Once a year something astronomical happens … in the middle of the desert. Thousands upon thousands of people take part in a massive cleansing of sorts in over 100-degree weather and dust-ridden winds.
Why would so many submit themselves to such a harsh and unforgiving environment?
Why, the Coachella Valley music and art festival of course. The two-day event has become the high point of the year for many music connoisseurs, and it’s understandable why. Concert promoter Goldenvoice has consistently brought together the cream of the crop of indie rock, hip-hop and electronic music, along with a plethora of other indefinable sounds, all of which results in one sweet weekend.
This year was no exception, having not only some of the biggest and critically acclaimed acts to perform (Coldplay headlined Saturday and Nine Inch Nails on Sunday), along with much anticipated reunions (both Bauhaus and Gang of Four played their first show in years), and also some of the biggest ‘buzz’ bands around today.
I feel fortunate to say that I was there and able to catch more than a few sets from both days. For those who have already read the enormous amount of coverage on the event, I’ll try not to put you to sleep, and for those hip-hop/electronic music fans, I’m sorry to say that I am biased in the rock department, so this may not be the article for you.
I Spent day one primarily at the main stage feeling the crowd swell with each successive act. My favorite discovery of the day would have to have been Wilco, whose stirring performance was the perfect soundtrack for the picturesque desert sunset. This is guitar music, and American guitar music at its finest. The band brings together some of the best elements of classic rock, folk rock and maybe even a little post-rock, and makes it something that is earthy and endearing. Jeff Tweedy’s everyman’s voice lends itself greatly to the honesty of the music, while the powerhouse band grooves in unison with each musical change in direction. As a side-note, I purchased their most recent release ‘A Ghost is Born,’ which is, for whatever it’s worth, the official musical backdrop to this article.
After standing through a greatest-hits set from Weezer, Bauhaus took the stage. This was the big reunion of the first day at Coachella, and they were in true goth-rock form with vocalist Peter Murphy dangling upside down from the stage lights up above, leading the group through their nine-minute cult classic ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead.’ They definitely were a treat for their fans. By this time my Orange County sensibilities were beginning to flare up; I was hungry, tired and sore from standing all day. I was ready to give up and head out when headliners Coldplay took the stage. All my trivial pains were forgotten as the band pummeled through their opening song ‘Square One’ from their upcoming album due in June. I have to say that their show was the ultimate way to end the day. They played like a band fresh out of the studio, ready to conquer the world