2009 Coachella Music Festival Report Card

*Me not discussing The Killers set with Mistress of Fashion in the VIP.


Leonard Cohen – A+. Magic.

Paul McCartney – A+. Like some of the new stuff, but from the Wings tracks on it was amazing. Tears all around. His band is ridiculously tight. Paul was just as jacked as we were. Every time there was a close up of Paul on those 10 story $2M HD screens, I couldn’t help but trick my mind into believing that George and John were on either side, old and gray and still killing it four decades later.

Beirut – B. The 2 minutes I heard through the air vent in the porta-potty was better than the majority of Conor Oberst’s set I watched from the sweet spot.

The Presets - B. This was their chance to go down in Coachella Sahara Tent history, but they’re still just that cool band from Australia.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – C. Could’ve been a B- if he wasn’t so annoying. “Cape Canaveral” was awesome though.

Buraka Som Sistema – B. Fun. Fun. Fun. But too much of a good thing….

Crystal Castles – D. Nothing specific. They were just bad. The idea of them is way cooler than the reality of them, especially live and during the day.



Chemical Brothers – C. The first time I’ve ever left a Chem Bros show. Spent the second half sitting on my ass on the lawn. Wasn’t that psyched to see them in the first place and all my suspicions were confirmed. They were there for the check. It was written all over their bored faces. Probably not too happy that they were playing before the “All We Do Is Party” guys either, but that’s not my problem. I didn’t pay a hundred fucking bucks I don’t have to watch you smoke cigarettes.

MSTRKRFT – C. Unlike The Presets who I held high hopes for, I held none for these guys, so they couldn’t really let me down. Not terrible, but not that great either. They were there. We were there. They pressed buttons and we danced. That’s about it. The visuals get an F. Super lame to have your own faces be projected on screens for the entirety of your set when you’re not even fucking singing. I really don’t care to stare at your bobbing head, but obviously you think I would so that makes you even lamer.
Band of Horses – C. Sloppy and boring. Like nearly every Lykke Li wanna-be you though was hot when you were rolling on E in the VIP until you woke up with her back at La Quinta and

Fleet Foxes – A+. Angel voices. Flawless performance. The highlight of Saturday for sure. For once a band that exceeded my expectations ten-fold. One minute I was half-naked, sweating my balls off in a crowd of 50,000 wasted freaks on a polo field in Indio and the next I was sitting alone in a coonskin cap and wooly mammoth fur boots, cooking wild salmon over a fire in my log cabin in Alaska and I liked it.


Lykke Li – A. 100% pure rock star, especially for somehow making a party out of the face melting 4:05 slot. It was a thousand degrees out and yet the girl still got the crowd moving a bit.

Antony and the Johnsons – C. His voice was perfect, but the sound was completely fucked. And the whole idea of reinterpreting his songs for the desert probably sounded really good at the time, but the new arrangements completely disregarded what could be the most important element of Antony’s songs: tension. I just felt bad for him.

Peter Bjorn and John – C. Boring. It was approximately 163 degrees out and what better way to kick off your set than with the most unrecognizable sleeper you’ve ever written. Genius! Way to let ‘em know you’ve arrived. Hello Coachella, we are Peter Bjorn and John from Sweden and we have come to put you to sleep! Must be weird to look out and see that nearly the entire crowd is on their ass looking through their schedules to see who else is playing. And I like these guys! So bummed.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – B. I don’t know. Was there, but I just don’t know. It wasn’t bad I know that. I was more interested in the idea that somewhere on the field there was a gang of girls dressed like Lykke Li who were “so not that into” the YYY’s set, all laughing about how they “totally used to dress like Karen O.” when they were sophomores.

Late of the Pier – A. The two songs I saw gave me hope for the future of music. They were crazy tight and their sound was perfect. Nice work, kids!

Public Enemy – A. Another case of the old guys at the party taking back the crown. Relevant as ever. Hard as ever. Crazy as ever. 50 year old Flavor Flav’s multiple stage dives, though poorly executed (feet and knees first), were a testament to the fearlessness that rocketed them into superstardom in the first place.

My Bloody Valentine – A. Where the fuck did they meet? How does Bilinda Butcher not blink for an hour at a time? What planet are they on? Is it the same one they take me to when they play? What was the moment like when they first decided to create that insane ”You Made Me Realise” white noise jam? How do you rehearse something like that?

The thread that connects nearly every commercially successful band in history together is that they write lyrics that most people can identify with.

Most artist’s songs trigger nostalgia, memories of, or longing for, moments that have already been created, but MBV’s vocals are so buried that most people have no idea what they are saying. Instead of singing along, we actually listen and hold onto the tiny bends and tonal shifts in their soundscapes that create entirely new, original stories in each of our heads, completely personal psychic journeys to uncharted territories. Their sonic glory exists in the now.

That the crowd stayed through the 20 minutes of deafening white noise during ”You Made Me Realise” is a testament to whatever the fuck it is they are doing up there that makes them not of this earth, because you know have of those glow stick and KROQ kids have no idea what they’re listening to. Whether they were soaking it up or waiting for something to happen, I guaranty they went somewhere, a place that scares them, a place they’ve never dreamed of, a place they will never forget.

They went somewhere.

And the few people that did go to get churros and Red Bull colas probably don’t get Rothko either. Their loss.

I left the earth in a rocket ship as the San Andreas swallowed up the festival beneath me. I traveled time. I confronted death. There is no fear left in me.

This conversation of how MBV fits into not just music, but art history, went on for the majority of 2 hours after their set ended.

I could go on forever. I will go on forever.

The Cure – B-. Seen them before. They sounded great. I left early.

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