This is a three part blog entry. The link to the following day is at the bottom of the page.Oh, Coachella, how I’ve missed you. Though many expressed dissatisfaction with the line-up, I was ecstatic. In fact, I had circled more bands on the schedule than I could have possibly seen, so I was actually setting myself up with being disappointed based on the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see all of the acts I wanted to see. Kind of ironic now that I think about it…
I had work to finish up that Friday morning, so I knew that I was bound to miss a handful of acts that day. I picked up a friend in Santa Monica, and we began out trek out to the desert. I had prepared an iTunes playlist of all of the music of the bands I wanted to see, so our drive would at least have a good soundtrack.
As we got closer to venue, driving on the freeway, I started noticing billboards advertising the release dates of albums from bands performing at Coachella. I nearly swerved out of my lane when I saw a billboard for Daft Punks album release date. Umm … they weren’t scheduled to perform at Coachella… I told my friend that either this was an omen of a surprise set by one of the most demanded bands for Coachella, or it was the ultimate tease …
When we had parked and picked up our passes, we joined the mass of people on the festival grounds. Unfortunately, I had already missed the French turntable group C2C and the British rock quartet Alt-J, so I made my way to the Outdoor Stage to catch a few tunes by Of Monsters and Men. I have their album, and I their music, but at that time, I just wasn’t in the mood to listen mellow indie folk/pop. I think I was just a little too restless due to the long car ride. I’m thinking that Of Monsters and Men would have been the perfect band to see on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Not Friday. Plus, I was way in the back, standing, when I would have much preferred laying on the lawn somewhere.
I listened to a few songs then decided to make my way to the merchandise booth. I brought a poster tube with me since last year I picked up a dope, limited edition, Black Keys, Coachella poster. Unfortunately, it appears, Coachella didn’t allow for bands to sell their personalized Coachella posters. That was a disappointment.
All of sudden I heard Passion Pit start playing “Carried Away” and I looked down at my watch. Doh! I had already seen Passion Pit at the Hollywood Bowl, and they were terrific, so I had to kick myself in the rear for not paying attention to the time to be there when they started.
As I walked toward the Main Stage area, they were wrapping up their second song, I decided to video record what was going on while I walked toward the stage. It was quite uplifting. Passion Pit’s music has always had an airy and energetic quality to it, and it always seems to make people dance. When I took a look at the video later in the evening, the one thing I could notice was all of the random people frolicking across the lawn. That made me happy.
Love Is Greed
I’ll Be Alright
It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy
Talk a Walk
Cry Like A Ghost
Having learned my lesson by missing the opening of their set, I decided to leave Passion Pit early to go see a relatively new band that I was particularly keen on: Palma Violets.
A mix of garage and psychedelic rock, these guys had quite a following in England. I got to the stage early enough to get pretty close to the front. That being said, I was keeping my fingers crossed that they had a good live show, otherwise I knew it was going to be tough fighting my way out of the tent to find something better. They did not disappoint. They were good, loud Brit Rock. They sounded live, like they sound on their records, and performed with the kind of swagger that becomes rock-and-roll. Can’t get much better than that. What I particularly liked about this band was that their two guitarists had two quite distinct vocal styles. The bassist was more Clash. The guitarist was more Doors. Check out the two video and see if you kind of agree with me.
Johnny Bagga Donuts
All the Garden Birds
Tom the Drum
Best of Friends
Step Up for the Cool Cats
Last of the Summer Wine
We Found Love
Brand New Song
After Palma Violet’s set ended, I made a b-line to get as close as I could to the front for Modest Mouse . Apparently, everybody else had the same idea.
The crowd for Modest Mouse was a lot younger than I had expected. I remember buying their albums back in the mid 90’s, so I was taken aback that I was standing in a crowd of kids in their early 20s. It was super crowded, squeezed into space like a pack of sardines. The set started a little rough, but I think that had more to do with the sound levels not being mixed properly.
Isaac Brock, the lead singer, seemed banter with the crowd for small stretches, perhaps giving the mixing board more time to adjust the levels. Honestly, his banter felt awkward, but after it seemed to do the trick, as the sound definitely picked up. The highlight of the set was when Modest Mouse powered, and jammed, through three songs in row later in their set.
What I loved about Modest Mouse’s set was that it hit popular songs from almost all of the albums in their catalog. Loved that they played “3rd Planet” and “Paper Thin Walls” from “The Moon and Antarctica”.
Dramamine (Life Like Weeds Interpolation)
Ocean Breathes Salty
Satin in a Coffin
Paper Thin Walls
After Modest Mouse had finished their set, I decided that I would stay where I was and push further up towards the stage. After all, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were next, and since I had never seen them perform live, I decided not to venture to another stage. As people left, I kept meandering as far up as I could get, which was all the way up to the barricade that separated the general admission folk from the VIP folk. I had VIP last year through work, and bought a general admission ticket this year. I’m thinking that I may buy a VIP pass next year. I would have loved to get all the way up front for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
As I waited for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Main Stage screens lit up and a video started playing. Here we go again … Daft Punk music started playing and the Daft Punk helmet lit up the screen … with a message that the album was coming out soon. Then the video vanished. Are you serious? Like, seriously? If Coachella or Daft Punk was a girl, she’d be the most devilish tease that ever lived. At this point, I was kind of over it.
Back to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were my highlight from day one. As soon as Karen O took the stage with a gospel choir, in her white suit, cape and pope hat, to sing “Sacrilege”, I knew we were in for a treat. I sensed it was going to be a dazzling set, and dazzled it did from start to finish.
Karen O is a badass. Period. She rocked that fucking stage. Shoving the mic into her mouth to and going agro on “Pin” was amazing. Watching her strut her stuff all over the stage was the definition of “bad ass”.
She toned it down when she introduced “Maps”, as she should, and told us fans that the song was about love, and it was for us. “Maps” is seriously one of the best songs written in the 2000s, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs killed it for me.
Under the Earth
Heads Will Roll
After the Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrapped up, I started to head over to the Outdoor Stage to see if I could catch any of the Band Of Horses set, unfortunately I got there a little too late as they were thanking the crowd. Before they dove into their last song, the lead singer simply stated, “Take care of each other”. I appreciated that sentiment.
My phone was running out of juice, so I started walking around the festival grounds to find a place to charge it. Last year, when I had a VIP pass, I could just charge my phone at an outlet in the VIP section. This year, however, outlets were a lot harder to come by. They had a “charging station” sponsored by Sony or Samsung or whatever, but the policy was that they took your phone and you came back an hour later to pick it up. Screw that. I went to one of the merchants at the General Store and politely offered 5 bucks to use one of their outlets. They had no problem with that.
After charging my phone, I was stuck with a bit of a dilemma. Jurassic 5 was playing the same time as Blur. I flipped a coin. The coin told me to go see Jurassic 5.
I loved Jurassic 5 back in the day. I do think they kind of jumped the shark a bit when they did that duet with Dave Matthews, but that’s a criticism for another time and place. The group disbanded in 2007, so them converging at Coachella was pretty big news for a Los Angeles, underground, hip-hop head like myself. With all four original MCs, and Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark working their magic, their set was “best of” compilation.
Back 4 U
I Am Somebody
Nu-Mark Desk Solo
Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark Solo
In the House
A Day at the Races
This Is (Outro)
I didn’t bother taking any pictures of video since I was far back in the crowd, but that was actually by design, as I new that I wanted to see the Stone Roses. As I left Jurassic 5’s set a little early, and headed towards the Main Stage for the Stone Roses, I noticed that the crowd that was there for Blur had substantially dissipated. I was quite shocked, in fact, that they only pulled a club size crowd for their set.
Me, being the optimist, assured myself that it was simply a generation of concert goers who didn’t know how the Stone Roses music, specifically their self titled debut album, had shaped the history of pop music. I mean come on … “I Wanna Be Adored”, “She Band The Drum”, I Am The Resurrection” …. That whole album was one of the first albums that fused dance, pop, and rock into a brand new sound. The Stone Roses were an indie rock band that shaped and fueled pop music in the 90’s.
But … as they started their set, and Ian Brown took the mic … my optimism turned into a bit of disappointment. It wasn’t as bad as the Shuggie Otis show at the Echoplex that I saw last year, but it was very sad. The band sounded good … The levels seemed all right … it was just that Ian Brown was extremely pitchy. Unfortunately, it was not a performance worthy of closing the Main Stage on the first night, and it seems that the Coachella Festival organizers agreed as Blur and the Stone Roses swapped slots the following weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I got to see the Stone Roses Perform, and I’m glad I got to see them rock some of my favorite songs, but it wasn’t the best way to end the first day of Coachella.
I only caught a few songs from How to Destroy Angels as I wanted to give the Stone Roses another chance. As I walked by the Main Stage again, all I could hear was Ian Brown’s voice missing the notes that I remembered from the album. I decided at that point that I was going to pack it in, head back to the house, and get ready for day two.
All of my friends staying in the house had gotten back in one piece and we talked about the highlights, and lowlights, of the day. We even got treated to a story about a valentine Karen O wrote one of the guests back in high school. I bust out the bottle of cask strength Glenlivet that I had brought with me, and plopped myself onto the couch. The scotch numbed the pain in my aching feet, and with Day 2 was a few hours away, I started to mentally strategize which bands I was going to check out, hoping that each band would live up to expectations.
In 2012, I was blessed to have been able to attend 24 concerts. This being the inaugural post of my blog, I thought it may be a good way to kick things off if I listed each of the concerts in the order that I enjoyed them (starting with the least favorite, and ending with my favorite), with a line or two of my thoughts.
24. Shuggie Otis– The Echoplex- Wed Dec 5
It’s hard to see an artist that you acknowledge as Los Angeles musical royalty without his gift. By all accounts, a sad musical revelation for me.
23. The 10th Annual Korea Times Music Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sat April 28
While I can appreciate the musicality of some of the K-Pop act thats performed throughout the evening, I’m assuming I didn’t truly appreciate it like the others because I just didn’t understand enough. I’m a bad Korean-American.
22. Moby– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Jul 14
Moby did two sets: Live Folk and DJ. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with either. While I can appreciate his musical venture, I kind of want to hear the older hits that I grew up with.
21. Boyce Avenue– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Dec 08
By buddy proposed to his girl, on stage at this show. He picked the perfect show. Chicks dig Boyce Avenue.
20. Starting 6– Vanguard- Fri Aug 10
Hot, sweaty, party hip-hop. These guys can rock a joint
19. Orange Tulip Conspiracy– Mr. T’s Bowl- Fri Sep 21
The musicality of this Jazz group is amazing. A must for any jazz aficionado. I hear they are recording a new album, and I can’t wait to her the new material.
18. The Airplane Boys– Roxy Theater- Wed Aug 15
Other level hip-hop. I also saw them at Coachella. They killed it at the Roxy like they killed it in the desert.
17. Bizarre Ride Fest– Bizarre Ride Live (Fatlip, Slimkid3, J. Swift, etc.)- The Roxy Theater- Sat Dec 29
The Pharcyde’s debut album “Bizzare Ride II The Pharcyde”, to quote my buddy David [@davidshein on twitter] is “just one of the best hip hop albums ever”. I won’t disagree. Even when it’s performed by only half of the original group, the music still holds up.
16. The Heavy– El Rey Theatre- Fri Sep 07
In support of the their most recent release, The Glorious Dead, I jammed out at this concert. Their front man, Kevin Swaby, was born to perform.
15. Jason Mraz and Christina Perri– Tour Is A Four Letter Word- Hollywood Bowl- Fri Oct 05
I enjoyed Jason Mraz at the Hollywood Bowl, but I’ve seen him at The Wiltern (full band) and The Walt Disney Concert Hall (acoustic), and his music is better suited for more intimate venues.
14. Animal Collective, Flying Lotus and Huun Huur Tu– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sept 23
Animal Collective delivered. Huun Huur Tu entertained. Flying Lotus blew my mind.
13. Raphael Saadiq and Band of Skulls– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Aug 04
Such and odd concert pairing, but they both were amazing. KCRW kicks ass.
12. Girl In A Coma, Pinata Protest and Sara Radle– The Echoplex- Fri Apr 27
Girl In A Coma is one of my favorite “new” bands. These girls kick ass. I wanted to see them again this year when they were opening for Grizzly Bear, but I couldn’t fit it into my schedule. The lead singer, Nina Diaz, has a voice to die for.
11. Playboy Jazz Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jun 17
Ramsey Lewis is a musical savant. I always pay money to watch genius perform. Robin Thicke were Preservation Hall Jazz Band were good. Was a slightly unimpressed with Spectrum Road.
10. Eric Hutchinson– Troubadour- Sat May 19
He was the first artist I truly “represented” back at my first job after passing the bar exam. I couldn’t be prouder of how far he’s come.
9. Allen Stone– The Fonda Theatre- Fri Oct 19
If this guys plays his card right, he could playing the Hollywood Bowl in a few years. The first thought I had after the show ended? “I’ll be able to tell my kids (when I have them), that I stood front row at an Allen Stone concert at The Fonda”.
8. Ben Harper– Vieux Farka Tour- Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jul 01
When Ben Harper sang a cappella, without a mic, at the front of the Hollywood Bowl stage, he earned by respect. He also played the one song I needed to hear, “Burn One Down”. Can’t ask for more.
7. Hot Chip, Passion Pit and Omar Souleyman– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sep 9
I went to the show to see Passion Pit. They met and exceeded expectations. I was expecting more from Hot Chip. I didn’t get to see Omar Souleyman.
6. Meshell Ndegeocello and James “Blood” Ulmer– Royce Hall- Fri Dec 7
Meshell Ngedeocello performed her interpretations of Nina Simone classics. Mesmerizing.
5. Peter Gabriel– Back To Front- Hollywood Bowl- Sat Oct 6
I’m not going to lie. I had a moment. Flashing back to my younger years when he played “In Your Eyes”, mine started to water. The power of music.
4. Fiona Apple– The Greek Theatre- Fri Sep 14
She may have been a bit too gaunt for my personal liking, but she can still sing. A poetess with a voice. There isn’t that many like her out there in the world.
3. Mint Condition– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Jan 28
Mint Condition has always been underrated. In my humble opinion? They’re one of the best live, R&B bands out there, period. Stokley’s voice is perfect for R&B. I grew up with their music. They are one of my favorite bands.
2. No Doubt– Gibson Amphitheatre- Fri Nov 30
I’ve always kicked my self in the rear when it comes to No Doubt. They used to perform locally when I was growing out, but I never went to a show. I can now cross this off my concert bucket-list. Oh, by the way, I’m in love with Gwen…
1. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival– Empire Polo Club- Fri Apr 13 through Sun Apr 15
Dr. Dre & Snoop. Radiohead. The Black Keys. Bon Iver. Swedish House Mafia. At The Drive-In. Florence and the Machine. Girl Talk. The Shins. Mazzy Star. Andrew Bird. Need I go on?
I’ve written about most of the shows on my Facebook page, so if you want to know a little more about particulars, free to shoot me a tweet [@methodman13] and I’ll send over some other thoughts.
I hope your 2013 is filled with musical discovery, and that a song stirs your heart always.