"WECOME TO COOOOACHEELLLA."
The congregation of twenty 20-somethings lustily applauds. It's Thursday night, a dozen hours before the festival officially begins, and the rules are being outlined in this corner of Lot 4.
"FOR THE NEXT THREE NIGHTS EVERYONE MUST DRINK AT ALL TIMES. WE MUST HAVE A FUN TIME. WE ARE HAPPY PEOPLE AND WE LOVE EACH OTHER!!!!"
Cue whoops, giggles, and several gurgles.
"WE NEED TO GET THE MOST FUCKED UP I'VE EVER BEEN AT ANY COACHELLA IN THE WHOLE WORD."
"Hear that boys?!" a broman sipping a Bud Lite booms from the corner.
"BOYS AND CHICKS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME."
High-fives are slapped. Beer is slurped.
"AND NOW WE WILL PLAY THE FIRST SONG OF THE ENTIRE WEEKEND: 'N-WORD IN PARIS'!!!!!"
Consider this lady, the anti-MC of last weekend. She unofficially kicked off Coachella 2013, a festival filled with excellence in the field of decadence. It's the closest we'll get to Harmony Korine's Woodstock: The Movie. There were winners, losers, and pretty lights, both the band and the optical phenomenon. If you're headed out for the second weekend today, consider one crucial bit of information: if you're still enjoying the silent disco, you're probably too fucked up to drive home.
Best Highway To Hell
Jeff Weiss The Molly Trail of Tears
The Steve Sanders Alternative Music Memorial Award
There's a formula to book a festival. Get the hottest acts of the present, those that popped eight years ago, and groups who emerged two decades prior (Wu-Tang, Blur). The reunion of the Stone Roses was sparsely attended, as were most '80s remnants, aside from New Order.
For 2013 Coachella, the sweet spot was the mid-aughts. It's a scientific fact that music never gets better than what you heard when you were 13. For current college seniors, their first Golden Era occurred with OC-style indie rock: Modest Mouse, The Postal Service, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. When "Such Great Heights" played, glow sticks flew in the air, people wailed, and life briefly moved in maudlin slow-motion montage. The only thing missing was Sandy Cohen offering bagels.
None of those bands are in their creative primes, but judging from the response, The O.C.'s Bait Shop inherited the legacy of Beverly Hills 90210's Peace Pit on a hundred thousand trillion. Even Rooney and Phantom Planet probably could've packed out the Gobi Tent. Next year, they might also consider booking a Jade reunion -- it's been approximately 20 years.
The Get the Band Back Together Award Props to Pusha T and Johnny Marr for pressing on with solo careers instead of being tethered to groups they formed as teenagers. It must be a singular torture to apathetically replay songs you wrote decades ago, and it's at least part of the reason why The Smiths and Clipse aren't performing together. (No) Malice has basically become a Christian rapper and Morrissey is busy making Hollywood High swoon.
But it's impossible not to watch Pusha or the former Smiths guitarist perform and wish that they were back with their de facto life partners. A reunion of The Smiths seems less likely than Morrissey eating meat, but Pusha needs to listen to his own lyrics and give the people a performance as live as Pac's was last year -- exclusively songs from Hell Hath No Fury, Lord Willin' and "Funeral." Pharrell guest spot requested but not contractually obligated.
See also: Worst of Coachella: Weekend One
The C. Delores Tucker Award Given to Jello Biafra for being too old to understand the way the game's told. I respect the inclusion of the polemicist behind the Dead Kennedys. But the audience barely exceeded a hundred people and there is something sad about a 54-year old man in a tight shirt fake cutting his wrists on-stage while caterwauling about how "we keep getting the same flavor of Reagan and Thatcher all over again." If I want effective agit-prop, I'm going to listen to Killer Mike. If I want to watch a 54-year old man act the fool, I'm going to go to the Sahara Tent and watch rave dad.
Best Place to Hear Bad Pick Up Lines
Jeff Weiss The Silent Disco
This might be the closest we'll ever get to Daft Punk
Am I wearing my silent disco goggles, or are you as hot as I think you are?
A wise man once taught me a little philosophy I like to call, "YOLO."
It's rare when I get the chance to meet another furry out in the open
Last night, a silent disco DJ changed my life.
Are you willing to share that ring pop?
Do you know if this is moombahton?
Jeff Weiss I'm Not Not Saying I'm in the Black Crowes
I'm not not saying that I'm in the Black Crowes. (Right, below)
Best Setting for a Bro-Rotica Novel Franz Ferdinand. "Michael." Saturday 10:15 p.m. The Mojave Tent. No one in your fraternity will ever know.
The I've Never Even Been to Mount Vesuvius Award Let's just say that someone smuggled in four tabs of acid, a gram of moon rocks, five spliffs, and a vaporizer pen filled with THC wax. Hypothetically. And let's just say that someone timed it to peak during Phoenix's set, in the off-hand chance of a surprise Daft Punk performance.
Do you know how disappointing that would have been? Phoenix are boring enough to ruin the night of someone higher than the top of Daft Punk's pyramid.
No, Phoenix are totally pleasant. If I ever need to go shopping for an $4,000 suit and have misplaced my copy of GQ, I might carefully study their mastery of fine linen. But under no circumstances are Phoenix a headlining band at a festival that previously featured Jay-Z, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Paul McCartney, Prince, and Radiohead. I understand that every generation needs its own Breakfast Club soundtrack, but Phoenix is like the big-budget indie-film equivalent of The Simple Minds. They have the charisma of museum curators.
Then R. Kelly came out, a man who has so much charisma that he calls himself the pied piper of R&B (among the printable reasons). There was nothing about the pairing that made any sense and the idea of an acid hallucination was briefly considered. Hypothetically. However, this was ruled that out because any lysergic vision would have had Kells playing longer than five minutes and included "Real Talk."
The Alec Baldwin Award
Hot Chip at Coachella is like Alec Baldwin guest-hosting SNL -- it's never a bad idea. According to statistics, this was the fourth time that the London disco-funk outfit has played in the desert (during a seven year stretch). According to my memories, they have played every single Coachella Festival ever and not once turned in anything less than a stellar performance.
Part of the charm of watching Hot Chip is their ability to defy conventional logic. Watching them own Coachella's main stage is like watching Earl Boykins drop 30 in an NBA game. They are five librarian-looking white dudes from London, who exhibited more funk than anyone outside of Dam-Funk.
When LCD Soundsystem retired, Hot Chip supplanted them as the premier festival disco band. Songs like "Ready for the Floor" and "Over and Over" are anthems. They probably can have done an excellent "Canteen Boy" impression too.
The Take It Back Award
There's a certain sentimentality that you've always had to accept with Jurassic 5. Their fans during the mid and late-90s were the older versions of the people who currently worship the anachronistic boom-bap of Joey BadA$$. But they were ours and at a quarter to 11 on Friday night, there was suddenly nothing I wanted to see more than some rabbit in the hat tricks and rap shit from Jurassic.
See also: Best of Coachella: Weekend One
When I last saw them before their break-up in 2007, things were awry. It wasn't a lack of effort, but just a general staleness. Backpack rap had become clichéd to the point of collapse, all old ideas and keep-it-real mantras. J5 embodied what then felt stultifying: routines lifted from the Cold Crush Brothers and obsession with a long-gone purity.
But taking a half-decade break was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. In the meantime, an entirely new form of underground rap took root and demolished the dinosaur logic. Suddenly, watching Jurassic 5 no longer felt like an us vs. them siege mentality, but rather a way to remember why they were once the most popular subterranean squad in Los Angeles.
They played the hits: "Jayou," "Quality Control," "Concrete Schoolyard." They ditched the Dave Matthews collaboration that sent my post-graduate self screaming into the Internet void. DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist scratched and mixed well enough to overcome the occasional dubstep drop (which got some of the biggest responses among everyone who never saw J5 in their original incarnation).
J5 yelled for the crowd to put their hands in the air, admonishing them not to be "too cool." And sure, I can understand hating Jurassic 5. There's something inherently corny about stepping out of the values of your own generation to re-affirm those of the previous one. But not everything was a mistake. Change doesn't necessarily mean evolution. I'm happy that we no longer live in an era where Jurassic 5 is hailed as the way that hip-hop should be. But I'm even happier than they're back -- even if I never want to hear dubstep at one of their concerts again.
Jeff Weiss A Bro Named Sioux
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Meet a bro named Sioux. Brah, I know that your girlfriends look cute dressing up like the Disney version of Pocahontas, but you look like you're about to star in an parody film called Dances with Wolfgang Gartner.
I'm sure you guys are all business majors at Cal-State Fullerton, but you don't need to read Howard Zinn to understand the idea of Native American genocide. And that it might be mildly offensive to some to dress like the most stereotypical depictions of a ravaged population that your ancestors may have helped destroy. Plus, you look like the Tonka truck version of Tatanka.
This is more accidentally racist than anything Brad Paisley and LL Cool J or (Vince McMahon) could conceive. Someone needs to drop them off in a reservation in Oklahoma with no phone or Instagram App.