Review by Robbie DelPrete (FlyLosophy)
Coachella is… Last February I impulsively decided that I needed to get away from Boston and go on an adventure, so I bought a plane ticket to Palm Springs, California to go check out Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. I have been to many festivals all across the country, from giant electronic music festivals in Miami with the world’s biggest DJ’s, to Midwestern hoedown throw downs with all of our favorite, most beloved jam bands. Of course I wanted to see what was up with this Coachella business.
Coachella is Disney World. It is held at the Polo Grounds, an oasis located in the California desert. Everywhere you walk there is a pristine grass carpet beneath your feet, and the grounds are surrounded with palm trees lit up by neon lights. There is really no need to wear shoes here, only sunscreen. Did I mention the celebrities? I’ll get to that later.
Coachella is many things. First and foremost it is one of the most expensive high profile parties thrown in the lower 48, featuring some of the most cutting edge stage production and art installations in the business. While it is typically uncouth to quote yourself in your own article, I attended this festival alone so it seems as if it is a valid option. While walking around the festival grounds I found myself pondering, “This dance tent makes most festivals dance tents look like a wedding reception,” “Why does that girl have tape on her boobs?,” and “When is Daft Punk playing?” One thing Californians are good at is letting go and having a good time, and while Coachella is one of the most buzz worthy music festivals in the country, the majority of the people that show up for this festival are looking for just that – a good time. I think sometimes people forget that music festivals are parties, but to be fair music festivals are many things to many people.
Coachella is a music industry showcase. Year after year, Coachella books some of the best musical acts in the industry in almost every genre. This year was an arguably weaker year for the main stage, trading acts like Radiohead and Hologram Tupac for the likes of Blur and The Stone Roses. Many of the main stage acts this year, such as The Postal Service and The Red Hot Chili Peppers had an uncanny ability to dig up memories I thought I had left in my high school locker. While I was very excited and happy to be at Coachella, the events that unfolded earlier that week at the Boston Marathon and in Watertown were always in the back of my mind during my stay in California. As I stepped foot on the festival grounds, I found it nearly impossible to forget about what was going on in the city I’ve spent the last six years of my life in. From my point of view, Coachella seemed unaffected by the events that had taken place three thousand miles across the country. It was a party after all.
Mixed emotions subsided when I went to see The Dropkick Murphys play one of my favorite sets of the weekend. After the FBI brought in the marathon bombing suspects, rocking out in Cali with Dropkick while they played “Shipping Up to Boston” never felt so right. Besides seeing bands I had been familiar with for years, I was lucky enough to be able to catch newer acts like ALT-J, an indie rock quartet capable of creating brilliant soundscapes then dropping back into bluesy percussion driven grooves, as well as Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, with his new project How to Destroy Angels. Visually HTDA looks like the girl that climbed out of the well in the movie The Ring decided to start a band. Sonically the band sounds a lot like that too. I found them to be very captivating, but as is true with any musical offering you have to check it out and see for yourself!
I had a great time at Coachella and would recommend anyone check it out at least once. I don’t feel like I will go back anytime soon because my core interests lie elsewhere, but I have friends who swear by this festival and try to make it every year. Coachella is a magical experience regardless of what bands are playing. I found that the people who attend this festival put more emphasis on being with their friends and having a good time, and in my opinion there is nothing wrong with that. I met some great people out there who I still keep in contact with. I’m also pretty sure I walked past Wee-Man from Jackass at The Do LaB stage…