Tuesday, May 11, 2004

BAMBOO AT COACHELLA: Becky Bamboo braves the poor sunscreen and three buck bottles of water to report:

I was meeting my friend Nayla in Palm Springs at 10, so I had to get up at 3 a.m. to make it there on time. Folks, I definitely do not recommend getting up that early when you've got a 7 hour drive and a 12 hour concert in front of you. Live and learn. However, I do like the drive down I-5 at that time of the morning. There are no other cars on the road and the truck drivers just chill in their slow lane and leave the fast one all to you. Plus you avoid both the smell of the Central Valley stockyards and the worst of the desert heat that way. Sweet.

Okay, so we took off from Palm Springs for Indio at about 11:30. It took us until almost 2:00 p.m. to actually get parking and walk to the gates. Once there the lines to get in weren't bad at all. Nayla had her pepper spray taken away (I told her she was lucky she left her gun in the car. Joke!) while I got yelled at from 3 feet away by an overzealous usher with a megaphone while waiting for her. I tell ya, give people a little bit of power and they will abuse it. Sheesh. When we finally got through the gates and to the field, the first thing that struck me was how many people there were. Coachella is held on the polo fields and it's not that big a place to cram 50,000+ people. The lines at the merch booths were long, only surpassed by those at the water stations. Nayla and I split, her to see Saraha Hotnights and me to see the end of Howie Day's set and get a decent spot to see The Stills. Howie Day was fairly forgettable, but okay. The Stills rocked though. They brought out a couple of members of Broken Social Scene to play on some songs and endorsed all the other Canadian groups playing that weekend. I started to think maybe that crackpot theory about Canadian musicians overthrowing the world governments and creating their own utopia wasn't so far-fetched after all. Well, until their drummer shouted out thanks to Coachella, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area as if he thought they were all 10 minutes down the road. You'd think people from another huge country wouldn't make that mistake. Especially ones supposedly at the forefront of a worldwide revolution. Anyway.

Not to be crass, but, well... when you're out in the sun like that, any water you drink pretty much bypasses the kidneys and goes straight out your pores. So when I say I heard stellastarr* while I was waiting in line for the bathroom and that's the only time I mention actually using the facilities all day Saturday - that's why. stellastarr* totally rocked, by the way. Business taken care of for the next, oh, 12 hours (no joke), I headed back to the Outdoor Theatre to catch the end of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. I've never really heard any of their stuff and was pretty impressed by them and will be looking them up later. While I was waiting for Death Cab For Cutie, some songs from The (International) Noise Conspiracy drifted across from the main stage and made the wait more interesting. I'm so checking them out next time they swing through town. Death Cab came out dressed in white jumpsuits which couldn't have been very practical, given the heat. At least they weren't in black. Ben Gibbard gave us sunscreen advice (don't buy the expensive stuff that claims it won't run into your eyes because it lies and will) and I laughed in sympathy because by that time of the afternoon I felt like that guy at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark whose face melted off after opening the ark. And I didn't even get to see any avenging angels. It was too hot to even get out my camera and zoom in on the VIP area to see if my celebrity boyfriend Adam Brody was visible.

After Death Cab I, and about 45,000 other atendees decided it was time for dinner. Desert Sessions made nice background noise while I waited 45 minutes for a fucking falafel and a $3 bottle of water. Second lesson learned: don't eat at traditional times because you'll be screwed. I had just enough time to gulp down my food before heading over to the Main Stage to see The Pixies. I managed to get a spot not too far back where I could see the big monitors and actually catch a glimpse of the band on stage once in a while. The Pixies simply rocked. There was little to no talk, just amazing song after amazing song, each sounding as fresh as if it had been released last month. The crowd favorite was clearly "Here Comes Your Man" but each and every song had people singing and dancing along. So fucking cool.

I've been, not exactly wary of seeing Radiohead again, but definitely a little anxious because of how awful the Hollywood Bowl show was for me. I lost them in Southern California, so it's only fitting that I found them again there. They swung into "My Iron Lung" early in their set and I wondered how I ever thought I could live without Thom's upper register and spastic dancing and supermodel Jonny's total guitar freakouts. I feel a little silly admitting to tears, but they have meant a lot to me over the years and I had no idea I would get them back in a field of damp, sweaty people straining equally for a glimpse of the band and a hint of a breeze. They played a shortened version of their Hollywood Bowl show, even playing "Creep." Thom was a little restrained vocally, due to his health problems but it didn't detract from the music that much. Lesson #3: no more shows at the Hollywood Fucking Bowl. Ever.

Wilco's cancellation meant that the Main Stage acts ended in time for everyone to head off to see Kraftwerk. On my way there, I noticed Electric Six was playing in the Mojave Tent. I've heard great things about their live shows so I stopped in for a bit. Everything I'd heard was true and more. They were hysterical and had everyone laughing and dancing. The lead singer was wearing a white suit straight out of Saturday Night Fever and kept pawing at his hair as if he was a dog trying to dislodge one of those cones from the vet and I laughed every time he did. What can I say? It was late. I waited until they played "Danger, High Voltage!" and then headed over to Kraftwerk. Their tent was packed and the surrounding lawn was full of people. The music was beautiful but was putting me to sleep so I went back over to Electric Six in time to catch the last half of their show, including "Gay Bar" which was fucking awesome. They are definitely more than a joke band and I'm looking forward to seeing them again. On my way back to catch the last part of Kraftwerk's set, I passed the tent where Phantom Planet was wrapping up. I paused to hear them do "California" (woohoo!) and "Big Brat" and then went and crashed on the grass during Kraftwerk's encore (during which they were wearing what looked like higher tech versions of that internet guy's Tron costume).

After that Day One was all over but the finding of the car (about an hour of wandering around going, "I'm pretty sure we were in line with that horse tent over there" and "we weren't this far to the left were we?" and "wait, what color is your car again?"), actually getting out of the parking lot (about two hours of 15 minute catnaps in between movements measured in millimeters), stopping at the Circle K so I could drive us back to the hotel (remarkably, I was less tired than Nayla), driving 20 miles past our exit and having to turn around (on second though, maybe not), making it to the hotel and finding parking (there was a clear space in front of the fire hydrant that started to look real good round about 4 a.m.), and collapsing in bed with sweaty clothes and dirty feet for about 4 hours of quality sleep before getting up to do it all again the next day. Good times.

Day Two review is coming. Weird dancing! Foot long corndogs! Breaking the record for hours gone without needing to pee!


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