Ahhh, the day was finally here. Day one of the 2004 Coachella Festival. Would the weather be as hellfire hot and scary as had been forecast? How would the Pixies sound? Would anyone die of heat exhaustion? All these questions would be answered, once I got my ass over to the venue.
As was the case in years past, the first chunk of Saturday was spent poolside, relaxing and staying out of the sun as much as possible. As it was already over 100 degrees, common sense won out and instead of heading to the Polo Fields early, instead it was time to get our pool party on. In the mix were many heads, including Mark Czarra, Dennis Blair, Warren Christensen, Rob Goldklang, Gaby Skolnek, and Dave Cash, as well as the usual suspects - Aaron Axelsen, Adrian Moreira and Matt "Money" Smith. Yes, it would have been nice to see sets by snacky bands like DIOS, The Stills, The Sounds, stellastarr* and Sahara Hotnights, but empathizing with a World War II soldier fighting against Rommel in North Africa would have to wait until Sunday.
By the time we finally got there, parked, and walked the 876 miles into the venue, we arrived just in time to catch the tail ends of both the International Noise Conspiracy and Death Cab For Cutie sets. INC is always amazing live, as their appearance a few years back at Coachella and their set at SXSW this year will attest. Their new album, Armed Love, is out on July 13 and should usher in a time of INC worship. DCFC were great as well and we rushed over to get some much-needed liquid refreshment. Great to see friendly faces like Christine Chiappetta, Lisa Worden, Jen Zeller, Robin Rockwell, HM Wollman, Rich & Reina Holtzman and Linda Yang while we were imbibing and checking out the other pride of El Paso, Sparta. Bringing the riffs as always, their guitar-heavy sound rippled through the stagnant heat at the Indio Polo Fields. Scrambling over to catch LCD Soundsystem in a tent was one of the smartest moves of the day. The DFA crew were on amazing form and were one of the highlights of many concert-goersí weekend.
But it was now time for what was to be the piece de resistance of Coachella 2004 for a good chunk of the crowd: the set from the Pixies. Yeah, they looked older. Yeah, they looked fatter. Yeah, someone should tell Dave Lovering heís not fooling anyone with his Gallagher (comedian version) mullet, but while the years may have piled on, the band sounded almost as great as ever. Iíve attended every Coachella, and Iíve never seen a crowd as large as the one amassed for the Beantowners' set. So many great songs were unleashed, from ìMonkey Gone To Heavenî to ìHere Comes Your Manî to ìDebaserî to ìWave Of Mutilationî to ìGiganticî that itís almost impossible to remember them all. Their searing guitars and off-kilter melodies shone through so brightly and their mark on the sound of other ë90s alternative music was plainly evident. I half expected to hear some 16-year-old in the crowd mutter, ìMan, these guys really ripped off Nirvana.î A fucking stellar set and the perfect warm up for what was to follow.
As one of the Three Best Live Bands In The Worldô (in my world, along with Muse and Sigur Ros), the live set from Radiohead was not going to sneak up on anyone. That said, the Oxfordians proved their worth with a skyscraping set that further cemented their place in the pantheon of rock. As I enjoyed the amazing set with Smith, Zeller, Steve & Jim Nice (give it up for Brad Stuart!), and my lovely girlfriend, we were all basking in the utter radiant glow of Radiohead. The set wasnít much different than most Radiohead gigs of recent times. But it doesnít matter what songs they play, they are always amazing and always throw their entire being into each and every song. ìKarma Policeî and ìStreet Spiritî were extra incendiary, as they soared into the air like the spotlights that crowned the Polo Fields. To top it all off, in the encore they played ìCreep.î Fucking ìCreep!î As Thom Yorke uttered something like ìThe Pixies wanted to hear that song,î it all became clear, but it didnít matter why the song was played, just that it was. Yorke had already mentioned how much the Pixies meant to him, as it was them and REM that were his musical guidance in college and it was heartwarming to see him return the favor.
The rest of the night was spent battling from stage to stage catching bits and pieces of Electric Six (their metal disco as riffariffic as ever, even in the still-fetid tent), Phantom Planet (they played the OC song!) and German Sprockets-before-Sprockets pioneers Kraftwerk. From their sparse look in all black and behind matching keyboards and music racks, they looked like the personification of an Apple ad. The music, however, was one of a kind and they showed a whole new generation their contribution to electronic music. Time came to brave the traffic, hit the pool again, end up in the hot tub with a few, ahem, adult beverages, and ready ourselves for Sundayís festivities. What would the next day bring? Find out tomorrow. Same Tripwire time, same Tripwire channel.