Tag Archives: Coachella

Coachella: Lines, Fines and Blown Minds

19 Apr

The headline spot gets the largest font on most festival posters, but the kush hour at any outdoor festival is the sunset slot. Step on stage during early twilight and leave just as the star become visible. Ivy Leaguers Vampire Weekend played sunset Friday on the smaller stage, while MGMT mostly perplexed varsity hipsters on Saturday with their sunset performance. French outfit Phoenix played an amazing set on Sunday, without any stage production or lighting effects — their engineer got ashed-in at a European airport.

Still, Phoenix kept the crowd’s attention, even through their 10-minute rendition of hit single “1901,” followed by 90-minutes from Thom Yorke and Flea’s Atoms For Peace. After playing most of the Erasure album, Yorke rewarded the crowded by playing acoustic versions of Radiohead’s “Airbag” and “Everything In Its Right Place.” Unlike Paul McCartney, Yorke stuck to his allotted time slot. The city has threatened to fine the festival as much as $1,000 for every minute it goes past its 1 a.m. curfew.

Sounds wonderful, but trust us, there were lots of logistical problems. More than ever. And nicknames too. That’s the beauty of Coachella — it’s Native American monkier lends itself to plenty of snarky hum-diggers. Oh geez! These nicknames are just so gosh-darn clever!

THE UGLY

Wastechella – For the first time, Coachella didn’t let any bottled water be brought inside the Polo Fields. Everyone was searched going in, and staff forced all fans to pour out entire water bottles before entering. Thousands, probably tens of thousands, of bottles were dumped into the grass as fans entered. Inside, one could purchase a $2 bottle of water (although many vendors frequently ran out), or a smaller plastic bottle for $12 that fans could refill from a water cooler. For a festival that claims to have a message of sustainability, forcing people to pour out water into the desert before entering a festival that peaked in the 90s is probably the most hypocritical, profit-centric move they could have made. Wasting drinking water at that volume ignores the water crisis in the Palm Desert and developing world.

Linechella — Coachella was crowded this year. In 2009 they capped attendance at 68,000; in 2010, they upped attendance to 85,000. According to our source, that’s 75,000 paid tickets and another 10,000 comps (media, volunteers, entourage, workers). Everyone felt the difference, especially driving down Monroe Street into the main entrance, which took three-to-four hours to forge through (but we knew a short cut). While the lines for food were annoying, the morning queue for the showers was downright depressing.

Dumbchella — Two security companies were hired by Coachella this year, and both did a pretty lousy job. Staff Pro from Huntington Beach handled access control for many of the restricted areas, while CSC of Los Angeles handled boundaries and crowd control. I saw two security teams almost fight each other (only to stop when they realized they were being videotaped on an iPhone), and staff were worthless at best and occasionally psychopathic at worst. At Coachella, 300 bucks really just gets you into the door — don’t expect anyone to be nice to you. It’s more than double that to access two VIP areas with food, air conditioning and a little space. And it was clear to everyone that the staff had very limited information about anything. Most couldn’t tell you where major streets were, or identify a parking lot on a map. Pathetic.

Pukechella — Sure there were some choice menu items, but the food at Coachella was not very delicious. Probably exactly the same stuff you would find at your home county fair, by the exact same vendors. There were a few choice food trucks (including Kogi Tacos in the VIP tent), but the good bites had long lines, and everyone had high prices. A lot of that money is taxes — Goldenvoice and Best Beverage Catering charged vendors 40% of the register to sell at Coachella, plus nine percent sales tax. That’s a 50 percent markup, washed down over a chintzy $7 beer and smaller $12 vodka-tonic.

Dropchella – For all intensive purposes, the AT&T network at Coachella completely failed. 3G service for the iPhone would not work within three or four miles of the Polo Fields, and text messages stopped going through at about 6 p.m. Calls dropped before pleasantries could be exchanged. Worst of all, Coachella organizers hyped an iPhone app that took a huge amount of bandwidth, contributing to the crippled system, and ofcourse, never actually working.

NOW WE SAY NICE THINGS

Coachella — The set design, video production and sound quality for the two main stages was probably the best I’ve ever seen. The concerts looked and sounded amazing, especially headlining acts Jay-Z and Muse. Coachella is the highest level of production quality on the West Coast. And the Polo Fields are a very beautiful place.

Ravechella — Electronic music continues to roar at Coachella, rocking until 1 a.m. with Tiesto, one of the greatest (and most expensive) techno DJs in the world. After his set, smaller raves continued until 3 a.m. and many campers didn’t even head into the festival until 11 p.m. It’s almost like there’s two different Coachellas— one for indie rock hipsters, and one for rich-kid ravers. The festival’s Sahara tent is a 12-hour rave with bands you’ve never heard of like DeadMau5 and Yeahsayer. Electronic music hit a dark place, but fear not. Rave culture is coming back in a big, big way. The kids will do it differently, but the three components remain — loud music, bright clothing, and hard drugs.

Whoachella — A “whoa moment” is when Beyonce steps on stage and plays a surprise song with husband Jay-Z to fireworks exploding in the background. It’s when Thom Yorke records live loops verses for songs, using four separate recording tracks to create a sonicscape of melodies. It’s when Florence and the Machines team up with Cold War Kids for an emotional rendition of “Hospital Beds,” or when Spoon closes an energetic set with a tear-jerker like “Black Like Me.”

Artchella — As usual, the art installations at Coachella were spectacular. From the massive origami crane that changed colors at night to the redesigned Do Lab, which hosted raves, live graffiti art and surreal performances, Coachella always had something wonderful to look at. Pinball arcades, roller skating rinks and glow-in-the-dark swings were a good way to beat the heat.

Ashchella — The volcanic eruption in Iceland ground European air travel to a halt and forced several bands to cancel. The Cribs, Bad Lieutenant and Gary Numan all canceled their sets because they were unable to book air travel. We know, that shouldn’t be in the good news portion of this story, but we didn’t want hammer Goldenvoice for this one, so we’re giving them a free pass.

when you can only pick just one…

15 Apr

Music festivals are by nature an exercise in conflict management. At any one time, two, three or even four choice bands could be playing at the same time. Factor in a massive venue like the Polo Fields in Indio, Calif. and dozens of iPhone-carrying friends who insist you give P.O.S. another chance (and they’re playing in the Gobi Tent right now!), and the result is an organizational meltdown akin to Lehman Brothers.

Fear not fellow Coachella-goer. Venues Today has poured over this year’s schedule and is tackling some of the biggest scheduling conflicts without fear or reservation. And while you will surely commend our bravery, be aware that we’re not going to hold your hand until 4 p.m. when the real scheduling conflicts begin. If you can’t decide between Camera Obscura or DJ Jason Bentley on Friday at 1 p.m., then you need professional help.

FRIDAY

Conflict – She & Him vs. The Dillinger Escape Plan

I listened to the Dillinger Escape Plan on MOG to help me write this article. In spite of what is an otherwise brilliant band name, their music was mostly screaming and loud sounds. Like the noise you would hear in your head if you were being water-boarded. She & Him is fronted by Zooey Deschanel. She writes beautiful melodic songs that your parents or relatives would approve of. When they told you to “have a nice time at Coachella,” this is what they were envisioning.

We pick: She & Him

Conflict – Them Crooked Vultures vs. Grizzly Bear

Why are you even reading this entry? Only a total baby would go listen to serial whiners Grizzly Bear over the rock god trifecta that is Them Crooked Vultures. You see, Them Crooked Vultures have this drummer in their band named Dave Grohl. Perhaps you have heard of him. He was in this little band in the 1990s called Nirvana. He’s like Jesus, but with a Zildjian drum cymbal for a halo.

We pick: Them Crooked Vultures

Conflict – Jay-Z vs. Public Image Limited

Really, just another exercise in futility. While their sets actually start a half-hour apart, there’s probably only five people who will leave Jay-Z to catch this spin off reunion, and they’ve all promised to send out a notification on Twitter so they can find each other. Public Image Limited is fronted by John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame. Did you ever really like the Pistols, or did you just buy their album to piss off your parents?

We pick: Jay-Z

SATURDAY

Conflict – Coheed and Cambria vs. the XX vs. Corinne Bailey Rae

OK,  so we start Saturday with an easy one. With the XX’s set ending at 7:10 and Rae’s set starting at 7:00, there’s not much overlap. That pits an indie buzz band (the XX) and a depressingly attractive soul singer (Rae) against a sometimes hardcore/metal outfit.

We pick: Check out the first half of the XX and then head over and watch as much of Corinne Bailey Rae as possible.

Conflict – Tiesto vs. SIA vs. Devo

Let’s just go ahead and cross Devo off the list right away. Yes they are awesome, but if you wait until summer, they will undoubtedly play your local county fair/rodeo/bar mitzvah. So that leaves two options — the chaotic, pulsing beats of Dutch super-DJ Tiesto or the ambient, opiated sounds of SIA. Most festival-goers will make this decision based on the strength of the MDMA they bought in the beer garden. Still peaking? Tiesto is sounding pretty good on the main stage. Grinding those teeth a bit too much? Come down with SIA

We pick: Tiesto (it will be more fun, we promise!)

SUNDAY

Conflict: Matt & Kim vs. Florence and the Machine

Never before have two bands had such a similar sound, hipster appeal and overbearing sense of irony. We’re just going to throw a dart at this one and see where it lands.

We pick: Florence and the Machine (it must be the red hair)

Conflict: Phoenix vs. Sly and the Family Stone

Right off the bat, we’re going with with Phoenix because Sly and the Family Stone barely include Sly. Last time we saw Stone play, Sly came out for five minutes and we’re pretty sure he was attached to a dialysis machine. Phoenix gets points for full disclosure — they’re French, and they’re strangely not embarrassed about it. And if you have a chick with you, she’ll be geniunely more impressed by Phoenix. We can’t explain that one, but trust us.

We pick: Phoenix

Phish ushers in changes for this year’s Coachella

14 Apr

If you’re attending Coachella this year, you might notice a few changes. Unlike years past, festival organizers are allowing fans to exit and re-enter the festival as often as they like, great news for anyone with a tent or RV that plans to attend the April 16-18 event. (Venues Today will have its own 31-foot rig at this year’s event).

The other big change is that fans must buy a three-day pass to attend the outdoor festival — for the first time ever, single day tickets are not available. It’s a system that allows fans to leave and reenter the Polo Fields without a lot of confusion.

The inspiration for this year’s change? Organizer Paul Tollett recently told the San Diego Union Tribune that he got the idea during the Halloween Phish festival, where the legendary jam rock band insisted organizers only sell three-day passes, with in-and-out privileges. Tollett said he was also more conscious of protecting the area’s limited supply of hotel rooms.

“In the past, we’ve had people who would only go to one day of the festival but get hotel rooms for three nights, because they had to, and then spend the other two days vacationing in the valley, which is a great thing to do,” Tollett said in the article.“But we’d rather it not be during that weekend. We’d rather have the hotels be available for the people who come to the (entire) festival.”