Coachella: Day Three
10:00 a.m. I can barely wake-up, I'm in complete denial that there's another full day to go. The press band and the ID bracelet that proves I'm over 21, have become like shackles. But somewhere in the exhausted recesses of my mind, the thought of seeing Willie Nelson gets me out of bed.
3:00 p.m. We are making the trek to the field, there's some drama. A tiny woman is chasing her BIG boyfriend, yelling and berating him. She waits until she's right in front of the cops to smack him about the face, having to jump up a few feet to do it. The cops put her in hand cuffs and for the next 20 yards it's all the crowd can talk about, re-enacting the slaps.
4:30 p.m. I finally get an interview with a band. A very persistent publicist smuggles me in to the backstage area. I feel cooler with the fancy cloth wrist band, less chaffing. The trailer area for the talent, looks like a really cute trailer park, each one has the name of the band written in glitter, that looks like they were done by a second grade class. There's white picket fences in front of each trailer, making little front yards complete with plastic lawn furniture and a tent in the center with red velvet and leather couches. I'm here to interview Placebo, but singer Brian Molko is walking around somewhere else. The publicist gives me the ok to snoop around while Brian makes his way back. I see Lily Allen's trailer, the door is wide open, and two young girls are giggling as they type into sidekicks. I try to have a closer look inside without being creepy, no sign of Lily. The Happy Monday's doors are closed and their yard is empty, while the guys from Crowded House are tucked into a corner, playing cards. I make a full circle, and Brian is back. We sit to chat about their cover of Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill that has been getting a lot air play recently. "That song was recorded 3 or 4 years ago, but people were asking for it, so we re-released it. We're kids of the 80s," he says behind dark sunglasses. He's wearing a collar shirt, a vest, and long pants in over 100 degree heat, that's a commitment to style. "We liked the experimental nature of 80s pop, now pop doesn't push the boundaries, it feeds the lowest common denominator. I blame the whole American Idol karaoke thing." Placebo had some big hits in the late 90s in the UK, but recently Dj's and radio stations have been playing them, last summer Indie 103 and KROQ, were playing the single Infrared. "That song was picked up by the OC and it became an instant digital hit," he says. I ask him if he's playing LA soon, "You can't, they don't let you play." The "they" is Goldenvoice, Coachella organizers. To play Coachella bands have to agree not to play before or after the festival, according to Malko, "for like three months or something."
6:37 p.m Willie Nelson. The crowd is feeling Willie, he's really one of the last classic country musicians left. When he goes, we will have witnessed the death of an original genre of music. Willie smiles out into the audience, his soul seems calm like the Dalai Lama. He sings Will The Circle Be Unbroken, it was an old gospel performed by the Carter Family. But now the song feels like a lament, like a warning to not let these songs and music and traditions be forgotten. Lucky for us, Willie is joined on stage with his two sons, Mike who plays drums and Lucas who rips on guitar. Lucas also sings just like his pop, the crowd goes wild for him, with Willie's genes clearly carrying on, maybe there is hope for real country music? Johnny Knoxville think so too, the big screen showed him in the front clapping and singing along.
8:00 p.m. Crowded House. at first there wasn't much of a crowd houses for them, but as they went through their set, I watched more and more people lured to the music, They sounded great, and I did get some pangs of 90s nostalgia, and a little longing for my college days when they played "Locked Out" which was on the grunge era romantic comedy Reality Bites soundtrack. And then I felt old realizing that many had no idea who this band was. As if the band was right there with me, they played Something So Strong...
I've been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I've seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all
Something so strong
Could carry us away
8:50 Lily Allen. We make it in time to hear When I See You Smile. I have to say we've had good luck catching the singles. I decide to push the boundaries of crowd attrition in the tents (Judith had mentioned this in her post). I grab my boyfriend's hand and we plow through the crowd. I was amazed to find the tent a lot less packed that it appeared, and if you smile and say excuse me, and it helps also to sort of dance through, you won't be denied, we make it about 10 feet away from the stage. I couldn't believe how easy it was. Allen did an awesome rendition of Heart of Glass, and ended with her song to her baby brother.
9:14 Air. When we arrive we're about 100 feet from the stage. A hail storm of white inflatable balls rain down on us, we punch them into the air toward the stage and watch them bounce their way down. Feeling empowered by our recent success in plowing through the crowd, we exert our dance-walk to about 15 feet away from the stage. We had to step over a bunch of people who have staked their claim by laying down blankets. I watch the guy ahead of me glare at one group. If they would only move, he could move closer. They're like the little old houses who refuse to sell to big business, all around them huge developments are going up. They cant even see the stage, but they're not selling the real estate. There is a bright yellow light that really has me distracted, I find it hard to connect to the music. Due to a promise not to miss the Happy Mondays, we work our way out of the crowd and head toward the tents.
9:50 p.m. We are distracted by the Teddybears, giant teddy bear heads on musicians, a screen in the back shows some haunting animated teddybears in suits. We get caught up in the music and stay til we hear their Iggy Pop cover, I'm A Punk Rocker. Oh shit, I can't miss the Happy Mondays.
10:00 p.m. We sneak on the side of the nest tent, and catch the Happy Mondays near the end of their set. I 'm not really familiar with these guys but their instrumental dance groove-riffs were catchy. I dunno I was expecting some kind of depressed emo band, thinking the band's name was ironic, kind of like calling a fat guy slim. But they were poppy and dancy and happy, at least the music felt that way, I couldn't make out all the lyrics. But big thanks to Joe Donnelly, deputy editor at the Weekly for making me check this band out, it was a lot of fun.
10:40 p.m. Rage Against the Machine is on, but I really don't want to see them. I don't know why. I saw them at Lollapalooza back in the day, back when I was an angry teen, moshing, and kicking up my Docs. I went alone and a crowd surfer wound up kicking me in the mouth, knocking me briefly unconscious and splitting my lip open. I was dragged to the side by a few strangers, and when I came to I had a fat bloody lip. I guess you can say I'm kind of Rage shy now. So we head to see the Lemonheads...
11:00 p.m. At 10 minutes before 90s hearthrob Evan Dando is to take the stage, there are maybe 15 people lined up. The entire field is empty. Everyone is going to see Rage. I mean there is a very small percent of the population who aren't watching, but by and large the other stages were deserted like an Area 51 bomb test site, just littered with bottles and papers, evidence that something had happened here (I can't speak for the dance tents). I went to the VIP area to see if we could see Rage in safety. Normally a walk that takes 5 minutes took over 15 because the crowd was so dense, we had weave back and forth. Even the VIP area was packed so tight. The aggro yelling and shouting made me nervous. I guess that's the point of Rage, I know, but as I got older, inner rage seems useless, yelling at a concert and slam dancing for an hour is ineffective. We go to see how Evan Dando's gotten on instead, more to appease my curiosity. To see how an unrequited crush is doing after all these years.
11:40 p.m. Evan Dando is wearing a hard hat. We joke that maybe it was in case people throw stuff at him. But that would mean there would have to be people actually watching. This was the least attended performance I saw all week. It was kind of depressing. And he wasn't all that good. I feel like Angela going back to find Jordan Catalano and having this moment, like what was I thinking?
And this is the way Coachella ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
On the way out to the car, Rage Against the Machine is still screaming away. The guy walking ahead of me says to his friend, "I don't know I never got into Rage, I guess I've never been that angry."