Day One at Coachella: Long Lines, LCD Soundsystem... and Beyonce!
|Spencer Kornhaber / OC Weekly|
|Of course there were unicorns.|
It would have been cute if it wasn't so appropriate: a mass of half-dressed hipsters outside of Coachella, waiting to get to the front of the mass for wristbands to get into the festival, letting out a communal "moo" any time the mass shifted forwards.
The story of Coachella today, for us at least, was one of logistical frustration. And some music.
When we showed up to the festival last year, the streets of Indio were jammed--but nothing like what we saw today. To get from our cute lil condo four miles away from the polo grounds took more than 90 minutes, nearly all of it spent sitting on one road that might as well have been a parking lot. And then we had to wade through the aforementioned herd to snag wrist bands.
Coachella is famous for being a clusterfuck to enter and exit, but more than a few people we spoke with thought today's slow-motion mob scene around the festival was worse than it has been in past years. Might have something to do with the new all-three-day-passes system, which requires each patron get a wristband for the entire weekend. Chalking it up to kinks getting worked out seems like the charitable thing to do. Or maybe we just hit a string of bad luck.
|Zooey Deschanel of She and Him.|
From there, it was wandering time. We saw a few minutes of Passion Pit, whose singer sounded even more feminine than he did on the Boston band's buzzed-about debut. His voice was thin and embarrassingly affected; that didn't stop the crowd from getting their daytime rave moves on to the Prozac-pumped, electro-pop of tracks like "The Reeling" and set-closer "Little Secrets." We ducked into the Mojave tent for some Grizzly Bear. They opened with the bracing, fluttering anthem "Southern Point," but the tent's acoustics, unsurprisingly, dampened the song's dynamics. Grizzly Bear is a band that's nearly all about sound, so the unavoidably muddy festival sound system kept them from making the impact their live shows--usually spellbinding--do. Still, with "Two Weeks," you saw plenty of passersby lured into the tent by the candy-striped piano plunking and the promise of harmonies you could hum along to. We only caught the beginning and end of Them Crooked Vultures' set, but from what we heard, the rough, chunky guitar sounds and thundering percussion of their debut was translated faithfully.
|James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem.|
We made the small mistake of ditching LCD's set for Vampire Weekend. Why a mistake? Because LCD Soundsystem had just launched into "Yeah," a perfect distillation of the band's disco-ticking-time-bomb philosophy--and a really damn awesome one at that. When we arrived at Vampire Weekend, the quartet's polite, spare pop seemed comically bloodless compared with the thunderous rock-turned-to-house beats bleeding through from the stage next door. That said, Vampire Weekend did deliver an immaculate set. It's too bad the sound was mixed to play against the band's strengths, emphasizing the low end and minimizing the crispness of the percussion and the chiming of the guitars. The effect was strange, and on tracks like "Cousins"--where you're supposed to hear a lot going on--a little disappointing. We expected chipperness; instead, we just got pleasantness, which probably isn't something to complain too much about.
|Jay-Z takes it all in.|
As for tomorrow? The only sure bet is that we're taking a different road there. Jeez.