Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting lost in Coachella : PART 01 (by StereoDan)

Well as you can tell by the title of this Blog, my first official international music festival was quite the experience! There is so much to cover in this Blog that I’m not quite sure where to begin?.... I’ll try to make it chronological I guess!

So having rested up the night before I made it to the airport well in time for my 8AM flight only to be told that it had been rescheduled for 12 hours later. I was a little disappointed when I realised we would miss the first day of performances at Coachella thanks to the delay. Not wanting to hang around the airport any longer then necessary I jumped back into a taxi, picked up Bec from international and we headed back to our homes to rest up.

Twelve hours later we were back at the airport and made good progress through security despite the excess of wires and technical equipment spewing from my hand luggage. With two hours to kill, I fired up the laptop to start experimenting with visual elements in “Final Cut” and “Motion” for our video productions. Soon enough it was time to board and I quickly went into flight mode along with my Blackberry! I managed to fit in a watch of “2001: A Space Odyssey” which was timely given it was released in 1968!

Before we knew it we had arrived in Los Angeles and were being processed by immigration and customs officials. They’re pretty hardcore these days with full finger printing, retina scanning and psychological profiling. Finally we made it through and got our first glimpse of America!

There’s no accounting for random incidents of volcanic ash launching into the atmosphere, so Bec and I had to sort our own way to Coachella to meet up with the Universal representatives. We put a hire car on my credit card and I was happy that the colour went nicely with my sunglasses!   :)

It’s fairly strange driving on the opposite side of the road so crusin down the road at 70 miles an hour at night with traffic bumper to bumper was a pretty nerve wrecking experience. We only got lost once along the way, but at least this led to a cheap dinner at Taco Bell!

Eventually we arrived at our hotel for the night in Palm Springs and high on excitement went for a quick wander around the streets to soak up the desert atmosphere and night life. It was fairly quite for a Friday night but we managed to stumble upon a Hen’s night party playing karaoke at the local pub. For US$5.50 per half glass of vodka we sat back and were somewhat bemused by their rendition of “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls.

Despite the astounding musicianship displayed at the hen’s party we decided to have a quick look around the local area and discovered a wealth of interior decoration, antique, lighting and art shops.

Finally we stopped by a local pub for a quick slice of pizza and Bud Light before heading back to the hotel for a well earned sleep... the pool did look very inviting though!

The next morning we were eager to get down to the festival but had been hit by a delayed case of jet lag! As we edged closer to the festival Bec pepped up although I found myself pre-occupied with the basic logistics of our roles at the event. Most importantly we only had general passes into Coachella festival so I had to sneak my SLR camera inside my jacket which luckily wasn’t frisked down by security!

After picking up our “over-21” wrist bands we made a bee-line to the drinking area to get into the festival spirit! Here I met a lovely couple from Newcastle, UK and we chatted about what we’d missed the previous day and their reasons for heading over to the United States for Coachella.

Bec keen to meet up with friends headed out into the music arena and I chilled for a short while before heading out to take some photos and enjoy Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Heading back towards the main stage I noticed that one of the lights had set fire to part of the stage causing a small fire that was quickly extinguished by stage crew.

High on my list of bands to experience for Saturday night was Faith No More which I had been excited to watch since hearing they returned to performance after a hiatus of one decade. One audience member described it as “Faith no more NO MORE!!!” which I thought was a bit harsh. Personally I thought their sound didn’t carry very well in the outdoors environment and might be better suited to less windy conditions. I'm still very happy that I got to seem them and 'tick them off the list' to say.

Slightly deflated I headed back to grab another beer and realised that I wasn’t particularly enjoying myself at the festival so far. Being jet-lagged and feeling slightly under the weather I decided it was probably best to head back towards the hotel. Being alone at a music festival also feels a little isolating and I would prefer to share the experience with friends or at least similarly minded people.

I figured I’d ponder my options over a beer and thankfully I happened to meet a nice group of people when they asked me to take a photo of them together. I took the photo but when they asked how was I enjoying the festival so far I was probably more honest then I should have been. Thankfully they were undeterred and immediately set about trying to put me back into the festival spirit and convinced me to head over to the last few songs by MGMT! We couldn’t get very close to the MGMT stage due to their popularity so instead we headed back towards the main stage to secure a good spot for Muse.

I’ve always enjoyed Muse’s produced albums but typically I find few bands can match the produced recordings in a live performance situation. So I was more then pleasantly surprise to find they were actually better live. Straight after Muse was The Dead Weather which were amazing as ever! I just love the raw electric-acoustic sound which consistently rocks the audience and leaves you with a big dirty smile on your face!

The big headline act for the night was TiĆ«sto, who I’ve never really given much attention due to his trance background. His set was fantastic thanks to the audience’s excitement, projected video backgrounds, stunning lighting effects and a solid full range sound system! Tiesto’s song selection was good but I was more focused on the cumulative effect of the various audio visual elements and the effect this had on the crowd’s mood. Most importantly enjoying the performance along with new friends and a large audience made it an experience within itself!

So the festival had reached its climax for the day and I decided I was ready to finish the night on a positive note. We headed towards the main carpark before realising that things looked very different at night then they did in day light. To further complicate matters I certainly didn't remember there being a roller disco anywhere!

One problem with big festivals is inevitably there will be some issues using your mobile communication devices. When I tried to message Bec annoyingly I couldn’t get any coverage on my phone at all. After walking back and forth across all the car parks a number of times we realised that due to the sheer number and scale of parks it just wasn’t going to happen tonight. So rather then splitting from the group I was lucky that they didn't mind putting me up for the night in desert springs. We got picked up by some local nun’s who dropped us off back at the church (no joke!) where they had set up a temporary charity car park on site to raise funds. From there it was just a short drive back to their home where we all crashed out for the night and I was treated to a real bed

[END OF PART ONE: Words and picture by Daniel "StereoDan" Taylor]

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