Coachella Round Up: A Music Nerd’s Play-By-Play
By Becca Gleason on April 17, 2014
We’re halfway through the Indio hiatus and I have kind of, sort of, maybe woken up from my weekend 1 Coma-‘chella. Last Thursday our very own nerds, Brian Walton, Dan Casey, and myself traveled to the desert to get a sense of the Coachella music festival, which is now a Los Angeles cultural norm. There was dancing, colors, dust, and sunburns… Oh yeah, and there was music.
Let’s do this!
I had gotten my bagel from the nearby Panera and was ready to PARTY. I picked the guys up at the hotel and pumped up the jams in my little blue Hyundai. I’ve been to Coachella before, so I knew that this moment was the most awake I’d ever be. We parked in the day parking lot and started the trek to the grounds, fixing our bandanas, readying our lineups, and chugging the water that would inevitably get taken away as we pass through the security gate.
Once we made it through the festival TSA, feeling only partially violated, we had made it. Ummm… Now what?
The boys were working with JBL throughout the weekend, so I had a moderate amount of time to wander around on the first day. “They’re out of festival programs already?! But it’s only 1 PM!” I said to the poor 19-year-old at the information booth. He just shrugged and went back to playing Angry Birds. Okay, Becca, this isn’t amateur hour. You have the app on your phone and you have two backup chargers. Stay cool.
We decided to get water and check out Dum Dum Girls on the Outdoor Stage. They kicked ass, and I sang along to the songs that I knew. Pretty soon, my Coachella mantra began to repeat in my head: “Holy balls, it’s hot. Why is it so hot? Oh right, we’re in the desert. Why does everyone else look so comfortable? Am I the only girl who sweats?” My self-consciousness sunk in and I made a run toward the JBL tent to meet with Dan and Brian. THANK GOD, AIR CONDITIONING.
If I could give you all only one tip for music festivals it would be this: Stand only when you absolutely have to.
The JBL tent made me feel like a human again. I was ready to rock. I did a quick run over to the artist tent where I interviewed Aloe Blacc. We talked about the evolution of his music and conspiracy theories (article will come out later this week). After that, it was a music marathon. Jagwar Ma. Haim. Aloe Blacc. Ellie Goulding.
Haim was probably my favorite of Friday afternoon. The sister’s hair whipped through the wind as they sang their already-classic hits like Days Are Gone and The Wire. I heard close to 25 bros exclaim, “OMFG, they’re so hot. I’d totally bang all of them.” And yeah, I totally agreed.
We got chicken dumplings and Aloha Plate burgers, the highlight of Dan’s trip because they were the winners of The Great Food Truck Race. We inhaled our food like we’ve been wandering the desert for weeks. All of a sudden, we felt relieved. Why? Oh, right, THE SUN IS GONE! REJOICE. We quickly learned that nighttime at Coachella was invented for people on acid — it’s like the sun never went down. The light from the art installations and glow sticks is enough to give you a sunburn.
Next up? Girl Talk. Time to dance! But where’s Brian? Wait? Is that Brian dancing on the Coachella main stage next to Girl Talk, Paul McCartney and the Haim girls? Are you sure?
I wont go into details on his experience because he will be writing it up himself, but it was quite a Nerdist highlight. We found Brian post-dance-high and sat by a swirly-light-tube-thingy while watched Outkast from far away. Do we get to go home yet?
We walked back to the car and watched as rickshaws zoomed by, secretly longing to spoon out 60 bucks for a ride. We made it back to the hotel and slept… for what seemed like an hour.
WE HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN?
We should eat protein, right? IHOP?
Easiest decision of our lives.
We stuffed our faces with eggs, bacon, and pancakes. Our happiness lived in those hash browns, they were hash browns created by the Coachella gods. I wanted to curl up and die in those potatoes. I hope IHOP pays me for this.
By the time 1:30 came, we figured we should probably get to the festival, right? I got into my little Blue Hyundai, ready to rage… Why isn’t my car starting? Brian and Dan quickly became car experts because, you know, they’re men. It’s the starter? The battery? Just call the hotel engineer.
15 minutes later my car starts again! Great. As I drove into the hotel parking lot, we all felt a strange bump. Yes, it was a flat tire. Damn you, Coachella Gods! I was honestly a little bit nervous that these were all signs I shouldn’t head into the festival, but I quickly ignored the superstitious part of my brain and called AAA. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for keeping me on your AAA account. Bill came over in the 100 degree heat and changed my tire.
An hour later, I was in the festival and booked it straight to Chvrches. I had already missed Foxygen, Ty Segall and Bear Hands, but I was not about to miss one of the most anticipated shows of the weekend. Chvrches were great; The only downside was I wish they had switched places with Bombay Bicycle Club. I think Chvrches is more of a tent show than an outdoor show. I still bopped around to The Mother We Share and Lies, but I needed to get to Washed Out A$AP (see what I did there?).
One of the most difficult things I’ve learned about Coachella, Weekend 1, is worrying you’re going to choose the wrong lineup. What if Drake shows up at another stage (one of my pitfalls), or what if I can’t get out of the giant main-stage clusterfuck and get to the Sahara Tent in time? I get it, “Coachella Problems” put “White People Problems” to shame for two weekends each April, and, embarrassingly enough, the anxiety I was feeling towards missing Warpaint and The Head And The Heart for Washed Out made me substantially nervous.
I heard Ernest Greene, lead singer of Washed Out, put on a great live show. Dan and I were particularly anxious about getting to see at least a few songs of theirs. Luckily, we made it, and he played New Theory and Feel It All Around with beautiful live-show arrangements we weren’t used to on his record. It reminded me of how The National does it. Their albums are quietly beautiful, but when you put them on a stage, they rock hard. Washed Out glorified their album to make the Gobi tent the place to be.
We remembered it had been an eternity since IHOP, so we each ate giant plates of Chinese food and gyros to hold us over for our epic dance party that would start momentarily.
After a great show from Lorde, We passed by Solange, where Beyonce appeared out of thin air and caused quite the stir. We missed her performance, but were focused on the Swedish pop duo I was most excited to see, Galantis.
Luckily, my suggestion did not disappoint and ended up being one of the greatest of the weekend. On Sunday we overheard a number of people complaining no one had told them about Galantis and how disappointed they were to miss such a talked-about set. I had covered their song, You, the previous Wednesday for Track Of The Day. They played their entire EP, as well as remixed versions of old Miike Snow songs (since Christian Karlsson is a member). It was madness mixed with jumping, dry ice, cat-masks and glitter (see photos). I love Galantis.
Skrillex was, well, Skrillex. His set lasted an hour and a half, and towards the end we couldn’t tell the songs apart. It was time to go home. Our legs were bruised, our faces were caked in dirt from the dust storm, our hair was tangled from the wind. None of us felt bad about bailing.
Thankfully my car started and we made it home.
Can’t we just sleep forever?
It was executed to near perfection. Poolside was lovely and lazy. Brian had arrived early to see Trombone Shorty, a band I hated to miss, but my exhaustion got the best of me. We met up with them at the JBL tent and reminisced about how members of Yacht played with Classixx five minutes prior. We hugged the edges of the grounds, hoping for shade and chugging water in the press tent. It was definitely Sunday.
Neutral Milk Hotel was the first set for which we were able to get a great spot. They played The Fool and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and we commented about how their trumpet player looked like George R.R. Martin. The sun began to set and we leisurely walked over to Main Stage for Calvin Harris.
Calvin put on a great sunset show. As day became night we danced our butts off to songs other people sang on his album. We were hoping for the likes of Ellie Goulding and Rihanna to show up, but unlike Girl Talk’s set where every rapper on the face of the earth appeared, Calvin had no guest appearances.
The only thing I regret was walking over to the Outdoor Stage for Lana Del Rey. We stayed for a song but then left, worried she’d sing us to sleep with her gothic lullabies. At this point high levels of worry began to kick in. We all realized we needed to be at work early the next day. I don’t know why that epiphany kicked in so late, but the anxiety I was feeling made Arcade Fire an afterthought. I felt like a kid who hadn’t studied for an exam the next day.
Dan wanted/needed to stay for Arcade Fire due to the fact that he’d never seen them live before, and that’s something everyone should experience at least once. I watched most of Beck from afar, and we heard Drake and Childish Gambino surprise audiences at Jhene Aiko from a such distance in the Gobi tent, we couldn’t possibly make it on time. Mentally, our Coachella was over, but we were all happy.
I ended up watching Game of Thrones at 3 AM as I packed for the trip home. Best decision I’ve ever made.
We all drove back early the next day and tried to stay awake for the workday. We felt as if we had lived through something, and I had great stories to tell at my Seder dinner Monday night.
Please follow the new Nerdist Music account on Twitter!
And me, if you’d like.