The Coachella Post: Day 1

I guess you could say that my Coachella story starts with the Ladytron concert in Seattle on Wednesday night or the awesome time I had in San Franscisco visting Brook, but this is called “The Coachella Post,” not “Jason’s Vacation,” so I’ll try to stay on-topic.

My friend Troy and I flew in to Los Angeles on Friday night and hungout with my friend Katrina until around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. In the morning we had breakfast on Hermosa beach, then set out in Katrina’s resilient silver Jetta for Indio, California.

Not much can be said for the trip down there except that it was pretty stereotypical Californian. There was lots of traffic (on a Saturday afternoon!). We listened to bands like The Faint, Smashing Pumpkins, stellastar*, and The Flaming Lips.

The check-in at the Hampton Inn (part of the Hilton empire) in Palm Desert, California was at 3 p.m. We got there a bit early, but they let us get our room early, so we dropped off our excess baggage and started toward Indio.

When we got off at the first of three exits for Coachella, there were no signs telling us where to go. We figured that the white pickup truck in front of us (with some rather hippie-looking guys in it) was also heading to the festival, so we followed them for a while. As luck would have it, however, the truck was probably not going to Coachella (perhaps it was taking a detour or something?), and after following it for about 10 minutes with no sign of Coachella, Katrina called her friend (who was also on her way to Coachella) who had a friend who informed us that we went the wrong direction on the exit.

We turned back and finally got headed in the right direction, which was pretty obvious by the amount of traffic. At this time it was probably around 3 p.m. or so. The first band we really wanted to see was Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and they started at 5:05 p.m. We figured that we’d have plenty of time to get to the festival and find a good spot to see the band.

Yup – we were wrong.

We ended up sitting in traffic for about two hours before we got to park the car and get inside the actual festival. By the time we got to the Mojave tent (where Clap Hands was playing), the place was totally packed and there was no way we could even get inside to see the band (let alone hear them). To be fair, Clap Hands was pretty hyped up (“This year’s Arcade Fire?”), but it still really sucked and they were Katrina’s #1 band that she wanted to see and needless to say, it wasn’t necessiarly a great start to the whole Coachella experience.

They Only Love You When You’re Drunk?

Ladytron at Coachella
So how did we solve that? A stop that the beer garden! It seems the exclusive beer at Coachella was Heineken, so we got very familiar with that beer. After two or three beers (and hearing/seeing some of Kanye West on the monitors on the main Coachella Stage), we were feeling better about Coachella and even decided that we could brave the Mohave again so that we could catch Ladytron (who I had seen only two nights ago!). It is rather weird seeing the same band twice during the same tour. I already knew the opening song (“High Rise”), which two songs made everyone the most excited (“Playgirl” and “Destroy Everything You Touch”), which song reminded me of my friend Stephen (“Cracked LCD”), when they were going to make people clap/wave their hands/arms (“Last One Standing”), and what song would close out the night (“Seventeen”). Despite the déjà vu/repetition, Ladytron does a great show and they have become one of my favorite bands, so I didn’t mind seeing them again. Plus, I think Troy and Katrina loved the show, too.

After Ladytron (when the sun had gone down a bit), we decided that it was time to eat. Katrina and Troy got bratwurst, and I got a great thing called Veggie Delight (couscous, red onion, etc. in a tortilla dipped in hummus) from a place that only served raw, vegan, organic food (and the line was much shorter, believe it or not!).

This Fffire Is Out Of Control

Franz Ferdinand on the monitor at Coachella
At that point, Katrina wanted to try to see Eagles of Death Metal, while Troy and I wanted to see Franz Ferdinand. We decided to meet up at this place that was essentially a hippie tent (and which we have a good inside joke name for [which I shouldn’t share]) so that we could get more beer during Depeche Mode since they were at the main Coachella Stage and we could see that from the beer garden.

Part of me wishes that I would’ve been able to get up closer for Franz Ferdinand, but even from quite a distance, they were awesome. We got there around the middle of the set, so we only heard a handful of songs. I recall “Take Me Out,” “Outsiders,” “Michael,” “Jacqueline,” and “This Fire.”

Of those songs, “Michael” and “This Fire” were already two of my favorites, which probably made the whole experience much better. I am also quite proud of myself (and Troy should back me up on this!!) for predicting that they were going to close with “This Fire.” Troy had predicted their cover of “Sexy Boy” (though I’m not sure if he was very serious).

Just Give Me a Pain That I’m Used To

So we met up with Katrina (unfortunately Damien Marley was running late so she didn’t get to see Eagles of Death Metal) and had some more Heineken. In retrospect, I maybe should have tried to rush over to the Gobi tent to see The Juan Maclean (I still feel guilty for missing his show in Seattle in March), but getting buzzed while listening to Depeche Mode wasn’t too bad.

They opened with “A Pain That I’m Used To,” and since that’s one of my favorites from their most recent album, I was excited. But then they went on to play mostly older stuff (I remember hearing “Route 66” and “Policy of Truth”). I would’ve loved to hear more from Exciter or Playing the Angel, but what can you do? We needed to be at Daft Punk before they started at 11 p.m., so maybe once we left Depeche Mode played some more recent stuff.

Robots After All!!!!

Daft Punk at Coachella
My favorite show at Coachella, without a doubt, was Daft Punk. Since they so rarely tour (and since they are freakin’ robots!), we knew that the show was going to be great, and probably a close-to-once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I forget what time we got there, but I think we did pretty good getting up close. They played in the Sahara (a.k.a. “dance tent”), which was the largest of the 3 tented areas. I think we were somewhere in the front half or third.

They opened with a vocal exchange “human/robot” which lead into the song “Robot Rock.” When the curtain drew, Daft Punk (as robots!!) were standing in top part of a triangle thing with turntables in front of them. It may be one of those things you have to see to appreciate, but for whatever reason seeing the two robots was hilarious. From that point, I knew we had gotten ourselves into one hell of a show.

The set consisted of stuff from all three of their albums, but what made it really unique was that they mixed songs together – basically mashing-up their own work. I wish I could remember some examples, but I’m sure a thorough set list will be posted online shortly.

The highlights for me were “One More Time” (the first dance/club song that I absolutely loved), “Around the World” (“classic” Daft Punk, and their first major hit), “Da Funk” (another “classic”), “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” and “Technologic.”

I really don’t think it was due to the drinking or heat, but Daft Punk was one of those concerts where I really lost myself in the music. I know it’s cliché, but that’s how I felt. I was dancing, having a great time, feeling the energy of the people. It was amazing.

If Daft Punk or the Coachella people or some ingenius bootlegger doesn’t produce a CD/DVD combo of that show, the world will lose a truly great moment in history. (Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but that’s how strongly I felt about the show.)

The only disappoting part of Daft Punk was at the end after the last song (a medley of sorts) and Daft Punk (still as robots!!) left the stage, the little triangle thing they were standing on lit up a few times. This prompted some of us to believe that there was going to be an encore. We were standing next to the lighting/sound setup in the middle of the tent, so we could kind of see that everything was over, but we still thought that maybe there was a sliver of a chance that the robots would do something spontaneous and give us more music. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Hell Is Other People/White Trucks

Leaving the Coachella field that night was a nightmare. Toward the only exit we knew about (we later learned that there was more than one way to leave), there was some major bottlenecking action, thus making it extremely difficult to leave.

I’m glad to report that the crowd didn’t lose control or riot, but it may have been getting pretty close. There were some people who got so desperate to leave that they climbed through a “wall of trees” (meant as a fence or whatever). The crowd loved this and cheered quite loudly for the first few people, but then it got rather pathetic.

Once we made it to the parking lot, we realized that we managed to park rather close to the exit, which was very cool. We got into the line of cars getting ready to leave, then this evil white truck basically started another line parallel to ours. At first it was just this truck, but then, of course, other cars started following it, which ultimately meant it took us longer to get out just because this jackass thought it was special enough to have its own line.

Oh, and obnoxiously loud music was coming from the truck, so Katrina and I countered it with our Coast to Coast AM cd. I think ultimately we won because it embarrassed all of the closeted Coast fans around us.

Once we got back to the hotel we took our much-needed showers, then waited for Katrina’s friend and her friend to spend the night in our room. They arrived, showered, we talked for a bit (and maybe freaked them out since we told them that I was there to see Tool [which I wasn’t – I hate Tool and I would imagine most of their fans would scare me]) then went to sleep.

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