Wednesday, April 25, 2007
My Coachella preview
Coachella is to music festivals as Auschwitz is to winter retreats. It’s an exhausting, expensive, dehydrating endurance test where boys are turned into men. For that matter, so are women. It’s where you accumulate weird abnormalities and sores on your feet (for the record, the nail on my big toe on both of my feet is still not 100% from last year), where you never have to use the toilets because you’re sweating out fluids more quickly than they can fill your bladder and where a slice of pizza can set you back $8 after waiting in line for a half an hour.
This ladies and gentlemen is flavor country.
This is my third year attending the festival and each year the level of anticipation has grown exponentially. Ironically this has nothing at all to do with the bands playing, as this year’s line-up (over-extending and spread too thin over three days instead of the usual two) could be the worst in the gathering’s eight year history. Coachella has always struggled to find a balance between headliners it can anchor ticket sales too (using established acts from the mid to late 90’s as a fallback position) and flash in the pan sensations not ready to entertain 20,000 screaming fans, and this year’s edition is no different.
Last year myself and my housemate Jay crammed into a small Palm Springs hotel room about 45 minutes from the Polo Fields with our friend Aya and about 5 five of her friends. It cost a small fortune and made for some interesting sleeping arrangements. This year Jay and I are crashing at a house (nice) only a few minutes walk from the venue (nice!) for free (NICE!). Renting a house to coincide with Coachella can cost in excess of $200 a person for the weekend, so it’s a good thing our friend Aaron’s grandmother has a nearby house and that he was nice enough to murder her and stash her body. Even if it means sleeping on a couch or a corner of the floor, there’s just something so rejuvenating about being in a house with more than one bathroom and a fridge.
Plus apparently there are a couple of coked-out orgies planned by some of Jay’s co-workers who will also be up there. And I always approve of that.
As for the music? Like I said, I’m not overly-impressed with this year’s line-up, with only a handful of acts I’m legitimately excited to see. But that can also be blessing as I’m more likely to follow a friend over to some band I’ve never heard of and give them a shot. The great thing about Coachella is it really is musical buffet; that means you can leave an entire plate of shrimp untouched without feeling guilty. Just move on to the next thing once you start to lose interest.
The other bonus with Coachella is just how bizarre and varied the artists they bring together for the weekend. Last year I got to see Kanye West, Tool, Massive Attack, Madonna, Wolfmother, Paul Oakenfold and Matisyahu (and that’s not counting the fact I foolishly skipped Imogen Heap and Gnarls Barkley) and this year should be equally eclectic.
I’d half considered listing my schedule for the weekend but that stuck me as a) insanely self-indulgent b) insanely time consuming and c) insanely premature as I suspect it will be lots of snap decisions and peer pressure. Instead, below is a list of bands which I’ll try and be getting to by date:
Bjork (most of my friends will be cutting out halfway through her set to check out DJ Shadow, but as I’ve never seen her live, consider my ass planted)
Jarvis Cocker (if only so I can scream along “Cunts are still running the world!”)
Peaches (although I may skip out if she’s as tedious as I heard or if I’m getting good vibes of Felix Da Housecat)
Comedians of Comedy (featuring Neil Cumpston himself, Patton Oswalt)
Saturday (aka the shitty day):
Tiesto (Allegedly the best DJ in the world… I remain dubious)
Peter Bjorn and John
Roky Erikson & the Explosions
I’ll also probably end up at both Arcade Fire and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve seen both before, the former just two years ago at Coachella ’05, the latter when I was 15. I seem to be the only person on earth who actively hates Arcade Fire but there’s nothing else playing against them I’m especially enthused about and I might just end up following the pack. Chili Peppers are great live, I just haven’t cared about their music since my balls dropped.
Rage Against the Machine (not a huge fan, but how can I not?)
Going to try and hit Air and Paul Van Dyk even though they’re on at the same time. Wish me luck.
C.S.S. (I’m bummed I have to miss Kaiser Chiefs for them, but I’ve been rocking their CD since I first saw them last fall).
And of course, Explosions in the Sky whom I expect to be the high point of the weekend.