/ Featured / Coachella cherry burst into oblivion

Coachella cherry burst into oblivion

TiltAdmin on April 22, 2011 - 5:59 pm in Featured, Nightlife

Coachella cherry burst into oblivion

Trying to put into words an experience like Coachella 2011 isn’t the easiest piece of writing I’ve ever had to do. And that’s disregarding my varying stages of inebriation over the three days, ranging from very to good god almighty have some shame man.

No, memory loss isn’t really the problem here; it is much more a case of adequately describing the sheer craic (as we Irish like to say) of this little soiree.

At this stage in its career Coachella is an institution – a party of world renown.

The diversity and scope of the line-up puts its contemporaries, with perhaps the sole exception of Glastonbury, well in the shade.

Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon – undoubtedly three of the hottest acts out there right now. Duran Duran, The Chemical Brothers, Death from Above – legends in their field one and all.

Then there is the veritable smorgasbord of other acts spread over the immense site providing the soundtrack for three days of hedonism in the Californian sun.

Lauryn Hill, PJ Harvey, The Kills, Cut Copy, Leftfield, Damien Marley & Nas; if you can’t find something you like at Coachella then you probably can’t find something you like, period.

Of course booking the acts is only half the battle when you’re hosting a party of this scale. This year’s incarnation was my long-awaited introduction to music festivals in the US, but I’ve attended enough across the pond to know that poor organisation can ruin an event faster than anything else.

Coachella 2011 could have John Lennon, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra and Jesus Christ on bongos finishing off the main stage, but if the place is overcrowded, the showers and washrooms are disgusting, or over zealous security forget having a good time is this place’s MO, whoever provides the beats won’t count for much.

To their credit Goldenvoice realised this, and addressed the overcrowding that hindered last year’s festival.

Looking around during Nas and Damien Marley’s set on Sunday, the oft described sea of humanity stretched as far as the eye could see.

Never was that sense, however, that said sea might take a turn for the worse and you end up like George Clooney at the end of the Perfect Storm.

Crowd management should always be number one priority for any festival organiser, and when it’s not, as was the case for the German Love Parade last year, tragedy won’t be far behind.

Coachella in contrast had all their ducks in a row, and this allowed the 100,000 + patrons to get down to the serious business of partying hard.

Me not wanting to stick out from the crowd, I decided to follow suit.

When the line-up was first announced back in January there were names that immediately jumped off the (web) page. I’m no stranger to a Chemical Brothers live performance, so I knew the production values and quality of their back catalogue guaranteed a brilliant show.

Arcade Fire won this year’s Grammy for best album and have all the appearance of a group destined for mega-stardom. The Sahara tent would host most of the DJs, so a sonic assault on the ears whenever you entered was more than likely, which is a good thing in my weird book.

Sick Tonight (Doctor P Remix) by le sac Vs Pip

Like most of the human race I’m a big Bob Marley fan, and the chance to hopefully see his kin play some Wailers songs alongside a brilliant rapper like Nas was a big draw too.

A child of the 80’s, the presence of Duran Duran was something that drew a smile when I first saw their name on the billing, but would they play a View to a Kill?

With any festival you go in with big plans as to who you intend to see; trying to coordinate acts and set times with military precision, but neglecting the fact the human body needs time to rest.

Casualties of war are inevitable, and by Friday night I already had more than one. I’ve been going to Sasha gigs for as long as I can remember; stretching back to that first magical moment when a fake ID didn’t look ridiculous to a doorman. In my opinion both he and regular partner in crime John Digweed are the finest practionioners of the 1’s and 2’s out there, still.

So to miss his appearance at the Sahara stage and its off the hook sound system was one of the weekend’s big regrets. Totally forgetting Lauryn Hill a few hours beforehand was another. (Hmmmm, note to self, slow and steady wins the race, less Usain Bolt-like drinking on the Friday next year)

Thankfully there weren’t too many mishaps thereafter, and I returned to my festival ready zone. As predicted, the Chemical Brother’s block rocking beats brought Friday’s festivities to an uplifting crescendo.

Saturday brought with it temperatures that would send a camel running for shade, so imagine how a red haired Irishman felt. Coachella isn’t for the faint hearted though, so a quick application of some trusty factor 110 and onto the Sahara tent to get my rave on.

Fedde le Grande was the man behind the decks at this stage and subsequently sent the crowd into raptures with a typical set of upfront house.

Everything But The Girl – Missing (Fedde Le Grande Remix)

Later that night was Arcade Fire’s chance to shine and shine they did. U2 have monopolised the biggest band in the world title for too long now, so it’s good to finally see a credible successor to the throne. A set list of past, present and future classics made this performance one worthy of such a prominent place on the bill, before thousands of illuminated bouncing balls descended on the huge crowd to create a Coachella moment for the ages.

Then came Sunday, final day, no lazing in the sun now, it was time to get serious.

The afternoon began with rising UK star Plan B featuring Dubstep Beatboxer Dub FX, who left little doubt that his next appearance at the Empire Polo Fields would come with a considerably higher billing.

Following that was Green Velvet in the Sahara at 3pm – not an ideal time to get the masses on their feet. One of dance music’s true entertainers though, the man with the green Mohawk did just that, backed up by an impressive breakdancing troupe.

Last year’s festival was headlined by Jay-Z, probably hip-hop’s biggest star. Biggest star, but best rapper? Not in my opinion anyway; I’ve always been more of a Nas fan, so it was a real highlight to finally see the man himself perform in the flesh. Alongside Damien Marley he gathered one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, none of whom were left disappointed when the two concluded with the elder Marley’s iconic anthem Could you loved.

The duo weren’t the only ones to break out the big guns that day either, as Simon Le Bon showed with a steady stream of Duran Duran’s biggest hits, including, as predicted, View to a Kill – a mark of tribute to famous composer John Barrie who recently passed away.

With the baking Californian sun having made way to cool darkness; it was starting to sink in that this incredible weekend would soon be drawing to a close. Not time to get nostalgic just yet, however; the fat lady had yet to stretch her vocal cords accordingly.

Turns out she didn’t even show up, electing to stay at the hotdog stand instead, and so it was left to Leftfield and Kanye West to draw proceedings to a close.

The UK electronic pioneers opened their set to a sparse audience, but one that gradually grew as those wandering by the Mohave arena realised who they actually were. Tracks like Africa Shox, Song of Life and Phat Planet are instantly recognisable to those of a certain age and persuasion, and drew an emphatic response from the loved-up crowd.

Leftfield – Inspection (Check One)

Leftfield – Release The Pressure (Netsky Remix)

As a penultimate act you couldn’t have wished for more, but I was in somewhat of a bind as to who would receive my vote to close the festival.

Eventually I decided on the man with the big tunes but even bigger ego. (Who likes fishsticks) Kanye West proved with his last album that in terms of creating music he is indeed a genius, but unfortunately his personality is so grating that most people are loathe to give credit where it is due.

His performance at Coachella followed a similar tract, brilliantly produced and presented but also including some typically cringe inducing monologue.

And that was that, the end of three days I’ll never forget.

I’ve been to a many festivals in my time, but nothing like Coachella. Memories like it last forever, far longer than overdrafts, credit card bills or any of the many other hassles such a pursuit entails. A lot of money goes into partying in the Polo Fields each April, but really you can’t put a price on an experience like it. So hook or by crook I’ll be there again next year, and for those who thought this article made it sound like good craic (© The Irish) I suggest you join me.

P.S Big shout out to my Californian homies that kept us in shipshape throughout the weekend, Mike, Alex and Bobby. Goose Street 2012 crew no doubt.

My cousin Meagan for making sure the Keelaghan presence was strong.

Also to my Irish compadres currently keeping it real in Toronto – Paddy Murphy and Mick O’Brien, John Deere 4Life, The Lost Boy Karlo Reid, Driver like you Stoler Willy O’Neill, The Golden Couple Shanno and the Shark, the next generation bueno Ronald Shannbot and of course, last but not least, Hopalong Clerkin. Keep on reaching for that rainbow everybody.

-Dave the Rave $$$

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  • April 22, 2011

    this was a lovely summation of your first experience out. i went last year and felt more out of place than in tune with the music, so it wasn’t quite the same ecstasy i thought i’d feel, but how joyous to live vicariously through you. just listening to your posted leftfield tracks now. i adore leftfield so i’d have not missed them. that’s great. maybe one day glasto for me. that would be so crazy. i don’t know. still, great post. ooh this remix of ‘sick tonight’ is insane. nice!!!