Coachella…always legendary…always memorable…always for different reasons.
This year was my fourth at Coachella, and it was notably the-same-but-not-at-all-the same for one main reason: it was so, so packed. The festival is always busy, but this year, with the removal of the one day pass (which meant that every attendee had to purchase the full three day pass) AND the increase of venue capacity, Coachella was just too busy. I write that half wondering if I’m mad about it just because I’m not a cool 22 year old anymore, but the general tone of whoever I spoke with there was the same—great line up, great venue—even great weather this year—just too crowded. It’s just not as fun when you have to be in a tent two acts before your favorite just to get close to the stage.
But that being said, the line up this year was just unreal, so overall, it was still overall, great.
I bought the three day pass because of the quality of the performers, but I was really sent over the edge by Frightened Rabbit, my fav-of-the-moment band. Unfortunately, they, as well as several other bands, had to cancel because they couldn’t get out of their home countries because of that damn volcano, so that was a downer.
But again…I don’t know why I keep focusing on things that weren’t great, because there was a lot of great out there.
So after I knew Frightened Rabbit was out, I was most excited about Imogen Heap, then Miike Snow. Both were unreal. I’ve been waiting for Imogen to come to the west coast for about 7 years, and she was 100% amazing—she was totally by herself, and played some acoustic on piano, but looped a lot with wrist mics (what?? yep.), so she’d play a little key-tar, then a little percussion, then ding some brass things hanging from this tree that she brought on stage, and loop it all for these amazing songs that sounded like a full orchestra was with her, but it was just her. Wild. Love. Imogen closed with her biggest hit, Hide and Seek, and her key-tar-synthesizer stopped working in the middle of the song, so she swung it back over her shoulder, and proceeded to finish the song on the piano without skipping a beat…but still wearing the key-tar. This was also memorable because these two college girls (no offense to college girls, but REALLY?) kept saying “Dear Sister,” like the SNL skit that uses the song, then laughing hysterically, and I wanted to hit them both right in the mouth. It’s not even your joke, college girls.
Miike Snow was also a delight. There’s something special about seeing a band or artist when they only have one album out–you know they’re going to play your favorites, and you know they’re going to be so excited. Miike Snow was no disappointment. His whole group came out with super creepy white masks (that they eventually took off). It made their peppy dance music sort of weird and eerie. But I loved it. And I really loved it when they took them off.
The other highlights throughout the event were…
-Jay Z. Obviously, right? He managed to play like 90% of his #1s in his set, and then Beyonce showed up to sing. Oh, and there were fireworks. Come on.
-Thom Yorke. He brought his super group with him, and managed to play their songs and Radiohead hits with the PERFECT balance of “outdoor festival acoustic” and “crazy thousands of people festival rock.”
-Passion Pit. It was just a huge dance party. Nothing but great about that.
-MGMT. Although I’m not super stoked that they’re acting too cool for school these days, their set was great. Especially the older songs. Sorry, MGMT…the last album is just better than this one.
-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. This was another band that we caught at the beginning of the hype, so they were really excited, really fun and really quality. They deserved to be on the big stage, with their energy and sound.
-Florence and the Machines. Oh wait, we couldn’t actually hear her at all, because she was in a tiiiny tent, when she should have been outdoors on a stage. Thanks for nothing, Coachella and the 2 million attendees.
-Matt and Kim. These guys were a really pleasant surprise for me—I love their singles, but they were great overall. And seriously—the whole band is a guy named Matt and a girl named Kim. I love that. They, unlike a lot of performers, talked to the crowd a lot too, which I loved.
-Vampire Weekend. I saw them when they were brand new at Coachella a few years ago, and it was so great to see that they’re largely still the same—still look like prep school guys, still sing with pizzazz, and still rock their crowd-pleasers. Excellent set.
-Pretty Lights. Again, a dance party, but it was mostly notable because a guy in a full Jesus costume was walking around and dancing.
-Julian Casablancas. This was another guy who I’d really only heard his singles, and I ended up staying for his whole set. He was so great—really talented, really personable. I bought his album on my phone while listening to him.
-Muse. Oh yeah…Muse is three guys. What??? They’re a band that I listen to, I think “These guys are something big…I need to listen to them more,” then I forget, then I listen to them again, six months later, then I realize how much I like them, then I forget… Never again though. The whole band was amazing, the set was amazing, the show was amazing, and I would put the lead singer’s vocals on par with any classical or Broadway or ANY singer—he was SO dynamic, SO accurate and overall amazing. Their whole set was so great. And it’s THREE GUYS. I thought it was like 40.
-Owen Pallett. Watch out for this guy…he’s going to be big someday. Sooner rather than later, I think. He’s this year’s Andrew Bird—plays his own stuff, loops a lot, and is a whiz on the violin. He was great “lay in the sun and just listen” music.
I could go on, but it might be too much.
So all in all, amazing music this year, I really missed Frightened Rabbit, and there were WAY too many people, which automatically meant that there were WAY too many people wearing headdresses, unflattering bathing suits and body paint.
Oh, also, I think we were watching Passion Pit, or MGMT, or some band that was a little dancy, and there was this group of guys in boxer briefs (only) dancing and doing squats over and over and over. I will never be able to forget that…even if I wanted to.