DAY TWO: The Battle For The Middle Desert Begins
Refreshed and ready to go, the posse loaded up the horses and hit the festival grounds right as UK DJ/remixer Erol Alkan took the stage. As Alkan dropped a blistering set of hot-off-the-presses dance tracks on the crowd, it dawned on me that the re-emergence of the rave days is truly upon us. Alkan deftly peppered the crowd with a mix of acid-inflected dance tunes, classic house jams, nu-disco bubblers, and even a bit of old school drum 'n' bass. As he literally sounded the rave alarm and stepped out from behind the decks to hype up the crowd, I was literally overpowered by the gigantic roar of the to-capacity tent. Erol is one of those DJs that you forget is a complete legend across the pond, and I think that the US crowds are getting the picture, too. This was easily one of the highlight DJ performances of the weekend.
We stayed put in the Sahara tent for the Hot Chip performance. As the backstage area quickly started to fill up, we started noticing that the LA celeb factor began to skyrocket. Who knew that Kelly Osbourne, Sienna Miller, fashion designer Jeremy Scott, model Agyness Deyn, Har Mar Superstar and Dita Von Teese... and David Hasselhoff (!!) were fans of The Chip?!?
The London-based Hot Chip gave one of the most spirited performances of the day, showing why they are one of the most in-demand live dance bands working today. Highlight numbers included a spiffy version of "Over and Over," their new anthem "Ready For the Floor," and "No Fit State."
We took a break and grabbed some beers in the artist village before heading out with a rush of excited artists to catch Kraftwerk's second Coachella appearance. This time the robots were on the main stage, and provided the crowd with a great melody of their famous hits, including a jaunty "Autobahn," "Tour De France," and "The Telephone Call."
And finally, it was time for Portishead! After grabbing a key viewing spot on the polo field's hill, we settled in and waited for the rapture. As Geoff, Adrian and Beth took the stage, you could palpably feel the excitement from the crowd. Immediately launching into "Silence" (off of Third, their new album), Portishead set the lush and somber tone for the evening with a stunning stage setup (two huge screens set in grey tones showed Beth singing in profile) while providing a crisp, clean sound that echoed throughout the whole valley. I have to admit, I was dubious on the new album, but after hearing it live, I am completely obsessed (especially with the track "The Rip"). It's completely easy for me to state that this was the performance of Coachella 2008 (and maybe one of the best live sets I've seen in a couple of years).
Wrapping up the evening was the hotly anticipated Prince main stage performance. As Prince entered the stage in a crazy white rhinestoned daishiki number (like wha...?) it became very evident that there were some major issues affecting the sound quality towards the back of the crowd. There was a vicious two-second delay that kept me from really enjoying Prince's opening number with Morris Day and Time and Sheila E. Once I made the effort to fight through the crowd and move up front, I was enraptured to finally get to see Prince! He definitely shelled the hits out for the crowd ("Controversy," "Housequake," "Little Red Corvette") but he really kicked the crowd in the jewels with his cover of Radiohead's "Creep." Odd, yet alluring... just like the man himself.