by Alyssa Mastrocco (English), published April 24th 2012
I’m not sure I’m sharing any new information when I say that Coachella was an amazing experience. It may have reached a high of 106F every day, but I have very few complaints. The festival ground is gorgeous but by the end of the weekend, the grass was dead and stuck to your legs when you sat down. The mountains and palm trees were a really nice change from Boston.
My only complaint about the festival is that they do too much. There is NOT enough room for six stages and, as a result, if you’re anywhere between them you can hear all of them and that usually means a really loud, pervasive bass beat. It got to the point where if you ended up far enough from any stage, you wouldn’t be able to hear it over the other, closer stages. You don’t need three tents, two stages and a random area in the middle where a DJ plays to people on ecstasy while they get squirted with water guns. There’s too much going on, and it creates a tension in the environment.
Also, because there are so many artists, a lot of artists get very short sets. The times range from 35 minutes to and hour, and only the headliners got 90 minutes or more. Artists like Bon Iver, Beirut, St. Vincent and Pulp got 50 minutes a piece, when they could play 90 minutes or more. I know it’s a festival, but nine artists in one day could easily be cut to give the really quality artists more time.
I wish I didn’t have to come back to Boston, but my body appreciates it. Under the cut is a short review of each artist I saw over the course of Coachella’s weekend two.
• Abe Vigoda
This was an accident, since it was 100F at 11am and they were in a shady tent, but they were actually really good.
• Wolf Gang
Attractive, bearded British men. Decent folk songs.
• Other Lives
I hadn’t heard them before, but they looked and sounded a bit like Fleet Foxes with more personality.
My memory is fairly hazy for this artist and the next.
See above. I think I fell asleep.
Old guys with horns and silly suits. Awesome.
Jarvis Cocker was amazing. This was probably one of my favorite sets of the weekend, despite close encounters with cigarette burns from the tall asshole in front of me.
• Mazzy Star
Hope Sandoval was perfect <3
• The Black Keys
I had so much dirt in my eye that I only stayed for half the set and missed “The Weight”
SO CROWDED, but they sounded pretty good. I’m not sure why, but the festival put a lot of the more popular bands in the tents which ended up PACKED.
• We Were Promised Jetpacks
The singer sounded a lot like Morrissey, but their songs were all very similar.
• Childish Gambino
I had trouble seeing a rapper and not the comedian, but his stage presence is really strong. His equipment was overheating so he did a lot of freestyling which was cool to see.
• The Head and the Heart
Everyone I know and their mothers has a raging boner for this band and I’ll admit that they’re talented and their music is entertaining, but I think everyone needs to calm the fuck down.
I took a nice nap for about half of their set. The dancing around me was entertaining.
• Andrew Bird
Always a great performance. The sun was setting and I had an clear view of the stage. Annie Clark came out to sing “Lusitania” with him which was awesome. The saxophonist from Bon Iver came out to play a few songs as well.
• Jeff Mangum
I was unsure whether or not I would stay to see him, since the Boston show was so perfect, but I did and it was worth it. In Boston, he didn’t have any accompaniment, but for this set he had some horn players and it really made the difference on songs like “Oh, Comely” and “Two-Headed Boy.” Fred Armisen seemed to enjoy the set too even though he talked the WHOLE TIME.
• The Shins
I caught the back half of their set to get a good spot for Bon Iver and Radiohead and it was great. Their set was very laid back and they sounded cool. I definitely did not expect them to be so old though.
• Bon Iver
His band is HUGE. So many people. The sound is so good though. I wish he played more first album stuff, but he sounded amazing and the musicality is really impressive.
Ahhhh, Radiohead. Never a disappointment. They played a similar set to the first weekend and they played “You and Whose Army?” which I appreciated VERY much. They played more In Rainbows than I expected too. I was standing on the barrier of the VIP area so I could see most of the stage and Thom Yorke’s dancing was as entertaining as ever. The crowd was really into it and seeing Radiohead is a very communal, spiritual experience. Feel free to mock me for that, but I don’t care; it’s that good. Justin Vernon was also standing five feet from me, inside the VIP area, smoking a joint with his security team and then looked high as a kite for the rest of the set.
• Gardens and Villa
We caught the end of their set before Oberhofer came on. Respectable.
Crazy as shit.
I wish I saw more of them because they sounded really good.
• Le Butcherettes
I definitely enjoyed these ladies despite the theatrics (which usually drive me crazy). Omar from At the Drive-In plays bass for them and he looked sedated. I get that it was hot and all, but Teri Gender Bender was really energetic and sweating her ass off, so it was weird to see him standing there, barely playing, next to her.
• Greg Ginn and the Royal We
Oh, Greg, how far you have fallen from your Black Flag days.
• Beats Antique
They got the crowd up and moving more than any other act all weekend. The belly dancer was really good, but the music was amazing and it reached a very diverse crowd.
• Wild Flag
I love Portlandia so I went to see Wild Flag. They were energetic and had a good stage presence, but the music was just boring. Carrie Brownstein’s singing is like a caricature of what she thinks girl rock should be.
He was also in a tent which is mind-boggling because there were almost as many people inside the tent as outside the tent. His music is good. The sampling he does is unique, but I think he should highlight it more than he does. He played “Somebody that I Used to Know” a few songs before the end of the set, and everyone sang it and then left. About 25% of the crowd left after that song even though he played two more songs.
I only saw Gotye to make sure I had a good spot for Beirut and it was worth it. They’re another band that I wish had a longer set. Zach Condon is amazing and they sounded just like the recordings. Something about the live horns and the love of the music that each band member has was really inspiring and I am glad I got the chance to see them.
• Florence and the Machine
There were SO many people. SO MANY. She kept addressing us as if Coachella was her kindergarten class and we were about to have snack or nap time or something. It was weird. She sounded decent.
• Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
I didn’t see the hologram. After 72 hours of blistering heat, lack of sleep, dehydration and loud music, there was only so much tolerance I had. After about 40 minutes, we went back to the campground and took advantage of empty showers, which we needed, desperately