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.
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.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Diane Young (New Song)
Ya Hey (New Song)
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.
From Her To Eternity
Red Right Hand
Jack the Ripper
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
Bring the Pain (Method Man)
All I Need (Method Man)
Ice Cream (Raekwon)
Winter Warz (Ghostface Killah)
Duel of the Iron Mic (GZA/Genius)
For Heavens Sake
Brooklyn Zoo (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
Da Rockwilder (Methodman and Redman)
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
Snow (Hey Oh)
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Tell Me Baby
Under the Bridge
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.