1. Wednesday, May 3, 2006

    coachella day two 

    by tony pierce, 113

    pitchfork doesnt want to write about it. they didnt send anyone. they didnt talk about it. they want to ignore it.

    stereogum wants to pretend like it wasnt worth it. they didnt send anyone either. they quote people who werent there who said it sucked and condescendtionaly asked their readers to wake them if they saw anything worth making it into the comments.

    its tough being an indie in the city. you are always having to worry what clothes to wear and hop on fashion trends that make it look like youre not worried what clothes youre wearing, but imagine how difficult it is to call something a sellout or irrevelant when you have exactly the same sponsors on your blog as the festival did and you write about pretty much all of the bands who were at the show.

    those who arrived early at coachella on sunday were treated to a surprise as they were herded through the acres of parking. madonna was going through her set. people were all, “that’s not madonna, thats a cd,” but every now and then you’d hear a curse word or an improv or a mistake and once you got inside the polo grounds you noticed that half of the field was roped off and protected by a line of security guards and police.

    the material girl was indeed putting the last minute details into her first festival appearance anywhere and she was going to make it perfect.

    hoards of people lined up next to the yellow tape and sang along to the hits. an announcement was made that 100 wristbands would be given to those who arrived first at the sahara tent 300 yards away, and each wristband would allow the lucky bearer into the special baracaded section right up next to the stage – basically the first ten rows.

    this only fueled the early-bird crowd better than the gallons of starbucks that many were hopped up on.

    once the music had stopped the yellow tape remained. and then after mrs. richie was safely in her airconditioned ride the tape went down and a stampede of fans hauled ass to the furthest tent in the field.

    madonna had been heard but not seen and still her mark had been made. here i am. here i am. i make the fucking rules, even in this scorching desert.

    it was hotter on sunday than saturday because both the angeles and demons wanted to check out her set, which many did ignoring all the bands in all the other tents that preceeded her.

    what they missed was amazing. the octopus project from austin were first up followed by giant drag and be your own pet on seperate stages. the dears and mates of state played just as well as their predecessors, followed by the magic numbers on the main stage, ted leo on the outdoor theatre, and metric in the overflowing mojave tent.

    it wasnt even 4:20 yet stoners and already coachella had given the people their money’s worth. the best, so far, were the suprisingly good be your own pet and the hyper and beloved metric.

    then came matisyahu. dressed in black. bearded. looking a hundred years old. sounding like he was born and bred in kingston jamaica. soulful and sensitive but earnest and real. and genuine. as honest as anything the beastie boys did on pauls boutique and just as mindblowing. his band took the main stage and he grabbed the mic and there was no doubt that there was a star in our presence. true that star is a hasidic reggae superstar who skips and bounces when hes excited but if you got a problem with it, thats your problem, not his, since youre not the one rocking the mic flawlessly. youre the one with zinc oxide on the bridge of your nose sporting a brockabrella, youve got converse all stars with black socks who has to get back to working at hot topic in the morning. he, however is changing everything.

    it was like being in church even before he reminded us about the tribes who found the light in the desert during days gone by. it was like being in temple even before he let us in on the insights of the promised land. and the music transported us to a tropical isle much different than our parched setting.

    the set was so good you had to sit down afterwards. because im a lost soul i got a beer and asked everyone around me in the vip tent if they saw what id seen and they all said different things. one person said they saw a bright light, another said they heard an angel, and a third said they witnessed a horse growing wings and riding over the mountains in the distance as a rainbow leaked out of its ass.

    then sleater-kinney came on and brought us back down to earth with their grungey raw riot grrrl snarl which you’d think would be respectful of the the goddess of pop, but you’d be wrong

    s-k: hey how many of you are going to see madonna?
    crowd: boooo
    s-k: how many of you are going to see tool?
    crowd: cheeeeerrsss
    s-k: yeah i saw madonna in 85 when the beastie boys opened for her. yeah the beasties opened. that will probably be the last time i’ll ever see madonna. we’re so honored to be on the same stage that tool will be on in a few hours.
    crowd: cheeeeeeeers

    which led a mini exodus to the outdoor theatre next door to check out bloc party for a few tunes before trying to find room at the gobi tent, the smallest tent, to see the best stage show of the weekend, gnarls barkley who were decked out in killer/creepy Wizard of Oz outfits that mc brown captured beautifully.

    when their set was done there were two choices: stick around to hear the mellow brazilian stylings of seu jorge made famous with his david bowie covers in The Life Aquatic where he did those tunes in portugese – or criss cross back to the main stage to see/feel/hear karen o and the yeah yeah yeahs as the sun set.

    new york hipsters in their black clothes and pointy shoes have been wearing temporary tattoos of the yeahs for years, and lord knows they put on that life aquatic soundtrack when they find themselves in the rare predicament of being alone with a girl in their studio apartment, and again i insist that the ticket price had been more than paid for at this point, as had been the issues with heat and traffic and lines, because when karen o decided that she was going to plant her little freak flag there wasnt a mouth in the house that didnt form an o.

    and people complained that madonna didnt start her set on time but some think it was because she was part of the 30,000 at the coachella stage being blown away by the emancipation of miss o: suddenly there was passion in chilly chill southern california – there was life in the barren desert – water had come out of rock – and manna began to rain from heaven. karens nylons werent meant to be ripped, her soul was simply spurting out from every pore.

    so of course madonna couldnt start on time, how the fuck was she going to follow that, for even those who didnt see it could feel it clear across the desert.

    but madonna was going to follow it. she had no choice. she would end up starting twenty minutes late. she had filler music playing over the PA as the tent heated up with what some people approximate as 3/4s of the 60,000 attendees squeezing in to see what they had never seen before.

    all the flaps on the side of the tent were opened, the sun had set and even the breeze blew in for a good view. and as the music ended its track people cheered in anticipation and when it moved on to the next generic track they sighed. eventually they booed. for the exception of kanye on saturday, coachella had been running pretty much on time. right before people got too pissed some madonna graphics illuminated the big screens and people cheered and when madonnas opening beats of Hung Up blasted the boos evaporated in the heat and became cheers.

    and when the spotlight hit the woman old enough to be most of the attendees mother they screamed, and they urged her on when she asked later if she should remove her pants.

    madonna sang, she danced, she slithered on her belly and the crowd ate it up. hipsters and homos alike. that dance tent that had just been rocked by paul oakenfold and louie vega and the night before by hybrid, carl cox, the audio bullys, and daft punk had seen its share of dancing and im telling you Everyone was grinding with madonna on sunday – cynics and fanatics were one.

    across the field the dulcet and beautiful mogwai were doing their thing and later massive attack would impress, but as much as i love the underground, it was the establishment who proved why she’s the shit and it isnt because of her publicist or because of any bullshit viral marketing ploy, its because in a setting of 95 acts, many of whom are cutting edge and raw and emotional, the cream does rise to the top and the bullshit does have to walk.

    and maybe the biggest reason that the so-called indie bloggers didnt go to the biggest and best two day indie rock show in america was because they would have had to figure out how to say madonna’s still got it from beneath their shaggy bangs.

    if only these geniuses would actually emulate those who they cover and show even a shred of the courage as those who they idolize, then theyd actually earn the cred they so painfully wish to acquire.

    photos by mc brown + give the pants some love + fil woulda loved coachella