A last minute decision turned into a great one, as I flew to California for the last two days of the annual Coachella Music Festival. It had been four years since I had experiened the blistering sun that would make most situations unbearable. But luckily, the line-up took my mind off the scorching desert temperatures.
My first day out, technically the second day of the festival, April 20, started with a drive out to the desert at dawn. Depriving myself of sleep was swifty rewarded. I wandered a bit and caught Kids These Days, a Chicaogo-born hip-hop infused, rock fusion group that had the crowds awake and at full particiation. Next on my schedule was Seattle-based blues-rock guitar master, Reignwolf. To be honest, he was one big reason I decided to attend Coachella, and the trip out was worth every second of his too short of a set. The man behind the alias, Jordan Cook, never ceases to impress. Beginning solo with a guitar and kick drum, playing and singing all simultaneously, Cook aka Reignwolf made an explosive entrance with “Electric Love” and made quite the impression on the “Outdoor” stage. Welcoming his two backing-band members, he melted every already-sweaty face witnessing him with unbelivably soulful vocals, athletic stage presence, and legendary guitar playing…all while wearing his signature plaid flannel. By the end of the set, Cook was off the stage and at the frontlines of the audience, wailing away, seducing with bluesy riffs and bends, and climbing above the crowd who grabbed at him like the rockstar he is. A frozen lemonade break brought me to the Gobi tent where indie rockers Guards were finishing up their set, launching into sets by indie pop band, Wild Nothing and Brit-born, all-lady noise-rockers, Savages. Back on the outdoor, sun-drenched stage, thrashing Trash Talk was talking trash and inviting everyone into the VIP area for an intimate mosh. Next stage over, the infamous Dropkick Murphys were pumping up the crowds with their Celtic punk hits on the Main stage. Bouncing back to the Outdoor stage, Puscifer was entertaining with quite the get-ups and “trailer trash” staging… trailer, wife-beater tanks, and no shame in letting it all hang out. Up next, one of my favorite bands of the past few years, Portugal. the Man performed a medley of favorites before showcasing some newbies from Evil Friends due out June 4. Closing out the (much) cooler evening was electro-dance-pop out of Brooklyn, Yeasayer, and veteran punk rockers, Descendents. It was a day of incredibly memorable music, making every ounce of sweat and any degree of sunburn a sidenote.
My second and last day in the Coachella Valley was a continuous flow of epic music. kicing it off by LA’s beloved The Airborne Toxic Event, who I had watched blow up from the local scene when I still was a permanent Angeleno. I made my way over to see Nashville’s JEFF the Brotherhood, who ended up being one of my top choices of the weekend. Their riff-based, dirty, lax rock ‘n roll swagger with psych undertones, that I had experienced only on record, won my heart completely over in the live setting. Their record Hypnotic Nights is definitely one you should consider adding to your collection. Heavy hitters, The Gaslight Anthem brought out the Jersey pride in the audience and showcased their anthemic rock style. Philly’s Kurt Vile and the Violators, fronted by Vile from The War on Drugs, showcased their set of funky Americana rock ‘n roll. Another highlight followed swiftly, as bigwig, Social Distortion, took the stage. The Cali-born band remains timeless and energetic after three decades, and I was extremely fortunate to catch them after all these years. Switching gears at dusk, DJ Pretty Lights perfomed a soundtrack to some undeniably pretty lights that lit up the desert sky and illuminated the thousands of faces looking onto the stage. After prying myself through the masses, I made may way into the sounds of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds who brough a full children’s choir on stage. Never a dull moment, Cave’s swanky stage prowl and ominous vocals and arrangements seduced the crowd, standing on the blockade and balancing on the hands of fans. I finished up my Coachella 2013 with a dream I’ve had since 7th grade. The finale, Red Hot Chili Peppers, played all my favorites spanning their repertoire from the incarnation of the band til now, and their unimaginable energy made their show a concert hight in all my concert going. All in all, the festival’s line up was in my tops, and I hope I can make Coachella part of my regular festival attendence!
Take a look here and get the full picture. Enjoy some sounds below!
Portgual. The Man
Red Hot Chili Peppers