I still remember the first time I was at a concert and saw it for more than a place to gather, dance, drink, and yell as loud as you can. I remember seeing it for the people behind the scenes that made it possible, the preparation that went into the performance, and all of the moving pieces that had to come together to make this thing called “The Music Industry” work so seamlessly.
After you have that realization, it’s hard to think of it as anything else. I don’t think this is a bad thing, or at least, I don’t think it’s as bad as the jaded, ego-stroking, sense of superiority I and my fellow young industry professionals fall victim to, constantly plagued by the idea that we know who/what’s best/coolest/most interesting and trendy. In fact, I think a sense of how festivals, concerts, and all of the negotiations in between actually work is integral in really understanding why and how you were able to have those magical experiences that will eternally live in sepia tone in a server somewhere in Iowa – oh yeah and in our hearts and minds and whatever.
What I’m getting at, I think, is this: to say Coachella takes a lot of shit from the critics is an understatement. Sure, girly blogs post the pre-chella workout plan, and Kimmel broke the Internet last year when he interviewed people about fake band. But people are stupid. Let’s not let a few bad eggs and Coachella fashion blogs ruin it for everybody else.
There’s a reason this festival has become so massive in the last 15 years, and it’s because it runs like a well-oiled machine, which cannot be said for many festivals – both big and small. If you plan on sitting behind your computer and hating on drunk 17-year-olds in head dresses then by all means, fire shots, and keep trolling for page views, but with more than a few festivals under my belt thus far, I would challenge anyone to step foot into the Empire Polo Club and not walk out a fan of all things ‘chella.
But I digress. For those of you wishing you were hanging out in Indio, CA this weekend for Coachella’s sloppy seconds – here’s a little insight into all the cool shit you missed/are missing/will be missing.
I’m not sure what caused more self-loathing on day 1 of Coachella – carrying my 400 lbs. cooler from my car to the tent camping site that I accidentally purchased (get a car camping pass, baby birds) or the fact that it forced me to miss Flatbush Zombies. Regardless of not being able to get a much needed hip-hop fix, day 1 of a festival holds much more promise than the day itself. Sorry I can’t speak to what I’m sure was a phenomenal performance but onward and upward, am I right?
Chromeo – Holy Chromeo, batman! If you don’t ever catch these boys live you’re doing yourself a disservice. I think it might be fair to say that if you had a chance to see Earth, Wind, and Fire back in their heyday then this may be their modern day equivalent. That may be taking things a bit far but if you haven’t experienced the funk then you don’t know the funk
Hot Since 82 – I’ve caught Hot Since 82 a couple of times since I got turned onto Little Black Book, but not like his performance at Coachella. Daley Padley had the whole tent dancing around like they were bigger than Prince and was the perfect way to lead into some southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.
Outkast – Everyone who said Outkast sucked is out of their minds. Well, not totally. Yeah, Andre may or may not have fallen asleep for the second half of the performance but, come on guys, it’s Outkast. I’m going to leave it up to you to figure out how much of this is sarcasm and how much isn’t, but I will say this: if you want to hear every classic Outkast song that you ever wanted, catch their set at one of the 10,000 festivals they’ll be at this summer. If you’re cool with letting your iPad and imagination run the game, then more power to ya.
Bombay Bicycle Club – If you were to pick a soundtrack for all the beautiful well-dressed people of Coachella dancing around you, then BBC would probably be it. If you haven’t picked up their album So Long, See You Tomorrow, then you’ve got some catching up to do and a long road of obsession and repressed Facebook shares in your future. The whole album has “summer anthems” scrawled all over it. File each track under Coachella gold.
Nas – Nasty Nas has to make the list because he’s N-A-S NAS NAS NAS. Even if you forget the appearances from Jay Z and P-Diddy, or the fact that “Hate Me Now” tore the whole place to the ground, I will die happy knowing that Nas closed with the most powerful rendition of One Mic that I have ever seen.
The Magician – The Magician was not only the first musician that Coachella officially announced booking, but he was also my #1 can-not-miss at the fest. Well, as they say (they don’t), Magic Tapes don’t lie and the man behind the magic wand delivered. There’s a reason the man rose to relative funk-house stardom faster than you can say Bondax – his song selection and audience control were enough to keep the crowd moving from start to finish, and never once moving towards the door. From his outfit to his vibe, catch some air conditioning in Yuma and let yourself go deep into his spell.
Chance the Rapper – Chance is, officially, 21-years-old. No joke. The lyrical genius behind Acid Rap is 21-years-old. Seriously like a few days ago was his birthday. Anyway, you wouldn’t believe it if you saw his stage. At 3:00 on Sunday the whole place was packed, and for good reason. Chance’s full band approach to his live sets is something you really need to witness. Want to know how good this kid is? He’s so good that I even enjoyed (read: didn’t leave) when Justin Bieber came out to sing James Blake‘s vocals. (Note: If you’re hoping to see Vic Mensa come on stage for a quick appearance then you’re in luck. But he won’t actually do his verse. Which sucks.)
Rudimental – I never listened to Rudimental before I caught them live, and now I’m a convert. If you ever get a chance to catch a live show from this conglomeration of outrageous talent then by all means do it. From the band to the male/female vocals, everything was tight and high energy from start to finish.
Disclosure – Yeah, they’re THAT good. They were in my favorite performances last year and they’re back again, this time with Mary J. Blige for some vocals.