4.19.2012

Attention Weekend Two


Three days later and I finally have the energy to write about Coachella. Weekend One is over and everyone who was not in attendance is either dying with excitement to arrive themselves or struggling desperately to find tickets. Now I obviously don't consider myself a veteran of the festival considering last year was my first time, but I will say that this year was marked with a several differences that definitely altered the memories I held from 2011.

First of all, the crowds. I was okay with two weekends of Coachella almost solely because they were offered with the promise of continued number control. But not only did Coachella add another weekend, they also added 20,000 people to each one. That's right, from 70,000 to 90,000 attendees. And it's a noticeable difference when you're trying to navigate between sets and or run late to an artist that has already started performing. I remember easily filling in for The Strokes behind the crowd that covered the ground in front of the stage last year. Meanwhile we were practically sitting at the Do Lab in order to find space behind the audience for Florence & The Machine this year. Personally the crowds gave me the feeling that 2011 might have been one of the last successfully "low-key" Coachella years. There were the die-hards who have been in attendance since the very beginning, those who were willing to try the experience for themselves based on a few close reviews, and then 2012 where no one was willing to be excluded after the year before.

2012 is the year Coachella took off. With two weekends, I can't help but feel as if the bond has been broken even if the experience is still incomparable to any other. I think the problem arises with the fact that the weekend can actually be repeated, altered, or changed. Friends get separated; people have different experiences. And once that exclusivity of Coachella is believed to be recreated or redone, the communal bond becomes severed by the question, "Which weekend?" I know I myself was late on the Coachella train, but I can't help but feel like 2011 was the only year I'll remember as the Coachella everyone has always raved about. This year, although amazing in so many ways, was different. We hit it right on the cusp and I hope everyone who experiences Coachella for the first time this year still finds that same magic.

My advice for Weekend 2?
GO TO THE DO LAB. Make it your meeting place, spend your down time there. It's one of the coolest Coachella additions and its an invigorating space to find your friends, hear up & coming DJ's, and cool off with the water. DO it.

Take Claritin. Bring lotion. Bring sunscreen. It's dry and it's hot and you will be spending three days singing and dancing non-stop. Also bring Kleenex, it can double as toilet paper too because porter-potties are gross.

Pick a meeting spot at every stage. Back right quadrant, A3, you decide. But choose an area that you can find your friends at no matter which stage your find yourself at.

Don't stress! I missed a few of the bands I wanted to see but I also discovered so many while I was missing those bigger names. You can watch podcasts later of the songs you already know...be willing to stop running and just sit in the tent you're closest to. Not to mention, the crowds are big and you don't want to be that person that ruins everyone's Radiohead experience because you're trying to cut through to catch the end of Kaskade.

And last but not least, THE MUSIC!

Friday
We started our day with R3hab, who started strong with a mix of Calvin Harris' "Flashback" that reminded me just how amazing Coachella really is. We passed by The Givers and I took a note to look them up!

Yuck had a slow start and honestly, although their music sounded great, I was disappointed by their almost total lack of enthusiasm. One of my favorite aspects of Coachella had been the artists had been just as excited as I was to be there although Yuck is one of my current favorites, it seemed they failed to realize that it was these fans that brought them here. Nonetheless, I have to admit they played "Get Away" perfectly.

We ran to Grouplove after a break to catch "Tongue-Tied" and "Colours" and they sounded incredible. Upbeat and fresh, I probably would've gone to their show in Santa Barbara on Monday if I hadn't fallen asleep for the entire day.

Feed Me played a fun mix of "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn and didn't forget to play my favorite, "Strange Behaviour."

ARCTIC MONKEYS! First of all, the crowd that filled in behind us during this show was unbelievable. I've loved the Arctic Monkeys since high school but I had no idea they had so many fans! They literally sounded so good that my friends and I decided that we need to give their newest album (not our favorite) a second listen. They also played "Evil Twin," a new song that I'm craving a listen to like mad. Their performance itself was full of personality, taking on their greaser personas and making sure the mirror inside the drum kit showed off their incredible talent. One of my absolute favorite shows and a dream come true. This is why were at Coachella!

We caught some of The Rapture's performance and I made another note to listen to more of their music, they sounded so good.

Okay, The Black Keys! I don't know it's possible, but they sounded even better live than any of their albums. And I know a lot of people have been giving them grief for being allowed to play Coachella again after a spotty performance last year but I think they are completely worthy of a second chance due to the technical difficulties of last year. And they definitely rose to the opportunity. The Black Keys proved that with working microphones, there's no stopping their authenticity and talent. They hit almost all their past album singles and played the three El Camino favorites, "Gold on the Ceiling", "Lonely Boy", and "Little Black Submarines." I remember imagining "Little Black Submarines" live the first time I heard the song and they absolutely exceeded my expectations. They drew out the tempo change a little longer and came back even harder. Ah, it was so blissful. Thank you Black Keys for the performance of a lifetime. I'll be sporting my band tee for years to come and raving about that song for everyone that asks how it was.

We closed the day with Swedish House Mafia and if you're going to see one show from this genre, don't miss SHM. They took over the main stage with insane lights and effects, everything from fireworks to actual fire. Their mixes were so much fun, finally bringing together the talent that we sampled from Steve Angello last year. The first (of many) Gotye remixes was played and dancing with all your friends during this set is a memory you won't ever forget. The perfect close to night one, leaving everyone struggling to imagine how Friday could possibly be surpassed.

Saturday
We started with Dragonette, who was the epitome of why I love the artists at Coachella. She was more than gracious to be performing at the festival and Dylan swears she even had tears in her eyes as she thanked the crowd that surrounded her stage. She had so much energy and it was obvious that this experience was as meaningful to her as it was for her fans. She slowed the intro the "Pick Up The Phone" and added a tempo that embraced more rock than electronic. She also played guitar to change up the genre of her newest song with Kaskade, which I actually probably like more than the original.

As we sipped Heinekin in the beer garden, we listened to Borgore finish his set with his remix of Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead." It was as if the stars aligned in granting me one of my favorite remixes in the best of settings.

We decided to stay for Jacques Le Cont, a European DJ, who I am now convinced will be the next big name and headliner in the electronic world. He mixed an awesome variety of songs and since his show was less crowded than other performers in Sahara tent, there was room for our entire group to dance and mingle. He was a surprising Coachella discovery that ended up being one of shows I remember dancing with the most of my friends during.

We tried to stay in Sahara for Zed's Dead, but the dubstep was just a little too heavy for our taste so we returned later for Martin Solveig instead. And Solveig didn't disappoint either. While I've always liked his mixes, he never stood out in any exceptional way until Coachella. Granted it was probably because he mixed Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he still managed to impress all of us by playing old hits with new sounds. He also played all the songs he is known for, like "Hello" with Dragonette, and his set kept smiles on all our faces.

Then we attempted to slow down our pulses for a little bit and headed to St. Vincent. Her voice blew me away. It was smooth, pure, and paired with some of the most soulful guitar playing I've seen. She played "Cruel" and some of her latest album, reassuring everyone who wrote "St.Vincent" on their Carpoolchella windows. Oh, and she's absolutely gorgeous.

We ran over to The Shins and caught the songs we first heard in high school. "New Slang," anyone? They played pretty flawlessly and it was a calm break from the hours we spent in Sahara.

We then chose to head back to Sahara for David Guetta but were pretty disappointed. He didn't play any of the songs he has notoriously mixed for numerous artists and actually instead played Avicii's "Levels?" We left before Usher made his appearance, sorry we're not sorry.

Everyone met at SBTRKT before Radiohead and ended up being completely absorbed by the method in which they play their music. SBTRKT started out standing a bit like a reliable "live" version of their album but redeemed themselves within a few songs and absolutely killed it with "Wildfire." They switched it up enough to give the track a fresh sound but kept it original enough to sing along to without looking as if you've never heard the song before.

Giving ourselves plenty of time to snag a close spot, we got ready for Radiohead. Ah, Radiohead. Undeniably the most talented band at Coachella, harmoniously presenting the vocals that have swept us off our feet since Pablo Honey. I caught myself wondering how it was even possible for them to keep to any sort of set list considering the passion that goes into their playing and the inevitable sweeping feeling that must overwhelm them as well. I would have loved more music off past albums but they delivered nonetheless with stripped versions as well as some added electronic interludes. They put us in another world where there's no arguing that music the greatest communicator of spirit. I will say that they carried on a bit with the encores...if you're going to do 4, just play 3 of the songs within the set so you don't disrupt my mood! :)

Sunday
Santigold began our Sunday after taking a long morning to recover from the past two days. I do regret missing Gardens&Villa or Morgan Page, but something the exhaustion does beat out good music. But we headed to the beer garden and sat in the shade for Santigold, listening to her exclaim how much fun the Coachella audience is and even went as far as to bring some people up on stage. She was a lot better than I actually expected her to be with such a unique voice but she not only sounded great but she performed with an exceptional amount of energy and enthusiasm. It's performances like that that make me want to remain loyal to the artist even if they aren't a particular favorite.

Then we spent some serious time in the Sahara tent, once again, for Porter Robinson and Dada Life. Dada Life definitely stood out from the two, putting on such a good show for every fan who was waving their inflatable bananas above the crowd. Dada Life didn't hesitate to build off that symbol either, mixing in some Gwen Stefani's "B-A-N-A-N-A-S!" Everyone was jumping, everyone was screaming...proving that we still had some energy left in us for our favorite performers.

Unfortunately we later spent 20 minutes waiting for Justice to start their set, one of the groups I was most excited to see. The technical difficulties were really a shame considering they sounded incredible the second their set started. According to Facebook they will back back this Sunday without any hiccups so if you're going to be there, GO! If only we had been able to enjoy them for an entire half hour before making our way to Calvin Harris...

Luckily Calvin Harris made our transition all the worthwhile. While other DJ's had been playing his hits throughout the weekend, nothing compared to the man himself. He brought in "Flashback," "Bounce," and "You Used To Hold Me" before introducing Rihanna for "We Found Love" and giving an authentic rendition of "Feels So Close." He killed it. While Calvin Harris has always been one of my favorites, he only secured my belief that he was not just a more rounded DJ but also a performer. He put on a great show...all the girls were searching for shoulders to jump on and there was even a man climbing the pillars on the side of the tent.

After Calvin we took a little breather by Florence & The Machine, catching "Shake It Out" and "Dog Days are Over" before heading to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. But Florence sounded just as beautiful as her voice does on her tracks and everyone filled the grass all the way back towards the Do Lab to enjoy her. At this time all the stages appeared to merging into one as everyone tried to set themselves up for the last performances of the night.

And then there was Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg themselves. Or should I say Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, G-Unit, and Tupac? I literally don't even know what to say about this performance...you've probably all watched it by now so we're all aware it was absolutely insane. INSANE. First of all, to hear the music you spent your high school years bumping to in your first car or at your first party just puts the largest smile of your face as you reminisce of all the memories you have from those days. We used to love this music! It was so much fun watching everyone in the crowd react when "Drop It Like It's Hot" or "Gin & Juice" came on...it truly was a priceless show even without the "resurrection" of Tupac himself. I don't know who in their right minds chose to go to Avicii instead of this show but I think I can accurately say that the Sahara tent will be empty for this show during Weekend Two.

And that was the end of Coachella. The crowd leaving the grounds was enormous, dragging their feet back to the campsite with the knowledge that one of the best weekends of their lives had come to a close. Damn reality, why does the memory of Coachella have to be so perfect that it's almost worth crying when "Fun." comes on the radio the next day? Weekend Two, you'll know what I mean in just a few days...