Coachella: Day 1

The first day at Coachella felt like returning to summer camp. The sun was shining bright, the smell of overpriced hot dogs and pizza lingered in the air. The first place our photographer, Koury Angelo, and I headed was the Yuma dance tent. We got down for a good couple hours with a solid group of day trippers who decided the best way to beat the heat was to stay inside the dark, air-conditioned pop-up dance club.

After we had racked up enough time listening to thumping laser beats inside Yuma, we headed back out into the world of the weird to peek around at all the weirdos at Coachella. Not a lot has change over the years as far as style goes. There are still lots of Native American headdresses, lots of banana costumes, as well as banana hammocks. Lots of barely there bikinis paired with grizzly bear beanies and feathers dropping down from some girl’s fresh extensions. Very well worn territory. We were not impressed.

Aesop Rock was the first show we stopped off at. Aesop came out hard, throwing hands up and jumping across the stage, doing all he could to whip the crowd into a frenzy. His hype man wandered the stage too, shouting "Yeah!" and "What!" between lines in Aesop’s poetry. Unfortunately for the original Aesop, the audience didn’t hear his words. Whoever was running the sound for the show made some error, probably due to prolonged heat exposure, and the MC’s mic was left off, leaving the crowd with an instrumental soundtrack and a hype man shouting exclamations.

The best part of Aesop’s set: Homeboy was wearing one of Travis Millard‘s new t-shirt’s from his latest art exhibition. Aesop has good taste.

The day really got started when Metric hit the scene. Their set started at prime drinking hour and from the VIP beer garden, you had a perfect few of the band’s performance. Dressed all in white, Emily Haines commanded a crowd of long time followers ready to get down to Metric’s new-waving rock ballads. Emily’s beautiful voice sounds exactly the way it does on records – which doesn’t always seem to be the case with rock bands. If you are a guy and you aren’t turned on by how gorgeous Emily Haines is – just wait until you hear her voice.

Best part of Metric’s set: The song Sick Muse – all time favorite Metric song.

Next, we pushed over to take a quick glimpse at Alt-J. The weirdness that resounds in their albums comes through magically in their music, but seems to fall a bit short in their performance. I’m trying to blame it on the sunshine. Not only because the heat was probably a little too much for the band to feel comfortable going wild in, but also because their music (in my opinion) feels best when listened to at night. It’s like trying to eat meatloaf and mashed potatoes for breakfast – sure, it might taste totally awesome, but something about it just doesn’t sit right.

The best part of Alt-J’s set: Seeing that strained squeal of a voice come out of the mouth of Joe Newman.

Some of you kids might be into Passion Pit, but I just don’t get it. The first time I heard their music I thought I could get into it, but it just turned out to be the same thing over and over again. Watching them through beer goggles made them a bit more tolerable, but I opted out after a bit to check out the Do Lab performers. The Cirque Du Soleil meets Stomp meets Burning Man meets Skrillex performances artists are a staple at Coachella. Located in the center of the field, their stage acts as both a jaw-dropping act filled with fire and acrobatics, but it’s also the perfect place to meet back up with your friends and rest in the shade.

The sun went down after Passion Pit and the lights of Coachella lit up the sky. It was a perfect time for a ride on the Ferris Wheel. Hanging high in the sky over the fields of Coachella you get to see just how incredibly massive the festival actually is. As I watched the tiny colored dots that represented festival goers all gathering together at the main stage to watch Modest Mouse, all I kept thinking about was how much money Golden Voice was making. Answer: A shit load.

Modest Mouse has been a favorite band of mine for years. I have seen them twice before this. Once was at the Firefly Music Festival where they performed amazingly. This time though, there was something strange going on. I don’t know what Isaac Brock was fucked up on, but that dude was gonzo! In between songs he would mumble rants towards a gigantic field of eager fans that seemed t turn more and more into disinterested fans as he babbled on incoherently. At one point, the front man began rubbing his belly asking the crowd to join with him in humming one long ohm, to which he got a less than inspired response from his crowd. Perhaps in a different state, the singer would have said ‘to hell with it then’ and continue playing music. In the state of mind that Brock was in at that moment though, he decided to try again after confessing to the audience "I don’t know why I want you all to do this. It’s dumb really, but I am just interested to hear what it sounds like". All in all, Brock’s drunken ramblings may have felt like watching a drunken groomsman making an ass out of himself at a wedding, but it nevertheless added to why I like Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse so much. He’s a rockstar. He’s unapologetically admitted to being a functioning alcoholic, so it should have been no surprise to anyone to see him in his curent state. When he would finally stop talking and pick up his banjo or guitar and growl verse after verse, he sounded perfect. So in the end, I had no complaints.

The best part of Modest Mouse’s set: After a few too many long-winded speeches, Modest Mouse ran over their allotted amount of set time. Instead of letting the band finish playing their song, Float On, they decided to cut off Brock’s microphone. The crowd watched as some nerdy looking old man wandered up to an oblivious Isaac Brock and inform him that even though he was still singing, no one else could hear him and he needed to leave the stage. I have never, in all my years of going to concerts, seen a more blatant display of disrespect for a band.

It was totally awesome.

After Modest Mouse, I sat quietly by myself on the big green lawn and watched all the people wander around the festival as Beach House‘s soothing melodies washed over me. Under a clear sky and a slight breeze, I closed my eyes and was reminded of why even after all the bullshit of the security, the parking, and the ticket, beer and food prices, I still love going to Coachella. Being somewhere experiencing music with that many people makes you feel electric. You feel like you are connected with all those people – even the dreamers in stupid costumes and the lame girls wandering around in lingerie and fur boots. That feeling of being connected to so many people is worth every penny you spend to come to Coachella.

Best performance of the night goes to The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. That sparkling siren, Karen O, has a set of golden pipes to match her golden face paint and golden boots. Tonight she arrived to the stage dressed as a cross between a Vegas style Elvis and a Catholic priest. A choir of gospel singers backed her up for the first song, and latest single, Sacrilege, as the crowd at Coachella went bananas. Karen controlled her audience with every whip of her microphone cord. The naturally tall front woman appeared as a looming giant as an explosion of lights, bright enough to make God squint erupted behind her.

The best part of YYY’s performance: Karen O stuffing the microphone into her mouth and then down her tight pants as she shimmied and shook across the stage in true Elvis fashion.

After Karen O took Coachella to church, I wandered towards the Sahara tent to secure my seat for Bassnectar. I waited in a cathedral of LED screens, as sweaty body after sweaty body began piling in, forcing me closer to the front of the stage. By the time Bassnectar was about to begin, I was so worn down from the crowd that I thought I might fall asleep standing up; but when the lights of those massive LED screens turned on and the DJ’s long hair began to bounce over his face to the beat of the music, the crowd (myself included), went ape shit and there was no possible way I could have remained tired.

The best part of Bassnectar’s set: The dance beats and the amazing stage set up was the perfect way to end the night. It got me so pumped to come back to Coachella the next day with a mission to dance my feet off.

Photos By: Koury Angelo

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