12:20 It’s funny, because getting here two hours earlier you would think we’d be in a much closer parking lot but basically our car is an identical distance to day one. In fact, we walk by two completely empty parking lots on our way. But it being 10 degrees cooler makes the walk more pleasant, as do all the happy security guards, one of whom says ‘I hope you are enjoying coachella, I only get to hear it while I’m trying to sleep’ – but he says it with a smile so I take it that way. After the TSA-inspired near body cavity search I go through to get in (again how are they missing all the massive amounts of cannibis everyone who sits next to me seems to have – are they only searching for nun-chucks?), we discover that in fact new schedules have been delivered. My wife and I take five, no idea how they keep running out…
12:50 We make our way to the Mohave Tent for BEAR HANDS, one of my favorite indie power pop bands. I once left Slayer’s set at Fun Fun Fun early to catch them at Red 7. They do not disappoint and they are playing a lot of material off their new album, so that’s a good sign for their future. We are let down though a bit that they do not play their best song “Crime Pays” – maybe they don’t want to lead astray this impressionable crowd of concertgoers who cannot yet vote (or don’t care enough to). The band sounds great and is having a blast – its always great to have so many strong voices in the same band.
1:20 Lunchtime and yes, discovered where all the good food is. Sorry Coachella for my comments yesterday. I have three words, Grilled Cheese Truck. My wife has fish tacos and we both enjoy freshly cut and fried potato chips. It’s about $35, but hey, I have macaroni and cheese stuffed inside a perfectly toasted slice of bread.
1:30 We dive under the Gobi Tent (sensing a pattern yet?) for THE INTERNET, two members of the hip hop collective ODD FUTURE WOLF GANG KILL THEM ALL. The old-school chill of the set is reminiscent of Janelle Monae on serious pain killers. It’s perfect mid afternoon lay back on the lawn and close your eyes music. I’ve now seen 5 members of OFWGKTA individually, I feel like I’m earning my wolf badge.
2:10 The set ends and GRAVEYARD sounds pretty good across the fest but today is about longevity. Even if OutKast stunk (as I heard they did) that doesn’t change the fact that I felt old and tired at the end of the day. And whether I am rocking out to Muse, dancing to Pet Shop Boys or doing whatever it is I’m supposed to do to Skrillex at 11:30 tonight, I intend to be on my feet. So yes, inside in the tent I’ll stay. As a side note though, let me give a shout out to all the great signs people are carrying around to help their group find them. Top ones sighted so far are a double-sided turnip/beat (turn up the beat), a coachella arrow like those tax preparation signs that the carrier was flipping around like they were on a street corner, and a giant cut out of Pharrel Williams’ Arby’s hat.2:35 WHITE LIES take the stage and put on a clinic of how to rock the afternoon. How is this band not huge? They sound like U2 meets Stellastar*. Also I’m really enjoying this remake of the Gobi tent over previous years. The inside is covered in black and there are chandeliers. It gives it a distinctly different feel from the other tents. White Lies delivers one of the sweetest lyrics of the day “I just want to grow old with you and die together.”
3:45 BANKS brings her version of chillwave RnegB to the stage – she’s been opening for The Weeknd – yeah, no kidding. Someone needs to give this girl a popsicle and tell her it’s gonna be okay. But it sounds great, maybe just wrong for 3 in the afternoon.
4:05 Couldn’t stay for the full set because we had to catch one of our top new acts of 2013, CHVRCHES. Despite the fact they can’t spell, they put on a phenomenal set basically playing their entire first album. It really is fun when you get to watch a band do that, not having enough material to pick and choose. We once saw Ben Kweller play his entire first album at ACL, which he did – in order! At the end of the svt the lead svnger from CHVRCHES svys ‘I bet you know what our last song is,’ and deliver an inspired performance of “The Mother We Share.”
4:55 Along with a group of about 1000 like-minded music fans, we make our way back to the Gobi the catch the rest of HOLY GHOST (CHVRCHES followed by HOLY GHOST seemed appropriate, right?) who have filled the tent up with dancing to their post-depeche modean synth pop. Wish I could get in there but the side of the tent, and it’s ability to support my back as I lean… so nice. I’ll just enjoy from the entranceway. And dance with the people exiting to get to The Head and The Heart (I’m just assuming, they all had beards)
5:55 WASHED OUT fills the tent with their Pink Floyd-inspired mellow soundscapes. I think this is the third time we’ve seen them (the last time was at Fun Fun Fun in November) and my wife remarks that they always sound fuller and more uptempo live than on the album. It’s a nice time to close your eyes and let the music wash over you.
6:35 Back outside the wind is really picking up, and CAPITAL CITIES takes the stage in matching blue dress shirts and white blazers and rock the crowd with their cool mix of disco, electronica and uptown soul revival. They’re making the kinda of catchy hit singles that MGMT could if they still bothered to believe in melody. The mob of dancers is treated to the uptempo singalong of “Kangaroo Court” and “Farrah Fawcett Hair” before the Cities launches into an amazing cover of the Bee-Gee’s “Staying Alive” which morphs into Weezer’s “Sweater Song.” By the time their massive hit “Safe and Sound” finishes and is immediately followed by a crazy remix of the same song (during which the band just jumps up and down with the audience) they have overwhelmed us with their enthusiasm and plain showmanship. Best set of the day, hands down.
7:30 Oh yeah, I heard MGMT play “Kids” on my way to the bathroom. Still sounds good, is there anyone else willing to admit they haven’t really written a great song since their first album? Why does the entire indie world give them a free pass?
7:55 The outdoor stage mass swells for Kiwi LORDE who satisfies them with note-perfect versions of her first album. The low-light of the set is a 5 and a half minute rambling intro to a three minute song, right after she complained that the amount of time she was given for her set meant they had to cut a few songs. I swear that intro was longer than her entire career to this point. Don’t get me wrong, I like Lorde but I’d like to check back in with her when the seventeen year old has had a few life experiences. Here’s what I know: She lives in cities, she’ll never be a royal, and she likes to talk it out at the tennis court (yeah!). I want to take her and Adele and drop them in the middle of the Amazon jungle and see if they can outward-bound themselves back to the recording studio, then see what they sing about then.
8:50 The PIXIES use their last minute addition time slot to debut a bunch of new material from their upcoming album Indie Cindy (their first in 23 years) which is fine with me, it sounds amazing. Also sounding amazing is their new touring bassist (sorry Kim) Paz Lenchantin, who comes to the act by way of A Perfect Circle and Billy Corgan’s Zwan. But the Pixies also treat us to classics like “Wave of Mutilation” and “Where Is My Mind?” which I tell my wife showcases the Fight Club effect, as everyone in the crowd raises their cell phones to record this song that will forever bring to mind images of all the credit-card data holding skyscrapers crumbling to the ground in Delaware. The set finishes with one of the most lubricously abrasive guitar solos I’ve ever heard, care of Joey Santiago who walks around playing the guitar back wards, over his head, and upside down and then tops himself by pulling out the cord and playing the feedback using input jack and the tip of the cord itself. Some 18-year-old girl next to me says “Wow, this band is loud.”
9:40 A quick rush back to the main stage to see QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE who nicely balance their set with old classics and new material. Honestly, since there is their first album in 6 years and Josh Homme is from Palm Desert, I don’t really understand how they are not playing a headlining set. I feel like if they were, we might have been treated to the inclusion of some of the former members of the band that were so involved in making them the legends they are. At this time slot they certainly do not let anyone down, but I came to this band after the fact and I can’t help but think I missed the best versions years ago. By now the wind has really picked up, it’s a little cold but more importantly, the dust is whipping across my face in a constant barrage of irritation. Also, “Little Sister” is one of the best pure rock songs written in the last twenty years.
10:35 I had given up this time slot to Pharrell Williams, thinking that my wife would invoke a must-see on the basis that maybe Daft Punk would show up (who we legendarily missed in 2006 because we were to tired – a set that has lived on in infamy as the greatest Coachella set ever). But she gives me the greatest gift a wife could by saying ‘Didn’t you want to see MOGWAI?’ We catch the last twenty minutes of the Scottish post-rockers, and I have to say, I’ve seen them 5 times, and they have never sounded this good. Somehow, on the new album, they have taken everything they’ve been doing great for 15 years and added the best elements of Tortoise and Kraftwerk and have become something that girls can dance to. The tent was electric and the band sounded amazing, so tight and yes, freaking loud! What a show. I need to see them for a full set the next time they come through town.
11:35 We end selecting the PET SHOP BOYS over Muse, mostly on the basis that we’ve seen Muse a few times now and its only been one album since the last time they headlined here, and we’ve never seen the Pet Shop Boys. They take the stage in Empire-of-the-Sun inspired feather costumes, later donning minotaur headgear, and feature a duo of similarly clad dancers. Also the music sounds amazing. Neil Tennant has not lost anything from his voice and they serve up “Opportunities,” “Always on My Mind,” “It’s a Sin” and of course they’re chart debut, 1985’s “West End Girls.” It really sounds like it could be on the radio today.
12:40 Not willing to compromise completely, we skip out on the end of PSB and catch some of the madness that SKRILLEX is creating at the Sahara tent. He is playing in the cockpit of what looks like a crashing x-wing fighter, billowing smoke pouring out of the set piece and lasers shooting through sky. Also there is music. I have to say, I never really understand what a DJ is ‘doing’ when they are ‘performing’ a live set but the music is great and it certainly seems like Sonny is touching the turn tables right around the times the whooping, dropping bass moments happen. I’d love to be in there but the crowd is so huge I can’t even push my way past the entrance. Also my eyes are burning from all the dust the wind has deposited there, so I think it’s time to head out. But mission accomplished on the day. No longer feel old ☺.