Vicarious Music & Media

Coachella 09 – what you missed and why you need to come next year…

Unfortunately, my camera has been broken for several months now. The autofocus no longer works so you’ll just have to suffer through these blurry pictures and try and use your “imagination.” Remember that thing? It got swallowed by the editing power of MTV, pot and video games long ago. If you want bad ass Coachella pics, search the web, there’s tons.

First off, if you’re not from LA, the drive to Coachella is one of the more beautiful desert road trips. En route, you pass the windmill farms intricately set amongst the barren desert hills and mountains. You also pass (for those early Tim Burton fans out there) the dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Unfortunately, this time for us, both coming and going it was dark so you couldn’t see much. This arty Coachella vid gives you an idea (minus the dinosaurs) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7SIbGZaaO0&NR=1 .

Fortunately for us, night time lends itself to pit stops at the Morongo Casino. As exciting as the Morongo Casino is, the biggest party happens in the bathroom apparently. As I was squatting over the toilet, I noticed two pairs of feet in the stall next to me. As I got out I realized a couple was going at it in the middle stall, doggy style (see pics). We now call this sexual position, “The Morongo.” Email me to see the video!! After this occurrence, I knew we were in for a helluva weekend!

For a last minute hotel, we did pretty damn good. I wasn’t willing to fork over $400 a night to stay at the Motel 6 so we were able to find a mom and pop, mid century modern desert style hotel with impeccable grounds 5 minutes from the Empire Polo Field. Our room was teeny tiny but I gotta admit, it was fun snuggling up in our quaint, character-filled room with my boys. We got a good night’s sleep and prepared ourselves for the weekend ahead.

Day 1: Friday morning we ate a big meal at Sloan’s (go Jay!) and realized it was still way too early to head to the festival. We laid low for a while and made it to the show just in time for the end of the Ting Tings. Personally, I wish I would’ve watched the end of The Black Keys instead but nonetheless, they were entertaining I. I prefer the Black Keys (the two minutes I was able to catch were beautiful), the Ting Tings are too trendy and fly by night for my taste but their one mega hit “That’s Not My Name” was cheerful and got the crowd bumpin.

After the ting tings we headed over to the heineken tent where we met the very nice and funky Canadians. Just as the sun was going down, we ate our delicious mushroom chocolates. Thank you to the Coachella Angel, you know who you are!  Crystal Castles was blasting in the background. Me and the crew weren’t really into Crystal Castles but many Coachella patrons loved their set. Next up, Leonard Cohen!!! Wowweewwow. I just started to peak as he played Hallelujah. The lights and the people and the sounds and the love were intoxicating. I let Coachella ooze all over me as I swayed to the bass of Cohen’s voice.

The tough thing about Coachella this year was that there were so many great performances going on at the same time. Think about it, you got the main (coachella) stage, the outdoor theatre, the mojave tent, gobi tent and sahara tent. THEN there’s also the dome by the entrance that always had a performance going on. You had to just choose one or be running back and forth to catch a few songs of each which came in handy during day 3 when Lucent was performing in the DoLab and The Kills, Public Enemy, Groove Armada and Orb were all playing on all different stages. We didn’t spend too much time at the Sahara AKA the crackhead (crackhead in a good way guys, don’t get offended – you win for the most energy all weekend!!!) tent but it certainly was a site. For 3 days straight the techno lovers were jumping up and down slithering into each other’s sweaty bodies whilst undoubtedly on E. The peripherals of the tent was a sea of massages and ecstasy induced hugs with strangers.

Onto the next performance…Aaaaah the tortured artist that is Morrissey! I never even knew I was such a huge fan until he graced the stage. Holy shit. That man epitomizes an artist who is a slave to his craft. The lights on the Coachella stage were unreal and Morrissey could’ve just stood still there the whole time and emitted the same power that he did that night. All the songs were incredible and the hits especially How Soon Is Now (I Am Human) blew me and everyone else who experienced his set away!  I really felt like I understood his plight, not necessarily wanting to make music but rather not having a choice. Perhaps it was just the mushrooms but the feeling was immense.

After Morrissey, I already felt I got my $300 money’s worth but who would’ve known that Mike Patton and Rahzel would’ve killed it the way they did!!! Can I get another holy shit? HOLY SHIT!  Infectious beats with nothing but a few effects, loops and the voices of Patton and Rahzel. The difference between the open air stages and the tents are vast. When you’re in the tent, the bodies are tight and the live sound is worlds better. Everyone was dancing, smiling and yelling each time the boys hit us with a new beat and the b-b-b-bass of Rahzel’s beat boxing romping us all.

The last show of the evening was Paul McCartney. Well I’ll start out by saying, the fact that we got to see a living breathing Beatle perform was a gem. I mean come on, its freakin’ Paul McCartney for crying out loud. While sitting through annoying Wings songs and McCartney’s solo material was not the greatest, experiencing Lady Madonna, Black Bird, Hey Jude, Give Peace a Chance, Something, etc. was well worth the wait. That very same day April 17, as McCartney pointed out several times was the anniversary of his first wife, Linda’s death. That certainly made for an ultra emotional performance for him. He even sang a song solo on acoustic guitar that he wrote for John Lennon. I couldn’t help but let the tears flow. Why did that crazy fucker have to kill John??? Anyway we were moved and although I missed Crystal Method during McCartney’s triple encore (he played for about 2 1/2 hrs), I knew it was the right trade off. When will I ever be able to see a Beatle again? At the end of McCartney’s set Coachella one uped themselves by spewing crazy fireworks off the stage. Which brings me to the art experience of Day 1.

I have never been to burning man and have been a skeptic about the hippie love fest but after experiencing all the living Coachella art, I think I have no choice but to go this year. They had their usual stuff, the tesla coils, the hand of man, etc but they brought in a myriad of new and thoughtful art pieces. All of the lights intertwined, i just can’t even explain it. The bamboo tower forest which looked like the death star was delightful but my favorite by a large margin was the serpent mother. Smack dab in the middle of the field stood the gargantuan steel structure with a scarily real looking head and an egg that she was protecting. At any given moment throughout the three days, one could find hundreds of people warming themselves by her fire and enjoying the sites, sounds and warm feelings as each flame burst from her spine. What I found interesting was a large demographic of the serpent dwellers were the younger people of Coachella. Perhaps it was because the serpent was one of the only spots where concert folk could escape the noise and fill themselves with tranquility. She was protecting her egg and all of us as well. I called it the womb of Coachella. I found out later that the serpent was built by a team of 150 artists in San Francisco. Thank you a million times over to the Flaming Lotus Girls.

Sets I’m sorry I missed: The Crystal Method, Bajofondo, Silversun Pickups (sky’s old band Setting Sun opened for them before they were huge!), A Place To Bury Strangers, The Black Keys, Girl Talk and I’m sure a host of others whom I’ve never heard of and played early in the day.

Day 2:  Thank you Chris Herche for hooking us up very last minute with some sick parties. We decided to skip breakfast (who needs food?) and head out to the party at the Viceroy hotel, Palm Springs (apparently we weren’t VIP enough for the assholes at the Anthem Magazine, Canyon Ranch party). Sponsored by vitamin water and other smaller ventures, there was free schwag, food and booze galore but we didn’t want to over do it seeing as though the day just started and the festival alone takes everything out of you. It was great: teeny hot bodies in bikinis and everybody smoking pot in the pool. I just love how Coachella weekend is grounds for corporations to finally do something good for once and intoxicate us in every which way imaginable. Just at the very end of the pool was the stage which had some killer DJ sets and bands (including Doug E Fresh which we had to miss to get to the festival). I was close enough to splash water and throw beach balls at them [bands and djs], which of course I did. A very handsome gay guy pointed out I had the hottest bathing suit at the party. I am SOO Palm Springs!! ;-)

TV On The Radio was good but during the day at the main stage you can’t really see the jumbo trons and the sound the entire weekend at the main stage was pretty shitty. Although, I’m a real stickler when it comes to sound mixing. Interesting foreshadowing, the singer from TV On The Radio mentioned how much he was looking forward to seeing Gang Gang Dance… We booked it over to the Sahara tent to catch some of Trav$ and DJ AM’s set. Of course the Sahara tent was going off and the set was really great. I did feel however that they could’ve taken it further with Travis’s drumming but hearing California Dreaming mixed in with the hip hop beats was a ton of fun and you could definitely tell who the Californians were when that mix came on. Speaking of which, I hadn’t been to Coachella for about 3 years (I know, I know, I’m an idiot) and never before have I seen such an international crowd. I don’t think I could’ve labeled Coachella as the best music festival in the world if it wasn’t for folks from the UK, Ireland, Spain, Japan, Czech Republic, Singapore and Canada who verified that statement for me.

Next was Thievery Corporation. What a tight set. They really sounded great and gave us a chance to relax to the sexy sounds. Remind me to make a thievery corporation love making mix. Some hot singer in the group even did a little crowd surfing. I’m sure some lucky, pimply faced preteen boy got his rocks off from that. Nice surprise performance by Perry Farrell although he was a bit off key.  Good thing we relaxed during Thievery Corporation because we were prepared for the gangsta punk Goddess herself, MIA. Now I missed last year’s Coachella when MIA got kicked out for getting the crowd to swarm the stage but that certainly didn’t stop me from having my chin dropped throughout her set. First off, she kept commenting on how she wasn’t supposed to be allowed to come back but since Amy Winehouse was taken off the bill (which she mocked in her own improvised version of rehab) they asked her to. She kept saying how she would try and rock the main stage for us and that last year she made it through 6 songs and this year she’ll try for 7. She also alluded to her lawyer telling her not to do things for fear of being sued which she graciously did anyway (throwing things off the stage). She really has a way of chanting piss off to the crowd considering some douche on stage kept yelling “Shorty” and blasting airhorns throughout every song. In the middle of a song, MIA stopped the music and announced she needed a line check. It was bad ass. OK so minus the spectacle, the music was fucking great. Her beats are so hard and heavy, they sock you with every bar. My highlight was 20 Dollar. Toward end of the set, MIA (even though this is why she got kicked out of Coachella last year) said fuck you to the bouncers and brought 100s of people on stage from the audience. It was so fucking punk rock. She ended by saying “When I come through here next year, I don’t want the main stage, I prefer feeling the sweat. PEACE!” She said this because at the main stage there is about a 30 foot space between the stage and the crowd. What a gem. I love that bitch.

After MIA I was able to catch a little of Jenny Lewis, Turbo Negro and The Chemical Brothers (crackhead tent).  I had no desire to see The Killers for the same reason I didn’t want to see Franz Ferdinand on Day 1.  The little I was able to catch for each set was great but it was the last show of the night which was a perfect ending to a perfect day 2 was GANG GANG DANCE!! Holy shit, I knew nothing about this band until Day 2. They were unreal. Some of the fattest beats I have ever heard. The singer was amazing and the drummer tore it up! If you’ve never heard of them, immediately go to seeqpod.com or myspace and listen to them. I feel so fortunate that I was able to catch them and now that I’m back to my not-nearly-as-exciting-as-Coachella life, I am more inspired than I’ve been in a very long time. I really think Gang Gang Dance should tour with MIA despite the fact they aren’t as pop. It doesn’t matter, that shit makes your body move. I can’t wait to see them again. Maybe next time I’m in NY….

Sets I’m sorry I missed: MSTRKRFT, Mastadon (which I heard was somewhat of a let down), Atmosphere, Glass Candy, Fleet Foxes, Booker T and the DBT’s, Tinariwen, Amanda Palmer and Henry Rollins spoken word. Damn it!  Damn it! Maybe next year. You see what I mean? It’s pretty much impossible to see them all. :-(

Getting back to your car and leaving the park is a mission in and of itself. It takes literally hours to leave but it’s still fun and love as everyone around you just experienced what you did. When we finally got back to the room, we decided to take a dip in the hot tub. Apparently some other Coachella goers had the same idea. We instantly befriended a group of people from all over the world, young and old. We shared our stories of the weekend thus far, made semi plans to do yoga in the garden the next morning, laughed, drank and made a mental agreement (no one said it out loud really) to meet at the same spot the next night.

Day 3:  I was already worried about the PCD (Post Coachella Depression) that was going to set in once I was back at The Rock (that’s Eagle Rock for all you non-angelenos) but that didn’t stop me from quickly getting ready for the pool party. This time we went to the Ace Hotel sponsored by Levi’s. We wanted to see Gram Rabbit’s set which turned out to be not very exciting. Anyway, it was still nice to take a dip. We quickly realized as our feet sizzled on the concrete that Day 3 was much much hotter than the two days prior. The hotel was really a site. Again, a wonderful example of mid century modern Palm Spring desert style. I bought a hot brand new pair of Levi’s that makes my butt look scrumptious so I was happy. We drank a little but didn’t want to kill ourselves for the heat we were about to experience at Day 3.

I was pissed because I really wanted to see Brian Jonestown Massacre. They went on too early though. I saw their documentary and wanted to see what kind of antics the lead singer would pull on stage but I found out from others it was a very tame set so I was relieved. I think Coachella should start at 6pm and go on all night long rather than ending at 1:30am. First thing we did was headed over to the DoLab. Of course the djs over there were playing some ridiculous dancey beats and the very nice gentlemen were spraying everyone with water. I can’t tell you how freeing it was to dance my ass off while being sprayed with cool water. Everyone was so close to one another dancing and laughing and getting dirty. Have you guys seen the pictures of the DoLab? I felt like I was in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids in there. It was so rad!!  Next up, Peter Bjorn and John…they were pretty cool but it was devastatingly hot during their set. I decided to retreat to the AT&T cool down tent with its wondrous AC. I’ll tell you, as much as I’m anti-corporations, this is by far the best way for them to spend their money. Even though Coachella is very expensive for the patrons, what better way to spend money? This experience will stay with me for a life time. I mean if they REALLY want people to use their services or buy their products then giving us boujoius free shit is the best way to go about it. Thank you Coachella corporate Gods.

Anyway Clipse canceled so we hung around and got in real close for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They were good. I liked some songs more than others. Karen O is fun to watch and her gold sparkly dress made her seem larger than life. I decided to take a break and hang out by the serpent mother for a while. Took some deep breaths, smiled and met some very nice people. I ate a couple mushroom chocolates and me and my baby cuddled and caught some of X (i often get compared to Exene Cervenka by critics). They were pretty good. I decided I wanted to write my brother’s famous quote on my chest because I felt it partially embodied the spirit of Coachella (along with unity and love). I asked the sound engineer if I could borrow his sharpie, he obliged. Sky wrote on my chest “Let Your Freak Flag Fly.”  I can’t even count how many high fives I received throughout the night for that. Not to mention the amount of pictures taken, one of them being some sort of serious press guy. Good thing I made the most ridiculous weird face during that picture. Great!!  Devendra Banhart’s set was a nice surprise. I really like them!! I love finding out about new artists that I’ve been missing all along whilst worrying about things and working on things that in the end, don’t really matter. Another highlight was My Bloody Valentine’s set. For some reason I always thought they were an emo band but they really aren’t. Malik described them as Sonic Youth with the aesthetic sensibilities of Radiohead. Hmm I think he was right…they’re music was very moody and intense with an expected ‘wall of sound’ that went on for about 10 minutes. Then we headed over to the Mojave tent for The Kills. Hell Yeah!! One of my favorite performances of the 3 days. That fucking chick singer is such a bad ass. The music was intense and very heavy and the front woman just killed us with each move she made. She was so powerful. The band is aptly named for sure.

OK I have to tell you, I just took a break from blog writing to check out a youtube vid of the kills and stumbled across a vid of Amanda Palmer. I missed her set. Wow, after watching these videos I am really fucking peeved about it!! Looks like she played all the Dresden Dolls hits, took a swig of vino and crowd surfed to the very back of the audience while the theme from Star Wars played in the background. Then while the crowd was holding her up at the end, she pulled out a ukulele and proceeded to play Radiohead’s “Creep.” Damn it, I wasn’t even at the festival at that point!! That SUCKS!

Anyway while the Kills were playing, I ran over to check out Public Enemy with all my friends. As you can imagine, the air filled with the smell of sweet smoke (if ya know what I mean) and Flava Flav went NUTS! He was climbing up the stage, crowd surfing left and right, just a complete maniac. I spent my time going back and forth between The Kills and Public Enemy while taking time to stop at The Serpent Mother on the way. Decisions, decisions. Flava spent a lot of time talking about unity and fighting the power. The end of the evening began with Roni Size Reprazent. We danced our asses off. Even my little drummer boy who is usually too shy to let his dancing skills loose went off! The whole crowd was dancing like maniacs. I felt like I was in a club rather than an open air field. We spent our time between The Cure and Roni Size. It was interesting, Day 3 brought in a much different crowd than the other two days. A much darker crowd.  I don’t know what it is…wait a minute, yes I do. Something to do with misery and wanting to slit wrists. Anyway The Cure was really good. I’m not a huge fan but Robert Smith was dead serious and taking no prisoners. They really put on a fantastic show for their loyal crowd and kept playing once the sound techs cut them off. The fans herded around the stage to hear them play with just their amps. While people were leaving the festival, The Cure was still playing.  I was able to catch part of the Lucent show. Lucent is a dance/acrobatic performance group somewhat similar, on a smaller scale to cirque du soleil with a little bit more dance and comedy involved. It was very entertaining. The stage set up was glorious. What’s even more entertaining is that a couple hours earlier, I raided the Lucent stage and was dancing all over it. There was a layer of water on the main stage area and I was kicking and splashing everywhere while I danced. Just as others were coming up to enjoy the festivities, one of the dancers told us we had to get down. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

There’s something about what the festival atmosphere does to the performers. They really come alive in this setting. I think it’s because they feel the energy of the crowd. It’s unavoidable. It allows the performers to give us their best. Probably more than they even knew they had. There’s no people standing 30 feet from the stage watching and judging like at most LA and NY shows. People are right up against the stage, dancing, closing their eyes and swaying, truly feeling the music. I’ll tell you, I dream of the day that I can perform on a stage like that. Anybody wanna invite Baxter House on their festival bill eh?

As the night was winding down, I told my gang I had to leave them for a while and head to the serpent mother one last time. My wonderful escort came with me and unfortunately by the time we got there, the festival staff was kicking people out and the flames had gone out. I was so sad. I gave the snake one last hug and kiss and walked with my baby toward my friends and alas, to the exit. At the end of the night, all i wanted to do was return to the womb of Coachella, the serpent mother.

While the womb may have been closed, the hot tub at the Palm Shadow Inn was not. The gang reunited for hours of debaucherous fun (in part thanks to the drunken Irishman who passed out over night and long into the morning in the hot tub) and spoke of their tales of the weekend once again. We then exchanged contact info and made a pact to stay at the Palm Shadow Inn next year. My group packed everything up and headed back to La La Land. Two days later, I am still feeling the rush of Coachella. I didn’t want it to end. I’m learning that there’s a population of folks who spend their lives traveling the festival circuit all around the world and never having to lose that feeling of being totally alive. But then, are they avoiding real life? Or is real life Coachella?

Sets I’m sorry I missed: AMANDA PALMER!!! (WAAAAAAH!!!), Groove Armada, Shepard Fairey, Fucked Up, Lupe Fiasco, Lykke Li

Favorites Performances of 09: Morrissey, The Kills, Gang Gang Dance, Roni Size Reprazent, Patton and Rahzel, Leonard Cohen

Long live the spirit of Coachella!

To find out more about Rachel, her band and upcoming shows, check out www.myspace.com/baxterhouse

The originators of “The Morongo”
Coachella
M.I.A.
MIA
Morrissey
Morrissey
Flava Flav’s crazy ass climbing the stage
Flava Flav
Baxter House represents
Baxter House
Written by: Baxter House

0 Responses to Coachella 09 – what you missed and why you need to come next year…

  1. traci says:

    oh, rach… this is an amazing blog. my girls and i have been doing coachella for 6 years now, and all agree this was one of the best ever. THE SERPENT MOTHER!!! she is the wallpaper on my phone right now! how beautiful! i wish we could have seen each other… turns out, according to your blog, we were so close the whole time. what an experience. i think we are doing Burning Man this year. i hope we don’t miss each other there. i love you guys.

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