Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Festival Report: After the Hangover

Well I am happy to report that I survived Coachella one more year, although I think I may have outdone myself this year. I pushed the limits this time around, purchasing the newly mandatory three-day pass and even getting work off to be able to attend each day. In an attempt to preserve the true festivilites, Coachella only sold three-day passes- a first time for the festival that has previously welcomed single day attendees. I have to admit, overcoming the financial hardship took time (they offered layaway in case I was doing really shitty), but with a killer line up laced with big time international superstars Jay Z, Tiesto, and Thom Yorke of Radiohead, the decision was simple.

So I bought my ticket. I spent month dreaming of the set times, half fearful I would miss out on some seriously epic performances, half stoked recalling floating from stage to tent catching glimpses of a megamix of all my favorite bands and DJs. They only released the set times 2 days before the festival, so the remainder of the time was like torture, thinking up all the combinations that would bode well or change the experience... total anxiety (in a good way)!

I cruised out with a caravan of home girls from San Diego, who all met in the oasis of Indian Wells, only four miles from the venue. I was in one of the later cars, and when we arrived, the air was warm and the house was full of friends, just discussing expectations and hopes and rumors of the festival, and celebrating a long weekend away from home with great company.

Waking up Friday was much easier than I had anticipated. A couple of us picked up groceries and cooked up a hearty breakfast for the group, since we would likely be hoarding our cash for booze and cabs throughout the weekend. Eggs, bacon, bagels and mimosas woke up the group and got the day started off right. On top of it, mini festival swag bags and custom Ezekiel Coachella t-shirts were provided which got everyone really excited. Running out the gates, the group perused pool parties around the La Quinta area where live DJs spun the tunes in store for the weekend (or so we had hoped) and kids from LMU, USC, Boulder and many others collided. Around 4 we made our way to the fest, through traffic, angry hippies, and sweltering heat to the clusterfuck that was Coachella. After splitting up into twos, getting shoved around from entrance to entrance, and being shafted on wristbands, we all made it into the grounds to ensue in the most fantastic weekend ever.

The first act we got to see was Cambridge born electric phenomenon Passion Pit. We sang and danced for about three or four songs before we had to make our way over to the Sahara Tent for Pretty Lights. This group, hailing from MY FAVORITE city Boulder, CO, samples hip hop and soul tracks on thumping beats and created the perfect soundtrack for Friday's lineup. Pretty Lights proved to be one of the best, and sweatiest, shows we watched that day. After Pretty Lights, we passed through La Roux, who after a slow start and wayyyy too quiet of speakers, killed it with her hit singles Bulletproof and In for the Kill. Afterwards we skipped through Echo and the Bunnymen over to LCD Soundsystem where we crossed paths with old friends and danced around sleepy hippies. With a couple lost soldiers along the way, a few of us had a brief intermission in the Beer Garden where I ran into my dear friend Carli Roth, of DBD Events.

After gathering the rest of the gang, we witnessed the spectacle that was Jay-Z's performance. Tens of thousands of fans gathered around the massive Main Stage for the headliner of the festival. Most show goers argued that Jay-Z's set alone would likely compensate for the three day pass cost because his tickets are usually so pricey anyways. Well HOVA proved us all right! His performance was like a catalog of all his greatest works (that he could fit in that amount of time). He started with his newer tracks and singles off the Blueprint, and then worked his way back, all the way to "Jigga What?" and "Big Pimpin". The latter was signified by Jay's request of the entire Coachella crowd to wave their shirts, jackets, hats, whatever in the air so it would "look like carnivale". With a sea of fans bouncing in front of him, Jay-Z was accompanied by Memphis Bleak and wife Beyonce for "Forever Young". Other notable moments: Obama's bit of him brushing his shoulders off during a White House speech, throw back "I'm a Hustla Baby", and his mind blowing entrance- from under the stage-to the opening song "Run This Town".

Although we thought we would have time for deadmau5 afterwards, we didn't, so we all attempted to get to the car and beat traffic. Bad idea. Three hours later, we were still in the same spot, motionless in the parking lot. Screaming with agony, pain and anxiety, our car full of complaining girls FINALLY got home at 4:30 am (the show ended at 12:30...). Too exhausted to party, we all changed, unwound for a bit with the rest of the group who had been partying the whole time. We discussed the highlights of the day and looked over the next days attractions until we all crashed out just before sunrise.

Saturday morning, waking up was harder than I thought. With the first bout of soreness and fatigue, we slowly rolled out of bed and cleaned ourselves up to head to a friends house in La Quinta. Once we combined forces, the madness really began. With amateur photographers armed and ready, we played wiffleball, consumed lots of alcohol, and caught up on each others lives since most of us hadn't seen each other since the glory days in Boulder. When it was time to head out, we hailed a bunch of cabs to get us to the venue without having to worry about the previous nights disasterous demise.

Saturday's sets got off to a late start for the majority of us, causing us to miss The Temper Trap, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and the xx. We got there in time for Bassnectar, where I split from the group to get close for my two favorites from EDC last year: Kaskade and David Guetta. Kaskade began with giant featherweight bubble balls and kicked off an incredible set featuring 4AM, Move for Me, and Angel on my Shoulder (among others). Kaskade is so happy go lucky in the techno/trance world, it is always such a pleasure seeing him perform. After Kaskade, however, was the real treat. David Guetta, who I fell in love with when I first heard him during a Victorias Secret Fashion Show many many years ago, was amazzzzzzing!!! Not only did he play an array of his best songs, like Kaskade, but he remixed them in a completely new way that had never been heard before. He started off with There's No Getting Over, then On the Dancefloor got the crowd bouncing and uber pumped up, Flashback with Calvin Harris, and then an INSANE remix of "The World is Mine", "Show Me Love" by Robin S., "Put Ya Fucking Hands Up" and "Shots" by Lil Jon. Many more hits and remixes filled his set, but it wasn't until later on in the show during a Prodigy Remix that the giant neon robots with laserbeam and smoke guns appeared by his sides.

After Guetta came Z-Trip, infamous for being a pioneer of the mash up movement and for resorting to only vinyl on his turn tables. I had never heard him or seen him before, but the mix of the Guetta glow, the Z-trip crowd and the mashed up mix of old school hip hop, rock, and improvised beats was awesome. Sample Menu from the Z: “Paper Planes” (M.I.A.)/”Jane Says” (Jane’s Addiction), “Hip Hop Hooray” (Naughty by Nature)/”Shout” (Tears for Fears), and “Sweet Child O’Mine” (Guns N’ Roses)/”Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (Stevie Wonder). Although I was forced to miss Muse for this, Muse will be returning to San Diego in September WITH Passion Pit, so it worked out pretty well for me. After Z-Trip, I met back up with the masses and headed back to the mainstage in an attempt to catch the end of Muse, which we failed miserably at by getting lost in the neon forest and pagoda castle area where we called home base.

The final bite for the night was Tiesto, an internationally acclaimed DJ I have been looking forward to seeing since I first started listening to techno and house music. Although his light displays weren't as good as the Sahara Tent acts (in all fairness, neither did Jay Z), he tore the house down with everything from the trancey "Adaggio for Strings" to "Escape Me". Although we had to unfortunately miss Imogen Heap Saturday, Tiesto paid homage to the lady by remixing the famed "Hide and Seek". This was the perfect combination of tracks to bring the electric crazy pop evening.

Following the show, we had a two mile walk to a cab that would finally take us home instead of going back to the festival cab line, and got home in time for a few drinks and re cap's with friends before crashing again. In fact, throughout the festival and after party, most of us (not all) drank so much we completely blew off the festival Sunday in lieu of a pool party in the backyard with our neighbors, fellow festivalites. We bumped our own mix of the weekend's heavy hitters and soaked in rays until we all turned crispy.

The drive home was pretty rough, but not as rough as the next 3 days of Coachella withdrawals. Watching live footage of the performances, uploading massive amounts of pictures, and chatting with the group around the country did not suffice, although it made being home less depressing. Even though the weekend had to come to an end, the memories of the music and the good friends that surrounded us will last a lifetime. Below are pictures of some of the weekend's highlights.