Monday, April 30, 2007

Report From the Field From Coachella - #10[the last post as well]

And Now the Finaly post from the LA Newspapers blogger who cover Cocahella

The L.A. Times

The Roots branch out into activism too

If a common sentiment emerged from the hip-hop acts that rocked this year's Coachella, it's opposition to the Bush administration, with everyone from well-known political firebrands like the Coup, El-P and Pharoahe Monch to relative newcomers like Brother Ali and Lupe Fiasco. The latter dedicated his anti-imperialist screed, "American Terrorist" to a roaring crowd. But perhaps the highlight of the bunch was the Philadephia hip-hoppers, The Roots, a group less known for their subversive sentiment.

Indeed, the showstopper of the Roots' 50-minute main stage set was a cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," with soul singer Kirk Douglas handling vocals and bursts of psychedelic guitar and funky drums buoying the noise. The rest of the Roots set was less explosive and incendiary, as the band rattled off a series of covers ranging from funk classics like "Jungle Boogie" to "Push It" to "Egyptian Lover" to "Award Tour" to even Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot."

Fiasco's set earlier in the day was similarly captivating, with the Chicago-bred MC displaying an energetic stage presence, flinging water on on-lookers and even sprinting into the crowd during closer, the Beta Band-sampling "Daydream."

Desert dealings, Vol. 5

Officials put the crowd total at 60,000 for each day of Coachella, though the grounds seemed more crowded Sunday. Maybe it was just the bigger-than-usual (for the time slot) main stage crowds for afternoon sets by Explosions in the Sky and the Roots.

Of the 16,000 campers at the festival, 30% were from outside the U.S.

A moment of silence for José González

While the Klaxons were exploring the rhythmic possibilities of an air raid siren in the Mojave Tent, Sweden's José González was, against all odds, performing to a rapt crowd at the Gobi Tent.

Like Cat Stevens without the "Peace Train" homilies, the slight and scruffy González performed atop the stage's drum riser, accompanied at times by conga and a young woman who offered a few gentle pats on a cowbell as well as an occasional vocal harmony. As the sun slowly set behind us, González's breezy renditions of "Heartbeat" and "Stay in the Shade" needed little else beyond his honeyed voice and delicately finger-picked guitar. Until, of course, the bass rumbles from the DJs spinning in the geodesic dome at the tent's mouth elbowed their way to the front of the tent. Every coffeehouse troubadour knows the feeling

Party at CSS's house

Cansei de Ser Sexy, Sub Pop's Brazilian delegates of juicy dance-rock, chased after the rainbow of glam-hipster band fame every second of their performance. Purple unitard on Lovefoxxx? Uh-huh. A preponderance of bandanas and/or glittery scarves on every band member? You know it. Paris Hilton dancing on the side of the stage? Afraid so. And check out this unholy amount of self-referencing: Lovefoxxx told the audience that she'd just met Hilton and then she proceeded to play "Meeting Paris Hilton." And somewhere in Williamsburg, we're pretty sure, an Urban Outfitters went up in flames.

Other stunts of the band's aerobicized set included a souped-up cover of L7's "Pretend We're Dead" and a new song that showcased CSS's sometimes-underrated songwriting chops. They closed with a scintillating trinity of CSS hits, including "Artbitch," their ode to merlot-swilling gallery flies. In her introduction to the last song, "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above," Lovefoxxx said, "After Coachella, let's go to my house. I've got some condoms and we'll make love."

Hmm. ... I'm actually a lot more interested in some air conditioning at this point. You got that?

Crowded House plays to a crowded field

So maybe there should have been more breathing room between the Crowded House reunion show on the main stage and Rage Against the Machine's headlining slot. Like two days.

The New Zealand pop quartet painted lovely pictures in the early dusk, harmonizing their way into the hearts of the throng gathering in anticipation of the festival climax. It might have come off as totally pastoral had not Neil Finn done the courteous thing and name-checked the bands that would follow. That sparked chants of "Rage, Rage, Rage" -- to which Finn could only reply, good-naturedly, "It's gonna be good. Go have a drink in the tent ... There's still time."

The folks up front waving the colors of New Zealand stayed put, of course. They'd waited a decade for their heroes to re-emerge, and they couldn't have been disappointed with the aplomb with which Crowded House delivered their hits. And when Finn's microphone cut out during "Don't Dream It's Over," he didn't have to ask the crowd very hard to help with the vocals. They filled in, very likely as they have been doing for the past 10 years.

Klaxons freak out

Eraserhead hairdos? Shrieking feedback? The notion that a British guitar rock band can be truly dangerous? We got all that Friday with Jesus and Mary Chain, and we got it again today with Klaxons, who absolutely murdered the Mojave tent and announced themselves as the Reid Brothers' most likely heirs. Yes, yes, we know we're feeding the hype machine, but good god Klaxons deserve it this time.

The X'ed out teenagers packing glowsticks and candy bracelets in their native England were replaced by a filthy and rabid crowd pogoing with their jaws on the floor and hands in the air. The trio (with a hired-gun live drummer) tore through the hits off their debut "Myths of the Near Future" with a maniacal brashness equal parts PiL and actual pills. "Atlantis To Interzone" churned with grimy basslines and don't-take-the-brown-acid caterwauling, while Jamie Reynolds and Simon Taylor traded deapan bon mots on the steely, propulsive single "Magick."

Like the JAMC, Klaxons' little secret is that they're actually whip-smart tunesmiths, and shimmering pop turns like "Golden Skans" and an ace cover of old-rave staple "Not Over Yet" suggested they have a long future after this faux-techno kick dies down. "Thank you for making special for us," their swaggering, sweaty bassist Reynolds said. "For that, we give you this," and lunged into another ferocious electro-punk freakout. Say it as loud as an air raid siren -- Klaxons just killed it.

Lily Allen's more than just a girl

Anyone stlll thinking the great, Internet-born Lily Allen craze had crested and been replaced by the Amy Winehouses of the world obviously wasn't anywhere near her set at an overflowing Mojave tent. Backed by a full band and horn section that would've done the Skatalites proud, Allen confidently bounded through material from her MySpace-bred debut album "Alright, Still" with a brash confidence that recalled a smarter, sassier Gwen Stefani -- at least before Gwen became the eeriely airbrushed pop cyborg of today.

Beyond the superficial resemblances in sound and attitude, would the former singer for No Doubt have apologized for forgetting a few lyrics as a result of having a couple of spliffs earlier in the day? Would she so readily incite a tent full of women to scream in support as she bluntly introduced "Not Big," a song about the hardship of living with a man's, um, shortcomings? Not likely.

Dressed in her usual assortment of Lily-ana (hoop earrings, poofy dress, trainers), the London native strolled across both sides of the stage with the occasional cigarette and charisma to burn, not even letting the day's elephant in the room shadow what must've been one of her most successful shows stateside. After the crowd cheered in appreciation at her passing mention of the night's headliners, Allen was unfazed.

"I've never heard of them," she said with a devilish grin. "But apparently they're quite big."

Manu Chao brings the people together

If ripping on Ol' G.W.B. was the weekend's big theme, pan-ethnic punk/funk may have been another. Gogol Bordello threw down for the Eastern Bloc, Konono No 1. repped the Congo, and the Spanish-via-Paris vagabond Manu Chao did his best to prepare the audience for the Rage to come in a half-hour.

Coachella fans heard Chao's handiwork last year, having midwifed Amadou & Mariam's Malian blues on "Dimanche A Bamako." But on the main stage, Chao cherry-picked from countless cultures; English punk, bossa nova and cut-'em-fat reggae were all fair game. It's unfair to stick Chao in the ghetto of the World Music bin, because nothing he does emulates the music of other cultures -- it's the real article. Grinning in a sporty bandanna, Chao sung with a revolutionary energy, and his gangbusters backing band matched him step for step. His bassist, who looked like Henry Rollins after a few trips down a buffet line, laid down deep, vigorous grooves while his guitarist melted faces with a high-wire flamenco solo.

Chao's a born provocatuer as well, which is part of what makes him so beloved in Latin American politico circles. He dedicated one song to the "minor terrorist" we call President, before calling out Guantamo and random spying as part of the problem. But don't worry, he still finished one roiling hardcore tune with the chorus "me gusta marijuana." Back at you, Manu.

Before Rage, a Happy Mondays rave

With bass lines that shook every bowel in the Sahara Tent, the Happy Mondays announced their return with a soulful set that featured guests, a lucky dancer and a surprisingly robust Shaun Ryder. It was 50 minutes for the "24 Hour Party People."

Nailing songs such as "Step On" and "Hallelujah" as if it were the '80s, the Mondays -- whose influence as rock/soul hybridists is undeniable -- showed the half full tent, which included front-row denizens holding aloft ticket stubs from long-ago concerts, that the sound of Madchester still breathed. Guitarist Danny Saber (Black Grape) was among the contributors, as was L.A.'s own motormouth, Mickey Avalon. But it was also a night to remember for a magazine writer, NME's Dan Martin. Absent the staple of Bez's dancing, Martin filled in onstage -- despite a well-meaning security guy's effort to drag him off, thinking Martin was a wayward crowd member. When after a moment's absence he reappeared, throwing down some pretty decent moves. The crowd roared and the spirit of the Hacienda lived on.

It's a shame about Rage

[Guest blogger Chris Barton has never dated Winona Ryder.]

A half circle of 24 cops was taking in the scene just outside the shoulder-to-shoulder mob absorbing all that was Rage, and we're pretty sure they weren't there to make sure Evan Dando got home safely. The back half of the grounds just beyond their perimeter was so deserted all that was missing was a single tumbleweed crossing your path toward a depressingly dramatic light display signifying that, yes, other acts were onstage at that hour, too, and one of them was the reunited Lemonheads.

Seriously, you almost have to feel bad for Evan Dando at this point. He got his act together for taut, focused comeback record, scored a prime closing slot at the biggest rock festival in the country and wound up playing opposite the biggest show in Coachella's history. Dumb luck, that. But those who did turn out at the Outdoor Stage had plenty of elbow room for a set of perfectly fine, jangly power pop that without a doubt would've been crowd pleasing at just about any other hour of the weekend.

If nothing else, Dando can compare his struggles with darkwave staples VNV Nation and Israeli trance favorites Infected Mushroom, both of whom played tents that were barely a third full. Potty-mouthed irony-rap artists Spank Rock fared a little better, but their Gobi Tent was also the smallest. Rage against the schedule-makers, my brothers.

Dead Air for 30 minutes

On Day 3 of this behemoth that's going to close with a whole lotta Rage, the Outdoor Theatre crowd was ready to make out on grass-stained towels to Air's glittery sunset electronica. But the sexy boys of Air delayed their set by 30 minutes before finally taking the stage under hot pink lights. Good thing too because the crowd was about to riot. Ha, not really. A riot before Air? Avant-pop fans don't do that.

The French duo turned it out well enough, getting airport-lounge sedate in the right moments and cranking up the glitchy stadium rock to keep the fabulous quotient high. "Sexy Boy" was trotted out, as well as some bubbly "Virgin Suicides" soundtrack material. But honestly? Coming out that late at some yacht party off of Ibiza is one thing but at Coachella, it's just kind of obnoxious. So I turned in my visa and headed for Teddybears

Spank Rock: What does that mean, anyway?

You want to know how to fill up the Gobi tent when you're one of Coachella's sacrificial lambs? Start off by looking like Pharell if reared by Kurtis Blow in Jamaica. Then add in some potty talk about the bathing suit areas of both genders. Oh, and some bongo players and ladies in braids who will pop and lock with big grins on their faces. And let's not forget the secret sauce: some mostly empty talk about the races rioting on the dance floor that will make you sound intelligent but is pretty much a ruse. But hey, whatever. Spank Rock isn't trying to gather the intelligentsia for a poetry reading.

Some of us like our festival closers blissfully stoopid, thank you very much.

All the rage for all the right reasons

[Guest blogger August Brown rallies 'round the family, with a pocket full of shells.]

It’s hard to think about Rage Against The Machine in 2007 without remembering 1992. Clinton was in office, the economy was about to start sailing, and yet they still found plenty of reasons to be furious at The System. Their headlining set on Sunday was probably the most anticipated set in Coachella history; everything from riots to bona fide revolution seemed possible, judging from the hyperbole about their reunion. How would their serrated funk-metal play in a decade where there’s more legitimate reasons to take to the streets, and when few musicians seems to know how to talk about them?

For the first three songs at least, it played awfully sedate. Nearly every weary body on the grounds champed at the bit for the band to come out (sorry, Evan Dando and Spank Rock). But in one of the year’s biggest anti-climaxes, Rage emerged to a muddy and anemic mix that knocked the wind out of Tim Commerford’s basslines. For a minute there, it seemed that the Machine would win out by cutting off Rage from their best weapon- their skull-cracking riffs.

But the soundboard pulled it together, turning up the master mix three songs in, and the band scorched. As did a few small bonfires near the right guardrails, but outside of a few rogue lighting rig climbers, the only really dangerous explosions were happening onstage. Zach de la Rocha spat venom at consumers, Christians and the shoppers on Rodeo Drive (one his better metaphorical punching bags) but kept the stage banter non-existent. Tom Morello, one of the last real guitar heroes left in America, conjured Hendrix’s solos, Public Enemy’s brittle DJ scratching and squeals of feedback in between Sly Stone-via-Dante’s Inferno funk licks. Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk were as martial as ever, and era-defining hits like “Bulls On Parade” and “Bombtrack” have held up astonishingly well.

The only time de la Rocha broke the fourth wall was to give everyone what they wanted- a deliberate and forthright rebuttal to the last six years of neocon politics. “This administration should be tried, hung and shot,” he said, as if one form of execution wasn't enough. It may have been ham-fisted, but to hear it from the mouth of a rock singer today, de la Rocha may well have set the dam loose for political music at the tail end of the Bush era. Even if he didn’t though, the spectacle of 60,000 fans pounding their fists in unison closer “Killing In The Name Of ” was a reminder of better times for openly political music, or at least more hopeful ones from years past.

Desert dealings, Vol. 6

Buzz emanated from several sets that we didn't have time to take in fully -- especially the remarkable stylings of beatboxer Kid Beyond, who packed an afternoon set in the Gobi Tent.

The Kaiser Chiefs did all they could to prove they belonged, too, promoting their sophomore album -- as well as spontaneous athletic endeavors -- when frontman Ricky Wilson climbed the rigging at the Ourdoor Theatre.

Rodrigo y Gabriela turned in another in a growing line of stunning Southern California appearances when they unleashed their flamenco metal on the Gobi Tent crowd. "Almost evil," somebody called it. And almost instrumental, too -- except when they executed their cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." The crowd sang. Hearing that, we wish we were there.

◊ ◊ ◊

Then there was the requisite end-of-the-night crush to exit the Empire Polo Field. At the "back door" to the VIP area, a wristband-toting crowd had assembled, hoping the leave through the very same gate they left the night before. But things always change from day to day at Coachella. Always.

Beefy but friendly security blocked the gate, until a dude with an entourage made his way through (tapping a man wearing a vintage Motley Crue T-shirt on the shoulder and saying, "Nice shirt"). The dude cracked the gate and yelled, "I'm Tommy Lee, let me the ---- out."

The guards obliged. And Mr. Vintage Motley Crue tried the blend in with Lee's entourage, but that didn't work. "I'm never wearing this damn T-shirt again," he said as he was exiled back to the land of the lesser VIPs.

Thankfully, more exits were open at the end of Coachella 2007 than were open last year, when the crowded was herded into a single walkway.

◊ ◊ ◊

Overheard in the Mojave Tent while the Klaxons plied their Nu-Rave: "I don't want to be here! I want to at Willie (Nelson)!"

◊ ◊ ◊

Final thought: 2007 was the year Coachella bashed Bush. Could 2008 be the year Coachella feeds the world?


The Plam Springs Desert Sun

The Roots, The Roots, The Roots are on fire

The Roots are on stage right now, playing a really fun and funky hip-hop set. They even have a tuba player on stage.

They just finished a cover of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend."

But I freaked out most when they played "Apache."

My best friend and I have a choreographed dance to that song, ganked from an old episode of Fresh Prince. I texted her immediately.

Acoustic, instrumental, Mexican heavy metal

You might not think there would be much of a market for that. You'd be wrong.

Rodrigo y Gabriela burned through a fantastic set on the Gobi Stage, making their guitars do double-duty as both string and percussive instruments. Gabriela, in particlar, with her unique playing style and throwing the goat after each song, fired up the audience. The duo also used the clapping and chanting crowd as a third member, including vocals on a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."

If you missed these guys today, catch 'em the next time they meander 'round your neighborhood.

Kaiser Chiefs

I wasn't planning on seeing Kaiser Chiefs, but somehow I got sucked into the crowd, and I didn't feel like fighting it.

It was great, though. They put on a really enthusiastic, energetic set, repeatedly encouraging the exhausted crowd to perk up.

"Come on, Coachella! This is a festival, and we're going to get you in a festival spirit!" Wilson said, shouting until he was red in the face.

At the end of their first song, "Everyday I Love You Less and Less," frontman Ricky Wilson tossed his mic stand in the air and just barely caught it again.

"I know it's cold outside, but what can you do?" he joked.

The English band kept the energy moving with "Everything is Average Nowadays" and "Ruby."

The band wrapped up with "I Predict a Riot."

Hmmm. Maybe they know something about the Rage show tonight

Low-key Willie

I had to move three times over te course of Willie Nelson's set in an attempt to hear him better. I was situated on the outdoor stage side of the main stage, and the Kaiser Chiefs kind of drowned him out. I'd been on my feet for 4 straight hours so I was reluctant to haul my butt to the other side of the main stage, but in the end, if I wanted to hear Willie, I decided that was the only course of action.

Lots of Rage t-shirts at Willie's set. I wonder if they were actually there for the country or if they're already positioning themselves for the historic reunion. Only about 3 more hours to go for that...

Someone hand Lily Allen her lyrics

Funky, punky, playful Lily Allen had the crowd energized every second of her 40-plus minute set, but she also made them laugh quite a bit after forgetting the words to not one but two songs.

She fessed up to screwing up the second verse of one song ("To be honest, I'm a little surprised to see so many of you out here."), and within 10 minutes she broke from singing to exclaim to someone offstage, "I'm forgetting all my f@#$ing words now."

I learned a new word from the woman today though.

In apologizing for not remembering her lyrics, Lily Allen said, "I'm not drinking or doing anything bad. But I have had a couple of spliffs today."

Everyone laughed, but somehow I don't think I'm the only person who didn't understand this piece of British humor. So I came back to the press tent to Google it. To keep this family site clean (or cleaner), I will say that some of Allen's fans were enjoying spliffs during her performance -- especially when she sang "Alfie," the song about her brother who never leaves the house because he's always getting high.

Forgetfulness aside, it was a pretty good show. She hit notes at the end of "Littlest Things" that absolutely brought goosebumps to my knees, and she paced and danced around the stage with such abandon that you would have thought she was a lovesick teenager.

She loses points for lighting a cigarette on stage though. Everyone knows you can't smoke indoors in California.

Heart of Glass

Anyone else catch Lily Allen's rendition of Blondie's "Heart of Glass"?

I have to say, that's the best I've heard anyone perform it other than Debbie Harry. Truly, her voice sounded so incredibly right for that song.

It was also fun to hear her turn over the refrain to the crowd.

The Mojave tent warmed up with thousands of ooh-ooh-whoa-ohs.

All of Coachella is gathering

The path from the dance tents to the Coachella Stage is getting increasingly more dense. The VIP section is filling up quickly.

All eyes are turned toward the main stage, where Rage Against the Machine is expected to reunite within minutes.

There's definitely a buzz here. Time for us to head out and catch the show.

getting louder now

a few notes into the third song of rage against the machine's third
song, bombtrack, the sound system at the main stage nearly doubled in
volume, presumably from some technical glitch that was fixed. the
crowd roared in approval. coincidentally, my friend had just said it
wasn't as loud as he expected it to be. rage is back. and with a
vengance. after launching into testify as their opener, the band fell
into full rhythm before playing bulls on parade. I'm in the crowd now
and this has been well worth the wait.


So many docile-looking folks were wearing Rage Against the Machine clothing today. It's just funny to see these happy and smiling people, sipping lemonade, and waering these shirts that proclaim "RAGE."

It's not like "Bristle Against The Machine." Or "Seethe Against the Machine."


Oh my, did Teddybears ever rock.

The funniest part was when they led everybody in a chant, "When I say 'teddy' you say 'bears' ..." It was hilarious to see everyone getting all hardcore and shouting, "Teddybears! Teddybears! Teddybears!"

The music was fun, part electronic, part rock. I danced my butt off.

No joke. My butt? Gone.

No wonder those guys have chin straps to keep their teddybear heads on.

Lily Allen

I'm just now getting my hands on a computer again, so I need to go back in time and tell you about what happened during the Lily Allen show.

She was much better than I expected. I was worried that her saccharine brand of ska would would get old after a couple songs, but it didn't.

She did two covers: A pepped-up "Heart of Glass" was pretty good. Even better was the fantastic "Window Shopper" from 50 Cent.

I love me some fiddy. Especially when an adorable girl sings it ironically with a smile.

She was admittedly high -- she said she had a couple spliffs earlier -- but she was cute enough that she could get away with forgetting the words.

She also said she was nervous.

"I didn't think so many people would show up!" she said.

The most fun you can have with a teddy bear head on

I was fortunate enough to find myself pressed against the front barricade for Teddy Bears' set. Yep, Teddy Bears, the band with two drummers and three other dudes wearing bear heads throughout the set.

One of them was testing equipment beforehand, sans bear head. I couldn't shake the memory throughout the set that the guy rocking out looked almost exactly like an bearded bespectacled English prof I had in college.

The icing on the cake was the constant movie clips playing behind the Bears. From "Clockwork Orange" to "The Shining" to "The Godfather," all the key characters' faces were replaced by... teddy bear heads.

I expected to feel ridiculous watching grown men wearing bear heads play music, but instead, it was one of my Coachella highlights. And the Bears were even courteous enough to knock off their set in time for us to see Rage open. Thanks, Teddy Bears!
posted by Brian Dearth at 12:33 AM

It's RAGE.

Do these people have that much rage? I wonder what they all do the rest of the time. Bankers, maybe? Insurance salesmen? Pre-med students?

There were so many people migrating to the stage for that show, at one point I wondered if you could see it from space. It looked like one of those dense and spiraling weather systems.

It was also kind of scary. I'm not a huge fan of crowds anyway; I just don't like that stupid and potentially violent crowd mentality.

Plus, I went to the port-a-potty, and by the time I walked back out, at least 30 cops had positioned themselves in a zig-zag line right in front of me. They all had their hands folded across their chests, batons hanging at the ready.

Once I saw them, it was easy to pick out clusters of more and more cops all over the place. It was intimidating, especially considering the relatively low-key police presence the rest of the weekend.

As the crowd became more and more agitated, I thought, "Let's hear it for Spank Rock!"

And I walked over to Gobi Tent to shake it for an hour of booty rock.

goodbye coachella

thanks for another great year. i wont repeat the lyrics i hear on the
way out... theyre from the rage song killing in the name... zach just
thanked the crowd.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 12:04 AM 0 comments

back to the beginning

rage is playing the first song of theirs i ever heard, freedom
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:54 PM
the speech

his speech was near the end of the song wake up. the music has ended
for a minute. not sure what's going on.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:46 PM
and the political commentary...

lead singer zach de la rocha just said that the current u.s.
administration should be tried, hung, and shot.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:44 PM

zach de la rocha begins the song wake up with a fist held high in the air.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:38 PM
and the hits keep on coming...

sleep now in the fire is the next song from rage. the moshing around
me is getting intense. the energy is high, as is the enjoyment level.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:34 PM

thick bassline

rage cuts into calm like a bomb
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:29 PM

and from their last album

on to renegades of funk
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:24 PM

and for their next song

guerrila radio
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:21 PM
arial view

a giant crane just rose above the crowd during rage's set.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:16 PM
down rodeo

and now he's rolling down rodeo with a shotgun...
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:15 PM
im feeling old now

the guys behind me are moshing and disppointed I'm not joining in.
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:14 PM 0
know your enemy

another debut album track... know your enemy
posted by Matt Wolfe at 11:09 PM
and the crowd goes wild

I think everyone in the crowd is jumping up and down during bullet in the head.

not leaving yet

im sitting in the car only about 100 ft from the exit, but there are
fifty thousand other cars with the same plan, so we'll be here a
while. im listening to a horrible cd that was handed to me on my way
out the door. might read this political newspaper that was being
given out for free.

Orange Country Register

Coachella: Rodrigo y Gabriela

I'm a newly converted fan of guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who completely blew me away in the Gobi tent this afternoon.

First, a soundbite from Gabriela: "For those of you who do not know who the (expletive) we are, that's Rodrigo," she said while pointing to him, "and I'm Gabriela."

There were actually a lot of expletives and devil horns thrown out from both during the set, which I wouldn't have expected coming from a duo who coax nothing short of stunningly elegant sounds out of their guitars.

A lot of solos, a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (during which the audience sang the lyrics, and Rodrigo y Gabriela didn't sing a word), and a flirtatious dueling match made for an energetic and explosive set. The thought of almost nixing them from my schedule makes me hang my head in shame. This performance was quite possibly the highlight of my Coachella weekend.

Coachella: I kick it Roots down

There's an undeniable sense of activism in the air this year - not only has the best shirt I've seen all fest read "Cheney/Satan '08," but a group of people selling anti-Bush headbands have been ubiquitously successful. So it makes sense that the music has followed suit: not only did the Nightwatchmen's "This Land is Your Land" impress yesterday, but the Arcade Fire's reference to 'your' president inspired boos. Neither of those, though, matched the power of the Roots' just-played version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," set to the Star Spangled Banner and Jimi Hendrix's anti-vietnam rant "Machine Gun" (also covered by the very Roots-ish band the Coup earlier in the day.)

It was the best moment in a set full of great ones: ?estlove and Black Thought, accompanied by a band including a tuba-ist (!) gave the crowd a veritable lesson in pop-culture/music history, referencing everything from Black Sabbath to Kool and the Gang to Dr. Dre in their hour. It was a set both serious and butt-shaking - the perfect fit for a day defined by an overwhelming sense of anticipation.

You can feel it everywhere - hey, you can see it everywhere: never before have there been so many one-band shirts as there are for Rage Against the Machine today. For The Roots' set, the crowd extended all the way to the back for the first time this year; for the first time in the festival's history, extra barricades have been put up, extending the wall 100 yards.

What that means: organizers are rightfully expecting a crowd surge during Tom Morello's first note, continuing through Zach De La Rocha's last scream. I'm a bit worried the crowd'll get violent - right now, Rage-heads are raging against Willie Nelson, not exactly a perfect fit; they still have to "endure" Crowded House and Manu Chao.

Here's hoping I'm wrong - mostly because I'm nervous with anticipation of that first note, too. My call for opener? "Guerrilla Radio."

Yes, I'm that excited.

Coachella: Feelin' Fiasco

"The answer," says Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco to the main stage crowd, "is yes I can."

"The question," he says next, "is, 'Can you dig it?'"

Well, yes, Lupe, most of it at least. What I couldn't 'dig' as you put it, was when you opened your set with some rhymed verses over Kanye West's "Diamonds" before spittin' your verse on that Windy City rhymesmith's "Touch the Sky." Everything after that - when you got off the Kanye bus and performed material from your own Food and Liquor - made you look like the shining star I was hoping you would be.

Guest rapper Gemini's speed rapping and the energetic live recreation of the Grammy-nominated "Kick, Push" was great to groove to. Things definitely hit a high point when Fiasco hopped off the stage and ran through the crowd like a madman that's had a bit too much sun out here during the skateboarding-inspired single.

It just proves that Lupe doesn't need to be in Mr. West's shadow - he'll be just fine on his own. And after this lukewarm-turned-impressive Coachella spot, let's hope that's a lesson learned.

... Niyaz

Coachella: Ben checks in
It's early for a Sunday, and the crowd is trickling in, but Mika and Lupe Fiasco are turning in valiant efforts on the main stage. Mika's campy piano pop is a sweet invitation to a day that will eventually turn heavy. His exhortation that, "Big girls, you're beautiful," and his Freddie Mercury-esque vocals - and snippet of "Everybody's Talking" - sounds fine blowing across the sparsely populated field.

Meanwhile, Lupe took 10 minutes to get the drowsy crowd to wake up. Read more on Lupe a little later from Niyaz.

I made my way over to Mando Diao on the Outdoor stage, but their opening fanfare was late and slow, and their power-pop more thrashy than necessary. Besides, only a crowd the size of a full club had sauntered over and I really wanted to see Tapes 'n Tapes - so I split.

Passed by the Arett Brothers on my way, who seemed to be having a good time in Gobi. The band, whose album "The Loon" was one of my top 10 fares last year, is among the new breed of electic unpeggables. Songs will veer quickly from light, long beats to heavy, garage-rock, and the instrumentation is equally quirky - bass/guitar/drums, yeah, but also oddball synths and a bit of baritone brass.

Very intriguing, as with virtually everyone here, they gave their all, peddling new ones as potently as the familiar tunes. And yet something still felt a little indulgent about their set. Maybe it was just the time of day, the heat, I dunno. But Mojave wasn't as electric as it has been at other times this weekend - and for lesser bands. Overall, good, but far from great.

So I went back to the Arett Brothers - who were making like a crazed Violent Femmes. Damn. Only 3 p.m. and I've already made one poor choice. Not a good sign after two days of very few duds.

One last thing: The Feeling covered "Video Killed the Radio Star." That should give you some indication of how usless their set seemed. No wonder no one was at the main stage for 'em.

Notes on the Coup, Explosions in the Sky, and others later.

And Lastly


The Finale

Rage Against the Machine may have been the most important and historic performance in Coachella existence.

It was the first time the politically-charged band played together in nearly seven years and they closed the first three-day installment of the Indio festival.

As soon as Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk played the opening of "Testify" it was like an instant time warp to a time when there was no war in Iraq and before 9-11.

A sea of digital camera screens lit up the crowd and 60,000 fists pumped in the air.

The set hit the best of the band's three original albums, as well as included their cover of "Renegades of Funk."

During "Sleep Now in the Fire," a track from "The Battle of Los Angeles," pieces of fire flew up in the air facing the left side of the stage. However, the sporadic flames were quickly controlled.

The band may have played harder than any other at the festival, with de la Rocha bounding across the stage, jumping higher with each beat. Morello and Commerford followed suit and Wilk wailed on the drums.

However, it seemed to me that the sound wasn't as strong for Rage as it was for all of the other mainstage acts. You could tell the guys were playing ridiculously hard but it seemed toned down in the mix.

The politics the group is famous for didn't come into play until near the end of the main set, when de la Rocha raged against the current administration.

"They should be hung and tried and shot," he said.

"It's a system that we have to break down generation after generation," he continued.

Whenever de la Rocha pointed the microphone to the crowd, the audience gladly filled in the blanks of the well-known songs, as if they were a national anthem for Generation X.

Rage came back for an encore and performed "Freedom."

The band closed the encore with "Killing in the Name," the explosive hit off the band's self-titled debut.

The foursome locked arms and bowed to the packed crowd.

American Idol

While the crowd may not have been into Crowded House, thet did have one fan dancing for a bit in the VIP area--Ryan Seacrest.

Seacrest hung around to watch Crowded House's set and danced a little bit with a woman before chatting with his entourage and sitting down to catch the rest of Crowded House's set.

Then it was Seacrest out.

Not so Crowded House

New Zealand popsters Crowded House played a set on the Coachella Stage Sunday night to a crowd of not-so-enthusiastic people who were merely waiting for Rage Against the Machine.

Singer Neil Finn tried to get the crowd to sing along to "Don't Dream It's Over" without much success. However, as the set went on, more people started filling the field.

The band also played hits such as "Locked Out" and "Something So Strong."

Finn thanked the crowd at the end of the set, telling them he was taking a "mental snapshot."

Willie The Cool

Willie Nelson is oblivious to the outside world and because of that he may just be the coolest man alive. He just chills up there on stage with every hair still in his head, a smile on his face and his beat up guitar around his neck. He is totally carefaree and I am envious. His set began slowly with the Coachella crowd, but once he broke into "Poncho and Lefty" things picked up. Hipsters and hippies alike danced to the classic country crooner. Next week he'll be at Stagecoach playing to a more familiar group, but something tells me he won't be having as much fun.

Celebspotting Day 3

This might be one of the best celeb sightings we've had yet.

I just saw Corbin Bernsen, of "L.A. Law" and Lifetime television movie fame, milling around the hand sanitizer at the port-a-potties.

Roots of Hip-Hop

The Roots are undeniably hip-hop's greatest act, and they are also the genre's greatest ambassadors. Drummer Amir "?uestlove" Thompson commands the stage with his jazz-kissed drumming, cascading afro and relatable presence, but beyond that he's here to say that hip-hop isn't just about disposable MTV heroes and bling, it's a culture and it's vibrant. A highlight was an inventive tuba-driven version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War," which served to display the Roots versatility and political awareness. The pop hip-hop world should just watch tapes of this band and learn.

Coup Conquers

Funk hip-hop combo The Coup spit a nasty politically-charged blend energetic songs and down home groovers that seemd to serve as a primer for the impending Rage Against the Machine show. I don't consider myself to be that politically inclined, but music is the perfect vessel to send messages out to the masses. It beats a boring speech from a suit any day.

Best cover award

Nothing says fun like a solid cover song and British guys The Feeling obliged by playing a stellar cover of The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" Sunday afternoon on the Coachella stage.

It looked like about half of the thousand or so people watching them were really into it, clapping, dancing and singing along. The other half stood motionless--either they're too cool for school, drained from the heat or quite possibly born long after that song was popular.

The Feeling's set was peppered with bright and airy pop songs and singer Dan Gillespie said the band had been in the United States for two weeks and are headed back home on Monday. He thanked everyone profusely for welcoming them in the country and included Canada as well.

No Fiasco Here

Lupe Fiasco = a revelation. Who knew this young hip-hopper could control the microphone and the crowd with such deft skill. Last year Kanye West's performance had a lot of buzz but fell flat on landing. Lupe was the opposite, a smooth flow, catchy hooks, crafty rhymes -- I'm sold.

Surprise falls flat to midland

One of the things people talk about at Coachella every year is the surprise guests and performers.

"Lost in Translation" actress Scarlett Johansson already joined the Jesus and Mary Chain on Friday night to sing backup on "Just Like Honey" and today Serj Tankian, singer from platinum metal artists System of a Down, joined rockers Fair to Midland in the Mojave tent early Sunday afternoon.

Tankian signed the Texas band to his label last year.

While the guys in Fair to Midland jumped around and played hard, when Tankian joined them on stage for their second song, he just stood there, singing backup vocals and occasionally bobbing his head.

After he finished the songs, a bunch of people from the already sparse tent left, too.

Disco at Coachella?

The Coachella stage definitely has the most eclectic lineup for Sunday. Rapper Lupe Fiasco is on now, Willie Nelson is playing later and Rage Against the Machine is closing the day. The lineup started off even stranger with next-big-pop-thing Mika taking the stage at 1p.m.

"Good day," Mika greeted the crowd. "This is the first festival of the season for us. I really don't think it gets any posher than this--it's a polo field."

On his album he sounds a lot like the late Freddie Mercury of Queen, so imagine my surprise when he came onstage and sounded a lot more like Andy Gibb with some disco like beats behind him.

Mika must have broken out his Ouija board because when he started the third song he sounded like a reincarnation of Mercury.

Raging in the heat

By noon on Sunday Carmen Zacarias had already staked out her spot for Rage Against the Machine's set, which is slated to start at 10:40 p.m.

Zacarias and friend Omar Castillo traveled from El Paso, Texas to get a spot at the front of the Coachella Stage for the Rage Against the Machine reunion.

"I've waited six-and-a-half years for this," Zacarias said.

Zacarias said she didn't mind waiting another 10-plus hours to keep her vantage point. She's not worried about getting water, either.

"Our plan is to beg the security guards," she said.

They weren't the only ones who already started lining up for Rage. John Puga of Santa Paula, took a spot a couple of rows back and planned to enjoy the acts before the headliners. He said he paid $200 for his single-day ticket.

"I want to see Rage Against the Machine. I want to jump around and go crazy," Puga said.

Day Three Rages

Day three. The day everyone has been waiting for. Some have been waiting seven years for this. Tonight Rage Against the Machine will take the stage for the first time since 2000. Rage is probably the closest living thing to the Clash -- political, stylish, angry and loved. This will be one of those moments where I'll be able to say that I was there. I wonder if Zack de la Rocha is nervous?

That it for all the Blog it you want to see all the blog reports and all the story from Coachella go to the Left of the Menu between P.L.U.G. Awards - 2006 and The Culture City Fesyive 50 - 2006


Anonymous said...

Check out this video of Rage performing at Coachella, it's only 3 songs but it's the best of the videos I've seen so far.

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