This year in two parts: the first part a series of lists that I would have tried to illustrate if I had any sort of design skills whatsoever, the second part a succinct, totally unfair snap judgement on every act I saw. Feel free to disagree and yell at me in the comments.
THE FIVE BEST SHOWS OF COACHELLA 2010
- King Khan and the Shrines
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
- The Avett Brothers
- Vampire Weekend
BEST COVERS I HEARD
- “Hospital Beds” by Florence and the Machine (featuring Nathan from Cold War Kids!)
- “Roll Over Beethoven” by She & Him
- “Reunited” by Faith No More
- “Paper Planes” by Street Sweeper Social Club
- “Back in Black” by Muse (only the killer riff in the middle but still)
UP/DOWN VS LAST YEAR
Personal hours spent at the actual festival
Personal celebrity sightings
Personal appearances in US Weekly (page 56 this week, behind Kate Hudson)
Audience pot smoking
Attendees passed out on the field
DJs sets attended
Hours trapped in parking lot each night
BIGGER CROWDS THAN I EXPECTED
- La Roux
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
- Florence and the Machine
- “Well, that was pretty much the 90′s in a nutshell” – Pavement at the end of their set
- “Look at all you beautiful people. Except the few of you who are ugly. [to guy in front] Did you just flip me off? Don’t shoot the messenger”. – The Specials
- “Get a cream or something and you can clear that shit right up” – King Khan to bumpy Yo Gabba Gabba! character Muno
- “You’re all about to see Sly Stone!!…a bit later. But first up, Little Boots!” – Roadie for Sly Stone awkwardly announcing a delay ten minutes into what should have been his set
- “It takes a lot to get someone like me out to a desert” – Florence from Florence and the Machine
BIGGEST SCHEDULING CONFLICTS
LCD Soundsystem vs. Vampire Weekend
How resolved: I’d seen LCD three times and VW once so I went to VW.
Right call?: Heard amazing things about LCD but loved VW so this was likely a draw.
Yeasayer vs. Hockey
How resolved: Went to all of Yeasayer and just a bit of Hockey
Right call?: Yes. Yeasayer seemed more unique
White Rabbits vs. Band of Skulls
How resolved: All of White Rabbits and last 20 minutes of Band of Skulls
Right call?: Likely a draw as both were amazing but White Rabbits had been on my “must see” list for far longer
Muse vs. Major Lazer
How resolved: Saw all of Muse despite liking Major Lazer.
Right call?: Hell yes.
Spoon vs. Sly Stone
How resolved: Waited for Sly Stone until they announced he wasn’t coming out. Only caught start and end of Spoon.
Right call?: Absolutely not.
Gorillaz vs. rescheduled Sly Stone
How resolved: Bailed on Gorillaz after 3 songs to go see a few moments of greatness surrounded by a legitimate train wreck.
Right call?: Absolutely and probably not.
WEIRDEST MOMENTS DURING SLY STONE’S SET
- After hyping up the crowd into a frenzy and finishing with “You’re gonna see Sly Stone!” the sound guy follows up with “…a bit later.” Sly apparently isn’t ready and they tell us we should stick around instead for the club music of Little Boots. The roadies start scrapping the stage after literally every last piece had been set up and soundchecked.
- Sly’s second scheduled time is 3 hours 45 minutes after the first and he finally appears to rapturous applause more than 30 minutes after that. He is wearing a captain’s hat and a silver and black wig that gives him a bob haricut. The band starts up, Sly grabs the mike, the crowd collectively holds his breath. He doesn’t sing but instead goes into a 5 minute diatribe about being kidnapped, losing all his money, affording shoes, etc. Riveting and appalling at the same time.
- He wants to play us some of his new music, just not live. Instead he presses play on an MP3 and we all stand and listen politely while he doesn’t say a word.
- He sits down on his plush office chair to play with a vocoder and later a keyboard. He sounds like a six year old, just pecking at the keys and screwing around with his voice. He seems almost surprised and amused at the funny little sounds they make.
- He finally agrees to perfom “Stand”. He sounds great, the Sly Stone we all know and love. Until he tells the band to cut a few verses in, just as the set was finally getting momentum.
- He turns to his backup singers after performing just one song and asks “How long we been on stage?”. A singer answers “10 minutes. Maybe 15.” Sly in incredulous. “Really? Just 15 minutes?!”
- He performs parts of a few other classics but sits at the edge of the stage, then lays down.
- Sly starts “I Want to Take You Higher”, then jumps into the photo pit. Is he headed down to jam with the crowd? Nope. He turns and heads backstage, never to be seen again.
TRENDS THAT CONFUSE ME
- Feathers and facepainting. Because MGMT does it?
- Hebrew tattoos. Most people I saw them on did not look remotely Jewish.
- Pinkies in the air. A stunning (and annoying) number of people keep track of their groups by sticking their pinky (instead of just their full hands) in the air
- Churros. How can they be hard as a rock year after year. Are they that tough to bake?
AND ONE THAT DOESN’T
- Foursquare. You’re talking to the mayor of Mojave tent suckas!
WHO I SAW
5 An all time classic that will be talked about for years to come
4 Absolutely incredible
3 Really quite good
2 I mean, not bad
? Sly Stone
The Avett Brothers
Sound far more alive than they do on record.
Made pretty tricky music to listen to sound compelling.
Don’t totally have the charisma thing down but sounded great
Street Sweeper Social Club
I still think they’re a bad Rage Against the Machine clone but shame on me for forgetting how amazing Tom Morrello is live.
She & Him
The world seemed rainbow hued and perfect for 50 minutes.
Amazing to see them together playing for a loving crowd. Why no “Ghost Town”?
Straightforward fairly unremarkable country rock.
Them Crooked Vultures
Three rock legends on stage together making half-decent music together. Disappointing.
Great dance songs that sound just like they do on record. Weird cover of “Under My Thumb”.
Echo and the Bunnymen
Introduced “The Killing Moon” as “The greatest song ever written” and “The Cutter” as “The second greatest song ever written”.
Have the art of performing down pat even though they’re like 16 years old.
I didn’t like how many partial tracks he did but his nonstop energy plus Beyonce and fireworks to end the show proved he’s a big-time entertainer.
Good songs played by a singer who sat in place moving only the hand strumming his guitar for an entire set.
These guys are the real deal, using two and sometimes three drummers. They should have played a tent instead of main stage though.
Band of Skulls
Jack White seems to busying himself with countless side projects – who’s gonna take over the mantle of The White Stripes? Introducing Band of Skulls.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Able to transform an entire crowd into a sea of devout hippies. If they’d had sign-up sheets for his cult, I would have added my name.
Gay dance music now has their own Aretha Franklin.
<yawn> I’m sorry, were you playing something?
I really, really wanted to like this. Instead, I got bored.
Corinne Bailey Rae
Great sounding neo-soul. Again, got bored.
Now you’re talking. How can a band that acts so casual get you to dance so much?
Faith No More
Here’s how this one went: Saw the opening two songs. Then waited in line 45 minutes for Kogi tacos (worth it, by the way). Then “Epic” and one other song to close.
A master class on how you put on a rock show. A band truly at the very top of their game. Stunning in every way.
The Dead Weather
Hearing Jack do “Cut Like a Buffalo” was great. The rest couldn’t hold up to my post-Muse elation.
Nostalgia value: A. Musical excellence: C.
Was hoping for way more mashups and less straight house beats.
Like listening to Seal in the early days (I’d imagine).
Great rock show.
The Soft Pack
Acted and looked like those guys in accounting.
King Khan and the Shrines
Yo Gabba Gabba cameos, convincing people to burn dollar bills, a wrestling outfit with Kaiser helmet and lyrics like “You’re fat, you’re ugly, but I love you”. Sorry techno tent, this was the dance party of the festival.
Absolute rock stars who pulled every performance trick in the book and added a few more of their own. I just wish I could actually get into their music.
Mayer Hawthorne/ Deerhunter
No, they didn’t play together. But I saw only one song by each and both convinced me to check out other stuff.
De La Soul
Wanted to stay later but other shows called. What I heard was totally solid.
Florence and the Machine
This crowd was absolutely in love with Florence and she delivered and energy-filled set that fell a bit short of my lofty expectations.
Yo La Tengo
Let’s be honest, here. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Let’s take a small, pale man from Iceland known for his super chill sets and light shows and put him on the outside stage during the searing heat of midday!
When your songs are as good as Spoon’s, you can afford to just stand up there and play them (though pushing over the piano at the end of “The Underdog” helps even more).
Sounded amazingly good and the crowd response was ecstatic. Again, wish I liked them more to begin with.
Wasn’t a huge Pavement fan the first time around but still felt like I was watching the Slackers-in-chief of my generation.
Crowd was too big to get close and lots of Thom Yorke leaves me a bit close. But playing “Everything in It’s Right Place” was fantastic.
The Big Pink
Swirly fuzzy dark music was good but not good enough.
The spectacle was amazing but not enough for me three songs in to not try out…
I got to hear him sing live and I’m confident I personally witnessed one of the weirder appearances in rock n roll history.