Saturday, April 28, 2007

Reports From The Fields from Cocahella -#3

More Dispatchs From Coachella Fr0om Live Blogs
From the L.A. times and the Plam Springs Desert Sun

LAT = L.A. Times
PSDS = The Plam Spring Desert Sun

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse spoke to the packed Gobi Tent about how much it means for her to play at this festival.

"I'm so excited to be here. People always told me, 'Just wait, just you wait until you play Coachella. And, you know, it's kind of a relief, because the gig isn't totally on me. If I f$#@ up, there are all these other bands to carry it. I mean, you could try to get a refund, but you're not going to get it."

Amy Winehouse: this year's model

Amy Winehouse was this year's Gnarls Barkley, playing to a packed-to-the-gills Gobi Tent, breathlessy anticipating just her second local performance (after a Spaceland cancellation). And like Gnarls, she came out swaggering and confident, buoyed on the strength of a tight, funky backing band, elegantly clad in all white, complete with two sax men, two back-up singers/dancers, a drummer and even a flautist.

Belying her tabloid reputation, Winehouse's set was surprisingly classy and restrained. To the sound of the buzzing crowd, Winehouse belted out undeniably soulful anthems that recalled Lauryn Hill if produced by Mark Ronson. While Winehouse' music might've lacked the trail-blazing orginality of the former Fugee, her voice's astounding power shot out way out past the onlookers rubber-necking to get a peak at the British diva. Shimmying for the crowd, delivering asides about meeting Danny Devito backstage, playing her hits "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good," Winehouse displayed ample charisma, succeeding in getting the crowd amped for her tasteful tunes. She might not the be next Lauryn Hill, but she might be the closest approximation in the world of contemporary R&B.

Danny Everywhere

I was just thinking, "Two hours already at Coachella and no Danny DeVito? What's wrong with the world?"And then Amy Winehouse takes the stage and says, "I just saw Danny DeVito ... we're about the same size, huh?"

Gillian Welch

Bands As Fans

Gillian Welch finished her set in Gobi Tent with her bluegrass favorite "I'll Fly Away." The crowd went wild, whistling and screaming and holding their hands in the air.

In the midst of it all were members of Nickel Creek, who played earlier in the day at the Outdoor Theater.

More Silversun Pickups

The lead singer of Silversun Pickups jokingly thanked Interpol, Bjork and Jesus and Mary Chain for closing for them on the Coachella Stage.

"I know they're just starting out, but give them a chance," he said.

Jesus & Mary Chain

The sun has set as the Jesus and Mary Chain takes the main stage. The crowd has been very high energy so far. Let's see if they can hold up through all three days of the fest.

All together now: Jesus and Mary Chain
Revisiting all the past feuding between the Reid brothers as the Jesus and Mary Chain reunited made for good copy, sure, but there was no sign of that anywhere at Coachella -- after all, before the band serenaded the onset of darkness by rocking the main stage, they were spotted playing ping-pong in the artists' area.

No slams onstage, not even topspin -- only oodles of guitars that oozed with the icy detachment that made JAMC so compelling in their heyday and so influential to the myriad acts that followed them. Their set was nothing less than a tour de force, interrupted briefly when a fairly terrified looking Scarlett Johansson joined the band onstage to sing backup vocals for "Just Like Honey."

Even so, nothing was lost in translation. The acres of onlookers soaked it up -- and you don't so much listen to Jesus and Mary Chain as you do absorb it -- with a large portion of the crowd closing their eyes, singing along and then opening their eyes again to make sure it was for real.

Jarvis Cocker

Cocky Cocker

Jarvis Cocker swaggered on stage a half hour late.

"Anybody sunburnt?"

The crowd roared.

"Anybody have sunstroke?" he continued. "If so, you should seek medical attention immediately. But that would mean you would miss this concert. So we will try to heal you with our music."

Then he launched into the song, "Fat Children."

Jarvis Cocker talks and plays a good game

Capped by a titanic version of "Black Magic," Jarvis Cocker presided over the Outdoor Theatre like he had all the time in the world, not to mention the attention of every single person who walked through the gates. Preening, prancing, joking, dancing -- Cocker brought a little bit of everything to stage, overcoming problems with the keyboards to deliver a powerful, glam rock-infused set.

He was laconically apologetic for the problems. "I suppose we should be getting on with this," he said at one point, then proceeded to meander through a three-minute anecdote that demonstrated wit is among the weapons in the ex-Pulp frontman's formidable arsenal.

The exclamation point was the finishing number, the title of which we alter for this family blog: "[Bad People] Rule the World."

They don't rule Coachella.


Peaches: a different kind of throwback

As the sun set, the Outdoor Stage audience had only one thing on the brain and it wasn't the chiming guitars of Jesus and Mary Chain from the Main Stage. Nope, it was the teaches of Peaches, who worked her raunchy schtick with as much cocksure gusto as ever -- even if it's been awhile since her naughty chants have sounded anything close to shocking or relevant. Playing some gnarled chords on her flying V guitar, the Canadian priestess of high camp first delivered a rock show, then quickly switched to pumping out slick beats from some sort of blinking knobs-and-whistles machine. The audience was pretty game, especially when she climbed the rafters like some wild bobcat. They danced in their sweat-stiff clothes and rooted her on with pumping fists.

But Peaches, accompanied by three other femme rockers including JD Samson of Le Tigre, wasn't going to be outdone by '90s reunion rock. "Let's play the second stage game," Peaches said. "Let's be louder than them." The crowd obediently roared. Later, an enthusiastic few took it to a "Girls Gone Wild" level, dropping their tops when Peaches admonished the crowd to shake what their mothers gave them.

Bet that didn't happen at JAMC.

Random Stuff

Nice Guy

I was standing in a long and excruciating line at the cocktail bar, practically withering from heat.

Then the bartender tried to serve the guy BEHIND me.

"Wait a minute, you were next," said the friendly man.

It was Patton Oswald, TV star and certified nice guy, who performed early in the day with the Comedians of Comedy.


Patton Oswalt, who performed earlier with Comedians of Comedy, is doing his best to fly under the radar. I walked by him about 4 times before I recognized him.


Tall blonde in a mini-skirt turns to her friend and says their pass to get backstage relies on the friend's bikini

Never trust a guy with more piercings than you

It took 26 minutes to get from Palm Springs to Indio.
It took another 78 minutes to get to the gates at the polo grounds.

Traffic is heavy through La Quinta and Indio, and it creeps along painfully slow the closer you get to the grounds. It's worse because you can hear the visceral beat from the bands taking stage.

Enter Piercing Man.

Me: "Um, I'm looking for the media entrance, is it this way?"
PM: "Yeah, uh, I don't know. You wanna come through here?
Me: "Will that get me to the media entrance?"
PM: "I think so, dude."

Yeah, 3 miles and six blisters later, I'm here at Coachella. ... Finally.

teriyaki on a stick

I don't know what kind of meat this is, but its tasty. Yum! Come to
the thai chinese bbq near the outdoor theater for some tasty stuff on
a stick.

random observation #63

okay, I have to admit. I am what some may call a music geek. I listen to music as much as humanly possible, and an event like Coachella is exactly what a rabid fan like myself hungers for. Right now, I'm listening to Jesus and Mary Chain, a band that I am familiar with by name only - a rarity for me. I have to say I'm impressed. Great songs. Now I know why I am supposed to know that this band exists, and I understand why Coachella has given them the respect they deserve

Scarlett shows

So yeah, the rumors were true: Scarlett Johansson popped onstage for guest backing vocals on the second-to-last song of the Jesus and Mary Chain's set.

You could barely hear her though. Her mike was turned way down low. In her short dress and red high heels, I think she was meant to be seen and not heard.

Da Housecat likes Da Bulls

Felix Da Housecat, who just finished his set on the Sahara stage, headed straight for the bank of laptops in the press tent to find out whether his hometown Chicago Bulls scored a victory in the NBA playoffs.

Da Bulls were victorious, and Felix was in fine spirits as he recorded a round of radio interviews.

Vancouver virgins

Megan Sheldon and Lisa Roscoe leaned in for a quick snapshot aboard Kinetic Steam Works steam train. They came all the way from B.C. to their first Coachella, hence they shall further be referred to as the Virgins from Vancouver.

So which musicians brought them down to the desert?

"The Frames," said Sheldon, 26.

Roscoe, 25, is looking forward to seeing Rage Against the Machine reunite on Sunday.

They're making a week of it in the valley, attending three days of musical wonder and plans to recover near a hotel pool until Wednesday. They estimate they're dropping about $1,000 on this trip.

"It's totally worth it," Sheldon said. "It's awesome!"

Spoken like a true veteran.

Hey, girls, if you come back next year, you can be the Veterans from Vancouver.

Mental notes from mid-air

I was meandering around the art village and came across some young guys throwing a girl into the air with the greatest glee. I snapped a couple of photos and walked over to get their names.

One immediately asked me if I would like to be in the air, too.

I insisted, really, that I preferred to keep my feet on the ground, my notebook in hand and my camera in one piece. But Can Berk Bingol insisted, really, that I not.

With little warning, he and Askin Meric grabbed my waist and my legs and began bouncing me, preparing us all for what would be a huge hurl.

In all, I think my flight was about a foot, but it was a fun ride.

And I made some new friends -- all from Turkey.

But just as quickly as they couldn't stand to not be close to me, they were gone ... in search of beer.

I'm sure I'll see Can, Askin, Safa, Guvene and Yen (the poor woman who got me tangled with this group in the first place) later on this weekend. I mean, there are 60,000 people here, but that doesn't mean that I won't see them flying about at some point.


Vincent Gallo keeps hanging around the press tent.

I think he's looking to be interviewed by anyone for anything.

I'm not taking his bait.

Busdriver takes the Gobi tent to school.

If Coachella success was measured in words per minute, Busdriver would have been the day's undisputed champ. But fortunately for the old-guard L.A.-based MC, he dropped jaws and machine-gun metaphors alike during his astonishingly dextrous set.

Busdriver was equally compelling needling the crowd with accusations of yuppiedom as he did slaying them with fiery indignance at the ways the music industry exploits rappers. Over a loose-limbed flurry of house and jungle-inspired beats, he extolled cheeba and wryly freestyled that "in the Gobi tent is how an O.G. represents." Original gangstas are few and far between at Coachella, but unless Ghostface pulls off a miracle tomorrow, Busdriver may hit the 10 freeway home as the weekend's reigning rhyme-slinger.


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