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Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Appendix A: My Coachella Review

Taken from Damian's Myspace blog, 04 May 05 Wednesday:

All right, I wasn't gonna write a Coachella review, seeing as how Eddie beat me to the punch; but since I'm just hanging out at home this evening, I might as well...

So, Friday started with some good GTA San Andreas action, as I'd decided to take the day off work and rest a bit before the long weekend ahead. Of course, during that rest time, I hadn't showered or eaten, so I was scurrying around quite a bit when Eddie stopped by.

We'd decided to go see Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy before leaving, and so while I was nuking something for lunch, we checked out the showtimes, and sure enough, there was a show ten minutes away from starting at the theater near my apartment. So off we went, leaving my food in the microwave, to see the movie.After grabbing a hot dog to satisfy a bit of my hunger pangs, we went into the theater. SIDE MOVIE REVIEW:

First off... PEOPLE, I AM NOT MARVIN! Yeah, I know he's incredibly depressive, and pessimistic, and blah blah blah... okay, I know I have an Eeyore complex, sure. But I'm not THAT bad!

Well, maybe sometimes.

Anyway, the movie was enjoyable, although I wished it had stuck a little closer to the book in some places... for one, I thought the love story between Trillian and Arthur was incredibly forced and unnecessary. Keeping their relationship conflicted worked much better (okay, so that's a Marvin thing to say, shut up). I also wasn't a huge fan of the subplot with the point-of-view gun, but hey, I guess if Adams wrote it, I have to accept it.

The scene with the whale becoming self-aware, however, was genius (not very Marvin there, huh?).

After the movie, we went back to my apartment, I finished nuking my estranged food, had a slight dinner, and left for Palm Springs.

Two hours later, we arrived and checked into our hotel (the Riviera of all places... we didn't quite have a Rat Pack suite, but it was a nice room nonetheless). We decided to try some of the local cuisine (I was still hungry), and with that, headed to a nearby Denny's.

Upon finishing dinner, we headed to the motel our friends Maria and Mikko were staying at, to meet up with them and have a couple drinks. Eddie seemed very determined to get there right away, and got very frustrated when we got a little lost on the way (it wasn't until we got there that I found out that it wasn't his brain getting frustrated, merely his bowels). After Eddie relieved himself, we hung out for a while, then walked down the street to get some more alcohol to bring back to the room.

As we walked, I glanced into a local bar, and noticed a Bud Light sign with a rainbow around it. This struck me as quite odd, so of course in a loud voice, I said, "Wow, that Bud Light sign's really gay."

It was then that Mikko informed me that Palm Springs has an incredibly large gay community.

Needless to say, I was a wee bit embarrassed... I had always thought the town was mostly old people (but now that I think about it, that's how I've always felt about Miami as well). Then we passed a store called Gay Mart USA, where even the mannequins had limp wrists, and I was very embarrassed.

We reached the store, bought our alcohol, went back to their room, and hung out some more; then Eddie and I went back to the Riviera and crashed for the night.

The next morning, I decided to use the workout room before we left. After bringing down hell upon my upper body, I returned to the room, showered and had a cup of coffee while Eddie followed suit. We left for the Polo Grounds at about 12 noon.

Amazingly enough, we were in the festival before 2pm... whoever was in charge of parking this year did a fantastic job, and the line to get in was spread out enough that we barely had much wait time at all. After walking around a tiny bit (and picking up our passes to the Urb after party... more on that later), we headed over to watch K-Os in the Gobi tent.

I wouldn't call his set extraordinary, but it was definitely good (and he did a great job on the fly when his keyboard wasn't working, stripping him of who knows how many songs in his set). From there we went to check out a little of Ambulance Ltd. at the Mojave tent. While I enjoy their music on recordings, they seemed to be a bit messy live... it didn't help that the overall sound in the tent was very tinny (too much high end sound and so forth).

After three songs, we headed over to see Eisley, who I'd been listening to for the last month or so. As Eddie already described them quite well in his blog, I'll just say that I enjoyed the hell out of their set, and enjoyed them just as much (they did a great job joking around about their sound issues, and kept the audience entertained as they tried to rectify the situation). I'll also mention that I felt a bit misty when they performed "Lost At Sea" (by far my favorite song on their album).

From there it was over to Immortal Technique, who is hands down the best rapper I've heard in a very long time. The man pulls no punches, whether he's rapping about religion, politics, the recording industry, or just plain talking smack. By the end of his set, he had the entire crowd erupting with cries of "Viva La Revolution!" If he someday decides to take on the establishment, I'm sure there will be plenty of people following him.

And then it was time to eat. Chicken strips for Eddie, a fajita for me. Moving on...

We hit the Sahara tent to check out Unkle... James Lavelle was playing a DJ set, which, while entertaining, wasn't exactly what we'd been hoping for. So we headed over to check out Cafe Tacuba, and to meet back up with Maria and Mikko.

I can understand how some people love Cafe Tacuba, they've got great energy, and presence. I'm just not into their style of music, frankly. It reminds me too much of the Banta music my neighbors used to wake me up with on Saturday mornings (although at least Tacuba's doesn't include an accordion). The four of us headed into the nearby beer garden, meeting one of Mikko's friends there.

DRUNK CHICK 1: As we sat there, drinking beer and listening to the strains of Weezer coming from the main stage, a cute blonde came up and asked me for a cigarette. I, of course, am never one to refuse a pretty face, so I happily gave one to her, and to her friend (they were with another friend, but she didn't smoke, so I didn't feel right handing one to her). In return, they gave me a green and white balloon hat that someone had made for them.

Upon further inquiry, I found that it wasn't actually a hat, but a representation of anal beads. Being a bit buzzed myself, I was quite happy to put them on my head regardless. I thanked them, and then we left to see Bauhaus.

Now, I love listening to Bauhaus, and hearing Bela Lugosi Is Dead while the singer was hanging upsidedown was a rare treat. But halfway through the set, I felt it was time to leave, for two reasons: one, that kind of music is very dark and introverted, and it just felt weird listening to it come from a huge stage surrounded by thousands of screaming people; two, I had to pee so bad that my bladder felt like it had taken over my entire torso, and was threatening to erupt like a chestburster out of my body.

Luckily, I wasn't the only one to feel this way, and so after a quick stop at the port-o-potties (I pray to god that when I die, there's some feeling in the afterlife as good as relieving a full bladder), we went back to the beer tent. Once I saw that the drunk girls were nowhere in sight, I rid myself of the anal bead balloons, Eddie and I bid farewell to our friends, and we headed to the Sahara tent to catch Chemical Brothers.

As always, the Brothers put on a great set. Unfortunately, our enjoyment of it was to be shortlived, as we had to get in line for the Urb after party.

The line for the party was right by the Sahara tent, so as we waited, we were afforded the cruel pleasure of listening to the rest of Chemical's incredible show.

When their set ended, the strains of Coldplay wafted through the air from the main stage. This, allowed me to make the remark, "Oh great, more Coldplay." I was immediately reminded of the rabidness of fans, as a very cute British girl whom Eddie and I'd just been having fun banter with suddenly turned cold on me, asking "What's wrong with Coldplay," icicles forming on her lips.

"Nothing," I said stupidly. "They're just... sad."

"They're not sad," she replied, daggers firing from her eyes. Eddie tried to help me backtrack, explaining that I meant melancholy, wistful. But she would have none of it, and turned her back.

So we continued to wait. And wait.

As we waited, we saw that some people were getting through the gate, yet most of us were being held back. Finally, we found that apparently, there'd been a mixup earlier in the day, and while most of us had been given drink coaster looking cards, other people had been given rainbow wristbands, and they were the ones getting in.

After a while, someone came out and explained the problem to security, who started letting us in a group at a time. This of course led to mob violence, and after being smashed into the fence a couple times, Eddie and I finally popped through the gate, thanks to the people behind us shoving forward.

We made it over to the building the party was in, and upon entering, found what amounted to a churchgroup gathering (the difference being two Audis parked inside the main room, and hard alcohol being served... for cash).

Eddie and I walked around the party, trying to find what existed there to grant it that name.

DRUNK CHICK 2: As I stopped to glance around the main room, a girl stumbled up to me and asked if I had a phone. When I said I did, she stared at me, stumbling again. I asked her if she wanted to use it, and she nodded in a fashion. I pulled out my phone and handed it to her.

Standing way too close to me, she started punching in numbers, but couldn't quite seem to grasp how a phone was supposed to work. So, after dialing the last number I called and my voicemail, she was finally able to call her friends... at least I think she did. She was talking to someone, anyway.

I got my phone back from her, and after mumbling something about having to "go over there," I walked off with Eddie into the other room, where we sat for a while, him checking out the Urb magazines piled on the table in front of us, me having a drink and checking out the people around us.

DRUNK CHICK 3: One of the party workers (a very nice guy, by the way, I don't blame him at all for the party sucking) was talking to a very cute girl, who pulled out a cigarette. I then pulled out my lighter; I mean, what good's a deadly habit if you can't use it to meet women?

She said something to me, and after thinking for a moment, I realized that I had no idea what had come out of her mouth. So I asked her what she said, and she mumbled again. At this point I realized that not only was she ridiculously shit-faced drunk, but she also had a thick accent that, coupled with slurring, was impenetrable.

After a while, we were able to converse a bit with her (Eddie was able to find out she was from Northern England, although she could have been speaking Swahili for as much as I could understand). This conversation ended in us figuring out she wanted to sit, and her passing out on the table once she did.

Eddie and I left after I finished my last drink, and after a couple tries at leaving the grounds (plus another run-in with Drunk Chick 2), we finally made it back to the car, and Eddie drove us back to the hotel.

Once we got back, Eddie decided to rest, and I decided to hit the hotel jacuzzi, in order to sooth my aching muscles (the workout room from that morning, plus walking around and dancing all day, had taken a lot out of me).

I soon found I wasn't the only one with that idea, as when I reached the jacuzzi, I found two rather heavyset women and a chunky man sitting around it, not even in the water. I asked if I was interrupting anything, but they said no, so I sat down in the jacuzzi and relaxed.

I soon came to the realization that they were neither talking nor getting in, but just staring at me. I again asked if I was interrupting, and they again said no, so I figured fuck it, I don't care, I just want to relax.

After a few minutes, they walked off, leaving me to think two things; either one, they'd just peed in the jacuzzi, which I didn't care about anyway, as it didn't smell, and the chlorine would have killed any germs immediately; or two, that I'd interrupted what was about to become a late-night fatty threesome. As far as I could gather, it looked like the second thought was more accurate, so I decided I'd done the world a favor, and continued to relax.

After a short while, another guy came out and entered the jacuzzi. We had a nice conversation about the festival that day, and who we planned to see the next day, and then it was off to bed.

Seven hours of Eddie and I waking up and telling the other to quit snoring later, it was time to get out of bed, and hit the festival all over again. A quick stop for munchies at AM/PM, and we were on our way.

After even less traffic and less line to get in, we were walking around the festival grounds, earlier than we'd thought possible. Since Diplo (the first act we were there to see) hadn't started yet, we headed over to the main stage to catch a bit of Gram Rabbit.

Not only were they a good act, but they had the best marketing ploy I'd seen from any band in years, as evidenced by the ears attached to my head in my current profile picture (and now you know the whole story). We enjoyed them for a few songs, and then it was off to Diplo.

I had been hoping Diplo would be playing more of his original material, but he seemed to be playing mostly DJ set stuff (including some of the tracks he'd remixed with M.I.A., which were great). He also had a VJ thing going on, with different clips playing on the screens in time to his music. Well, kind of in time. I'm sure he'll get better with it.

From there we headed over to Autolux for a few songs... they were good, but had the same problem as Ambulance Ltd. from the day before. So we quickly walked over to Jem.

Now I love Jem's album. I think it's great. Live, however, she was a different story. Cute as a button, but bland and boring. On a Disney Channel special coming to you live from Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World, she would have been fantastic; but at Coachella... well, when we met up with our friend Gabby and her friend Eddy (whom we'd met a while back through other accquaintances, small world... and his name is Edd"ie," but I'm using a "y" to differenciate), we were more than happy to walk over to the food tents and grab some lunch.

I had a very yummy burrito, Eddie had... well hell, I can't remember (I only remember the chicken strips from the day before because he couldn't shut up about how great they were, and I'm still jealous). But moving on.

Edd"y" left to hit the VIP tent, and Gabby went with us over to see M.I.A. I hadn't known much about M.I.A. until the night before, but I was floored by her. Sexy as hell, a great performer, and a rhyme sensibility that sounded like there should be a group of kids playing double dutch near her at all times. She was awesome, and the whole crowd knew it.

Gabby left us for the VIP tent at that point, and Eddie and I headed back to the Outdoor Stage to catch Tegan and Sara, who I'd been in love with for the last couple months. They did not disappoint, doing a whole bunch of songs from their latest album, plus a few older favorites. The audience seemed to be getting into them too, as evidenced by the eruption of cheers when they finally played "Walking With A Ghost" (their current radio hit, if you can call an indy song that).

As much as I would have loved to check out Gang of Four on the main stage then, I had to stay at the Outdoor Stage, because next up was the band I'd been waiting the whole weekend to see... The Arcade Fire.

Eddie and I took the time to move ourselves up to the front of the stage, and it was well worth it, as we were about to see probably the greatest live act to come along in god only knows how many years (I'll try not to repeat Eddie's blog in my take on them).

As good as their recorded music is, none of it even REMOTELY compares to hearing it performed live, to seeing it be performed by an amazingly talented group of musicians that deserve every ounce of fame they get. They put their heart and soul and blood and sweat and tears (and I'm not kidding about the last three, there seriously was blood, as well as sweat and tears) into every note they play, and the end result is nothing short of magical.

The first song they played, there were a decent amount of people crowded around the stage... by the last song, at least HALF of the festival was standing behind us, dancing and singing along to the music. And when it was over, I knew, at least by judging the emotions and reactions of all standing around me, that every one of them realized that they'd just witnessed something special. Something that will be remembered for years to come. Something that, when people ask years later what the defining moment was in this band's career, will be looked upon as the point where they graduated from a well-thought of indy band, to true stars in the music world. It's a performance I'll never forget.

After it was done (and the awe had worn off), I called my ex-girlfriend Sarah (who was there at the festival) to see if she'd seen the performance. She unfortunately hadn't, but the phonecall gave me and Eddie the chance to meet up with her and her friend Ebony for a bite to eat, and to tell them all about it.

We exchanged our day's experiences, and then Eddie and I ventured over to the main stage, where New Order were finishing up their set.

I love New Order, but frankly, their set was boring, to say the least. Of course, anything following Arcade Fire would be... but they weren't even trying. The lead singer had a bum leg, but still, a tiny bit of energy would have been nice.Once they finished, Eddie and I worked our way into the crowd, waiting to see Nine Inch Nails perform. We only made it halfway through, as Eddie didn't want to get too smashed, and neither of us wanted to even attempt getting close to the front... we'd heard enough horror stories of people getting trampled by moshers in years past to stay away from there (although the worst stories I heard dealt with Bjork fans, of all people... but that's for another time).

Luckily, we found a very nice spot in the crowd, and quickly started making conversation with people, especially two guys named Pete and a woman whose name escapes me at the moment (she was one of the Pete's wife, and a very lovely lady at that). During the set change, video feed from the Robochrist exhibit came up on the big screens surrounding the stage, and we all had a great time joking about it, waiting for Robochrist to annihilate the giant baby that had been built specifically for that reason (see my pictures for more on the baby).

Every so often, a few people decided to push through us; we all realized that for some reason, no matter what crowd we're in, the traffic lanes always seem to go through exactly where we're standing. Strangest thing.

Eddie sat at one point, and almost got his hand stomped by a couple of rabid Trent fans trying to get through. Luckily, he got his hand out just in time, and stood up, only to get a quick apology and then pushed as they moved through. He quickly said, "Careful, there's a bag down there," praying that they wouldn't stomp on his backpack.

They said "thanks," and moved around it.At that point, I remarked, "Careful, there's a baby down there," eliciting a scream and a leap in the air from one of the Trent fans. We all had a great laugh about that, and then the show started.

Nine Inch Nails has always been, and hopefully always will be, a great show. Trent is nothing but energy, and his backing band is nothing but the same. They performed a perfect mix of old and new, and left me completely satisfied. And when it was done, it was off to Prodigy.

Again, Eddie said a lot about Prodigy's show in his blog, so I'll leave it at this; I didn't think I had any energy left, but when they started, my third, fourth and fifth winds all hit me at once, and I was a non-stop dancing machine, doing breakbeat styles that I hadn't done in years. My legs hated me, and my lungs wanted to explode, but god, it was worth it.

Once they finished, Eddie and I hobbled back to his car, and after a small amount of exit traffic, were on the freeway, on our way to... In N' Out! Nothing like a good meal after a long day. We got our food from the drive-thru, and then the shoes came off, and we were on our way home.

I slept most of the way, so I wasn't privy to Eddie seeing Ludacris's forehead in his delusional state (and frankly I'm happy I wasn't, I probably would have been scared shitless then). And once home, I went right to my bed and slept for god only knows how many hours, woke up sore the next day, but feeling great regardless, and wishing the weekend could have kept going.

But that's what next year's for.

So, there's my report, and now here's my pictures.

No pics, sorry... this is an old blog, after all.

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