Post by Scenestirrer
I’ve been back for a bit and I’m still marveling at how amazing my weekend at Coachella was. I should say marveling as well as recovering. After all, there are few places you could find yourself on your feet all day to the point that when you finally do land in your bed early in the AM and stare at the four blisters you acquired you think, “Good thing I brought Band-aids,” instead of “I’m going to have to take it easy tomorrow.”
Time To Rest Your Feet And Get Some Sleep...
There are few instances where you would find yourself jumping up and down for an hour straight in 97 degree heat, paying no heed to the sweat pouring out of your body or woozy feeling in your head.
You’d be right to think it strange for people to wander around consorting with a booklet on their every decision but it is pretty common there as the Coachella set time pamphlets always tend to run out by the end of the weekend.
This is all part of the experience. If you love music, spectacle, and dancing your ass off, this is the weekend for you. And this year featured not only one of the best lineups in the festival’s history, but also superb art installations and state of the art light shows to add to the wow factor. In addition, there was excellent crowd control inside the event. It rarely felt overcrowded and the lines moved quickly. If there was any complaint for the whole weekend, it was the insane amount of time it took to get in and out of the parking lot. Other than that, it was nearly perfect. Here are the performance highlights:
The Arcade Fire
Unanimous: Arcade Fire Rocked the Hardest at Coachella '11
They were the hometown hero for the weekend. 7 years ago they took to the outdoor stage in the afternoon and turned out a performance that has defined their buzz thus far. When their second album dropped in 2007 they returned for an early evening performance, this time on the Main Stage. And this year, they returned to headline the festival in support of their Grammy winner for best Album, The Suburbs.
“Ready To Start” on The Suburbs
Of the three headliners, they were easily the best. While The Strokes sounded good, their stage show was very simple and though Kanye West did his best to bring the wow factor, there was little to enjoy under all of the flashing lights. Dare I say he needed more spectacle to compensate for what was just an okay set? And to be fair, I didn’t see the Kings of Leon’s big performance but from what I heard they played a solid show, but nothing compared to what The Arcade Fire brought.
When they took their spots, you could feel the excitement emitting from the stage. And for an hour and a half, they poured their hearts out on to the audience and like a wave of energy it washes over the crowd, bringing even those who were exhausted from two days of festival going off the ground to their feet in a frenzy of hand claps and cheers. It was really like watching a band that had fought and scratched its way from the bottom arrive on their home turf to do a victory lap. Powerful stuff to say the least.
Arcade Fire Lights Up the Crowd
And then, just when it seemed they couldn’t top themselves, a huge box (perhaps a train car is a more apt title) unleashed a couple thousand glowing balls on top of the crowd. The balls then did a coordinated light show that dazzled those holding them and those hypnotized by watching them. It was a sight to behold.
They Just Make You Wanna Dance!
A huge crowd packed themselves into the Mojave tent to see Australia’s Cut Copy, a band that definitely fits into the “Coachella Mold.” I say this because high energy, electronic infused dance rock is really what Coachella does best. However, what happened when they took the stage was pure euphoria. The crowd jumped up and down as one (at lead singer Dan Whitford’s urging) and sang along to all their songs, both old and new. In return, the band fed off the energy, giving a performance that made more than one fan a super fan (I know my passion for them has gone from casual listener to obsessed since their performance).
“Take Me Over” on Zonoscope
Best Reason To Take Up Raving
Sasha Keeps You Living the Beat
One of the Founding Fathers of Electronic Dance Music seized the stage for a solo turn (instead of with his usual partner in crime, John Digweed) and he took the crowd on quite the journey. It started down beat, trudging through dark samples and thundering beats and masterfully built to a rousing conclusion that featured one of the most intense light shows the Sahara Tent has seen. It’s impossible to have the best EDM all weekend and some of the DJs left a bit to be desired (I’m looking at you Fredde le Grand), but any DJs watching Sasha’s set got a master education in keeping your audience on its toes, and probably had lightshow envy as well.
Sasha Live Set
Best Reason to Drink Lots of Water
Two Door Cinema Club
They Fought Through the Hot With Their Sweet Beats
These up and coming kids more than matched the buzz they’ve been generating during the past couple years and they managed to do it at the hottest part of the afternoon on the hottest day of the fest. You’d have thought it was late night on a breezy Autumn day the way the crowd jumped and danced, but they were all just slaves to the music. I know, I was one of them. The set started strong and ended with a wonderfully rousing version of “I Can Talk” that sent everyone into a final whirlwind. Hopefully everyone was drinking water because the exiting crowd was soaked from all the sweating that took place.
“Undercover Martyn” on Tourist History
Jimmy Eat World
Blasts From Our Pasts
Ten years ago JEW was a band buzzing with potential. They delivered Bleed American, an album that put them on the map and followed it with Futures, a complex album that became one of my favorites from my college years. But their last two albums have left me (and judging by their sales the rest of the music loving public) cold. Still, I wanted to see them, if anything, for nostalgic. Alas, I totally underestimated them. As they (wisely) stuck mostly to their early work, it became a nostalgic sing along for the crowd and the band rightfully rocked as hard as they did ten years ago.
“Higher Devotion” on Invented
Empire of the Sun
These Boys Know How To Show You A Good Time
The lead singer emerged in a variety of costumes ranging from bejeweled head-dress to shaggy horse hair suit in front of a screen displaying some of the craziest visuals I’ve seen at a live performance. All the while he was flanked by four back up dancers dressed as everything from dolphins to Geishas to… well I’m not sure. It was quite a memorable look, but the music was never lost in all the spectacle (see Kanye West). In fact, they took songs off of their album and made them even more irresistible by adding more beats and hooks to take them to a whole new level. It’s an act I long to see again. Stat.
“Tiger By My Side” on Walking On a Dream
Best of the Rest
Don't Miss Out Next Year
Which is a good way to summarize the weekend as a whole.
Now the festival is over, but its cultural persuasion is just beginning. It’s time to see what artists will break big after this launch pad. Some bands put on such an amazing performance, their tours will no doubt be littered with people wanting another taste. Some showgoers will flock to see the bands they missed (for me, I’m bummed to have missed The Presets and Freelance Whales, among others). But it’s also time to look forward to next year’s. Tickets will probably go on sale in December and they will no doubt sell out just as quick as they did this year. It’s only 350 some odd days away, so you should get planning now if you want to be a part of something truly unique and trendsetting in the music community…