Coachella 2011

You’re burnt out. Your feet and legs throb. Exhausted, sun burnt, and you don’t remember the last time you took a shower. A hang over would be an understatement, and you still have hours left of driving to get home. Oh yeah, and you work early in the AM. But that’s alright, since you are simply coming off of the best weekend of your year, and possibly life. Yes, I’m referring to the world famous annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival!

Last year was my first year attending, and it’s pretty safe to say that once you experience the magic of Indio, California’s massive three day festival, you will plan on attending every single year afterward at all costs. It seems like it gets bigger and better each year, and that’s fine with me, as my mind will continue to get blown. For this time around, I flew down to LAX a few days in advance, and checked into the Marriott in Palm Springs. The benefit of doing this is having access to festival shuttles and staying at a sweet place. During the weekend though, I had convenient access to the campgrounds, due to my friends travelling from all over to enjoy Coachella. I had groups from Whistler, Vancouver, Edmonton, Los Angeles, and of course made a ton of wonderful new friends from all over the world! Everyone would return to my friends tent after each show for bbq and cool drinks, which was an amazing thing. We wouldn’t even need to use our phones, just show up at the tent after a concert and you’ll find a huge group of new and old friends.

Friday kicked things off right. The vibe upon entering the festival that day was crazy, people were blasting jams from their cars and even the security people were getting rowdy. I was anxious to get to the festival grounds asap of course, so I showed up around noon when the gates opened. It was clear and blue, and I knew the heat was well on its way. The weekend day temperatures averaged out around 33 degrees, so I’m not going to complain. Vancouver got some snow a few days before, so this was a perfect get away. After walking through all the check points and getting high fives from every stranger that passed me, I grabbed some ice for the cooler and caught the first show of the day. For the first show, we all went to the Sahara tent at the very end of the polo fields to watch OFWGKTA. Assuming that you’ve been living under a rock, these guys are a hip hop collective from the LA area, and are turning heads in every side of the music industry. They started late due to technical difficulties, but of course they charged into their set after many “swag” and “wolf gang” chants. The set was pretty rowdy, and Tyler the Creator’s stage antics were a great energizing start to the weekend.

From that point on we cruised around, seeing acts such as Yacht, Tame Impala, Sleigh Bells, and A-Trak. I ended my evening with the highly anticipated show performed by Cut Copy. This was by far a highlight of the weekend, and the songs from their new release, Zonoscope, translated well into a live environment. Especially after meeting the band earlier, this show was something to remember. Totally satisfied with life, I headed back to the place to get a head start on Saturday.

Saturday was an early start, since a few acts we really wanted to see were opening. I met at the tent first thing and headed over to see The Twelves at 1pm. This was a perfect time to catch a dance act, since it was early enough that there wasn’t that packed of a crowd. With room to dance, this was a comfortable time and setting to see them.

After that, we had a long break before heading over to the main stage to see fellow Canadians, Broken Social Scene.

Besides that, I saw CSS, Two Door Cinema Club, Cults, and internet rap sensation, Lil B. That was an extremely hectic consistent chain of shows, but luckily there was a break after that.

When I returned to the tent, there was a large party going on, so it was great to send it with everyone in the sunset before heading to the outdoor theatre to see The Kills, Animal Collective, and Empire of the Sun. We got out of the festival grounds and back to the campsite around 1am, in which someone set up a DJ booth on top of one of their cars, and people kept dancing until, well, they didn’t stop. People were walking to the showers at 7am, drink in hand, still going from the day before. Coachella doesn’t slow down.

Entering the festival Sunday was a funny vibe. You could tell that a lot of people had mellowed out and had late starts. I took some time to check out all the interesting art and attractions that afternoon, since nobody I wanted to see began until later. One of the coolest parts was checking out the Vice tent, in which they had a creators project. I guess some guys made these robots that dance to music in sync with each other, so that was pretty rad. That tent was air conditioned and they gave out ice cream. Thanks Vice!

Anyway, I made my way see Delorean in one of the tents around 2pm. These guys are from Mexico I believe, and have a dreamy altern rock sort of sound, kind of like M83 with more noise. Check them out.

After that, I cruised around and ran into Jesse F Keeler of Death From Above 1979 and MSTRKRFT. It was an honor to finally talk to the guy, and he was extremely nice.

That being said, I bought a tee and headed straight for Death From Above 1979. I don’t even need to explain how insane this show was. I was front and center, above the mosh pit and it was just a rocking return to the scene. JFK and Seb were actually smiling at each other, as if their past full of conflicts didn’t even matter anymore. I guess Coachella really is all about the love.

Later on, I revived my inner 14 year old by watching Jimmy Eat World, and then got my dance on for Chromeo.

Last time I saw Chromeo, it was just a DJ set, so this live show was an awesome time. There were gust appearances from Ezra of Vampire Weekend, and Dave’s brother, A-Trak. The crowd was loving the funky goodness of the Montreal duo, complete with back up dancer/singers.

Sunday’s lineup was so jam packed, and it wasn’t slowing down anytime soon. Next on the list was aussie dance duo, The Presets. These guys are a rare opportunity in North America, so I figured they’d be a good way to end the weekend. Even after a half hour delay, these guys put on a raging show, complete with glow sticks, strobes, and a setlist entirely of hits. This crowd was raging like the world was going to end, and I’m glad that was my final memory of Coachella weekend. Although I’m not the biggest Kanye fan, he was still playing as I was leaving, so I sat on the grass and watched from afar. His stage production was amazing, in typical Coachella fashion.

That night returning back to the pad, I hadn’t ever been so close to falling asleep while standing. Even though I didn’t want the beautiful setting and unreal vibe to go away, the thought of sleeping in a bed was heavenly. There are many stories and moments I’d love to share, but I would just ramble for pages. Coachella really is a unique and special experience, and the world would be a perfect place if everyday was like that. But part of what makes it so great is that it only happens one weekend per year, so I suggest you get out there and lose yourself in the desert to understand where I’m coming from. You won’t regret it. I walked back to the Palm Springs resort with fireworks going off in the background and a clear starry night, already looking forward to next year.

Stay tuned for more Coachella posts in the next few days!

About Saber

I'm a freelance journalist based out of the Vancouver/Whistler area, originally from Los Angeles. My main writing interests revolve around music, art, and the related culture. When free, you will find me spinning records, or usually outside cruising on my bikes or snowboard. http://twitter.com/#!/coopersaver http://soundcloud.com/coopersaver

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