Time sure flies when you're having fun. Which means the 72 hours I spent at Coachella just whizzed by. Inversely, this means the four hours I spent driving home from Indio, inching along the cursed 10 freeway, felt like 72 days. But finally I am back in L.A. and back at my desk, so here's my long-promised and much-delayed Sunday report. My memory of the whole weekend is actually already getting a bit fuzzy, but I'll just type as quickly as I can and do my best...
So, after catching the tail end of skateboard hip-hopper Lupe Fiasco's set, I found a nice shady spot on the grass and eased my way into day 3 with the sweet, sweet sounds of mild-mannered, VH1-friendly Englishmen the Feeling. And when they walked out onstage with a pre-recorded, Pet Sounds-y alternate version of their ditty "Fill My Little World" as their entrance music, I knew this show was going to be full of good vibrations, just the thing to start my sunshine day. Now, some people may think the Feeling are a little too twee, a little too nicey-nice, with their natty Spandau Ballet suits and soft-rock influences. But to that I say, phooey. Anyone who thinks that is just jaded. Just because these guys aren't getting arrested or splashed across the tabloids every three minutes a la your Amy Winehouses or your Pete Dohertys, and just because their future hit "I Love It When You Call" bears a startling resemblance to Huey Lewis's "Power Of Love" (seriously), and just because these guys don't break a sweat even when wearing their Spandau Ballet suits in 100-degree Indio heat, doesn't mean they're not cool. In fact, their Coachella cover of the perennial '80s classic "Video Killed The Radio Star" was one of the hippest things I saw at Coachella. So there!
The rest of Sunday wasn't quite so mellow--which was great for my music-lovin' ears, not so great for my completely jacked-up feet, which were forced to carry me from one stage to another in my self-destructive mission to cram as many bands as possible into my last Coachella hurrah. I caught a bit of Canadian electropoppers Junior Boys and Belgian rock/DJ duo Soulwax, followed by the very different but equally dancey Roots...followed then by the complete 180 of a main-stage set by country king Willie Nelson, probably the only senior citizen in America who'd choose to spend his 74th birthday at Coachella. Just look at the celebratory photo of the birthday boy above--more power to him, I say. Happy birthday, big Willie!
After that I did another 180 (literally--I had to turn around and walk clear over to the other side of the festival) for dance-rock Londoners the Klaxons. Lemme tell you, it was well worth the walk. The Klaxons are just the shite, plain and simple. The nanosecond the buzzy Brits hit the stage, I forgot all about my bruised 'n' abused feet and started dancing like one of those "nu-ravers" I've been reading so much about in the U.K. press. (Oh, if only I'd remembered to pack my glowsticks!) Everyone in the Mojave Tent (myself included) was going ballistic for them, and I predict they're going to be one of the bands hipsters will be babbling about long after their Coachella sunburns and hangovers have faded away.
Things got mellow again after that for the decidedly more seasoned Crowded House, one of several Coachella '07 reunion bands I was particularly excited about. See, I like to live according to the lyrics of this song I learned way back in Girl Scouts, which went: "Make new friends, but keep the old/One is silver and the other's gold." Nice sentiment, isn't it? So while I enjoyed my new/silver friends (the Klaxons), it was time to get reacquainted with the pure New Zealand gold of Neil Finn and company. It certainly was nice to see my old friend Neil again (actually he was looking good; the man has aged incredibly well), flanked by his son Liam (how cute is that?) and Beck drummer Matt Sherrod (filling in for sadly deceased original Crowded House drummer Paul Hester). Goosebumpy ballads "World Where You Live" and "Fall At Your Feet" had sweethearts in the crowd slow-dancing on the lawn (oh, if only I'd had a partner!), and even when Neil's mic sputtered out during "Don't Dream It's Over," the nostalgic magic was not ruined; the fans just sang along to fill in the gap, and they sounded as pretty as a church choir.
Then everything got a little TOO mellow during the show by Frenchy somnambulant mood-music men Air. I mean, yeah, Moon Safari was effing amazing but...well, they jumped the electroshark a while ago. Like, on every album SINCE Moon Safari. Sure, J.B. Benoit is still hot (I've always had a crush on him), but it's not like I was going to get close enough to the stage to gaze adoringly at his carved-ivory cheekbones anyway. And even if I did, a nice set of cheekbones does not a good rock concert make.
So it was off to conclude my Sunday with the Happy Mondays, the maddest mad hatters in all of Madchester. Being someone who appreciates a good trainwreck (hey, I watch Jerry Springer and Breaking Bonaduce and Britney Spears Dateline interviews like everyone else), I knew that even if the Mondays were bad--and it was highly likely they would be, given their spotty track record--they'd be bad in so-bad-they're-good kinda way. But things seemed like they were going to be just plain BAD when Shaun Ryder came out all shaven-headed and ginormous, looking like Syd Barrett in his final years, and informed the audience that the Mondays' Ecstatic mascot Bez would not be performing tonight. BOO!
Still, the Mondays tried their best to recreate those chemically enhanced Hacienda vibes without the help of their infamous bug-eyed backup dancer. And they succeeded to some extent--a cheesy cameo by sex-obsessed Hollywood scum-rocker Mickey Avalon and some energetic Bez-like dancing by NME scribe Dan Martin (who was temporarily dragged offstage by a security thug before being allowed to triumphantly return) helped in that regard. But let's face it, without Bez, it's just not the Happy Mondays. Hell, it ain't even Black Grape.
I concluded my Sunday just the way I started it: sitting on the grass, chillin' and people-watchin' (while everyone else was Rage Against The Machine-watchin'). And speaking of people-watchin', the last person I saw before I took off was Jael, the crazy Detroit rocker chick who just got kicked off America's Next Top Model. She's my all-time fave ANTM contender, and I was happy to see her back in full punk mode (she'd re-bleached her faux-hawked hair and was wearing a gigantic frilly tutu), so that little celebrity sighting ended things on a high note for me. It also reminded me that I probably have four days' worth of juicy, junky reality TV waiting for me at home on my TiVo. So, time to wrap it up. Me and my aching feet have a hot Monday-night date with my couch.