Words by Forrest Reda :: Images by Dave Vann
Coachella Music Festival :: 04.29 & 04.30 :: Indio, CA
I pulled onto the highway and gunned the Jetta to 80 as I hit the onramp. Nothing left untied, let's roll. Bite the bullet. Buy the ticket. Enjoy your friends. Don't drink the yellow water – it's beer! Don't do drugs!
Coachella Crowd :: 2006
I really want to see Matt Costa, but no one else is in much of a hurry Saturday morning. Traffic has been diverted, so the back-way doesn't work and the flow is heavy. By the time we're inside, Costa is finished, but the smiles on the faces of the girls that were watching him summed up his set.
Nine Black Alps was laying it down in the Mojave tent, and the shade made it a nice place to start. My muscles got loose, and the song from Madden 06 sounded good. Video games have overtaken FM radio for delivering new music. Nine Black Alps became the 100th person to tell me Wolfmother was good and to stick around, but first, a quick jog over to the Outdoor Theater for the Zutons.
Jón Bór Birgisson of Sigur Ros
A close friend had sent me the MySpace link for the Zutons, "Dude, there is nothing like this." He was still stuck in traffic, but I was inside digging the surf rock with horns, instrumental tube rides, and neuvo-Mexicali blues. Whatever you want to call their music, it's fantastic. I stayed as long as I could before running back to Wolfmother.
Every time I hear a Wolfmother song on KROQ, I think it's Jack White's new band because the vocals sound like White. This is unfair to The Raconteurs and Wolfmother, but that's my first audio impression. Whatever the case, Wolfmother is the first band on my "Is It Hype or Tight?" list, and it's evident from the first power chord that they are very, very tight (and playing way too early in the day). Wolfmother kills, and I didn't mind sticking around for the entire set. It's loud, but with a purpose. Rock's new gods have arrived.
It seemed that the entire capacity crowd at Coachella was eagerly awaiting My Morning Jacket. MMJ had not been a priority for me at Bonnaroo in 2004 because I am slow, but they were the band I was most excited to catch at Coachella. As the gap between Bonnaroo and Coachella grows ever closer, MMJ seems like one of the crossover bands. Jim James has a voice like no other man with a microphone today. MMJ delivered a ferocious assault that induced head-banging, smiles, and tears. It was a full-body religious experience that exceeded expectations, and even though I missed TV on The Radio, it was worth every second.
Jim James of My Morning Jacket :: Coachella 2006
It was decision time - Sigur Ros or Damian Marley? Sometimes Coachella is so good it sucks. I was at Marley with friends and already close to the stage, so I stayed, planning to leave after a few songs. Factor in a late start, an instrumental medley of classics, and an extended introduction, and a few songs quickly becomes half a set. But that's OK; Marley is special. He takes his father's music and pays homage in a new style. Excellent on the mic in every way, Marley also looks like an MC version of his father, with five-foot-dreadlocks and overflowing charisma.
I was restless thinking about missing Sigur Ros so I finally made my break, leaving my friends behind.
Damian Marley :: Coachella 2006
Unfortunately, Sigur Ros was wrapping up their last song, but I enjoyed the last ripples of sound instead of sulking before running back across the field while Marley delivered a majestic rendition of "War" > "Exodus."
I didn't stop because I was on my way to the Gobi Tent for some of Devendra Banhart's crooning mojo, which floored me in a good way. His voice plucked my heartstrings; his passion elevated the music to a religious place.
The Eagles of Death Metal are the complete opposite of Banhart. I saw them open for The Strokes a month ago, and they were decent. Loud, proud, and full of love for the ladies – what's not to like? At Coachella they were worn-out from tour and a little sloppy and raspy, so I appreciated the raucous cover of "Stuck in the Middle With You" from afar and found some ground to relax on for Franz Ferdinand.
I will admit to being tired, but Franz Ferdinand did very little for me. They are so polished in the studio that hearing them live felt disjointed. The popular songs were OK, but that was it.
Eagles of Death Metal :: Coachella 2006
I willed myself to the Sahara Tent and proceeded to get blasted with electronic energy. I was exhausted, but this was something special. Surpassing expectations and looking like spacemen, Daft Punk put together a mix of trance favorites that nearly lifted the whole tent off the ground. I danced until my reserve was spent and stumbled wearily to my car.
Day 1 was done.
Depeche Mode :: Coachella 2006