Wanting to catch what Perry Farrell was up to on the Sahara Tent at 2pm had my friend Todd and I leave early from Orange County. We hit no traffic until we were right outside the parking lot. The consequence of such light crowds early on meant that the line to get in wasn’t long, allowing the security check to be more intense. Yet, plenty of people still got weed and pipes into the place.
Farrell started 23 minutes late, but no one seemed to mind because they were in the shade. Just like his recent performance at The Nightwatchman Benefit in West Hollywood, he was joined by wife Ety who sang and danced, and guitarist Carl Restivo as they performed electronic dance over pre-recorded material. The mix was not that great at first. Farrell’s vocals were too soft and he had to look over and signal the sound guys. He was annoyed, but quickly put on a smile when he turned to the audience because above all else, Farrell is a showman. He covered Jane’s Addiction’s songs “Just Because,” “Been Caught Stealing,” “Stop,” and closed his shortened set with “Jane Says,” which the crowd adored. After their appearance at the NME Awards, reports are that at least 3/4ths of the band is reforming.
During the set, an idiot photographer made his presence known with an enormous pole he used to extend his camera up very high. Apparently, shooting up from the photo pit or from the side of the stage wasn’t good enough. He had to get point of views from above the band and over the crowd. Plenty of people around me wanted to hurl objects at him. While he’s doing a job to allow everyone who can’t go to the show to get a glimpse, that shouldn’t trump the experience of those of us who did attend.
With an hour before anyone interested us, Todd and I headed over to the beer garden to enjoy some Heinekens and laughs, reminiscing and catching each other up on what we’ve been doing to lately. As much fun as I had the previous two days, it was much more enjoyable having someone to experience the event with.
Manchester Orchestra played at the Outdoor Theater. They are a tight five-piece rock and roll outfit and delivered a few decent songs, but nothing that locked us down. We headed over to the Mojave Tent where Swervedriver had the worst mix of the weekend. The bass drums drowned out everything else that was going on.
During the last song of their set, electro-rock band Does It Offend You, Yeah? were tearing it up in the Gobi Tent. Everyone was on their feet and dancing around. Todd and I quickly got caught up in the wild energy and regretted not stopping by sooner.
On the Coachella Stage, the ensemble Gogol Bordello had a very good size crowd engaged with their gypsy-rock sound. At Outdoor, new wave dance band Metric, which includes James Shaw and Emily Haines who take part in Broken Social Scene, sounded good when their equipment worked; Haines’ synthesizer was particularly moody.
Later at Coachella, Sean Penn took the stage and broke the ice by saying even his mother wondered “what the fuck Sean Penn was doing at Coachella?” He was there to tell attendees that “revolution is a young man’s job,” and the best way they could better the country was through volunteerism. He offered to anyone interested The Dirty Hands Caravan, which was going to leave Monday afternoon for Louisiana to help with rebuilding efforts and then return on May 7th. While Penn said they would take care of the parked cars, I couldn’t understand why he waited until Sunday. What time did that leave anyone to reschedule work, school, or anything already planned before taking off for 10 days. I hope he got the number of people he wanted, but idea came off poorly executed. He left the stage with a phrase he claimed he hadn’t said in over 20 years to a group he knew would likely identify with it. Everyone cheered his “Hey, Bud. Let’s Party,” even though he didn’t sound like Spicoli.
My Morning Jacket followed with some nice grooves to jam to. Singer/guitarist Jim James wore some crazy skeleton boots and stomped around the stage. They have me curious to pick up one of their albums or download a bootleg. We would have stayed longer, but had to check out one of our favorite bands.
Love and Rockets took the Outdoor Stage performing a fantastic sounding set that focused on their first four albums. They had a great background comprised of fluorescent tubes that showed different images. The guitar was lost briefly on “Dog End of a Day Gone By.” During “No New Tale to Tell,” Perry Farrell was sitting backstage, singing along like the rest of us fans in the audience. Acknowledging their influences, they dedicated “Holiday on the Moon” to headliner Roger Waters and “Kundalini Express” to Syd Barrett. Since Waters’ set was starting when L&R ended, we left during “Yin and Yang The Flower Pot Man,” a number I have seen them play many times live. According to reports, we missed an appearance by The Bubblemen who got into a pillow fight with the band.
While most were understandably surprised to hear classic rocker Roger Waters was playing Coachella, which has previously focused on alternative forms of music, the man certainly delivered a set many who witnessed won’t forget. It was filled with brilliant visuals on screen as well as live fireworks and fire, and the best use of sound of the weekend. He brought his recent “Dark Side of the Moon” tour to the desert, opening with a best-of set and then featuring the classic album in its entirety. The psychedelic classic “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” was given more of a New Age jazz feel. “Have A Cigar” suffered from some bad feedback.
During “Sheep,” a giant inflatable pig covered in graffiti, which included the words “Vote Obama,” made its way through the audience by handlers. As I tried reading different parts, I noticed low-flying plane with a shark face on the bottom go overheard. It seemed odd and rather reckless. Then it turned around and flew back, this time dropping some sort of material over the crowd. It continued to circle and dropped what looked like confetti or paper of some kind. [The next day I learned they were pro-Obama fliers, but they blew out of the Polo Grounds and never landed on us.] The pig got loose or was released into the sky depending on what you believe.
After a break, they began Dark Side of the Moon. The opening drums into “Time” was slightly different from the album, which was nice to be surprised by. After “Money,” some people started to leave. Apparently they were just there for the album’s hits. The encore was comprised of songs from The Wall: “Happiest Days of Our Lives,” “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2,” “Vera Lynn,” “Bring the Boys Back Home” and “Comfortably Numb,” the latter of which featured violinist Lili Haydn playing David Gilmour parts. The show ended with a spectacular fireworks display.
Coachella 2008 was an amazing three days of music. Wish I could have seen more, although all I did take in nearly destroyed me. My legs and feet were aching by the end like I couldn’t remember ever. I tried squatting during Roger Waters and both my knees almost gave out. I finally told Todd I needed to move back and sit down. He was glad I did because his ankles were bothering him, but since I was on Day Three he didn’t want to say anything for fear of looking weak. Forty can’t be the new thirty because thirty never felt like this. I am worried Bonnaroo might kill me.