I went weekend 2, so I felt like I was going to somewhat of an experiment. I arrived early on Thursday to meet with my fellow campers. We crammed into the car, got to the checkpoint around noon and were right in. We had a spot at 108 and Main, so we were super close to the festival entrance, which became a blessing later in the weekend. As we set up, it sank in that it was going to be an incredibly hot weekend. I was quickly doused in sweat putting up my tent, and found that there was nowhere to go to avoid the constant heat. As a bonus, it led me to drink less than I would have otherwise, but a constant thread running throughout the weekend was the incredible heat, for good and bad.
I arrived not long after gates opened on Friday. I went straight to the ZIA tent to do record store day. I found the At the Drive-In EP I wanted, and was very happy. After having all my records melt last year, I decided to just ship them this year. It worked out incredibly well (they came the Wednesday after Coachella) and I will do it in upcoming years. With that done, I went to the first band of the weekend, Abe Vigoda. I used to see these guys ALL the time at the Smell and surrounding venues. They are now a very different, much more confident band than they used to be. They utilized synths and dark vocals to good effect, and had some awesome energy for noon. Good to see them play again, it was a nice nostalgic open to my 9th Coachella. I quickly realized the heat was going to keep me in the tents as long as possible during the days, so as to keep in the shade, so I went over to catch the end of Wallpaper. That was a fuckiní mistake. Theyíre bad party rap, and they did it in an energetic but incredibly annoying way. It felt like the Black Eyed Peas, and it was far too early for me to handle that tripe. I went back over to the Gobi for Wolf Gang, who I donít remember much at all. They were there, and I was as well. After that, a quick jaunt over to the board photo, which was incredibly sparsely attended on account of it being hot and not many board people going weekend 2. It was good to see who I did though, but I bolted right afterwards to catch Other Lives in the Gobi. They were pleasantly ethereal and hit some peaks a la Shearwater, but I would have preferred them at night. Still good. About halfway thru their set I met up with Kittkat, and we watched EMA together. Hot damn Erika puts on a great show. Iíve seen her before, but wasnít expecting her to be as great at a festival. She really kept me captivated through the whole set, and it seemed like people around me were digging it as well. I then ran to catch some of James on the reports of everyone on the board. They were good, I liked what I heard, but it was way too hot to stay outside, and I wanted to see Gary Clark Jr. Iím glad I ran back, as he was perhaps the surprise of the weekend. The tent was packed to the brim and he performed as if everyone was there just for him. He is a great soloist and has an awesome stage presence. I loved every minute of it, and by the end he had the crowd eating out of his hand. It seemed like a big show for him and he did it perfectly. I ran over and caught almost all of Jimmy Cliff. I wonít even include Tim Armstrong on the list, because it was a Jimmy Cliff show through and through. He was a great, energetic performer, and his music sounded perfect in the heat Ė he has such a great collection of songs that work perfectly for a warm day. I was walking away towards Death Grips when he busted into The Harder They Come, so I had to just stay for the whole set. Death Grips were insane and loud and confrontational and a pure blast. I liked but didnít love Ex-Military, but the show made me a fan. Huge sound, and they got the crowd whipped into such a frenzy. I caught some of Dawes apparently, but I couldnít tell you anything. As the sun set, I was up close in the Gobi for WU LYF. What a fuckiní great performance. They had a fantastically paced set, working from some of their more slow burning tracks to a huge closing rendition of We Bros. The crowd sang, clapped, crowd surfed and generally went nuts for them. A spectacular set, I will definitely be seeing them again. I ran back to the camp site to switch out of flip flops in anticipation of Refused, and got back in just in time to catch Common People. It was good but confirmed that I didnít care about Pulp. I went over and watched all of the Rapture. They were a really good dance party, better than in 2008. Tighter than Iíve ever seen them, they went through their whole catalog with their set and had a packed tent grooving. I caught the start of Atari Teenage Riot, and they were refreshingly confrontational. It sounded like what Iíve wanted Skrillex to be, and watching people flee their set was a blast. Another one I absolutely loved. Iíve been a big Black Keys fan for years, so I had to catch their set. They didnít disappoint me, especially since Iím a fan of the new album. Gold on the Ceiling was a highlight of the festival, but the real surprise was when they had John Fogerty come out to perform The Bandís The Weight in tribute to Levon Helm. It was a cool shock, and they did it quite well. I ran off early to get my spot for Refused, so I heard the last two songs of Explosions in the Sky. Iíve never been a fan of them live or on record, but they were sounding pretty damn good that night. Louder and more intense than what Iím accustomed to with them. I got my good spot for Refused, and hot damn. They are an incredible band and I hope theyíre back. The genuine passion they had for their music came through in the performance, and Iíve loved those songs for so long without ever expecting to see them performed live. Getting pretty much everything I wanted, I left a bruised, battered and happy camper. I closed out the night with the latter half of the Horrors. They were great, but after the force of nature that was Refused, it was hard to really care.
Yup, the sun woke me right at 8. Better than expected, but hot damn it was hard to deal with by Sunday morning. Saturday was hotter, but at least there was a nice breeze. I went in early to catch Keep Shelley in Athens after loving their EP. They were good but not at all suited for the heat. It was a nice early set that would have been much better at night in the Gobi. They DID have a stark and shimmering cover of Just Like Honey by the Jesus and Mary Chain that was pretty good. I went to the Gobi for shade and saw Spector next. Brit pop, cynical singer in a suit with lots of energy and melodies that didnít stick with me at all: I felt like I unwittingly saw Pulp, and I didnít care. I went to the sun to see how We Were Promised Jetpacks fared: the last time Iíd seen them they were playing during a blizzard at Mammoth Mountain and they did it with energy. They dealt with the heat in the same way, blasting out a really well played racket for a small but appreciative crowd. I caught enough of the Vaccines to remember that theyíre not someone Iím going to care much about, then went to the Black Lips. They were really good, which was a nice surprise since theyíre so hit or miss. About halfway thru they brought out a special guest, a Biggie ďhologramĒ (actually a cardboard cutout) that they bounced around stage. They played the best stuff from their older records, and ended by destroying a guitar and tossing it to the crowd. Punk rock. Azalea Banks showed up on time and played almost the whole time. She had tons of energy and even people at the very back knew every word. I didnít know her at all, but I liked the show. I just wandered for a bit and laughed at kids on ecstasy until fIREHOSE started. It was a ton of fun seeing them perform. Iím not a HUGE fan, but I like their catalog a decent amount, and they chose some great songs to play from each album. The crowd liked it, and more people were standing up front at the end than at the start, so good shit. I ran outside to catch as much of tUnE-yArDs as possible. She is so goddamn good at what she does. I heard 5 songs and each one was an absolute revelation. That woman is a born performer and I canít wait to see her again. I had to see the Buzzcocks though. They were, as many people mentioned, one of the best sets of the weekend. For a hot tent, they were full of energy, and they got a respectable crowd moshing. The end of the set was packed full of OG classics. About 2/3 of the way through the set I looked to my left and realized I was standing next to Tessalasset and NeutralMilkHotel from the board; small world. I then went to Andrew Bird. He was so charming and talented, and I loved it. St. Vincent played a song with him, as did Bon Iverís not-Colin Stetson sax player. I donít really know Birdís music well, but he sold me with the live performance. I got my ass up close for Jeff Mangum, and am so glad I did. He was absolutely magical. I had seen him at ATP last year in Jersey. While he was good there, I was left wanting. Here, he did everything I could have hoped for. He seemed comfortable and engaged, and really put himself into the performance. And, tellingly, the crowd sang along. He urged us to sing more, and we did. He also did True Love Will Find You in the End and Naomi (with a cello), which apparently he skipped weekend 1? Anyway, my favorite set of the weekend. I went to the beer garden afterwards and watched The Shins, who were good but boring, as Iíve always found their live show. Still love the records. I got myself a spot in the middle of the tent for Flying Lotus, but it got really insanely packed in there. I liked his set, but it was so crowded I couldnít fully connect. When I moved back it was better, but I looked at my bag to find that it had opened and I had lost my allergy meds, an essential for Coachella. I contemplated how the hell I was going to get to a pharmacy to refill them, and decided to wait to the end of the set and hope against hope to find the glass bottle intact. Lo and behold, after 10 minutes of looking I found it mashed into the ground but intact. My head thanked me, and I walked over to get in there for Godspeed You Black Emperor. Fucking hell, what a live show. They transported me to another world, and the set could easily have been 3 hours; time was nonexistent. Afterwards I saw some boardies and went with NMH to watch Radiohead. They were good, not great, but I loved hearing Exit Music again, and it was my first time seeing them do Kid A so there were some nice surprises. I went to sleep as soon as I got back to the camp.
Sunday I was tired, so I stayed back a little bit longer. The first act I got in for was Housse de Racket, a French dance rock duo. They were super energetic and got me moving a little bit for so early on a Sunday. It would have been a fun night time set, but they dealt with their time quite well. I stayed in that tent for Le Butcherettes, who are every bit as unhinged, energetic and spectacular as theyíve been described to me. I will watch them again. I left early to see First Aid Kit. They had some technical difficulties with their keyboard, so they did a mostly acoustic set that was so charming and special. They sing so well together and just have a warm stage presence. I went for the start of Greg Ginn. He was doing the Royal We stuff, which apparently live equates to him playing guitar and theremin over a pre-recorded track. He wouldnít let the sound people turn his guitar up, and while I enjoyed what he was doing I had a sudden burst of energy and wanted to dance, so I ran out to see Seun Kuti. It sounds like I probably missed them doing Zombie, which is a bummer, but they are a band that plays incredibly well in the heat. They had a ton of energy, and the small crowd was dancing like crazy. Three songs in the thirty minutes I saw, and they were nothing but pure joy. I got a great spot back in the tent for Real Estate. When I saw them before they sounded good but didnít do or say anything on stage. This time Alex Bleeker was really loose and charming, and they played to the audience a bit. Their music is made to be played in front of palm trees in a late afternoon shade, so they were in their element. The second half of the set was just a string of one great song after another, and when they closed with Beach Comber, the crowd started to bounce and clap and sing along. They responded by MOVING on stage, and it was great. One of the most pleasant surprises I had all weekend. I strolled by some of Beats Antique, who were dancy and not what I needed. What I needed was Wild Flag, and hot damn did I ever need them. Carrie Brownstein is an incredible guitarist, and she had me grinning from ear to ear every time she was singing. Her tone is huge and she was definitely doing her best Pete Townsend impression. Mary Timony has some good songs, but every Carrie song got be so energized. About halfway thru their set, a barrage of neon morons plowed to the front and then loudly talked to each other: the Weekndís crowd was there. Undeterred, the Wild Flag fans jumped higher and screamed louder. I watched some of the Hives from the beer tent, and they were fun, but I admittedly wanted to be part of the Weekndís crowd. I heard that the sound was too low first week and that he was too timid, but he had a great set weekend 2. I was fairly close and thought he and his band really drove home the cold grooves of the three EPs, and Iím glad to say I saw him. I went over towards Justice, and my damn flip flop broke. I figured I didnít have enough time to get to my campsite and back in time to get a good spot for ATDI, so I went shoeless. Justice were Justice. I was a fan in 07 and still enjoy them, so I enjoyed hearing some of their better songs on a good soundsystem, but they didnít do a whole lot for me with the show. Perhaps itís just because I was in such anticipation for At the Drive-In. They absolutely did not let me down. Sure, Cedric canít scream anymore. Sure, Omar was mopey. It didnít matter. Cedric was all over the place, funny, and he sang most of the parts in a great way. The band was so incredibly tight, and Omarís dour look didnít limit his guitar playing: they sounded fantastic. The setlist was pretty close to what I would have chosen for a festival list. I wanted Rauscache, but so cool to watch Cedric do the melodica jam on Enfilade. ATDI were one of my favorite bands in Middle and High school, and I never got to see them, so that set was something special. Another huge surprise was how great Snoop and Dre were. They chose a fantastic set list, even if the Tupac thing was kind of weird. I danced a ton and was amazed that, despite all the walking, standing, dancing and moshing Iíd done, I was able to stay on my feet for their whole set. A very pleasant surprise and a great way to end the weekend.
I liked Weekend 2. It was hot, the grass was worn off in the tents so they were more gravelly and we knew about Tupac. On the flip, Iíve never had a Coachella run so smoothly, especially the limited amount of sound problems. Bands seemed to be really energetic and more than one act remarked that they were preferring the second weekend. I donít know which Iíd choose next year, but the fact that the bands were able to work out the kinks has me leaning Week 2. That said, I really missed seeing all my friends there on the field, and that would sway me above all else.