The first thing I noticed as I walked into the festival were the differences: the new location for the entrance, more fences, new traffic-related stuff, the fact you had to get your own schedule pamphlet thing, etc. And the actual festival grounds had changed a bit as well, in terms of art (there seemed to be more, which is certainly a good thing) and other things. But my friend Nate and I arrived around 1:15ish so I could show him around and I could see the changes for myself. Around 2:00 we heard Flosstradamus starting across the field, and we went to watch. The 15 minutes I saw were certainly enjoyable, cool mash-ups.
From there Nate and I walked over to the Mojave to get a spot for the Noisettes. I watched from the side of the soundboard and couldn’t see too well for parts, but they sounded great. Their guitar player can shred pretty fucking hard, which was kind of a surprise, and their singer is about 400 times better than Karen O because she can sing and doesn’t shriek all the fucking time. I want to catch this band in a club in the future. The reaction to their music was great. I didn’t get the whole setlist, but they played most of the tracks of their new record.
I had time to kill till around 5:00, so Nate and I watched a few minutes of Charles Feelgood in the Sahara, which was boring. We decided to get food, so we went to the food area by the Outdoor Theater, where I had a good pulled pork sandwich. We watched/heard Nickel Creek and Satellite Party from where we were sitting. Nickel Creek sounded great, and Satellite Party sounded like a shredfest based on what snippets I caught. They did play “Stop”, which I was afraid of. But I don’t think they played “Jane Says” so I wasn’t too upset. At least I could hear “Stop” from the food court.
Around 4:50 we walked over to the main stage to catch Silversun Pickups. They played a good enough set, the highlight being “Lazy Eye”, which surprised me. They didn’t play “Melatonin”, which was a bummer, but they sounded pretty good. The singer/guitar player continues to be one of the weirdest people ever. The setlist:
Well-Thought Out Twinkles
Future Foe Scenarios
We decided to camp out for the Arctic Monkeys, which would provide a better spot for JAMC. They were easily my huge surprise of Friday. I enjoyed their first record, thought the second was over-produced but had good tunes, and thought their EP was great. But none of the records stood out, in terms of being really exciting. As a live act, the band is FANTASTIC. Extremely tight, surprisingly loud (had to have been the speakers at the Coachella stage), and energetic. I will not miss them in the future. Setlist:
If You Found This, You're Probably Too Late
Still Take You Home
From the Ritz to the Rubble
I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor
If You Were There, Beware
Fake Tales of San Francisco
Do Me A Favour
The View from the Afternoon
When the Sun Goes Down
Leave Before The Lights Come On
A Certain Romance
The Jesus and Mary Chain were fucking brilliant. I was standing pretty close to the front to the right of the stage and it was really loud and really good. They started a bit slow, and William fucked up briefly on “Far Gone and Out”, but otherwise they were great. I was disappointed it ended so soon. Oh yeah, Scarlett Johansson added nothing to “Just Like Honey”. Fuck that. I hope they come around again soon. The new song was great as well. William is too fucking cool also. He had a decent sense of humor about the whole gig, and seemed shocked by the crowd to an extent. Anyway, setlist:
Far Gone and Out
Happy When It Rains
Some Candy Talking
Blues From A Gun
All Things (new song)
Just Like Honey (w/ Scarlett Johansson)
EDIT: I'm going to assume they played the same set as the Glasshouse, so I'll fill out the setlist
From that set we went to watch Jarvis Cocker. He was quite late, so we grabbed some food (the chicken naanwich was good, I had one each day) and waited for him to start. When he played, he sounded good. His between song banter was funny. I would have enjoyed him more if he were on time. As for the setlist, all I remember is that he opened with "Fat Children", closed with "Cunts Are Still Running The World" and played "Black Magic" towards the end. Sounded good, but I guess my expectations were a little high.
From there, we went to catch a portion of Faithless, as Sonic Youth were going to be late. They sounded pretty good, and I enjoyed hearing "God Is A DJ" before I left. The tent wasn't terribly crowded, but I don't think I saw it truly full the whole weekend.
On the way back we heard one Sonic Youth tune from afar before heading over to listen to Bjork. I have to see her on her tour now, because she sounded awesome. Her band was great, she sounded great, her outfits were awesome, and the electronics guy (I forget his name) had the coolest toys I had ever seen. Very futuristic. "Earth Intruders" sounded amazing, as did the rest. I was pretty lazy on the setlist, so feel free to fill me in on what I missed. We left early as well, but heard stuff on the way out, and "Army Of Me" sounded killer. Setlist, courtesy of Brandon:
All Is Full Of Love
Pleasure Is All Mine
Army Of Me
Nate wanted to check out DJ Shadow as well, which was the initial reason for leaving Bjork early, but he was late, so we bounced. Friday was great. The weather was fairly decent, though it was pretty warm early in the day.
It was hot. Hottest I can remember since 04. But I'm sure it wasn't really. It just seemed that way.
Started off with Pharoahe Monch. I don't know if it was the heat or what, but I wasn't into it. He was great when I saw him previously, but not so much at Coachella. It wasn't bad though. It's all relative.
From Pharoahe Nate and I headed to The Fratellis and grabbed some shaved ice (from the food court by the Virgin Megastore, which was good. Not the one by the Outdoor Theater, which was bad shaved ice). The tent was way crowded, so we listened to the first song from outside and headed to the Sahara tent to lie down.
Steve Aoki was spinning in the Sahara, and the best part was how he looked (a kind of Japanese hippie/Jesus hybrid). I don't know if it was the spot I was sitting in or what, but it sounded like he couldn't do mash ups to save his life, or beat match, or anything. But watching him was fun so whatever.
We left the Sahara, caught "Flathead" as we walked by the Mojave again, Nate went elsewhere, and I went to watch the first part of Roky Erickson. He was very bluesy and both he and his band sounded top notch. Definitely didn't get any 13th Floor Elevator vibes from his set though, which was partially a bummer. But the four songs I heard were awesome...the other guitar player could really play.
I left Roky early to see Hot Chip in the Mojave. They were a big surprise. I thought they would be good, but they exceeded my expectations. Really danceable, good energy, and played to a really packed Mojave tent that was digging it. Question: do they always sing the first verse from "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel at the beginning of "Boy From School"? They did today, and I thought that was cool. Anyway, first excellent set of Saturday for me.
From there I went to see one of my guilty pleasures, Travis, on the main stage. They were really excited to be playing the festival. The new tunes sounded great, as did the old ones, and they were much heavier live than I expected. A really good live group though. They fucked up the beginning of "Driftwood" 3 times because the frontman's guitar was out of tune (his name escapes me at the moment. He made some comment about Hell probably consisting of tuning a 12 string for eternity, which I thought was funny and probably true. Anyone who has a 12 string knows what I mean. Anyway, they were great. I will definitely catch them again.
I was convinced by Nate to watch The Decemberists, despite not really digging their albums. I watched with Gabe, Jennie, Keriann, Chris and the friends of said people. It was a lot of fun, and a really good sunset show. Definitely a relief from the heat, which was the worst of the weekend by far. Highlights included the band being eaten by a whale and a dance circle. A good festival set for sure. But no wedding! And I think I saw Alma and Steve after this set...I can't remember when I talked to them. Sue me.
While the rest of the world went to watch The Arcade Fire, I met up with Valarie and Ryan for Ghostface Killah. He was fun for awhile (he played a bunch of Wu-Tang songs), but what he played was mostly snippets, and he just seemed like he was fucking around. I left when he brought a bunch of girls on stage to dance, because I wanted to hear music, not watch some dumb bitches try to act sexy.
From Ghostface I went to the Gobi tent for Girl Talk. That set was quite the party. Everyone was dancing, there was confetti, balloons, people on stage, etc. While the mash-up work wasn't my favorite sometimes, the overall product was awesome. One of the most fun sets I experienced, in a totally packed Gobi tent.
After Girl Talk I wanted to relax, so I went to the pretty empty Mojave to watch Sparklehorse. I saw Gabe, Jennie and John here, but they went to be true fans while I laid down on the grass and relaxed. The first couple of tunes sounded great, and I will definitely be checking this band out further in the future.
If I had known Gotan Project would be a half hour late, I would have stayed at Sparklehorse. When they finally came out, they were exceptional. I loved the visuals and the all white motif going on on stage (in terms of outfits and whatnot). Really danceable but relaxing at the same time. People were either grooving or lying down (I was the latter), but enjoying it either way. The two guys doing electronics were on a raised white platform, while the string section and guitar and whatever were below them. Anyway, one of my favorites for the weekend. I can't wait till they come around again.
Unfortunately, since Gotan were really fucking late, The Good, The Bad & The Queen were as well. I held out hope they wouldn't be quite so late, so I could justify missing The Black Keys, but they were and it sucked. I only caught "History Song" before I had to go. They were much more energetic live (especially Paul Simonon), with awesome visuals and stuff. The entire look of the band was great. Really dubby too. I hope they come around to SF...they had a string section. Fuck.
On the way out, we caught Tiesto's uncreative wankery. While I think he sucks, there is something undeniably powerful about a ton of people dancing in an open field while someone is bumping loud music. It's just a shame it was him.
Sunday was the nicest weather of the weekend, and the best day bandwise. We got in to the festival a couple of songs into Lupe Fiasco's set, which we heard from outside. He was definitely a three-way tie for the best hip-hop set of the weekend. Really energetic with good stage presence, and best of all, he sounded good. A lot of fun.
After Lupe, Nate and I went to the Outdoor Theater to listen to Mando Diao, who were pretty good. Again, a lot of energy, and I like the type of music they play, so it would take a lot for them to fuck it up for me. I would like to see them in a club...they were great.
Nate left to go elsewhere and I watched The Coup from the food court, while having one of the crappy shaved ices (the other ones ruled) and some Thai food. They were very much a funk group live, and were really good. But I didn't watch the whole thing because...
Explosions in the Sky were being ridiculous on the main stage. I had no intention of seeing them again, but they were totally fucking destroying it. So I watched it, and enjoyed it much more than the El Rey show. But it was no Mogwai 06. That was untouchable.
After EITS I stuck around at the main stage and met up with Nate again for The Roots. I heard very little of their own material: they did their "Hip-hop isn't dead" medley thing, and a BRILLIANT 10 minute or so cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War", complete with drum solo. They were really tight and funky.
I then ventured to a half-full Gobi tent for Konono No.1. Last year's Amadou & Mariam set taught me how awesome live world music is, and Konono were no exception. They played what I supposed amounted to 3 songs...the songs were lengthy, droning grooves that attracted a lot of people to the tent and had everyone dancing. I saw Bryan, Brandon, Kerrie, Greg, Ronnie, Gabe, Chris and Chris' friend (Thompson right?) at this set, and we had an excellent time. One of the best of the festival, and Konono are definitely on my "Don't Miss This Band in your area EVER" list now.
After the awesome thumb-piano grooves of Konono, Brandon, Kerrie and myself went to watch the first part of Klaxons in the Mojave. They opened with "The Bouncer" and "Atlantis to Interzone", the two songs I really wanted to hear. I watched a third song as well (I can't remember the name right now). They had the tent moving. I will check them out when they inevitably come my way again. But the Outdoor Theater was calling...
Placebo sounded very good from what I heard. The five songs were certainly concentrated on the newest release, which was just rereleased for whatever reason in America. The setlist for what I saw:
Because I Want You
Song To Say Goodbye
Every Me Every You
I proceeded to go to the main stage for my most anticipated set of the weekend, Crowded House. The douchebag contigent of RATM's fans were out in full force and started throwing shit. Ridiculously disrespectful and stupid. I want to see them in a club with a crowd that isn't comprised of fucktards. Fortunately, most of the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I saw Erik there as well, which was a plus. Brandon and Kerrie and John joined just in time for a nice singalong. They sounded great, and looked like they were having fun despite the bullshit. I felt bad for them but I'm sure they weren't bothered too much. Still a highlight, just on the strength of their playing. The singing was fantastic, per expectations. Setlist:
When You Come
World Where You Live
Don't Dream It's Over
Don't Stop Now
Fall At Your Feet
Something So Strong
Better Be Home Soon
I went to the Outdoor Theater next to watch Air, but they were taking forever. I grabbed a chicken naanwich for the third time over the weekend and ate that in the food court, expecting Air to start, but no dice. So I went to get a Belgian waffle and watched the first part of Manu Chao from afar. He sounded really good and energetic. I will hopefully catch him in SF at the end of the month. But what I really wanted to go see was the Sahara because of a certain British group...
...called Happy Mondays. As I arrived, Paul Van Dyk was finishing. He's not really my thing but sounded good enough. Anyway, the Mondays consisted of two guitars, keys, bass, Shaun Ryder on vocals, a black chick who can actually sing unlike Shaun Ryder on vocals, and a drummer. Bez couldn't make it due to a visa issue, which was a bummer, but a guy from the crowd jumped on stage for a song and danced to it. Security was cool about it. The Mondays sounded great. Everyone was dancing behind them, and Shaun seemed genuinely excited to be there, despite not moving really the entire show. Poor fucker has fried his brain. The guy who hopped on stage to dance shook his hand before he went back into the crowd, and Shaun looked like he really appreciated it. They sounded fantastic and had awesome energy. Also, I think the Factory Records dude introduced them. They also had some guy come on stage to sing a few songs. When they started "Step On", the crowd went apeshit. Amazing. Here is the setlist, which I copied because it was on the soundboard which I was standing by:
Rev (Black Grape)
In The Blood
Angels N Whores
24 Hour Party People
Songs on setlist but not played due to time:
The last two I couldn't really see completely, but I think that's what they said. There was more to "Playground" than just that word, so any help would be nice. Also, I left after Angels N Whores and ran into both Adam Nikyo and Mrs. Nikyo on the way out. No Silas Nikyo, which was a bummer. We walked over to Rage, where I proceeded to punch both of them in the face as we parted so I could get into the mood.
The crowd was ridiculous for Rage Against the Machine sizewise. I think it was bigger than the Pixies in 04, which has been my benchmark for large crowds. I'm going to be 100% honest: I thought the first two songs sucked. "Testify" especially. They just sounded off. They were more on for "Bulls On Parade", but the sound was terrible. Afterwards it really gelled and was awesome. But I couldn't help but be semi-disappointment. I guess if I had been in the thick of it I would have been more excited, but I was standing by the tripod since I had come from the Sahara tent. Anyway, setlist:
Bulls On Parade
People Of The Sun
Bullet In Your Head
Know Your Enemy (no Maynard, imagine that!)
Down Rodeo (THANK YOU BRANDON AGAIN...I wasn't paying close attention because I was purchasing an underwhelming churro)
Calm Like A Bomb
Sleep Now In The Fire
Killing In The Name
Also, what was with the stupid people with clown paint TP'ing the tripod? Good revolution guys. There was one with a hat that said "Suicide" (not the cool band). I wanted to punch him in the face. Anyway, those people sucked ass. As did the people throwing things during Crowded House. Fuck off cunts.
Then we walked out. And reminisced about how it was over. I can't believe it's over again so soon. After this weekend, I can't imagine how two days ever felt like enough. Another amazing year. It sucks to have to go back to real life after the wonderful Coachella oasis that we all get to escape to for a little while.
P.S. I really enjoyed seeing everyone/meeting new people at the preparty. I'm not surprised that everyone was thoroughly awesome and enjoyable to be around. I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did.
P.S.S. Tessa, I saw Claire from Lost with her bf when I was walking to get a Belgian waffle after Air wouldn't start. She is tiny.