April 17, 2013
Kathy & Michael
The final day of the Coachella festival dawned sunny, warm and beautiful but by the time the last bands were taking the stage later in the night, a surreal almost unbelievable sand storm unlike anything that we had ever experienced had struck and the Empire Polo Grounds were turned in to a haze of blowing sand and a landscape that looked like something out of dystopian Hollywood movie.
In between we enjoyed a wonderful day of music and fun. Unlike some of the previous days, the majority of the bands that I really wanted to see were playing on the mains stage beginning in the early afternoon with Airborne Toxic Event and then the Gaslight Anthem. Both bands put on solid sets without huge throngs that would come later.
In fact being at the main stage early allowed Kathy & I to sneak up close to the front to watch The Lumineers, a band we both like a lot. We had seen the Lumineers just about a year ago at a tiny club (Radio Radio) in Indianapolis with about 200 people in the crowd and had also attended a private gig with only about 25 people that was part of a live radio show for NPR. Since then the band has taken off in a huge way.
Their debut self-titled debut CD has spent almost the entire year since in the top ten in CD sales and their relentless touring, playing TV shows and catchy songs have propelled them to huge popularity. So it was interesting to have seen them when they were just on the cusp and again now when they have reached the height of popularity. The massive crowd they attracted to the main stage, probably around 80,000 people trying to crowd the stage.
They announced from the stage that it was the largest crowd they had ever played for and I can certainly believe that- it was a long, long way from seeing them play from the front row of 25 or so people. In spite of that, their show was fantastic and it was easy once again to see how they were able to get so popular so fast. Their music is great and their charming stage presence is awesome – even on this massive stage. They played a fantastic set that even included some new songs from some future release.
Lumineers “Stubborn Love”
After the Lumineers set, I stayed put to watch Social Distortion, while Kathy went over to check out Rodriguez. I have been a Social D fan for ages, but have never seen them live. It was like a flashback to the 90s as the crowd parted, a mosh pit formed and some vigorous slam dancing ensued, a drastic difference from the folky rock ambience that had pervaded the same space earlier. Kathy had seen a documentary that was released last year on Rodriguez, so she was keen to go see him.
I watched Social D and Vampire Weekend before meeting up with Kathy and heading over top watch what was the most pleasant and fascinating show of the weekend, Pretty Lights who had a massive, packed crowd and one of the most amazing and dramatic light shows that I have ever seen. So awesome.
Unfortunately they played just after the sunset and by then the sandstorm was moving in to overdrive.
Scarves, goggles, glasses and face masks became the order of the night as the crazy wind whipped sand up and reduced visibility and created a ghostly haze over everything. It was a truly surreal experience and sadly impossible to truly capture on film. We moved under the protective cover of a tented stage to watch 80s favorites OMD, before catching portions of Wu Tang Clan, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and finally the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
By the time the RHCP took the stage, the sand was almost intolerable and I am surprised that they were even able to play. We watched a little then drove home through swirling almost blacked-out roads from the sand. It was some sort of crazy experience, but interesting and fun.
Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson
Phoenix and R. Kelly “1901”