The weird thing about Coachella every year, at least for me, is that even though it’s a three day festival, it never really feels that long. You would think if you’re spending 8-12 hours a day at a concert, in the sun, doing a lot of walking from stage to stage, that time would go by fairly slow. But as they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and by the time we got to our last day of Coachella this year, my wife and I were already having a hard time believing that it was almost over. I started compiling my thoughts on the 2010 Coachella Music and Arts Festival last week. My reviews of days one and two are still available, if you want to check them out.
After getting to the festival fairly early on our first two days, we decided to sleep a little later on Sunday. Normally, in the past few years, we would always stay at our hotel from Thursday night to Sunday morning, and check out before heading to the festival for the final day. The problem with that is that by the time the day was over, we would have to drive home, which is about two hours away, and I would always have trouble staying awake for that drive. This year we decided to stay one extra night, and I’m glad we did. It really helped out, and made the weekend even more enjoyable than it already would have been.
We arrived at the polo fields around 3:45, just in time to check out De La Soul on the main stage. I’ve been a fan of De La Soul ever since the early 90’s. To be honest, I really don’t know much of their material, other than their big hit “Me, Myself and I.” Recently, they’ve returned to the public eye as guest collaborators on the last two Gorillaz CD’s, but as a band they’ve actually been together for over 22 years.
De La Soul
I always hate when the first bands that we want to see each day are on the main stage, because it can be so hot outside. Luckily, as I mentioned before, this year the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as in previous years, and we were able to lay out on the grass to watch their set. De La Soul put on a great performance, reminiscent of old school hip hop, and they were able to get the midday crowd dancing and singing along.
After De La Soul, we had really wanted to check out Florence and the Machine, but the tent was overflowing with people. So we decided to wait for it to empty out, and we made our way into the Gobi to watch Charlotte Gainsbourg perform. Charlotte is a french actress and singer. Her latest CD was produced by Beck and he co-wrote most (if not all) of the songs. He also duets on “Heaven Can Wait,” the first single from the CD.
Of course, being huge Beck fans, we wanted to make sure we caught Charlotte’s set. We were really hoping that Beck would be there to make an appearance, and to at least perform their duet. Unfortunately, he didnt show up (as far as I know), and we left a bit early so that we could return to the main stage to get a good spot for Spoon.
Spoon is another one of those bands that I have listened to for a number of years, but I had never seen them in concert before. The band put on a great show, playing all the songs that I wanted to hear, but I think they are also one of those bands that I would probably enjoy more in a smaller venue. I really can’t put my finger on what was missing from their performance, but overall I was glad to finally get to see them play.
After Spoon’s set we decided to head over to the Outdoor stage to get a good spot to watch Phoenix and Thom Yorke. Even though I have the Phoenix CD, I realized while I was watching them that I should have gotten more familiar with it before seeing them in concert. I luckily at least knew all the songs that have been getting radio airplay (“Lisztomania,” “Lasso” and “1901”).
Phoenix drew a huge crowd. From what I heard later, there were probably more people at the Outdoor stage seeing them than seeing the Pavement reunion over at the main stage. I’m sure that if the organizers had to do it again, they probably would have had Phoenix on the main stage instead.
After Phoenix, my wife held our spot and I went to get us some dinner. Why is this important to my story, you might ask? Well, it’s because I have to tell you about the great food that we had, courtesy of Cowboys and Turbans, who were serving their Mexican/Indian cuisine at Coachella this year. My wife had actually first tried their chicken tikka masala burrito on Friday, but I didn’t get a chance to try one of my own until Sunday.
Usually the food at Coachella is hit or miss. You’re there mostly for the music, but you have to eat at some point, so a lot of the vendors charge a lot of money for food that’s not always so great. I don’t know if Cowboys nd Turbans have been there for any other years, but I hope they come back for years to come. That burrito was delicious, and reasonably priced as well. They have a couple of actual restaurants in L.A., so I hope to visit those some day soon.
After dinner, we found it hard to believe that there were only two more acts remaining, and then Coachella would be over for another year. Our second to last act of the night was Thom Yorke.
I’ve never seen Radiohead in concert, so it was cool to see Thom Yorke. He and his band, Atoms For Peace, which included Flea on bass, started by playing songs from Thom’s most recent solo release. I understand that he finally started playing a few Radiohead songs in the second half of his set, but since we wanted to get a good spot at the main stage for Gorillaz, we had to leave about halfway through. It was still amazing to be able to see him perfom.
I don’t know why, but this year they had decided to shut down all of the other stages BEFORE Gorillaz performance, which meant that when they took the stage, the rest of the polo fields were dark. And because we figured that a large portion of the 75,000 in attendance would be watching it, I think we got over to the main stage about 45 minutes to an hour early. But, luckily we found ourselves a decent spot.
After the fact, a lot of people online were disappointed with Gorillaz performance. It might have been because they were actually performing as THEMSELVES (and not behind their cartoon alter-egos, as in the past), or because people weren’t as familiar with the material (which was mostly from their latest CD, Plastic Beach). Me, I thought it was brilliant. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Plastic Beach IS probably my favorite CD of the year so far, and I love all the songs on it.
Gorillaz – I liked this animation!
I actually thought that Gorillaz performance was one of the best things I’ve ever seen at Coachella, in all 6 years that I’ve been attending, and I stand by that opinion. It was great music, great visuals (animation and other videos were shown to go along with each song), and great guest performances (De La Soul, Bobby Womack and Little Dragon among others).
We decided to stay until the end of the set though, and when it was over, with all the huge crowds trying to exit at once, it took us 45 minutes to get out and back to our car (which was probably parked over a mile away from the entrance). Somehow though, once we got to the car, it only took me two whole minutes to get out of the parking lot.
Overall, Coachella 2010 was a wonderful experience. I enjoy going every year, but some years are better than others. 2008 had been my favorite year so far, but this one comes pretty close. Like I said before, there were definitely some logistical/organizational issues that will hopefully be fixed next year, but it didn’t detract from the experience overall, at least for me. And now that it’s over, I have to wait another year to experience it all again.
Finally, since I mentioned our hotel a few times, I thought I’d share a few photos of it at the end here. We stayed at the Caliente Tropics motel in Palm Springs. It was a very nice place to stay, and not too expensive either. We actually took advantage of an offer that allowed us to get to book three nights, and get the fourth one free. This tiki themed motel was popular in the 1960’s and was a favorite hangout of many celebrities, like Elvis Presley and The Rat Pack. If the price was right, I could definitely see us staying here every year.