The 3rd annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival occurred this past weekend and this correspondent has recovered enough from the wack-ass drive home to share his experience. I know youíre thinking, ìWhat, Robert English canít even spring for plane fare?î but we wonít even go thereÖ
As was par for the course (literally, seeing as how we were staying on the Greg Norman course at PGA West, thanks to extra friendly peeps Mark ìCooperî Czarra, Dave ì180 Reverse Jamî Cash, Matt ìPalffyî Smith (nice pink turkey burgers, Iron Chef Salmonella) and Adrian "The Mini Mogulî Moreira) we didnít make it out to the shows until about 5 PM each day, as we lounged about the pool and got our brewskis on until we deemed it necessary to roll out. Saturday found us arriving to catch the amazing Kosheen. Their debut, Resist, was my second favorite album of last year, and now that it is out domestically, I hope the love grows as it should for this brilliant album. They performed with a full live band, including drums, bass, guitar, keys, decks and cello. Just mesmerizing and energetic as fuck and not to be missed.
Other highlights from the first day were Queens of the Stone Age, who rocked the second stage with Dave Grohl pounding the skins and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan lending vocals to a few of the new tracks and Bjork and Chemical Brothers on the main stage. The best surprise, however, was the set from Swedish garage-meisters (International) Noise Conspiracy. The album was likable enough, but live, this shit was ON. Crazy energy, tight-ass performance and a highly enthused crowd made their headline performance in the Mojave Tent one of the two best shows of the day, with the aforementioned beat-blenders, Kosheen.
Sunday brought more of the same slacking attitude and had us hitting the Indio Polo Grounds just in time to catch our favorite 1977 New York revivalists, Strokes on the main stage. The quintet played all the faves from their debut, and even unleashed a few new tracks for the kids to go crazy for. Next up, a sneaky surprise mini-set from Tenacious D opening up for Foo Fighters. Caught some of the Foos then off for the fey pop of Belle &Sebastian. I feared their low-key indie pop would not fare well outdoors (this was their first outdoor gig ever, they claimed), but they magically filled the space sonically and had a huge turnout, considering they were up against the Grohlers. One of the five best gigs of the weekend.
Back to the main stage for the two most highly-anticipated shows of the weekend: the return after five years from The Prodigy and the UKís pre-eminent rock act, Oasis. Luckily, neither disappointed. The Prodge rocked like it was still 1997, doling out huge riffs and the phatest of beats without sounding stale in the least. Past hits like ìSmack My Bitch Up,î ìBreathe,î ìPoison,î ìFirestarterî were presented in their full glory, and newbie ìBabyís Got A Temperî was unfurled to the rabid listenership, as well. If this performance was anything to gauge by, prepare for a continued onslaught from the techno-rock-punk pioneers.
Oasis sauntered on-stage with their usual swagger and continued by slaying the crowd with a mix of old favorites, tracks not dragged out in live shows for years and new tracks from the forthcoming Heathen Chemistry. ìSupersonic,î ìHindu Times,î ìColumbia,î and ìFade Awayî were amongst the jams blowing minds. A little bird told me to look for a July return from the Mancunian maniacs and the summer canít come soon enough, especially as we had to leave during Oasisí set to try and beat traffic for our 983-hour voyage back to our Oaktown hood. A brilliant weekend all in all, with new tracks from QOTSA, Oasis, Belle & Sebastian, Prodigy, and Foo Fighters showcased, secret shows from Tenacious D and Beck (he joined DJ Z-Trip for an impromptu 3-song acoustic set) and amazingly temperate weather (82-degree days). Americaís greatest music festival continues to shine and never disappoints. What else could you ask for? Oh yeah, not driving home all night. You could ask for that!