Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recapping Coachella: Day 2

All right! So Day 2 started off with a cleanliness dilemma - the campground actually did have portable shower trucks (which I'd never seen the likes of before), however, the line to use a shower was over 2 hours long. I had opted to take a shower the night before while the rest of the festival-goers were pre-occupied with Jay-Z and Deadmau5, but after surveying the line that morning, my companions Marie and Jamaica had a better idea:

Why not, right? When it's as hot as it was out there (though fortunately, all reports say that this was one of the milder weekends, temperature-wise, in Coachella history) a cold shower doesn't seem half-bad. After we were all done and hair washed and cleaned, I lathered up my SPF 70 and got out one of two new, white, lightweight tunic tops that I purchased for the occasion to keep the sun off of my delicate vampiric skin.

After a lazy early afternoon involving naps and lots of beer, we headed out to Coachella stage to see White Rabbits. I found myself thinking that I liked the music, but the vocals were really generic. The singer sounded exactly like every other twee indie band singer and I kind of wished that weren't the case because I felt that if he developed his own style they might have something special. As it was, the set, though pleasant and fun enough, settled into background noise while I laid back on the grass and people watched.

I next wandered over to the Sahara tent for Dirty South. It was a decent enough set from them but admittedly not one of the standouts of the weekend for me. In general I wouldn't say that I'm the most devoted Dirty South fan though - I have a few remixes of theirs that I really enjoy, but for the most part their sound doesn't do it for me.

Next up for me was Bassnectar, and, whoa guys, whoa.

This was up there with Imogen in the "Holy crap" category. I originally wasn't really planning on catching this set because Saturday was definitely the day that I was planning on running around and trying to cram in a ton of people that were playing the same time on different stages. In fact, while Bassnectar was on, I'd originally planned on going over and checking out The xx on the Outdoor stage. However, right from the beginning of the set I was hooked and I did not want to leave. I'd been getting into dubstep for awhile and knew of Bassnectar, but I wasn't intimately familiar with either his studio work or his DJ style. So suffice it to say this rocked my world. For one thing, okay, I don't have the best stereo at home so I've not ever had a super celestial experience with my at-home listening in terms of being completely enveloped in music the way one can be at a concert. And that's one of the really fun things about going to concerts, is getting your ears blown out with the wicked huge soundsystem and reverberating bass. But with dubstep, it's just a whole different ballgame. It vibrates in your soul. The bass hits you in your solar plexus and knocks you into another world. I'm saying this, mind you, as someone who is completely sober now and who was, in fact, completely sober at the time that I was at this set. It just blew my mind. The song selection was top notch and everyone in that tent just got down. It was freaking magical.

I recorded this because a) "Where is My Mind" is a wicked awesome song and b) THIS WAS A WICKED AWESOME REMIX. My camera does not do it justice but it is songs like this alone that have me wanting to upgrade my stereo system in my car, just so that I can get that bass tickle all over my skin back like I had at this show.

Following up Bassnectar was Kaskade, who I have been dying to see but kept missing at other shows for whatever reason. I'm so stoked I finally caught him. His set was also epic. Right at the beginning, they released these floaty white balls down onto the audience, which were bouncing all around throughout the entire thing and adding some fun to the atmosphere. What's more fun than dancing like a fool? Right - dancing like a fool and also swatting at huge floaty balls.

That's not my video, because this song was such a huge moment for me that I totally forgot to pull out my camera. I'd never heard this mashup before, but Casper can attest to the fact that I love "Feels Like Home" by Meck, and "Like a Prayer" is actually probably in my top 3 favorite Madonna songs. So this came on and I was basically losing my mind dancing and singing and acting a fool. Kaskade really brought it with the mashups. In addition to the one above, he also played a bootleg mashup of his song "Be Still" with Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" which I can't find anywhere, probably because it's just going to be one of those things he keeps in his pocket to play at live events.

Ugh, the sound quality of these videos kills me! But anyway, here's one I did take, of something obvious:

This was a no-brainer to play and it brought the house down. I didn't record the whole song because I wanted to dance too, and I didn't want to take a shaky video :] But thanks Kaskade, for not letting me down from the high I felt after Bassnectar.

After Kaskade, I had a tough decision to make. Should I stick it out in the Sahara for David Guetta? Should I roll over to Outdoor for MGMT? Or should I take a breather for 20 mins and then stake out a good spot for Major Lazer? Well, as someone who has read my last few blog posts might suspect, I opted to check out the newcomers Major Lazer. David Guetta's recent work wasn't really grabbing me, and from what I knew about MGMT's most recent album Congratulations, it didn't seem like the type of music that would really translate to an energetic festival performance. (And I turned out to be right - I was able to hear the one song I would have truly cared to hear, "Electric Feel," and while the sound of the crowd indicated excitement to hear that song, I heard later that they played mostly songs from the new album and people didn't really get into it at all. They didn't even play "Kids!")

All that said, while Major Lazer was fun and got me dancing, I was actually a little disappointed. A little background - when I said "newcomers," what I meant was that this was a new collaboration; however, Major Lazer's core members are actually Switch and Diplo, veteran producers and DJs. So knowing that, I should have anticipated the possibility that they'd actually play a DJ set rather than just performing tracks from the album. Which is what they did - the set included bits from several of the songs on the album, but it was otherwise a set of songs that had a sound similar to the Major Lazer sound. And don't get me wrong - it was a solid set. I just had hoped to hear more of their actual songs in full-length.

After Major Lazer, I sprinted over to catch the last hour of Muse. These guys definitely know how to put on a show. I wasn't able to get any pictures because the crowd was packed and I was surrounded by a bunch of giants, but if it's one thing Muse embraces it's bombast, and that makes for a great concert. Highlights for me were "The Uprising," which was played during the encore, "Knights of Cydonia," and "Time is Running Out." I would have liked to her "New Born," as it's one of my favorite Muse songs, but I can't say for sure that they didn't play it during the hour that I missed while I was at Major Lazer.

After Muse, I regrettably missed the end of Flying Lotus's set to push closer to the stage for Tiesto, someone else who I somehow had never seen despite him being one of the top DJs in the world. I was rewarded!

So I was kinda off to the right, but I was probably only about 10 rows back, and if you knew how HUGE the crowd was during this set, you'd understand that being so close was a massive accomplishment. There were allegedly some 75,000 people in attendance at Coachella, and it seriously felt like there were 50,000 of them crowded around the Coachella stage. I had honestly never seen such a never-ending mass of heads before - not at any of the massives I've attended, nor at any other large gathering of people. This was truly a packed, shoulder-to-shoulder sea of people the likes of which was astounding.

I took a short video of what we joked later could be our theme song for the evening, "In the Dark." We had all been separated and somehow managed to find each other again among the mass of people before Tiesto's set at the stage. So this particular song would be the theme song why? Well, the lyrics in part are something like "Cause I will be there/And you will be there/And we'll find each other in the dark." Which is what somehow happened! We found each other in the dark. (Thank goodness.)

I also, from the looks of the video, tried again to capture how massive the crowd was. I think I kind of failed. If you think it looks big from that video, multiply that by about 5 and that's probably closer to what the mass of people actually looked like. The last video I took was of my favorite Tiesto song, "Adagio for Strings."

Sadly, it must be said that Tiesto's set, though energetic and fun, actually reminded me why I've been kind of moving away from trance as of late. It really is the cheesiest and most cookie-cutter of all electronic music, something that I've known and accepted for awhile, but didn't care because it was still fun. But there just haven't been that many tracks released recently that really stand on their own as good songs. They really are meant to meld together and just become background sounds that e-tards jump up and down to. That's why I particularly enjoyed hearing "Adagio for Strings" - though still a later release than when trance was at its peak, it has a unique sound to it that I feel set it apart from every other tune that he played.

There's a part of me that wishes I checked out Devo and 2ManyDJs, both of whom were playing at the same time as Tiesto. But I guess that's the nature of the beast with these festivals - you win some, you lose some. And some stick in your mind and rock it with awesomeness.

And three cheers to perhaps the longest post I've ever written! I hope anyone reading is enjoying my recaps. Day 3 is still to come :D

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