Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coachella 2011

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to realize this, but the best part of live music, especially a weekend full of it, is camaraderie. And I don't mean just between guys, as the word is generally used, but between everyone. On the broad level, I am surrounded by a ton of strangers that have at least one common point of interest as me - the music. We enjoy, relish in, and in some cases, individually have our minds blown by the showmanship, musicality and badassness of the bands. We uphold an unspoken code, which when respected, strengthens the bond. On a more personal level, I get to hang out with my close friends and experience this camaraderie fueled by great weather, great music, and a ton of walking. If you haven't figured it out yet, I just got back from Coachella.

Usually, I like to go in order of the shows I went to, sprinkled with a few interesting things I saw/did. But, seeing as I am limited on good pictures this time, I'm going to show you Coachella through different aspects of it. First - The Environment. The fist picture up there is the art installation that has grown to define Coachella for me. A common meeting place and just a cool sculpture.

Here's another art installation. It was somewhat interactive with music playing the whole time, but as you can see, most people used it as refuge from the sun. It's a human formed shadow in the shape of a bus shaped cassette tape player.

Crazy sky writing. At first, it was cool to hang a banner from your plane and advertise. Then it was cool to blow smoke from your plane and write cursive messages. NOW, it's cool to hop into your plane, get four of your buddies to do the same, and actually write text in the sky with synchronized and choreographed spurts of smoke. Insane.

Sun down is by far the the most beautiful part of Coachella. Not only does the sky perform its visual spectrum, but the intense heat dies down, leaving the warm winds to slowly cool you. Sometimes the experience, paired with the right music, is too much.

Next part of Coachella - The People. Did you know that there are A LOT of different people in the world? If you answered "no," first, please realize that it was a hypothetical question in joke and second, please get out more; diversity it awesome. With that said, the crowd was actually pretty normal with sprinkles of special.

Here's a sprinkle of special. I think this guy is top 3 of best outfits for the festival. There was something about the outfit that reminded me of the San Francisco. Maybe the suspenders...?

Did I mention it was hot down there? On Saturday, the day of this picture, the high was around 98. These ingenious kids took the tops off the compost and recycling bins and used then as shade. Not the most hygienic source of comfort, but it gets the job done.

I thought this shirt was homemade and thought it funny that THIS dude not only made it, but wore it. Turns out, its not homemade.

This label must have been homemade because, come on, The Boss? I guess I just don't get who she was trying to tell this to.

Ok, I feel a little bad for posting this, but it was just too good not to. If you don't yet know what a douche bag is (in reference to a person), here is your definition in picture form:

From my count, there are at least four examples of a douche. It's not necessarily the bro status of over worked-out, waxed and tanned torsos and the irony of a group of narcissist that think they are each god's gift to the world. It's the disrespectful use of a Native American headdress. In trying to give them some credit, this was somewhat of a trend this year. But in my opinion, you have to realize what was done to Native American's and what making a trend out of their traditional dress means.

Ok, time for me to get off my soap box and on to The Music. Just short intros since I've been yapping up till now.
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. It was great to see this SF girl perform again. Consistent and crowd pleasing.

Another SF performance was the Morning Benders. They get "Best Song of the Festival" with their performance of Excuses. In a hot tent packed with old and new fans, they lead us all into a harmonious round of uninhibited singing.

Glasser. Amazing. Amazingly weird.

Rye Rye. I only caught a few songs of hers, but it was all high energy and a ton of fun.

Not to mention a ton of sas to go with it!

This Kills did just that. Killed! We got up close for this show and they rocked it. With hair all in her face, the occasional spit across the stage and a voice controlled from melodic to scream in the a deep register, Alison Mosshart defines cool. As a pictorial definition, please refer to the picture below.
And then there was The National. The National that made the sun set. The National that controlled the wind. It was an eerie effect that bordered along the lines of sublime how The National somehow coordinated their songs with the intensity of the wind. Hands down best experience of Coachella.

Now on to The Stages. Actually, now that I look at the pictures I have, just the main stage. The Coachella stage is where all the big acts perform and is usually the one with all the tricks. This year, the festival outdid itself.

Interpol gave us an amazing audio-visual show with unique videos, giving their performance dimension. I was pretty far back and only included this pictures because of the pumped fist. Total empathy for that dude.

Kanye West had pyro at his show. PYRO! I've never seen that before and he just kept pumping it out with bursts of fire, fireworks over the stage, and this waterfall of fire. Crazy! Fire!

Animal Collective had these awesome cubes that displayed their psychedelic backdrop. OOOooo, the colors!

And Arcade Fire's giant face. Their show was actually satisfying from afar. Their performance is so theatrical with so many members, that the camera guys probably had an easy time capturing something cool at all times.

I will say that Coachella's intermission stage show was pretty cool. Two giant grids would close the stage off, followed by an audio-light show that pumped the crowd up. My only beef is that it came off more as a stall tactic when they would start it 10 minutes after the band should have started. I've got another beef to pick with that stage, and that was the sound. They messed up on the sound way too many times for me to be cool about it. There is nothing like being disappointed at an awesome show because of the sound. Lame.

Who did I go with you ask? The Friends.

Well, the original crew was back together for another Coachella. Casey, Richmond and I saw most of the shows together.

From left to right, it's Rose, Dawson, Casey, Mary, Damien, and Richmond (although since this was a sneak attack picture, it only looks like Casey and Richmond were meant to be in it)

Similar crew again, minus Mary and added Kristen (and me). Its a bummer that it came out blurry, but it works. I had so much fun with my comrades this weekend. Thanks guys!

Coachella was awesome as usual. And, the more awesome part of the whole thing is that it was Casey and my kickoff for our big trip. In seven hours we will be on a plane for France! Thus said, the next post will be entirely in French! Haha, just kidding, I don't speak French yet :/


Dawson said...

Good times Jon! and a great document to remember it by.

celia said...

I enjoyed your documentation. That is amazing the sky writing. Unreal. Cool pix and your group shot but I also understand your concern for the Native American headdress. Can't wait to experience your big trip via your blog. : D

celia said...

Guess what, Josh Grobin shared on Regis and Kelly that he was at this concert. He really enjoyed it.