My Weekend at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the 10th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and I must say, it surely did not disappoint.
Here is my top 5 performance list of the weekend:
5. TV On the Radio
Having seen TVOTR a few times now, this set was one that will not be forgotten. Since releasing their most recent album, Dear Science, in October, and having a few months to play their new material on tour, the confidence and mastery of sound that TVOTR showcased on Saturday was at a degree that few bands can boast nowadays. Playing while the sun placed brightly behind them, it was clear that the timing could not have been more perfect. Frontman Tunde Abediembe kept the crowd moving (and sweating) into the early evening with hits such as “Crying,” “Young Liars,” and “The Wrong Way.”
4. Fleet Foxes
Now I will admit, I had never really given Fleet Foxes much of a chance, that is, until their jaw-dropping sunset performance on Saturday night. It was quite coincidental as to how I ended up at the Outdoor Theatre for their performance: I was heading to the food court on the other side of the festival for a long awaited dinner, when “Mykonos” began to carry over the festival grounds. Within a few seconds of hearing those catchy, harmonious vocals, I knew that my initial reluctance to jump on the Fleet Foxes bandwagon had surely been in vain, and I immediately sprinted to hear the rest of their set. The band entranced the crowd with their flawless set, adding their name to an honorable list of bands that have graced the Outdoor Theatre sunset slot over the past 10 years.
3. Leonard Cohen
At the ripe age of 74, Leonard Cohen is still able to prove to the masses that he has no intentions of taking off his hat just yet. With the support of a classily dressed band, Cohen led the crowd through a smoky and nostalgic set. The surreal nature of hearing the Poet of Rock and Roll himself sing “Hallelujah” in a venue that few had expected he ever would perform was truly powerful. His wit and charm have only increased as the years have gone by, keeping his work relevant and groundbreaking to this very day.
2. Paul McCartney
“Why in the world is Paul McCartney headlining Coachella…isn’t that a festival for hipsters?” was the most commonly uttered phrase leading up to this past weekend. Despite all of the naysayers, Macca put on an all-star set of songs, leaving nearly everyone who had questioned his presence utterly speechless. The onslaught of Beatles and Wings hits created a sing-a-long environment for everyone in attendance to enjoy. McCartney lead the crowd through Beatle’s faves such as “Drive My Car,” “Paperback Writer,” “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” “Something,” and “Helter Skelter,” just to name a few.
1. My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine was definitely the most sonically punishing set of the weekend – hands down my favorite performance. Their captivating and nosily melodic (too much of an oxymoron to let go) presence could be (physically) felt from the farthest ends of the festival grounds. Upon arriving to the festival Sunday morning, each fan was given a pair of ear plugs, a subtle but necessary warning for what was to come. Frontman Kevin Shield led his pedal-obsessive four-piece through a set of fan favorites and b-side gems. What separated My Bloody Valentine from every other band this weekend came from their EP title track “You Made Me Realise.”
The relatively short song was painfully expanded by a 15 minute noise attack. The mass hysteria and confusion that hit the crowd during this 15 minutes of chaos is nearly inexplicable. One person I spoke to described the experience as “swimming in a pool of Jello, if the Jello was made of white noise.” Here’s my best attempt at explaining the experience: it felt as if I was standing inside of the turbine of a space shuttle taking off into space. The physical push of the sound was enough to make some fans faint, others scream senselessly, but most importantly, it brought a group of 60,000 people together with a unique experience that few will ever truly understand. And to think that they went back into the song afterwards, untuned strings and all – that takes a lot of guts in my book. I can only wonder what Kevin Shields’ parents thought of his band practices when he was growing up.
For those who are insane at heart – or include Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music in their top 5 album list – here is the 15 minute rendition of “You Made Me Realise:”
It was such a fantastic weekend overall. There is not a single festival out there like Coachella.
Here are some additional pictures taken over the weekend:
Murder City Devils
Brian Jonestown Massacre
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
My worst decision of the weekend