Sleigh Bells at 3:30, and there’s no way we’ll miss Yeasayer at 4:20, right?


After an INSANELY long wait, we finally get a parking space and book it into the WAY overcrowded festival just in time to see Tom Morello of Street Sweeper Social Club invite Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk onstage to cover LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out.  It’s 6:00.

At least we made it in.  Later, we heard that the entry staff were mostly volunteers, some of whom were giving wristbands to people who slipped them cash.  Also, e-tickets weren’t scanning, so anyone with a paper ticket (valid or not) got a wristband.  They apparently ran out of wristbands meaning a lot more people got in than the 75,000 who paid for tickets to the sold out festival.

We headed over to the Sahara for Wolfgang Gartner, who absolutely killed it with a bass-heavy version of Undertaker.  The Sahara sound system is just as loud as i remember it.  Except that this time I brought a pair of Hearos earplugs so I could get up close without murdering my ears.  That was a good call.

We stopped by Gil Scott-Heron who told all the people who bet he wouldn’t show up, “You lose” and proceeded to sing the blues like a true bluesmaster.  He worked the crowd really well for an old dude.

Time for the headliners!

Them Crooked Vultures took the Main Stage.  These guys are pros.  Josh Homme, a Palm Desert native, welcomed everyone to his backyard and looked at home on the desert stage as they blazed through their set.  John Paul Jones rocked the bass, piano, and a handful of other instruments and looked like he was having a great time.  Dave Grohel is an absolute Animal on drums.

We grab a bite to eat while LCD Soundsystem takes their electronic jams to the main stage.

…and now, FEVER RAY.

With flickering lamps and incense smoke swirling in the air, the Mojave tent felt like more like a seance than a music festival as Fever Ray took the stage dressed as some kind of large snow beast.  The sound was perfectly strange and loud with more emphasis on percussion than is heard on the album.  The mirrored lasers added to the atmosphere, cutting through the smoke and pulsating to the beat.

From there, we caught the end of Deadmau5, saw Jay-Z’s fireworks go off, and started back to the parking lots.  Without traffic our hotel would have been a short 20 minute drive away.  But this is Coachella parking we’re talking about.  After 3 hours spent fighting our way out of the parking lot, we finally reached our beds at 4:00 am.

Talk about a long, awesome day.


Coachella ’97

My last-minute second entry into Coachella’s lineup poster contest.


Coachella ’81

In an attempt to win tickets to this year’s Coachella, I’ve created this fictional lineup for a year that Coachella didn’t actually happen.

It was a lot of fun researching bands that might have played a festival like Coachella a year before I came into existence.

So, Coachella ’81, would you have been there?