Driving in from a mile away on Saturday about noonish, traffic was much better. This was likely due in part to the change in admission to only selling tickets to the entire event. Many fans protested online, but they sold out on the Monday before with days to spare.
After hearing some e-friends rave about them, Porcupine Tree was one of the top acts I wanted to check out, so after making our way through parking and security, we rushed over to the Outdoor Theatre only to find the RX Bandits still playing. Not a good sign of things to come when the first band to take the stage is running late.
With time to spare, I wandered around and the shade of the Gobi Tent and the gospel-choir-dressed, garage-rock-playing Almighty Defenders caught my attention. The band is comprised of members of the Black Lips and The King Khan & BBQ Show. They had a fun, loud sound and a subversive sense of humor. A song dedicated to the Catholic Church had the lyrics "He touched me" and was concluded with a "Thank You to the Pope."
Porcupine Tree traffic in progressive rock, and while other band's influences can be heard, their sound isn’t dated to the 1970s. The band's set, better suited for a dark arena or blacklighted dorm room as opposed to a sunny afternoon, sounded like a more melodic version of Tool but can be heavy when required. The acoustic guitar on "Time Flies" from The Incident sounded like Pink Floyd's "Dogs." Before the band was finished, I understood what the fuss was about.
On the Coachella Stage, Old Crow Medicine Show delivered a set of old-time music that went over well. A small group of people wearing feather headdresses, one of the hot fashion items of the weekend for some reason (I certainly didn’t get the memo), began dancing and it morphed into a very large, joyous crowd. A little over halfway through the set the band invited out Heartbreaker Benmont Tench to add keys to the arrangement and they melded well together.
At Gobi Band of Skulls carried on the rock trio tradition well and the blend of male and female vocals helps separate them from similar-sounding bands. Next up was The Raveonettes, who almost cancelled like a few acts because of the Icelandic volcano eruption. Although the two members of their touring band were still in England, the main duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo nervously followed the maxim "the show must go on." Though the music sounded more like demos because of personnel limits, their dedication to and appreciation of the audience was sincere and palpable. Their set made for a highlight of the weekend because nothing else better revealed the relationship between artist and audience.
The field at the Coachella Stage was surprisingly light for Coheed and Cambria as the sun set. I would have thought their youthful hybrid of rock, progressive and punk, would have been better attended considering they sounded so much better than many of their contemporaries. Corrine Bailey Rae played to an overflowing Gobi tent, but unfortunately the soulful R&B on display could not be fully appreciated if you weren't in the tent as the other stages almost drowned her out.
The desert sky was streaked in pink and was an unusual sight to many as quite a number of people snapped photos. Another intriguing item that graced overhead day and night through the festival was three or four huge chains of balloons that were seemingly over a hundred long. Lights were attached at intervals once the skies grew dark.
The recently reformed Faith No More opened up their set with a hysterical, though completely accurate, cover of Peaches and Herb's "Reunited." Hearing the genre-crossing elements in their high-energy arrangements reveal an impact they have had on bands that have followed like System of a Down. Lead singer Mike Patton is an entertaining and engaging front man. At one point, he trustingly bodysurfed through the audience.
Happy with my seat and not wanting to fight to reclaim it for Muse, I stayed where I was and was still able to hear the enjoyable indie-pop dance tunes of MGMT, but after hearing similar-sounding bands over the past couple days the forced falsetto is starting to grow wearisome and there was more to come.
Muse earned its headlining spot with a compelling set that had a great many on their feet and squeezed together listening to the band's blend of influences, ranging from classical to space rock, more at home on a European soccer field than American polo grounds.
Leaving to get a spot for The Dead Weather revealed not only how vast the audience for Muse was, but how much garbage littered the fields. It was everywhere by the end of the night and not solely because people were lazy. Garbage cans overflowed with debris early in the afternoon and nothing was done about it. Coachella attendees are not as sensitive as their virtual counterparts in the computer game Roller Coaster Tycoon.
At the Outdoor Theatre, The Dead Weather played a familiar, blues-based set to the one I saw last August. The songs that were loud and on the radio captured everyone's attention, but the set suffered slightly in my area behind the soundboard when they tried to bring it down. Rude people chatted unaware it would be difficult to hear while the band was playing, and Tiesto from Coachella overpowered them during "Will There Be Enough Water?"
My evening closed with another band from the past or it might be from the future considering the glorious electronic sounds they make. Devo played a set that their fans enjoyed as much as any other musician's fan can claim over the weekend. The posers would leave in waves after familiar hits like "Whip It" and "Satisfaction" were played, leaving the diehards to get closer to the stage for "Secret Agent Man" and "Mongoloid."
Day Two was a great success musically and logistically for the most part. They offered quite a variety of acts, and I got to almost everything I wanted to see. Hope some bootleggers will help with what I missed.
You can see/hear the Devo set online.