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Photo courtesy of Gavin Langille

For all the hype surrounding Coachella 2011 – the six day sellout, the mounting confusion and problems regarding the festival’s new wristband ticket method, the fear of scalpers selling fake tickets and wristbands not shipping out in time, once the festival was under way it was still the same old Coachella. Friendly people slapping hands and exchanging “happy Coachellas!;” temperatures routinely soaring above 100; enough drugs to make Noriega and Kesey blush; and music. Music that was at times brilliant, enthralling, obtusely weird, fist pumping, merely okay and atypically shocking and everything in between, but still the lifeblood of the festival no matter who came . . . and there were a lot. From shirtless fraternity boys to forty-year-old scene veterans, from stoned, bleary-eyed hipsters to day-glo-adorned rave kids, Coachella stuck them all in a boiling polo field of a pot and, for one weekend at least, helped them appreciate everything and everyone else. Coachella may be becoming more of a place to be seen than appreciated nowadays (over the course of the festival I saw Katy Perry, Tara Reid, Paul McCartney and even David Hasselhoff, all almost exclusively in the VIP lounges enjoying the drinks rather than the music), but few festivals can match its uniting experience. And it remains unforgettable.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Friday was going to be the coolest day of the weekend – a “pleasant” 93 degrees, blinding sun interrupted by even the hint of clouds and ice water turned to lukewarm piss within minutes. I’d have been damned if I had mad the same mistake as last year, namely camping, where I’d be lucky to sleep past 7 in the morning due to the intense heat and was treated to a lovely 3 hour wait for a shower. No, this year I was in a house a mile away from the grounds, but still had to endure an epic walk to actually make it inside the festival, where the desert hardpan gave way to carefully groomed lawns, carnival rides, and tents beckoning with the welcoming shadow of A/C. Even by 2 in the afternoon the festival was already getting crowded, but it was a welcome sight to see: six stages, all with their own distinct personality, all pumping out music to a sweaty mass of people already thirsty for it.

People who know me know I like the womp – thus, some filthstep at 2 in the afternoon didn’t seem so deviant. I walked over to the Sahara tent to catch Canadian dubstep artist Excision throw down some nasty grooves. It was more than a little disconcerting to see people get bass-faced so early in the heat, but I suppose that’s what happens when people take ecstasy before sundown. Bro savior Skrillex came on next, and by then the Sahara tent was overflowing with slick college kids dying to get as close as possible. A perfectly good set was ruined by the crowd, which routinely disregarded neighbors with errant elbows and frantic pushes further into the tent, all galvanized by Skrillex’s sewer rhythms and pounding bass that encouraged moshing. I could only take so much roid rage before heading over to the Outdoor stage to catch the latter half of Titus Andronicus. I like Skrillex, but the disparity between his packed set and Titus’ bare field was telling – Coachella’s audience more and more leans towards the flavor of the month, leaving Titus’ truly passionate performance to only a few hardcore fans on the outdoor stage lawn. But hey, after hearing “Four Score and Seven” right next to the stage, maybe it’s better this way.

From there I skipped The Morning Benders to catch Odd Future and see what all the hype was about. I found it a bit odd (oops) that they were in the Sahara tent, a tent exclusively dedicated to electronic acts), and thought it typically abrasive of them to curse at their sound guy after the group themselves came on late. Nevertheless, they killed it initially, with Hodgy Beats’ rapper-on-lots-and-lots-of-coke stage presence livening things up. But as the set wore on the crowd grew a bit less receptive, probably due to the group’s choice of songs that were fairly unknown to the majority. Luckily for them, I’m sure everyone will have plenty of time to hear new material before next year’s festival.

I split my next set between The Pains of Being Pure At Heart in the Mojave tent and former world champion turntablist A-Trak in the Sahara. The Pains did an acceptable job bringing their Belong tunes to life on stage, but with a slim crowd and a stage presence that barely rose above “mildly excited,” too much of their fuzzy shoegaze sounded the same. A-Trak, however, had no problems getting the audience and himself into it, mixing his signature brand of rapid-fire scratching and electro house into a late afternoon frenzy. Highlights included his dropping of a new Duck Sauce track “The Big Bad Wolf” and his fan favorite “Heads Will Roll” remix. And at Coachella, the beat don’t stop: Dutch DJ Afrojack came on seamlessly afterwards and blew up the crowd with international hit “Take Over Control.”

As the sun set on the Outdoor stage I went to see SoCal locals Cold War Kids. I’ve often given singer Nathan Willett a lot of crap for his hit-or-miss vocal approach, but as good as he sounded on new album Mine Is Yours, he sounded positively perfect live. From classic tunes like “Hang Me Up To Dry” to newer throat stretchers like “Bulldozer,” Willett was on point the entire set, and the crowd loved him for it.

While eating dinner I caught the definition of a washed-up band, Interpol, at the end of their set on the main stage. It’s not that Interpol is that bad live; rather, the crowd could barely get into any of their newer songs, and the contrast between those and the mass singalong “Evil” garnered made the difference all the more obvious. I then had my biggest choice of the weekend: Black Keys at the main stage or Cut Copy in the Mojave at nearly the same time. My choice was quickly made for me – Black Keys went on late, and I only saw a couple songs before rushing over to see the last half of the Aussie electro-pop group.

And damn, how I wished I had seen their whole set! From the moment I saw them launch into “Take Me Over” off their new record Zonoscope, Cut Copy was locked in. The band was tight and disciplined yet totally into the tunes, rocking along with the crowd as Dan Whitford exhorted the audience to dance along. He was the real spark of the show, moving from side to side and jamming on the keys, completely in step with the crowd’s neon energy. One of my greatest fears is going to see one of my favorite bands and realizing their vocalist doesn’t sound as good as he does on record, but Whitford quickly proved that he’s the real deal – the closing trio of “Hearts on Fire,” “Need You Now” and the anthemic “Out There On The Ice” would make Cut Copy a hard act to top all weekend.

After flitting between dubstep “supergroup” Magnetic Man (whose set proved a little too slow for my Friday night fever) and main stage titans Kings of Leon (whose set proved surprisingly good, if not altogether stunning), I settled in at the Sahara to catch German producer Boys Noize close things out. I had seen Alexander Ridha a couple times before and he had never disappointed; not surprisingly, the half of his set I saw was the best in the Sahara all day. Amidst a rave-colored crowd that spilled far out of the Sahara into the lawn beyond, his pulsating electro got everyone off their feet and moving, with some aid courtesy of his tremendously epileptic light show.

Photo courtesy of Losanjealous.com

Alas, I decided to catch the last half of dance pioneers The Chemical Brothers at their headlining set over at the main stage. It wasn’t exactly a mistake as much as a poorly chosen change of pace. The Chem Bros were solid, no doubt, and their epic light show was well suited for the massive main stage apparatus. But maybe it was just the gargantuan expanse of the main stage lawn, or the fact that I was so far back by the time I got there, or just the sudden contrast between the tight unrelenting dance confines of the Sahara and the wide open lawn, but Chem Bros just didn’t hit with the same immediacy of Boys Noize. It was a little disappointing, but it’s hard to blame the Chemical Brothers, as they were on point throughout the night. Besides, after an opening day like this one, it was almost impossible for anything to get me down.

Day 2 Coverage

Day 3 Coverage





klap
04.20.11
bands i missed:
robyn
crystal castles
sleigh bells

Winsomniac
04.20.11
I will absolutely never understand moshing to electronica. That being said, iluklapperwompwomp

wabbit
04.20.11
awesome awesome read.

Aids
04.20.11
hell yes, I've been waiting all year for these write-ups. Haven't read it yet (kinda busy right now) but I'm so so stoked to read it in a bit. It looks sexy as hell though, Rudy.

Aids
04.20.11
"-thus, some filthstep at 2 in the afternoon didn’t seem so deviant."

hahahahahahaha genius

klap
04.20.11
wonder who would notice that

Aids
04.20.11
wow what a fantastic write-up; I can hardly wait for days 2 and 3. It's nice to hear that Cold War Kids don't suck live. I like them but the vocals kind of put me off and I was struggling with the decision to watch or skip their set at Sasquatch. That video was good, I think I'll check them out.

thebhoy
04.20.11
I noticed it too. ME! LOOK TEACHER I DID. *snaps fingers with hand in the hair waving incessantly*

AggravatedYeti
04.20.11
one day I will go to this.

excellence as usual Rudy.

FelixCulpa
04.20.11
Nice write up Mr Klapper, looking forward to the next one.

accompliceofmydeath
04.20.11
I will absolutely never understand moshing to electronica.

Wtf? Is that in one of these videos?

FelixCulpa
04.20.11
Also this list made me laugh http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/top-10-douchebags-at-coachella

klap
04.20.11
hahahaha awesome list

Aids
04.20.11
hahahaha Felix that link is awesome. 1 and 2 made me lol

aok
04.20.11
duude. you missed nosaj thing! crystal castles wasn't that great...

Aids
04.20.11
11. Rudy Klapper and his hip taste in music

beefshoes
04.20.11
I would have loved to see Titus Andronicus.
Cannot stand Odd Future though.
I really don't get why people actually like them. They rap about just as stupid as ICP's lyrics.


iFghtffyrdmns
04.20.11
man, looks awesome. wish I coulda been there.

klap
04.20.11
yeah i did miss nosaj thing :( luckily i was not sober enough to care

Ire
04.20.11
thus, some filthstep at 2 in the afternoon didn’t seem so deviant.

epic

aok
04.20.11
nice writeup dude (didn't read it before). “Take Over Control” was great -- I really liked Afrojack's whole set a bunch and agree with you 100% on both Interpol and The Black Keys. I used to like Interpol, but even when they played 'Evil,' their set was not remotely salvaged.

taxidermist
04.20.11
Lol, good ol' OFWGKTA stirring up the crowd.

mallen-
04.21.11
deviant reference was gold

keep them coming klapper

spillingmercury
04.21.11
Oh it's like you're intentionally rubbing in the fact that you could have seen the Morning Benders but didn't. Nice write up.

kingsoby1
04.21.11
saying odd future is like ICP is just plain ignant

Deviant.
04.21.11
"I will absolutely never understand moshing to electronica."

I don't understand that sentence

GregPuciato
04.21.11
hang me out to dry is such an awesome song

Deviant.
04.21.11
The really sad thing about that Skrillex video is that everyone in that crowd just assumes that's all dubstep is

klap
04.21.11
quite the generalization. i was in that crowd

Deviant.
04.21.11
That's fair, I should have said "most"

erasedcitizen
04.21.11
Why sad? It'd only be the seven billionth time people have misunderstood a genre.

Deviant.
04.21.11
Speaking of Skrillex, gonna catch him in a few hours supporting deadmau5

Lucid
04.21.11
Sort of sucks that we never got to meet because we were all over the place. Sad to hear that you missed Robyn and Crystal Castles, those were two of my favorite sets of the weekend. Looking forward to reading the rest of your write ups.

nikelin
04.21.11
From my side in the passing of time by the way, has quietly stacked up memories of a Buddha snow-white sculpture. She quietly sitting there, looking at me to go on, I constantly thrown took the time pieces, decorations, wearing made on themselves. Her neck has a circle discerning necklace, use 100 pieces of a dime to string into, each a coin, like the stars in the sky as bright is dazzing. This even had...
www.ebuybus.com

TMobotron
04.21.11
"Speaking of Skrillex, gonna catch him in a few hours supporting deadmau5"

nice hf, damn im so jelly of you guys. this sounded awesome klap, glad you had fun i always love/hate reading this write-ups because all my friends are lame and would never be down to go to something like this.

Deviant.
04.21.11
Deadmau5 killed it, and I'm so glad he finally made the trek out my way

Skrillex was, well kinda boring

aok
04.21.11
I found Skrillex to be a great opening / early morning set. I mean, he's not really innovative, he's not throwing much of himself in there, but he's DJing the crowd and getting them set up nicely -- some credit has to be given to someone who's good at that

DurzoBlint
04.22.11
You missed crystal castles? :(

FromDaHood
04.23.11
You missed Sleigh Bells? :( That CWK vid is sick though

weiling
04.28.11
Over the night of rain! At dawn, pull a curtain, also can see the sky still weave of thick rain curtain. The number of pedestrians wore thick QiuYi under the umbrella of colored in walking out the door, rain temporarily stopped. The sky hangs over the extremely thick clouds. Between heaven and earth, with a thin drip withiur around like mist, and like, receive of the drizzle. Not to open an umbrella, then head, clothes all...
www.ebuybus.com


weiling
04.28.11
If can suddenly, akiha do fall, time did not wait for me. Like the faint the SLATE road, bench under the moonlight in trees, and DiaoLou pattern. Scenes, old looks very nice. Years Yong shattered falls, Yong zero, sad or huan have come up in the Qian once irritating, became a string of not restless exclamation, became the frost years beyond repair. If one day, can wear...
[url=http://www.ebuybus.com] cheap clothing [/url]

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