It all begins and ends in the desert

Friday, April 22, 2011

I had grand hopes to capture the best fashions, pictures and videos of this year's most anticipated festival, but instead this post shall be "My sights and sounds of Coachella 2011."  I should have known better - you can't both enjoy the music and the people and the energy and try and capture it all at the same time (next year I'm hiring a camera crew).  You either go as a spectator or as a blogger/pseudo net-journalist, because you can't do both and do them well.  With no press credentials, I seemed like a creeper asking girls in the cute getups for their snapshots, even if I am a girl myself.  And did you know that you can't really capture quality video while moving and dancing around?  So, what I've got are some candids, some vids and my opinion on what was good and not so good.  I let lose and enjoyed the magic that is Coachella.

You may think that sounds trite, but I have no way other way to describe the 3 days in that crazy heat as anything but magical.  And you may not understand until you've attended and felt for your self the pounding of the base pulsate under your skin, felt the warm desert wind raise the ghostly goosebumps along your body and seen the absurd amount of glow sticks light up the field.  Every time I attempt to explain the power of this music fest, I'm called a hippie or wannabe Woodstocker.  They can say all they want because I get to keep the memories of those 72 hours where people from all walks of life are laughing, dancing and enjoying life.  Happy Coachella!!

Can you spot my writing?
Light pretty dresses and cute little crossbody bags
and even vintage Louis
The quirky,
the furry,
and the tatts
Let's get to the music, shall we?

The first day tends to be quite exhausting, especially if you drove in the same day.  We arrived just in time for Ms. Lauryn Hill to take the stage.  However, she started 15 minutes late, which ran us into Afrojack's set over at the Sahara tent.  We listened to her open Everything is Everything.  I adored her voice 10 years ago, but, unfortunately, I don't think she sounds the same (just my opinion, folks, no tomatoes please). 

Afrojack is an up and coming dj known for his remix of David Guetta's Sexy Bitch and the heart pumping Take Over Control featuring Eva Simons.  We got their just in time to spot Sir Paul McCartney dancing it up alongside Usher.  Do you see him?

The rest of the evening was a rush to catch Interpol, The Black Keys, Crystal Castles, interspersed with more dancing at Sahara.  The 3 I just named did not disappoint and must be seen live if you find the chance to do so.

Saturday dawned bright and hot and too lazy to get to The Tallest Man on Earth, Gogol Bordello or Sander Kleinenberg.  It was also a very packed day of shows so we needed to reserve our energy.  I kept overhearing festival goers, however, discussing the fantastic performance of Eugene Hutz and his merry band of gypsies.  Seeing them is a true experience and I'm sorry to have missed them.

My first new discovery was the French electro-pop band, Yelle, who lit up the early evening with their "discothèque anthems."  Julie Budet blew Robyn right out of the water.  My favorite moments of the night were: (1) singing and dancing to Little Lion Man along with thousands of the Mumford and Sons fans gathered over at the main stage (you can hear us singing in the background).  It was electric how joyful the crowds' movements and voices were; (2) and cooling down and sharing a moment with my boyfriend during the beautiful and harmonic Falling Slowly performed by the lovely duo of The Swell Season.  The party continued at Sahara with the grandfather of electronica, Paul Van Dyk and Steve Angello.  Listen to the energy here:

The night was made complete by jumping around to the last few songs of Arcade Fire.

The sun setting on Coachella

Sunday is bittersweet - usually the best night of the festival but also it's last.  I caught bits and pieces of most of the performances I wanted to see (The National, Chromeo, Phantogram, PJ Harvey) with the most memorable of the night being another great dj set, this time by Axwell. His remixes of Adele's Hometown Glory and The Temper Trap's Sweet Disposition get you up on your feet whether you like it or not.  The Strokes were not a band I had highlighted to see, but happened to catch the last 20 minutes of their show and was pleasantly surprised by how well their music was suited for the outdoors and a night slot. 

You may be wondering why I spent so much time watching a person work the turntables.  The energy during a hypnotic electronic, house, techno, dubstep or trance set can be unlike any other I've experienced and for this weekend that's what I was craving.  The combination of the beats and the light show and the excitement of the crowd get you riled up and truly make you feel alive.  It's an appreciation of how well some of these djs can manipulate their audience by knowing when to drop that beat.

I did get to end the night with She Wants Revenge's Tear You Apart - that live version continues to reverberate in my head days after hearing it. 

My second discovery of the weekend was Leftfield.  By chance we were strolling by the tent in which they were performing and were pulled in by their dark rhythmic sounds.  They're an English electronica duo known for their "intelligent dance music" according to Wikipedia and have been around for a while.  Considering I greatly enjoy this genre of music, I am surprised I hadn't come across them before Sunday evening. 

No one wants to leave even after the last note has faded into the night.  The mood is high and people are still revved up on the power that is Coachella. A group   had gathered for a pseudo campfire under one of the legs of the spider structure.  We crowded around them and started clapping and chanting and cheering and singing for 15 minutes with just our voices and hands to carry our happiness, while my brother whistled himself hoarse until security herded us out.  It may sound cheesy but it was one of the best moments of my weekend. 

My brother leading us on
I am already counting down the days for Coachella 2012.  I hope to see you there!

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