UV reporter Taylor gives helpful tips for exploring the Coachella music scene
Blisteringly hot weather. Lines of identical Southwestern-style homes. Old, saggy golfers. Let’s just say the Indio Valley isn’t exactly an elegant, bustling metropolis, but it has its redeeming factor: Every musical stereotype imaginable treks toward Indio’s musical Mecca once a year for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Forget April showers. I braved the hot, hot sun in the name of rock, folk, metal, electronica, industrial, and hip-hop. They say the third time’s the charm, and I can’t help but agree. With the ’07 and ’08 festivals under my belt, I was able to take full advantage of all that Coachella had to offer in ’09. So for all you folks vying for a breath of Coachella next year, here are some tips.
First and foremost, do your research. Make it a point to explore new artists of which you’ve never heard, because knowing which bands are must-sees will make your experience more fulfilling. In years past, I would literally spend hours binge eating funnel cake while waiting in the sun for some overrated electronic act. This year, I YouTubed countless bands (you’ll get a good idea of which acts put on the best live performances) and asked for recommendations from a number of knowledgeable folks.
Secondly, apprehension must be completely banished from your mind. When the clock struck ten (“When the iPhone struck ten” would be more apt) on Sunday night, a British industrial band by the name of Throbbing Gristle took center stage. The band been around since the ‘70s, had performed only fifty times, and was highly controversial, as violent and pornographic images would accompany its shows on a projector… Let the good times roll. I watched a few YouTube videos of the band’s performances, all of which featured the male lead singer screaming. I was plain frightened, but I decided to check the show out for the sheer thrill. It turned out to be one of my favorite performances of the weekend; very unusual and musically complex. I was happy to have shed no blood. Oh, and the lead singer is now a woman.
Thirdly, make new friends, but keep the old. One of my least favorite parts of Coachella is choosing between bands that are playing at the same time, but I’ve found that choosing older bands is wiser. Live shows are infrequent, and they’re more likely to give solid performances. I was reluctant to choose between ’90s shoegaze gods My Bloody Valentine and fun British dance group Late of the Pier, whose members are devastatingly attractive. Putting aside my persistent desire to stare at good-looking men, I ventured toward the main stage for MBV. The sheer volume of the performance was enough to put me in a trance. My eardrums buzzed with dreamy guitar licks for the rest of the night. Late of the Pier, on the other hand, sucked, according to my regretful friends who caught the band’s performance.
Speaking of dance acts, let’s touch on the Sahara Tent. All of the hot-shot DJs (see: ambiguous French dude in tight pants) play in the Sahara Tent throughout the weekend, and let’s just say it attracts head-to-toe American Apparel-clad twelve year olds and weird ravers like bees to honey. Frankly, it scares me, and smells like a ripe armpit. I was in there only four times this year, and each was disappointing (other than Crookers, which was the perfect post-Fleet Foxes guilty-pleasure dance party). Most people in the Sahara have a bit of chemical assistance (if you know what I mean) to aid them in their movements. Everyone is bessssst friendssss. Being a highly judgmental person, I steered clear of that love-fest. To each their own, I suppose.
So if you want something more musically rewarding than some Eurotrash techno act, don’t be afraid to walk around alone and explore the festival grounds. This is one of the best parts about Coachella: you can almost always find someone you know, unless, of course, it’s night time. When the sun sets, it becomes a completely different event, with only gargantuan neon sculptures, stage lights, and well-lit food courts to guide you. The beating sun tucks itself beneath the desert horizon and you become submerged in night and pure sound.
After the final Sunday midnight exodus from the festival grounds, I showered with vigor and slept, my ears still ringing. I was ready for day four, day five even! However, prepare to be Coachella-sick, literally and figuratively. Despite the fact that my immune system decided to vacation and I looked like a lobster-human crossbreed (not enough Coppertone), I still long to celebrate music and art with my closest friends again.