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Coachella Diary: The Weather, the Music, the Desert

Posted: 04/17/2012 12:32 pm

By Andrew Wyatt

Day 1

A thin scrim of haze separated me from the channeling mountaintops through which the valley and its bisecting highway cut. Delicate, static clouds hovered in soft groups, close enough to the ground to look up and see the animating currents inside them, evenly lit in the ambient light of morning, the tops fringed in pink-red. The bus pulled into the Coachella artist check in, I got out to smoke a cigarette (social ritual normally, intensifying into habit on tour) and wearing only jeans, felt taken by how unseasonably cold it was. It was now overcast and looked like rain.

At the hotel, I was picked up by my pal Anthony Rossomando (formally of Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things and Klaxons) in a '91 white Mazda Miata convertible (thanks rent-a-wreck), trying to get to the polo grounds on which the festival is staged in time for Pulp. This did not happen due to traffic. The first show we wandered into was Mazzy Star. My buddy Brad is tour managing them, so I watched from the side, well, behind the stage really, as they emptied out my attic and then filled it with horsey, droned-out jams. One cool thing about this festival is that you can stumble onto say, psychedelic music, and then on to bands which morph that same theme (or you can do the opposite and see completely incongruous bands, whatever that means to you): we followed Mazzy Star by going over to the Gobi tent to see Black Angels and the Horrors. Tom from the Horrors texts that he's in a trailer backstage where we can warm up and get some drinks... great tidings... but alas, hard to get in: my friend has a VIP pass but not artist area access. We try with one guard to get behind the audience barriers, no luck; but the second guard is more malleable. We say hi to the Black Angels coming off, Horrors going on, and then stand shivering, side of stage, watching the Horrors show. The music is beautiful.

Day 2

I let my bandmates do the press engagements today -- the weather and previous three days of shows gave me a bit of a sore throat. So most of the day is spent at the hotel. People are telling me they expect 40,000 people at our show... ok, might as well do what I can for the pipes. I meet Lykke Li at the bus. She is characteristically humble and concerned about us pulling off our duet properly, about the moves we'll do on stage. We consider having her step out from behind me using Klaus Kinski's patented frame-enter move from Aguirre, The Wrath of God, but decide that since she is wearing a Shirin Neshat mammy-jammy burka on her head when she comes out, it might backfire. After several requests a large bottle of Jack Daniels enters. We get on stage and, yeah, 40,000 people. Maybe, hard to see. After the show we drove the Miata back to some new friends house and we all soaked in the hot tub and the pool until dawn.

Day 3
As I write this, Love Unlimited Orchestra is playing as the warmup music for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. I realize what Dre is for this century -- Duke Ellington. [Show happens] WTF that is the biggest sound I have heard at this festival. What an architect. Moreover these figures [Snoop, Eminem, 50 Cent] are inscrutable, monolithic, pretty profoundly American. They in fact kind of defined America for the last 20 or so years, in so many ways. A last drive around the desert at night with the top down, consulting GPS and hearing nightingales when slowed-down enough to make a u-turn. Now I'm back at the hotel, quitting smoking again.

 

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