Coachella Weekend Two: Day Three
The last day of the festival proves to be the best by far. Waking at 7am (with the sun) there is already a huge line for the toilets and water stations. The whole festival has a huge party feel to it today and music is blaring from random campsites all across the expansive camping grounds.
Getting in to the festival grounds early we catch Gardens & Villa at the Mojave tent. They are a good band to start the day to. Their brand of relaxed sweet indie electropop is cute and endearing. As the sun rises higher, the day begins to resemble an oven more and more. By the time Metronomy are playing it is unbearably hot and my pale skin is suffering under the constant barrage of UV rays. Metronomy make it all worthwhile though. The English four-piece manage to defy the heat and look cool on stage in suits and sun glasses. The big screens betray them though, and beads of sweat are apparent on their foreheads. Opening with Some Written the small crowd at the Outdoor Stage swells noticeably by the time hits such as Heartbreaker and The Look come on. Forgetting about the oppressive heat for a moment, spontaneous dancing erupts from the dedicated punters.
Santigold is the one person I swore not to miss this festival. Having somehow had tickets to two previous concerts of hers and not made it to either there was no way I was going to miss her this time. Many of the festival seem equally keen to see her, and despite her early time slot (she should have been later) the Main Stage is packed out for her. She is such a fantastic entertainer. Dressed in tribal gear she dances onto stage preceded by her two back-up dancers. Opening with GO! she then follows it up with two hits from her debut album, LES Artistes and Lights Out. Despite the heat she is full of energy as she dances around stage, sometimes choreographed with her back-up dancers and occasionally solo. It is infectious and the thousands of people packed in to watch her play begin to groove as well. During Say Aha she invites about 50 people up on stage with her. It is definitely up there with one of the best performances of the festival and the new music she introduces into the set is definitely warmly received.
After a brief reprieve it is back to the Main Stage for The Hives. They came with a mission, says lead singer, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, and that is to "prove what Hollywood can't, and that is that the sequel can be better than the original". To be honest, they probably mean it too judging by their set. From a purely performance perspective Almqvist (who talks like a 1920s black jazz musician - quite a feat for a Swede) and The Hives are probably the best. His humour and interaction with the crowd is brilliant. He manages to get everyone in the crowd to give the sun the finger before later encouraging 20,000 people or so to casually lie down. Their hits, Walk Idiot Walk and Hate To Say I Told You So evoke some sort of innate drive in people to just go completely crazy. This definitely is the case as a man dressed as a cardboard box gets pummelled by someone dressed as a Power Ranger. All around us carnage ensues. Almqvist also introduces some new material as well which actually sounds really catchy, there is a definite formula to a Hives’ song that is almost fail safe.
Like Santigold, Gotye is misplaced. He is way too big for the Mojave tent. People are crowding around on all sides to catch a glimpse of the diminutive Australian. It is surprisingly refreshing to hear a musician with an Aussie accent. He opens with The Only Way and on the huge white screen behind him are projected animations. They are strangely captivating. The crowd keep growing as the set continues milling around in anticipation. Unfortunately for some reason the sound is really low throughout the second-half of the set, making it hard to actually hear him. A frustrated person behind me asked his friend if we are in fact at Whisperchella. Another disappointment is that Kimbra doesn't come on stage for Somebody That I Used To Know – as she did for the first weekend. Gotye gets the crowd to sing Kimbra's part of the song (everyone knew all the words). It doesn't really matter that much and is still amazing. Everywhere people are holding their iPhones up, recording the moment. As soon as the song finishes about fifty per cent of the crowd just disperse. Which proves to be their loss because Heart's A Mess and Learnalilgivinanlovin round out a sublime set.
Today is by far the most intense day and there are so many good acts playing. As soon as Gotye finishes it is back to the Main Stage to catch Justice. Every performance today just seem to be completely flawless, and Justice continue that trend. The light show that accompanies their performance is dazzling. They at times feel as though they are piercing straight through you and the intensity of the strobes during songs such as DANCE is pretty incredible for an outdoor stage. After Justice I flit back to the Mojave stage to catch Beirut. The contrast between Beirut and Justice couldn't be any larger. Sitting outside the Mojave tent watching Beirut play their folk infused indie rock I am struck with a contentment that one can only reach after three days at a music festival. It is an acknowledgment that it has been an amazing time and though the band you are seeing are incredible, you realise that soon you will be able to have a shower again and eat real food. Pulling out a ukulele, lead singer, Zachary Condon, strums away at it while the two trumpets are played either side of him. You’ve gotta have respect for any band that has room for two trumpet players. Vagabond and Santa Fe are so beautiful live and they end with Gulag Orkestar.
Suffering from mild dehydration and sunstroke I lie down the back under a palm tree for At The Drive In. As the night draws to a close it seems like everyone is making their way to the Main Stage. The excitement is palpable, and though I am by no means a fan of either Dr Dre or Snoop Dogg, even I get caught up in it. The stage erupts in light and out they walk. Behind them the giant screen depicts a city, which manages to look remarkably 3D. They open with The Next Episode and 100,000+ fans go absolutely wild. Throughout the entire weekend there has been endless speculation about who the special guests tonight will be and if there will be another ‘hologram’ of someone else. These questions are answered as special guests are slowly paraded out onto the stage. They are the same as the weekend before only without Kurupt. Snoop Dogg, looking exceptionally homeless, spends more time smoking joints than he does rapping. But when he does rap he is brilliant, as is Dre. Their cover of Jump Around is incredible as is their cover of In The Air Tonight. The combination of the lyrics and bizarre accompanying communist-style propaganda video of Young Wild And Free gives off the feeling of being brainwashed to smoke weed and live in California. It is vaguely disconcerting. 50 Cent plays his hit, In The Club, and it is an awesome sight to see 100,000 people all moving in time to the song. After California Love it is time for the much anticipated Tupac ‘hologram’ to make its appearance. It is weird and the crowd go eerily quiet for the duration. Though surprisingly life-like there is still something a little strange about the way the hologram moved. After Eminem's cameo I bail, feeling I have seen enough.
It is the final night and in celebration parties pop up everywhere around the campgrounds. The previous night some of our group had gone to the Jive Bar and came back believing there was a conspiracy at Coachella, and we were all being used as part of a giant social experiment. Though their theories were rightfully dismissed as insane we were all keen to check out this bizarre bar that could inspire such ludicrous ideas. It is quite possibly the strangest, most surreal place I have ever been in my life. It feels like we have dived down the rabbit burrow and been plunged straight into a vaudeville show from the 1920s. "Tall Tim", a seven-foot tall man in rags is playing a ukulele is our host, while people around him are doing all sorts of strange things. It is the most bizarre place I have ever been into. Exhausted from four nights of little sleep, and slightly terrified by the Jive Bar, we all retire to our campsite, reminiscing about how amazing the day has been.
Coachella feels like an entirely different world, and leaving this bubble of music and joy is exceptionally hard. But wherever I am in the world next April I hope it is close enough that I can head back again.
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