Los Angeleans, myself included, are a spoiled bunch. With our seemingly perpetual, perfect weather, we aren’t ones who are necessarily fond of inclement weather. In fact, dark clouds in the sky will give pause to many in Los Angeles about whether they’ll even leave the house. But I wasn’t going to let the forecast of bad weather stop me from catching Shaun White’s inaugural Air + Style event at the Rose Bowl. After all, when will you ever get the chance to check out killer bands AND extreme snow sports in Pasadena, California?
Words by E. Flinn | Photos by D. Lee
It’s Grammy’s week in Los Angeles, which means everyone who is anyone in the music industry descends upon the city. Starting this past Monday, venues big and small played host to elite parties celebrating the industries best and brightest.
I woke up Sunday morning from the couch, wiped the sleep from my eyes to notice bodies strewn across the floor. In the corner, there appeared to be what looked like a pillow fort… and a feet protruding from its cushioned walls. Interesting I thought … it would turn out that those feet belonged to either the bassist or drummer of Father John Misty’s band. The morning was definitely starting out rock-and-roll.
I had a friend who happened to be in Palm Springs that weekend for work, so I ditched the group to head out to where she was to grab a late breakfast/early lunch. We met at a Hard Rock Hotel sponsored “party” and I given a “media pass” so that I could dine from the special menu. I get that lot of people forego a lot of the music at Coachella to attend these parties, but it’s really not for me. A bunch of people dancing in a pool to a DJ playing some innocuous dub-step music. I suppose the “perks” (massages, hair braiding, etc.) may make it worthwhile, but there are bands from across the world performing half an hour away, and you’re listening to dub-step from some no-name DJ? It was great seeing an old friend, but I had to be curt and hightail it back to the festival. Plus, the food was pretty bad… but that’s besides the point. Lol.
When I got the festival, I walked by the stages and tents where Jessie Ware and Kurt Vile, respectively, were performing. Jessie Ware sounded decent enough, but I wasn’t particularly drawn to her music in the first place, and Kurt Vile just didn’t sound very good. It reminded me of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks from a few years ago, and I left that set early too.
There was a singer that I was interested in by the name of Alex Clare. From the United Kingdom, his biggest hit to date was his single, “Too Close” which, ironically enough, is a rock song with dubstep and soul influences. Now, I know I was just complaining about bad dubstep music, but when it’s produced by Diplo and Switch, it gets a pass.
Alex Clare blew my mind. That dude has some serious pipes. I wasn’t too familiar with his entire catalogue of music, but whatever he sang, I was feeling. He may have hit the stage five minutes past his starting time, but I’m not going to blame him for anything. His voice had a soulful rasp to it, and boomed.
Not only did he kill his set vocally, but he was extremely humble. When he addressed the audience half way through his set, he went out of his way say, “This is my dream right now.” I wish I new more of his catalogue, and I’ll probably buy his CD at some point in the near future, but what I do remember from the set was that his cover of Prince’s when “Dove’s Cry” was a pleasant surprise and perhaps the most impressive part of his set was when he sang sans accompaniment, a cappella. His crowd, which was particularly sizable, knew all the songs that I didn’t and the sang choruses quite pleasantly.
After Alex Clare’s set, I decided to wait around for Rodriguez. I hadn’t seen the documentary “Searching for Sugarman”, but I did have a copy of “Cold Fact” on CD. I knew about his legend, and I was really anticipating seeing him perform.
As I waited in the tent for his set to start, I noted that there were many others, like me, who wanted to get there early for a good spot. Some girl gave the stage manager a note on a napkin. He looked at it, and then pointed to his wedding ring. You can only speculate what was on that napkin.
When Rodriguez took the stage, he had to be escorted. It was at that moment that I felt like I was having a bucket-list moment. It took a moment for him to get set up, and you could feel the anticipation in the tent. Then the music started … are at least, I thought the music started. The levels across the board were a little off. The bass was to loud and the vocals were to low. In between the first couple songs, the crowd chanted, “Turn it up!” It wasn’t until “I Wonder” that I thought that the levels were correctly set, and that was about a third of the way into the set. “I Wonder” was perhaps the highlight of the set as everyone knew the lyrics and sang along.
Though I wish that the sound was perfect from start to finish, I’ll take what I got and appreciate it. Half an amazing set is better than none at all.
Another band that I had seen before at Coachella was Vampire Weekend. The last time I saw them, they were playing the Outdoor Stage. This year they were on the main stage. I had a good time then, so I knew I’d have a good time now. I didn’t get as far up as I would have liked, but it really didn’t matter. I just got lost to their music and danced with the other free souls in the area.
- White Sky
- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
- Diane Young (New Song)
- Ya Hey (New Song)
- Oxford Comma
- Giving Up the Gun
At this point I was hungry, so I decided to eat between the Outdoor Stage where Pretty Lights was performing, and the Mojave tend where Father John Misty. The whole time I was eating, I was thinking, “Some dude on stage made a pillow fort next to the couch I was sleeping on,” …
After eating, I headed back to the Main Stage to get as far up front as I could for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
I have a friend who had kicked it with Nick back in the day. She told me a few stories about him, and I can say- if those stories are true- Nick Cave is the living embodiment of punk. I’ll be honest with you, I have a few of his albums, but they’ve always been more mood music to me than anything. His performance at Coachella changed my perception of him.
It was a relatively dark set, heavy on mood, but pure rock-and-roll. It was almost chilling when he brough up the Silverlake Conservatory children’s choir to sing the refrain of “Keep On Pushing”. Having watched him perform, I actually regretted not catching his other band, Grinderman”, perform the other day.
- Jubilee Street
- From Her To Eternity
- Red Right Hand
- Jack the Ripper
- Stagger Lee
- The Mercy Seat
- Push the Sky Away
After Nick Cave, I walked over to the Wu-Tang Clan to catch up with my friends. I came half way through their set, but I could hear them “bring the mutha-fuckin’ ruckus”. As tired as I no was from the three days of music, I pushed on to search for my friends. Once I found them, I sat down on the ground rest. At that point in the evening, the wind was picking up, and dust was flying around everywhere. Thankfully, I had purchased a bandana and used it to cover up my nose and mouth. The sand storm was actually bad enough that Wu-Tang actually acknowledged it on stage.
They’re set was a greatest hits compilation, and I should have been more pumped for it, but I think my exhaustion, coupled with the fact that I saw Wu-Tang a few years back to the entire “Enter the 36 Chambers” album, kind of left a been there, done that vibe with me.
- Protect Ya Neck
- Bring da Ruckus
- Shame on a Nigga
- Clan in da Front
- Da Mystery of Chessboxin’
- Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing to F’Wit
- Can It Be All So Simple
- Method Man
- Bring the Pain (Method Man)
- All I Need (Method Man)
- Ice Cream (Raekwon)
- Winter Warz (Ghostface Killah)
- Duel of the Iron Mic (GZA/Genius)
- 4th Chamber
- For Heavens Sake
- Shimmy Shimmy
- Brooklyn Zoo (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
- Da Rockwilder (Methodman and Redman)
- Gravel Pit
Before the Wu-Tang ended their set, I went to the main stage to check out The Red Hot Chili Peppers. My friend and I positioned ourselves toward the exits, with enough of a view that we could tell what was going on, and in line with speakers so we could hear everything clearly.
A this point, the sand storm was getting pretty intense. People started to leave the festival grounds. They started playing “Under the Bridge” and, for the first time all weekend, I lay on the sand covered grass. My friend was absolutely beat, so I promised her that I wanted to hear two more songs, then we would leave. The second song they played after “Under the Bridge” was “Higher Ground”. If you know me, you know that I love my Stevie. It was a sign that it was time to go.
- Monarchy of Roses
- Dani California
- Look Around
- Can’t Stiop
- Snow (Hey Oh)
- The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
- Tell Me Baby
- Parallel Universe
- Under the Bridge
- Higher Ground
- By The Way
- Around the World
- Give It Way.
And with that, my Coachella 2013 had concluded. Sandstorm notwithstanding, I’ll be back next year.
On March 20, 2013, Snoop released a powerful new single titled “No Guns Allowed”; a song that reflects about his past ownership of guns and guns in America today.
The Boss Dogg (or these days, the Boss Lion) has a storied relationship with firearms. Whether it was when the home of his family was raided while he wife and children were present, or whether it was friends or family falling by an intended or stray bullet, the recent mass shootings seems to have inspired him to shed his gangster image, thus his evolution to the Lion from the Dog.
Quoting his recent interview with Piers Morgan:
“It affected me to where I wanted to say something and I wanted to make some music to try to help the next person who was thinking about loading a gun, going into a school and then shooting and maybe helping him put that gun down and think about what he was doing or what she was doing before they did that.”
The Lion has assemble amazing musicians to contribute to this recording. The track was produced by Diplo and Ariel Rechtshaid with additional production from Dre Skull. Beirut’s founder, Zachary Condon, inspired the keyboard chord progression. The song was co-written by Angela Hunte, and Drake and Snoop’s daughter, Cori B, are featured vocalists. Oh, and Stewart Copeland play drums on the track too. Talk about a power ensemble.
The laid back reggae flow contrasts with the song’s strong social commentary, adding to the sense of how Snoop is simply worn and weary from the years of gun violence. By using his daughter as a featured artist, it also shows that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with for both the present and future.
The lyrics are poignant and moving. Snoop introduces the song with, “Money makes a man, and that’s a crime. If we all were rich, we’d spend more time with our daughters and sons, they’re losing their minds. We all feel hurt, here’s mine… No Guns Allowed.”
Drake’s lyrics are especially poignant as he raps about one of the most deadly shootings in the city of Scarborough, Canada. Truly speaking from the heart.
A strong message embedded in a powerful song. Let’s hope the world listens.
Money makes a man, and that’s a crime
If we all were rich, we’d spend more time
With our daughters and sons, they’re losing their minds
We all feel hurt, here’s mine… hear me now
No guns are allowed in here tonight
We’re gonna have a free for all, no fight
I wanna get lost in the crowd in here tonight
I need to hear my thoughts, turn the music up loud
[Verse 1: Snoop Dogg]
Let the music play, me no want no more gunplay
When the bodies hit the ground, there’s nothing left to say
We don’t want to see more innocent blood shed
We don’t want to more youth dead (come hear me now)
[Verse 2: Drake]
News from back home, it’s when it hurts to be gone
Two more young names to be carved out of stone
One summer day that went horribly wrong
Got my dog on the phone, cryin’ and sayin’ to leave ‘em alone
But I’m not leaving his side, I know that somebody died
Somebody’s child, some people duck down and some hide
Some people just cannot react in time
Bullets do not choose a victim, it’s the shooter that picks ‘em
They just can’t wait to get you in the system
The district attorney could use a conviction
Told you no guns in there, you didn’t listen
Life is so heavy with that on your soul
Dedicate this to Shyanne and Josh
And pour something out for the lives that they stole – 416…
Money makes a man, and that’s a crime
Money makes a man, and that’s a crime
I wanna get lost in the crowd in here tonight