We made a concerted effort to get to the venue earlier on Sunday, beginning the day with The Lumineers, a band I possess no overt fondness for, but who seemed to delight the mostly white crowd with their blend of pleasant and non-threatening oeuvre.
Next up was Paul Oakenfold’s DJ set — it was my first EDM experience during Coachella, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I must admit, it was quite awesome. Once the music started pumping, it was hard not to join the amped-up crowd and get into the music. Oakenfold was helped by a tremendous light show and guest drummers and vocalists. It bodes well for the various EDM festivals I’ll be covering this summer.
I then joined a packed house at the Mojave tent to see La Roux, a band I didn’t know much about, but who drew one of the most raucous crowds of the entire festival. They were fantastic, with the live instrumentation and electronic elements forming a great backing unit for Elly Jackson’s stage presence. She slinked back and forth on the small stage to great effect, and persuaded me to check out their records now that I’m back to real life.
I also managed to catch 20 minutes of The Faint, which was a treat, and they were both energetic and focused while playing their unique blend of synth-rock. Unfortunately, as happens so often at Coachella, the Wu-Tang Clan beckoned on the Outdoor stage, and I had to navigate the tens of thousands who had gathered in anticipation. Would there be a hologram of Ol’ Dirty Bastard? Sadly, it was not to be, but it was a treat in itself that all of the Wu-Tang were in attendance, including Cappadonna and Redman, who made a special guest appearance on his birthday and performed “Da Rockwilder” with Method Man. The highlight for me was their performance of “Winter Warz,” one of my favorite cuts off Ghostface’s first solo joint, “Ironman,” in which Cappadonna spits one of the best rap verses of all time. Unlike half the crowd, I stayed for the entirety of the Wu-Tang set (and all of the second-hand weed smoke from the crowd) then wandered over to catch a few minutes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers before driving back to L.A. to beat traffic and catch my morning flight.
What can I say about RHCP? When I saw them in New Jersey with The Mars Volta a few years back, the Chili Peppers blew me away with both their live performance as well as their light-show and stage set-up. Unfortunately at Coachella, they were dealing with some circumstances that affected both their sound and presentation. The departure of John Frusciante left a giant gap in the band, as for me, he was the one aspect of their live performance that truly stood out. In a band comprised of stellar musicians all, I think that says it best. To me, Frusciante is the modern day white Hendrix, both for his virtuosity and creativity, and it’s difficult, if not outright impossible, to replace a guitarist of that caliber. Josh Klinghoffer certainly has an impressive resume, but it’s not easy to fill shoes that large. He was also done in by an audio mix that was the worst I’d heard all weekend, and a far step below every other band that occupied the main stage. And of course, the sandstorm. What an annoying fucking distraction for the bands, and the driving was a shit experience also thanks to heavy winds and poor visibility.
All in all, Coachella was a very fun experience, and I plan to add it to my list of yearly events. I envy the guy I met who is attending both weekends, so that he can see all the bands, instead of being stricken by conflicts at every turn.
But next year, I’ll definitely rent a house instead of staying at a hotel.
(I had this written yesterday, but like many, felt the need to delay posting in light of the events in Boston. My thoughts and best wishes to all those affected.)