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Concert Review: Coachella – Day Two – 4/26/08

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Day Two in the desert brought more heat on a number of fronts. Trying to get in from a mile away by car at around three-thirty in the afternoon took roughly an hour. This isn’t all the fault of the facility and the police handling traffic as plenty of selfish folks cut into the line from the shoulder or making U-turns rather than waiting their turn, causing an increase in blood pressure. Although only a few degrees difference, it was noticeably warmer in this afternoon. Shade was a commodity and bodies were contorted into different shapes to take advantage of the shapes garbage cans and lemonade-stand umbrellas temporarily created.

Three handcuffed young men, boys possibly, were escorted by undercover police past me as I listened to the indie guitar rock of Stephen Malkmus & Jicks at the Outdoor Theater. Had to be hard drugs of some sort, likely in the psychedelic vein for such a long day, as people were smoking pot all over the place. One guy had a rainbow-colored mohawk; no doubt when his parents hear about it they will wish they had some sort of sign of what junior was up to. Between songs Malkmus pointed out that the band was against torture and the Bush Administration. Their music was all right, but not compelling enough to keep me from discovering what was taking place elsewhere.

Over at the Coachella Stage, Mexico’s Café Tacuba was serving up delicious funky Latin rock rhythms and had the crowd eating it up. They sang in Spanish, but it didn’t matter to the thousands dancing away. I would have stayed longer but was called away by fellow Snob Caballero Oscuro who attended on Saturday, my first familiar face. We headed over to see Hot Chip at the Sahara Tent. There were a so many people that they spilled out of the tent and into the grassy area. Unfortunately, they started late, so I couldn’t stay to hear them.

Back at Outdoor, Dwight Yoakum was filling the “Willie Nelson” role from last year and offered a preview of the Stagecoach Festival to take place the following weekend. He had a good size crowd watching that skewed slightly older, but it was definitely people who were fans of quality musicianship. Aware of his potential audience, Yoakum offered covers of “Ring of Fire,” “Little Sister,” “Garden Party,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

There was a huge crowd camped out in front of Coachella stage, but they didn’t all appear to be into the indie-pop rock that Death Cab for Cutie was playing. They likely were just reserving a spot for later acts as many laid around and seemed disinterested, so crediting their fans with creating the biggest smoky haze of the day might not be fair or accurate.

Although Rilo Kiley only has one female member, they seemed to inspire a lot of girl power as women outnumbered the guys by at least 3:1 over at Outdoor. They had a great rocking sound so it was easy to see why they drew a large audience.  I didn't know their music before today, but they won me and sold a future CD. 

When Kraftwerk hit the Coachella stage, I hope whatever techo/electronica bands were playing in the other tents offered a moment of silence in honor of the debt they owe to these trend-setting musicians. What was most interesting to hear was the contrast between these elder statesmen and the new breed. Kraftwerk’s music doesn’t have the same driving intensity in their music or their effects; it’s almost quaint in comparison. During their encore, they performed in glowing suits that looked like they were from Tron. As usual at these large events, some arriving audience members pressed their way as far to the front as they could towards the stage. It struck me as odd because the band is just four guys with computers, so I am not sure what people thought they were going to see.

During Kraftwerk’s set, I had time to make my way to the beer garden/food court for dinner. While eating a slice of pizza, I noticed Perry Farrell nonchalantly walking by with his wife and some friends. I wanted to run up and say, “Thanks for the music and all the shows over the past 20 years,” but as usual, with no way to introduce myself without looking like a crazy person, I just sat there and watched him pass. Buying his next album and applauding at the next show will have to suffice.

At Outdoor Mark Ronson performed with his own musical revue, complete with horns and a few stringed instruments, but with more of a dance sound than Sharon Jones from the previous night. He had different singers, including one young man named Charlie who sang Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.”

The Coachella stage continued to present influential acts with Portishead, who have reemerged with a new album after 10 years. The videoscreens presented them in black and white. It was strange to hear the band under the stars with a large group of people because the mood of the music combined with Beth Gibbons hauntingly beautiful vocals usually puts me in the mind of listening to them alone in a darkened room, curled up in a ball reminded that "nobody loves me/It's true." Utley played a great guitar solo on “Wandering Star” with needle-nose pliers. Some of their songs, like “Machine Gun,” are too much noise over music that I don’t find fits Gibbons’ voice well, sounding better suited for Bjork or Sonic Youth.

Flogging Molly closed out Outdoor with their brand of Irish music fused with punk intensity that had plenty of people on their feet dancing the night away.

With a long drive ahead and a full day still to come, I left before Prince took the stage. Thankfully, Caballero Oscuro was able to fill in the details:

Prince rocked the main stage at Coachella Saturday night for what must have been at least 30,000 fans, but not before opening the set by bringing out Morris and Jerome for “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” followed by Sheila E for “Glamorous Life.” Oh, and then he covered Radiohead’s “Creep” and The Beatles’ “Come Together” just for added fun. Many blistering guitar solos, a full two-hour set lasting 'til 1AM, a bit of a lag around costume change in the middle but definitely a memorable event. I couldn't help but notice that he forgot some of his own lyrics a couple of times, so when he called out, “What’s my name?” later on, I was genuinely concerned that the old man may be suffering early stages of Alzheimer's. I could do without his clear stripper heels with blinky lights in them too, but to each his own.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at
  • Donald Gibson

    “With a long drive ahead and a full day still to come, I left before Prince took the stage.”

    I’m trying to find an apt analogy (leaving an arena before Springsteen plays “Born To Run,” perhaps; leaving a theatre before you realize the ending of The Sixth Sense), but nothing seems to fit. Are you not that much of a Prince fan or was the traffic that bad? (I heard Portishead was none too pleased with having their headlining status essentially bumped for the Purple One.)

    You didn’t leave before Roger Waters’ set on Night 3, did you?

  • Glen Boyd

    Gotta echo Gibson here Bicho. Prince is amazing live, and short of my house burning down I wouldn’t have missed that. The Musicology shows a few years ago were absolutely incredible. great report otherwise though.


  • El Bicho

    I am not much more than a greatest hits fan of Prince at the present time. There were a number of factors in my leaving before he went on that went into my decision.

    There was a good 20 minutes to wait before he was scheduled to come on. My legs and feet were already starting to feel sore, and I knew there was a full day ahead of me. I didn’t pay for the the ticket so it’s not like I lost anything in the transaction and since Oscuro was there, I knew it was going to get covered.

    Considering he didn’t finish until 1AM, and I still had to pack up from where I stayed in town, I wouldn’t have gotten home until after 3 AM regardless of traffic, and I didn’t have the youth or drugs to keep me from being wrecked the next day, which I knew we were going to close. [Or did we? Read Day Three to find out.]

  • Josh Hathaway

    Rilo Kiley is amazing, Sir Bicho. I’d suggest The Execution of All Things first, followed by Under the Blacklight.

  • Glen Boyd

    For as good a live representation of MMJ as you are likely to find, I’d point you towards the DVD Okonokos. Yer’ welcome.


  • El Bicho

    I think you meant this for Day Three, but I will make a note of it