Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Meet Me at the Big Dragonfly

Hipster sweat, it turns out, does smell worse than normal sweat. Defying logic and my vow of "I'm never fucking doing that I again," I went to Coachella last weekend, hence the slight twinge of color in my face, hence my depleted bank account and hence the lack of real posts lately. (Three days to go to the concert and come back, plus one day to sleep off the concert hangover and another to catch up on all the work that didn't get done while I baked in the desert like a biscuit for a good forty-eight hours.) I had a good time, without any of the stress of last year's trip with Jessica and Shade.
[ link: my Coachella 2004 ]
Hillary wisely, kindly, bravely thought ahead and supplied the group with shelter from the swelter and made for a genuinely enjoyable weekend. I guess you learn a thing or to by screwing up so colossally.

Everyone who didn't go defamed this year's line-up. "There's no one even playing this year." In a sense, this was true. The festivals big-name acts this year — Coldplay, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails — just couldn't live up to the powerhouse line-up from 2004 — Radiohead, the Pixies and the Cure. For me, this negative was more than offset by the great line-up of smaller bands. People disperse more evenly when they're not all drawn to one venue at the same time. Frequently, our group had to decide between which set to see during the day. Night was a different story. Who wants to see Coldplay before the long drive home, anyway? People who like falling asleep at the wheel, that's who.

Coachella still provided many of the obstacles it did last year, like faulty cell phone reception and angry sun. It's a cruel joke, when you think about it: Put a bunch of indie kids who probably don't get much sun out in the desert for a weekend and then deprive them of their cell phones in order to make them interact in person, which most of them forgot how to do when they discovered blogs. And, honestly, someone turned the heat down a good twenty degrees from last year. I wish I could write more, really, but the overall pleasant experience of the whole weekend has left me with few good stories.

Who I saw:
[ The Raveonettes ]
Sweet. I've liked this Danish band since I heard "Attack of the Ghost Riders" two years ago. Then they took prozac and released "That Great Love Sound," which you may remember from a K-Mart commercial. Happily, they've returned to their roots and resume playing music that sounds like sixties garage rock being desanguinated by droll hipster vampires — in a good way. Vocalist Sharin Foo looks like a monochrome Debbie Harry doll. I want to marry her. She finished every song with the flat, most insincere "thanks," and for that I love her. Highlights: their new surf rock-twanged single, "Love in a Trashcan," as well as a cover of "My Boyfriend's Back."

No Sharin, thank you. And doesn't she look just a little bit like Uma Thurman in this picture?

[ Olympic gold medal-winner Johnny Mosely ]
He didn't so much play music as walk by us. He looks fat.
[ Eisley ]
The best argument I've heard yet to stop teaching music in public schools. The others wanted to see Eisley. I did not. I gave them five minutes. I left to avoid the lead singer's caterwauling from melting my brain and shattering my taint. Good to know that someone's keeping up the tradition of estrogen-fueled pussy rock, though. Highlights: when I walked away to take pictures.
[ The Kills ]
Fucking wicked set. I felt voyeuristic watching this husband-and-wife act jam on stage because it seemed like they were fucking each other with music. I'm just glad no one yelled out "Play Mr. Brightside!" Highlights: "The Good Ones." Plus everything else. I don't know their songs that well, but I soon will.
[ Wilco ]
Or, technically, the last few songs of Wilco's set. I don't get this band and probably never will. Sleepy time.
[ Weezer ]
Oh Rivers, you fucking weirdo. Not bad, but I maintain that all the stuff from their new album, save "This Is Such a Pity," is utter butt rot. This is easily the most people I've ever sung the words to "Say It Ain't So" with. I just don't think this band can do it for me anymore. Could I have gotten too old for Weezer? Too smart? Too cool? Highlight: me thinking I'm too cool.

As close as I got to Rivers. Coincidentally, also as close as I wanted to get. Click at your own risk.
[ Four Tet ]
I really like this band, but I didn't feel like swaying around to instrumental melodic whatchamacallit music. Highlight: realizing a band whose name more-or-less translates to "Four Heads" is one guy.
[ Bloc Party ]
These guys played a great set. I was pretty tired at this point so I don't exactly remember anything spectacular happening, except managed to squeeze our way towards the front for nearly until the very last song and managed to get pretty damn far. Highlights: "Banquet." I don't know what their other songs are called. Oh, please help me, iTunes!

And then we went home and slept. Tired little concert-goers were we. Had anybody cared enough to see Gwyneth Paltrow's husband trudge through a 65-minute set, I might have caught Fantomas or Spoon, but oh well.
[ Jem ]
Lauren was right — she's way better than the childhood cartoon associations I have with her name would have led me to believe. I knew Jem basically as "that chick with the song that was in the trailer to "Closer" but not the actual movie." She's good, cute, British and totally charming. Highly recommended. Highlights: being pleasantly surprised.
[ The Fiery Furnaces ]
Not at all how I expected them. I formerly explained the Fiery Furnaces as the White Stripes reconfigured such that the girl sings and the guy plays the piano. This explanation, it seems, is entirely inaccurate. They're a four-piece band and, well, just nothing like the White Stripes. They played a complete set too — they never really stopped, and one song just kind of melted into the other. Seamless. Good. Highlights: "I Lost My Dog." "State Street." "Blueberry Boat." Other alliterative wonders.
[ Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley ]
I didn't bother with her set on Saturday, but it was cool seeing her checking out the Furnaces, parasol in hand. I didn't get it until I saw her — she's just so fucking cool.
[ The Bravery ]
Unremarkably good, if that's possible. The band totally nailed all the songs I wanted them to, including "No Brakes" and "An Honest Mistake." Highlights: the lead singer announcing that this was their first ever festival concert appearance. Oh, and them trying to cope with the heat melting some of their sound equipment.
[ The Arcade Fire ]
The highest highlight. That new Facebook group said it best: fucking crazy. I wish I had brought my camera the second day so I could have gotten a shot of the bassist climbing the scaffolding and beating his drumsticks earnestly but futilely about thirty feet above the rest of the band. Much as the Pixies did last year, the Arcade Fire easily eclipsed every other band, headliner and underling alike, hands down.
[ Dresden Dolls ]
Goodish, from what I could hear from the food area. I heard "Coin-Operated Boy" as I sucked the juice out of a coconut. How many people can say that? Highlight: feeling a little uncomfortable realizing that the names of the Arcade Fire, Dresden Dolls and the Fiery Furnaces collectively make me think of the Holocaust.
[ The Faint ]
When you get upstaged by your own visuals, you've got problems. Toad was working his magic and I still thought this set blew. I wanted to leave but was trapped near the front of the stage by losers who seemed totally stoked on shitty 80s-quality video displays that literally interpreted the Faint's lyrics as often as possible. ("The lyrics say 'shower' here, so let's show a picture of a shower." "Hey! Good idea!") I guess I never realized that this band just isn't all that interesting. Total shit sandwich. Highlight: when it ended.
[ Bright Eyes ]
A really solid set. I'm not a huge Bright Eyes fan, but I like them a lot more now. Nicely understated visuals. Conor Oberst is charmingly unintelligible when he speaks. "Hey everyone... If you all still have anything in your pockets... at the end of this festival... you should... take it." What the fuck? Conor, what do you want us to do? Throw what's in our pockets to you? Eat it? Take it home? Maybe if you write a song about it, we can understand you better. Highlight: me thinking up a brand new game show: "Make Conor Oberst Laugh."

A band I didn't see: Tegan and Sara. Though I found "Walking With a Ghost" really catchy, I didn't know this bad consisted of two Canadian, lesbian twins. They're like the Indigo Girls, only indie. And sisters. I can't stop thinking this is funny.— Hi, I'm Tegan.
— And I'm Sara
— We're Tegan and Sara.
— And we're both gay!
— But not with each other!
— No. Because that's illegal.
— Even in Canada.
— But if it wasn't...
— Then we'd be all over each other.
— Thanks for listening!
— This has been Tegan and Sara, being vaguely incestuous.
I didn't take too may concert photos because I just couldn't get close enough to make it worth the effort, but here are some photos I took of other concert goings-on.

If you want to see something really creepy, zoom in on the face of the little girl riding on the back of the dragonfly. Samara?

And finally, this one. I really like how this turned out. I didn't Photoshop it at all. I just asked Mike and Lauren to fake like they were kissing in front of this metal sculpture that shot out fire.
Noticeably absent from the concert:
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Louis XIV
  • The Unicorns
  • Beck, with the stuff from his new album
  • The Killers (even though they apparently played last year and I apparently saw them, I still felt they could have been here.)
Best band names created during Coachella weekend 2005:
  • Team Water
  • Creamo and the Creampuffs
  • What's in My Eye?
  • Alphonso van Floof
  • Zap Mama (no wait — that one's real)
And finally, the strangest thought I had all weekend: With five seperate stages running acts all day, someone could have easily also attended both days of Coachella and not seen a single one of the same concerts I did, and, consequently, had a completely different experience there.


  1. my god, you're so right about hipster sweat. i saw the faint & bright eyes last night and though they were very pleasant, the audience STANK. whoo. somebody oughta invent deodorant that has horizontal stripes and a piercing, maybe they'd use it then.

  2. lauren dc9:50 AM

    it was about time to realize that i was delirious when everything anyone said that was less than 10 words i thought was the most awesome band name. i have nothing clever to say..i am overwhelmed by the whole deal still. but i will add a highlight: when i directed you through a series of faces until we perfectly arrived at the cute face that you were making at only one show the day before. and also when you made kristen lick the yogurt off of your side or you would put it on her..and she did. gross.

  3. drew: i'm glad you had fun at coachella even thought you missed my birthday party on saturday and i hate you a little for that. two points: the unicorns broke up a couple months ago, thus their absence from the festival. two, when i saw the faint earlier this school year they played a set that was remarkably similar to the one you described. i guess they just assume if the music is boring, at least they should give us something shiny to look at.