Friday, April 23, 2010

What I saw at Coachella - Warning, this is a long post!

Some highlights from Coachella. It was hot. The crowd was young and a bit obnoxious. I hardly ate because it's so hot all you can think about is drinking water. Regardless, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Day 1 was spent mostly in traffic. I had a little meltdown -- but the good news is it could've been worse.

Here's who we saw...


We saw them because according to SPIN Magazine, they are one of the 25 bands to see at Coachella. They sounded pretty good from what I remember -- but who knows I was delirious at this point because I had been sitting in traffic for 4+ hours, then another 1hr30min in line under the hot sun.

Folk/Indie Rock
Los Angeles

She & Him is made up of actress/singer Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer, Elf) and M. Ward. I really like this duo. Their music reminds me of California. It's sunny and it makes you want to go on a bike ride (and I don't even remember how to ride a bike). They sounded good live. Zooey Deschanel is adorable like a kewpie doll. All the little girls want to be her and all the little boys want to be with her. She played the tambourine and keyboard while He played the guitar. Zooey is not a stellar singer or a musician, but there's something about her that is really likeable. I think they'd be better in a small venue.
*Notes about Zooey Deschanel. Her sister is the actress on the TV show Bones and she grew up in Hollywood because her dad is a big time cinematographer and mom is an actress.*

Rock Supergroup

Of course I had to see this group. This "supergroup" is made up of Dave Grohl on drums (lead singer of Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stoneage) and John Paul Jones (the soul living member of Led Zeppelin). These old guys rocked.

electro - pop/synth pop

La Roux is a fun and lively and you dance. Dancing is what I would've done if it weren't such a mess inside that tent. They are very popular and needed to be on a bigger stage.

 Brit Pop (I guess)

I didn't get to hear a lot of Imogen Heap because she started late and Vampire Weekend was about to start on the bigger stage next door. Coachella runs a very very tight schedule. Anywho.. what I did see I liked. Her set is cool, her hair is wacky. Her music is really good and has this serenity to it.
*Note about Imogen Heap: She used to be in a group called Frou Frou. Currently on the radio, Jason Derulo uses the hook of her song Hide and Seek in Watcha Say.*

Indie Rock
New York City

I was very excited to see Vampire Weekend. I really like their two albums (the first one better). I was not disappointed by their show. It was fun and they sounded great. They engaged with the audience. The energy level in the crowd did not seem too high but that's perhaps because of their music. It's not really music to dance to. I think of it as quirky. Fun fact about the band: They are a bunch of Ivy Leaguers (Columbia University).

Empire State

Ok, so we all know who he is. I was very excited to see him because I had seen videos of him perform live and they were good. I was blown away. I am not a hardcore Jay-Z fan but watching him perform you can see why he is so successful. He is a showman. He's funny, he's a crowd-pleaser and he delivers. I think what makes his performance sound amazing is his live band. Most hip-hop artists just have a DJ. He had a 10 piece band (sax, trumpets, drums, guitars, etc.). Whether or not you are a Jay-Z or hip hop fan, you would still appreciate how good is performance was. He told the crowd he was going to turn up the energy level not to 10 -- but to 99 and he definitely did.

I watched his show from the Beer Garden because it was away from the crowd and it was elevated and given that I am short, it was the perfect place. Plus it was away from all of the under-aged. Ha!

His show ended with Beyonce as a special guest. She sang Forever Young and it ended with fireworks. He sang 30+ songs until 1:00 a.m. This was the best closing performance of the festival.

I knew Day 2 just had to be logistically better and it was. The event organizers got their act together and the parking lot traffic was no longer a cluster-F and no more long lines!

Here's who we saw...

Indie/Surf type music/Pop
San Francisco

I've heard a lot about this band from SPIN Magazine (I mean SPIN LOVES them). They sounded better than I thought they would. I know more about the lead singer's personal life. He was born into a cult called Children of God where he wasn't allowed to listen to any music besides 50s and some other oldies. He eventually escaped the cult and became a musician. Their music was good.

Indie rock

I liked them better live. I have their album and to be honest I'm not that big of a fan. Some of the songs sound like it could be 5 different songs shoved into one. They sounded better live and I did not know there was an actual band. I honestly thought it was just two girls.


I didn't stay long for the Corinne Bailey Rae show because her songs are so melow it was getting drowned out by the other stages which is unfortunate. I have her first CD and I really like it. The problem with her show at Coachella was that it was on at night up against other bands who were loud so it was difficult to enjoy her show. I think it'd be great to see her in a small club. Two years ago her husband was found dead in their flat due to a drug overdose.


Really fun show because their music is fun to dance to. However, there were a bunch of kids around pushing and shoving I was really annoyed. I know, I sound like the old cranky person.

Listen to MGMT


Muse was one of the highly anticipated bands and they rocked, however, they were lacking a bit of stage presence. For me, live music is all about sounding good musically and interacting with the audience. They didn't say much for the crowd but their light show was amazing.

I was extremely disappointed at Coachella for falsely advertising that Muse was the closing act Saturday night because they weren't. After Muse was DJ Tiesto and on the stage over was Dead Weather. I understand why they would put DJ Tiesto at night on the main stage because he apparently is a big deal and it's clubbing music, but it really limited Muse. Unlike Jay-Z who kept playing well into the night, Muse was not allowed to do that. So after Muse, we checked out Dead Weather.

Listen to Muse

Dead Weather
Rock/Alternative... a little bit of blues rock... good stuff.

I didn't get a chance to see Dead Weather at the San Francisco Outsidelands Music Festival last year, so I knew I had to catch them at Coachella. This group is another sort of "supergroup" made up of Jack White (White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (The Raconteurs) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs).

Jack White is an incredible musician. He plays the drums for Dead Weather and he tore it up on the drums. He later sang and played the guitar. He is very very talented. They're pretty goth-looking but their music is not really all that dark. I really enjoyed the show until the really annoying clubbing music started on DJ Tiesto's stage. I mean.. how rude.

Listen to Dead Weather


One EskimO


The great thing about Coachella (or music festivals for that matter) is that you can just wander over to another tent and check out bands you've never heard of. I'm glad I went to this tent because they were pretty good. The singer has a great voice (kind of sounds like Gavin Degraw or James Morrison.. the whole white guy with a soul in his voice thing). He was wearing a bandana over his face so I was thinking, is this guy disfigured? I looked him up, he's not.

Indie Rock
San Diego

The bad thing about having so many indie rock bands in one venue is that at some point they all start to sound the same. To be honest, I can't remember how this band sounds but they were one of SPIN Magazine's bands to listen to. I read good stuff about their performance at Coachella and I believe it. I don't remember them sucking so.. that's good.

Listen to Soft Pack

HipHop, R&B, Rock.. he's a little of everything

I went to see this guy because I found out he sang that song that's currently on the radio "Nothing on You." I'm not a big fan of the song but I thought it might be interesting to see him. I was surprised at how diverse this guy is. I was impressed because this is what Coachella was all about. He raps, he sings, he plays the guitar... he's hip-hop, he's R&B and he's rock. I listen to all types of music. I don't have one preference over the other, in fact, I think my iPod sounds a lot like this guy -- kind of random. It was a bit strange seeing him go from one genre to the other. It will be interesting to see how people will react to his album which is to be released soon.

Listen to B.o.B

Mayer Hawthorne
Soul/Mowtown - think Temptations

So, I'm kind of in-love with this guy. I discovered him when I started following the blog of this singer named Nikki Jean and she opened up for a lot of his shows. So, I started following him on Twitter, and when I found out he was at Coachella, I was pumped. I'm pretty sure I've randomly mentioned him in a previous blog. He is adorable, his music makes me happy and puts a spring in my step :) His show is so much fun. Unfortunately, it was at the hottest part of the day and I just couldn't take standing with the sun beaming down my back anymore I left early.

Listen to Mayer Hawthorne

Alternative Rock

I was really really looking forward to seeing Phoenix. I absolutely love their latest album Wolfgang Amadeus. Their live performance did not disappoint. Their light crew didn't make it to Coachella because of the volcano eruption so the lead singer, Thomas Mars, said they would make it just about music. It was. I can't say enough good things about their show. My favorite was when they sang Lasso because they put a little bit of groove in it. Fun fact, the lead singer is with Sofia Coppola and he is the father of their two children. The band also had a cameo on Coppola's movie Marie Antoinette.

Listen to Phoenix

Ok, after you've listened to Lisztomania, watch this. I promise it's so worth watching:

Now, didn't that just put the biggest smile on your face?

Atoms for Peace (Thom Yorke)
Rock - Supergroup
All over

Supergroups dominated Coachella and this one was my favorite. Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Nigel Goodrich (Radiohead), and some other guy on the drums. They were amazing. Thom Yorke is the genius behind Radiohead and he truly is a genius. At first I was skeptical about his performance because his solo album Eraser is so mellow -- but with the addition of Flea, I was blown away. The performance musically was excellent, the energy was great and the best part was that the audience was all of the "older" folks -- all the kids have passed out or don't care for them. haha. I can't wait for them to release an album. Don't get me wrong, I would still like Radiohead to be together.

P.S. This was hands down the best performance at Coachella... one of the best I have ever seen.

Alternative rock/hip-hop/electro

Remember the Gorillaz? They are a cartoon band but with one mastermind behind the band, Damon Albarn. I was curious to see what this show was like. To be honest, it was disappointing. I thought they would bring out a lot of special guests like Snoop Dogg, Mos Def -- you know, people who rap on their songs, but they only had De La Sol and one other person. The lead singer was unfriendly. He did not say a word to the crowd and didn't even introduce the special guests. Perhaps that is why he formed a virtual band because the cartoons have more personality.

The music sounded good, the images were great (they even had a little clip especially made for this starring Bruce Willis in a car chase with one of the cartoon band members). That was the most entertaining thing. I wish Thom Yorke would have closed the night. The Gorillaz performance just does not compare to last year's closer, The Cure who I heard played until 2 a.m. that they kept playing once the Coachella speakers were already off. That would have been a dream.

Aside from the heat, traffic and annoying kids, Coachella was an amazing experience. I love music and I especially love live music. What I liked most about this festival is how it celebrated just music -- not a specific genre. I hope this is a trend that Coachella will continue because for me there's only two types of music -- music I like and music I don't like (good music, bad music). I'm not a music snob, I like what I like (even if that's Taylor Swift -- which I know practically every song on her latest album).

I hope you get to experience something like Coachella at least once in your life. 

It's only Spring, so let the Summer concerts begin! :)

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