Saturday, April 21, 2012

Coachella Day 1 -- Hot Hot Heat! "Girls" Rules the Day

It was a broiler yesterday for Coachella Day 1 of Weekend 2 -- well over 100 degrees -- just what you would expect from the desert (and entirely different than last weekend's downright cold conditions).  The spritzers were spritzing -- the music was jamming -- nothing slowed down the crowd.  This was the first day in THE experiment that is Coachella this year -- two back-to-back weekends of identical bands and shows.  The great debate is whether bands will try harder to impress on weekend 1 or weekend 2?  At a minimum, it felt like Ground Hog's day for several -- in the words of The Black Keys as they started their set, "It's good to be back after all this time ...."  One more very surprising thing -- no credit cards taken anywhere!  All cash.  All the time.  For those of you coming, plan accordingly.

And, the big change since I last attended Coachella just 2 years ago?  Smart Phones.  Just think about how each of our mobile experiences and habits are radically different than just two years ago.  Smart phones are all over Coachella -- and impact the festival's experience in so many different ways -- including social of course.

So here's my recap from day 1 of weekend 2.  From my perspective, day 1 is by far the weakest line-up of the three days.

My highlight?  The band "Girls" -- THE band that I was most interested in seeing all weekend.  Didn't disappoint -- in fact, they cemented even more the fact that they are a band to watch.  The band's retro rock style is a refreshing counterpoint to most other current sounds.

Speaking of retro, the band "M83" -- which hails out of Europe -- was the most smile-inducing, but more in an amusement kind of way (than out of real musical enjoyment).  The Gobi tent crowded for them -- but, let's face it, really only know one song ("Midnight City").  Once the band played that song, much of the crowd bolted.  I wish I were one of them.  The band's orchestration is only one-step removed from Yanni -- and they didn't even play the one song I was waiting to hear -- i.e., "Wait"!  And, the band's staging was downright comical -- their light show looked like a cross between Star Trek and Coachella circa 1979 (or, at least what Coachella light shows would have looked like back then -- or like your local Midwestern supper club looks like right now).  To think I missed most of The Black Keys for this!  I dropped the ball on that one (although I recently saw a full Black Keys set at Outside Lands in the Bay Area).

Others I checked out -- in order of appearance -- (1) EMA (a miss -- don't get me wrong, I absolutely can like misfit rock, but this didn't connect), (2) James (yes, THAT James from the early 90s -- actually was pleasantly festive), (3) Arctic Monkeys (always good -- they are the real deal -- saw them also at Outside Lands), (4) Madeon -- my first DJ tent experience of the night -- and the Sahara really stepped it up with its ceiling light show -- was a great set, (5) Alesso -- another DJ in Sahara -- couldn't keep up with Madeon, (6) Mazzy Star (they once were one of my clients -- "back in the day" -- and continue to put you into a trance, which can be a good thing -- but not at 8 pm when the night is still early), and (7) Swedish House Mafia -- took the main stage -- took a massive crowd -- but couldn't live up to the DJs who had the advantage of lights, lasers and sound within the Sahara tent).

As always, the surroundings and overall scene of Coachella are incomparable.  An experience you must experience.  My one complaint continues to be the fact that VIP tickets don't get you anywhere close to any of the stages (unlike Outside Lands, which does that right).  So, why VIP?  For a much needed breather and space when the temp hits 105 -- which it will do all weekend.

Am gearing up for Day 2 now -- this is THE day.  On tap for me is AWOLNATION, Kaiser Chiefs, Manchester Orchestra, Martin Solveig, Noel Gallagher, St. Vincent, The Shins, Kasabian, David Guetta, Bon Iver, Miike Snow and, of course, Radiohead.

Time to put on the sun screen ....