I won’t front. Back when I was freshman in high school, I wasn’t into Tool. The rock music that I was into at the time was more along the lines of Depeche Mode (who released “Violator”), Nine Inch Nail (who released “Head Like A Hole”) and INXS (who released “X”). I was a narrow minded, music snob then (which I truly regret), and I wasn’t willing to open my mind to other bands’ music.
It wasn’t until I had graduated from college that I really took the time to listen to what Maynard James Keenan’s music had to offer, and it was the first album from his second band, A Perfect Circle, that got me hooked. With “Mer de Noms”, songs like “Judith” and “3 Libras” sent shivers down my spine. I was a fool to have waited so long to discover that Maynard was a monster, rock vocalist. Not only able to belt out tunes like it’s nothing, he also adds a level of emotions to the underlying lyrics he sings, which sets him apart from other rock vocalists.
I first saw Maynard perform at Coachella in 2013 with his band Puscifer. Though the music was different from A Perfect Circle, I thought that it was one of the highlight performances of the day. It was fun, sexy and raunchy all at the same time. I still have the Puscifer Airlines candy that they threw out to the crowd from that day.
Cinquanta, a two night celebration of his 50th birthday at the Greek Theatre, was a ticket that any Maynard fan couldn’t pass up. Billed as a concert with Puscifer as a headliner with A Perfect Circle and Failure (who had reunited in late 2013 and acted as Tool’s supporting act for Tool’s recent tour) as “support”. But each band rotated sets every 15-30 minutes, even collaborating with each other on certain songs, throughout the evening. Green Jelly (a band that Danny Carey- the drummer of Tool- and Maynard were members of) made a surprise appearance to perform “Three Little Pigs”; Neil Hamburger made an appearance to sing “New York, New York”, and 3/4 of Tool (minus Adam Jones) performed the Tool classic “Sober”. Personally, I thought one of the out-of-the-box highlights of the show was when Carina Round sang the lead on “The Package”; a superb rendition.
Based on my notes, and what I was able to find online, below was the setlist:
Failure: “The Nurse Who Loved Me” (w/ Maynard James Keenan, Billy Howerdel and Carina Round)
Failure: “Saturday Savior”
Failure: “Dirty Blue Balloons”
A Perfect Circle: “Weak and Powerless”
A Perfect Circle: “Orestes”
A Perfect Circle: “The Noose”
Puscifer: “Vagina Mine”
Puscifer: “Polar Bear”
Puscifer: “Monsoons” (w/ Billy Howerdel)
Failure: “Another Space Song”
Failure: “Solaris” (w/ Maynard James Keenan)
A Perfect Circle: “The Hollow”
A Perfect Circle: “Rose”
A Perfect Circle: “The Package” (featuring Carina Round)
Puscifer: “Conditions of My Parole”
Puscifer: “Man Overboard”
Puscifer: “The Undertaker” (w/ Ken Andrews)
A Perfect Circle: “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm
A Perfect Circle: “3 Libras”
A Perfect Circle: “By and Down”
Failure: “Wet Gravity” (w/ Jeff Friedl)
Puscifer: “New York, New York” (w/ Neil Hamberger)
Puscifer: “Cuntry Boner” (An Electric Sheep cover w/ “Hildy” and Danny Carey)
Puscifer: “3 Little Pigs” (w/ Green Jelly and Danny Carey)
Puscifer: “Sober” (Tool cover w/ Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey and , and Zac Rae)
Puscifer: “Humbling River” (w/ Danny Carey)
Wow. Just looking at this setlist is making think that the $40 I spent on the ticket was definitely money well spent. Even if a song or two may not have been to one’s liking, the action on stage, with the casual stage setting of lawn chairs and constant filling of chalices (presumably filled with adult beverages) gave the audience something to watch as there was something going on onstage at all times, whether it was Maynard pouring drinks for others, performers taking selfies onstage, or individuals having private conversations in front of everybody, it was a concert that truly felt like a party. And when the audience sang along? The hairs on my arms stiffened. When they closed with “Humbling River”? I got shivers.
It was an amazing show. I don’t know what else to say. Happy Birthday, Maynard. You did it right. Simply kick-ass.
I wasn’t able to get permission to shoot the show, so all of the photos below were on my Sony Cyber-shot G, point and shoot that I couldn’t live without.
I woke up Saturday, late morning, and my feet were only slightly aching from the day before. I knew that they would be in some considerable pain later in the day, considering a full day of festival hopping was ahead. I hitched a ride to the festival grounds with some friends and decided to follow them around for a spell since the first band on my schedule that I hadn’t missed yet, Pusifer, wasn’t scheduled an hour or so. I got to the festival grounds too late for Allen Stone, but I had already seen him perform at the Fonda Theater last year, so I didn’t beat myself up about it.
My friend from the United Kingdom wanted to check out Ben Howard so we head to the Outside Stage to catch the set. Since Pucifer was up next on the same stage, I figured that this would be a perfect “set up” to get a good spot for Pucifer.
Ben Howard is an English singer-songwriter who’s had a bit off success across the pond. I was only really familiar with his single “Only Love”, and I told myself that I would listen to his set until “Only Love” then head over to the merchandise booth to make sure that I pick up some of the limited edition releases that were available. As it turns out “Only Love” was the second song in his set.
Oats in the Water
I left my friends for a moment and headed to the Coachella merchandise booth. Photos of my treasure are below. Yes, I did open them up. What good is vinyl if you don’t get to listen to it? I was super content with my purchases. The Palma Violet’s album is autographed. To check out some of my other music treasure, click through this link. Thankfully, the record shop let me keep my merchandise behind their counter until the evening. Didn’t want those treasure to get damaged.
I met up with my friends to grab a beer before Puscifer. Puscifer is a side project of Maynard James Keenan (lead singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle). Though I liked certain songs by Tool and A Perfect Circle (more so A Perfect Circle than Tool) … that got a little confusing … I wanted to check them out because a dear friend of mine told me that girls in her pole dancing class … calm down fellas, you know people do it as a cardio exercise on the regular these days … use Puscifer songs as their music, so it piqued my curiosity. My friends and I pounded some beers and made our way to the stage. Fortunately for us, we got there early enough when was hardly any crowd. Near the front of the stage, we had a pretty damn good view of the stage.
I stood next to a couple that was my age and girl in her early 20s. Tool and A Perfect Circle have a pretty diverse fan base, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the age gap. After all, those two bands have won multiple Grammy Awards and have sold over Ten Million records together.
Puscifer did not disappoint. The band entered the stage from a silver trailer-cab sitting on stage and told introduced themselves to the audience to advising us that if we were drinking booze and doing drugs, that we needed salt and sugar and summarily started to throw out packs of Swedish Fish advertising their EP “Donkey Punch the Night” and Vagina Airlines peanuts. Gimmicky? Maybe. Bad-Ass? Definitely.
The music was nothing like the sounds of Tool or A Perfect Circle that I had expected. It wasn’t as dark or heavy as Tool or A Perfect Circle, but it was still as hard. Maynard James Keenan sounded like himself, meaning that he didn’t change his vocal delivery or style. If anything, Puscifer was actually sexy as f*ck. I now understood why girls used their music to “work out” to. Erotic chord progressions with pulsing rhythms. “Breathe” was uber sexy. Watching Puscifer perform would actually be the highlight of my Saturday. I enjoyed the band so much, that I actually wish that their set was scheduled for the evening. I think their set would be have been made 10 times more effective with good stage lighting.
A funny highlight of the set was when Maynard walked off stage to being on lounge chairs and a bottle wine. While the band riffed, he set the chairs up and uncorked the wine. From off-stage two gentlemen came on stage to sit on the stage on drink the wine. One of the gentlemen happened to be Giovanni Ribisi. Totally random. Totally rock and roll.
World Up My Ass (Circle Jerks cover)
Balls to the Wall (Accept cover)
Conditions of My Parole
Cuntry Boner (Electric Sheep cover)
Once Puscifer’s set had ended, I decided to check out the balance of The Violent Femmesset on the Main Stage. It had already started, but I was hoping that at some point they would sing the song that I used to hear on KROQ back, back, back in the day, “Blister in the Sun” . As it would turn out, the band played, for the first time ever, their self-titled debut album in its entirety, meaning that “Blister in the Sun” was the first song they played. Nutz. Apparently, they hadn’t played together in 6 years, but they still sounded tight. Of course, they ended with “American Music” and that was fine by me.
Blister in the Su
Please Do Not Go
Add It Up
Prove My Love
To the Kill
Gone Daddy Gone
Gimme the Car
I Held Her in My Arms
A band that was on my list to check out was Grizzly Bear, so I left my friends and decided to head off on my own. I had a little time to kill, so I meandered passed some of the performance areas. Portugal the Man was playing, and I really wanted to check them out, but weighing the options of being in the back for Portugal the Man or up front for Grizzly Bear, I decided to go Grizzly Bear.
Major Lazer was wrapping up their set in the tent next to the tent where Grizzly Bear was to perform, and it was a mad house there. I got there 20 minutes early to catch their set and I could feel my feet starting ache. I decided to mark my territory by sitting down where I wanted to stand for the set. It would be my first time every listening to Grizzly Bear, and I have a feeling that it may be my last.
There’s nothing bad about them, but I think the expectations were just a bit too high. A friend of mine had compared them to Sufjan Stevens (and I’m a big Sufjan Stevens fan), so I think you kind of get the sense of what they were up against in my head. This is one of those instances where I wish I had listened to more of their music before deciding on watching their set. It wasn’t a bad set, and they didn’t sound bad or anything … it was just uneventful for me. So uneventful that I’m posting videos and their set list, and I’m not even sure what the songs sound like.
Maybe I’ll give them another go at some point… we’ll see.
Speak in Rounds
On A Neck, On A Spit
While You Wait For The Others
Sun In Your Eyes
If there was a band that got a lot of hype for Coachella this year it was The Postal Service. I like The Postal Service. I was looking forward to watch their set. Their only album “Give Up”was basically the best parts of Death Cab for Cutie and Rilo Kiley, and it’s my humble opinion that that album was better than any Death Cab album.
I met up with friends for the set, and was getting settled in, when two buff dudes in tank-tops, wearing sunglasses (at night, mind you), conveniently stood right in front of me. Ok. Big dudes in questionable attire in front of me? I can deal. Big dudes in questionable attire singing along with The Postal Service? I can bear it as long as they could sing in tune. Big dudes in questionable attire singing along with The Postal Service, not quite in tune, and talking in REALLY LOUD VOICES to each other when they weren’t singing along? Exit stage left. At least I got to hear from of their biggest hits before I left. Too bad I couldn’t enjoy the entire set. But, hey! That’s the music festival experience. You win some, you lose some. When you lose, you can just go to another stage and catch a different band. Whew.
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
We Will Become Silhouettes
This Place Is a Prison
A Tattered Line of String
Such Great Heights
Brand New Colony
Next on my list was Franz Ferdinand. I remember seeing these guys at Coachella back in 2009. I remembered having a killer time watching them then, so I knew that this was going to be a slam dunk of a set. I was up close, stage left, and I could feel the adrenaline that was sucked from my body at Grizzly Bear and The Postal Service started to flow back in my veins. They played almost all of the old goodies, and I they threw in a few tracks from their upcoming album. If Puscifer was my favorite set of the evening, Franz Ferdinand was an extremely close second. I spent most the set jumping up and down, dancing and singing along. I was extremely pleased with deciding to leave The Postal Service to get a choice spot for Franz Ferdinand.
No You Girls
The Dark of the Matinée
Do You Want To
The Blackpool Illuminati
Right Thoughts! Right Words! Right Action!
Take Me Out
What Time Is Can’t Stop Feeling I Feel Love (Can’t Stop Feeling With “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer & “What Time Is Love” by The KLF)
Outsiders (with Drum Jam outro)
Now that Franz Ferdinand was over, there was only one other band left of my list for the evening: Phoenix . I walked by Janelle Monae’s stage, and I like her music, but I had to find myself a decent place to watch Phoenix perform. After all … Daft Pu …. F*ck … I jinxed it, didn’t I?
I got there early enough to talk to some people standing next to me. Turns out Phoenix fans are a lot younger than I thought. This band started making some noise while I was in law school. I actually saw them perform for the first time in 2010 on the Outdoor Stage at Coachella. The kids I was standing to for the Phoenix set were 21. We talked about how old we were, and then I had a revelation that hit me in an awkward way. The girl I was talking to … she was in 3rd grade when 9/11 happened. Now, I’m of the firm belief that “age ain’t nothing but a number” … but that factual piece of information was a bit mind blowing for me. I was in my law schools basement lounge getting ready for a class when 9/11 happened.
Like me, they were “betting” that Daft Punk would make a surprise appearance. Nope. It didn’t happen. Instead, we got R. Kelly. From off stage we heard a voice singing the introduction to “Bump and Grind” when R. Kelly made a “dramatic” entrance to the stage. He then proceeded to perform an interesting mash-up of “Ignition (Remix)” to the music of “1901”, and though I found it quite interesting, it wasn’t the “surprise” I was hoping for. And honestly, it wasn’t the surprise that people around me were hoping for. I could definitely heard a few, “What?!?!” echoes around me.
I could tell that the balloon had popped a bit, but I still wasn’t all that disappointed. After all, I’m still a huge fan of Phoenix, and they still played a killer set. I there was one thing I’m bummed about, it’s that I couldn’t take a good picture of anything because I was standing too far away. C’est la vie.
Long Distance Call
The Real Thing
Sunskrupt! (a combination of “Love Like a Sunset” and “Bnkrupt!”)
Too Young / Girlfriend
Trying to Be Cool/ Drakkar Noir/ Chloroform
Bump and Grind/ Ignition (Remix)/1901/ I’m a Flirt/ Chloroform
With the evening winding down, I met up with my friends, and we traveled back to our lodgings. We spent a better park of the late evening talking again about the highlights and lowlights of the day, when some random folk came through the door. They seemed like well-worn festival goers, clad in their eccentric garb. I really didn’t care to get to know them as I was extremely worn out. I popped in some ear plugs, and passed out on the couch. Day three of Coachella was just a few hours away.