As I walked at a fast pace to catch the last few minutes of the Los Angeles veteran punk band X, missing some of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s somewhat refined and calm performance on the main stage (don’t worry her outfit was outrageous as always), I had one question in my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder why the ‘leaders of Coachella’, the geniuses that decided to put on this three day music and art festival, would put so many good bands on at the same time, forcing me to choose. In the end, there is only one plausible answer. There is too much good music in the world to fit into a measly three days!
The crowd seemed elated when the sun began to set. After standing out in temperatures just under 100 degrees for hours, everyone was ready for the first night of the tenth Coachella.
One word to describe the bands this weekend is eclectic. As the voice of Alice Glass, of Crystal Castles, sounded more like loud nails on a chalk-board than it does on CD the crowd continued to grow throughout the performance with fairly young raver-types dressed in loud colors and tutus.
Almost as if I was transported into another world, I walked to the main stage to see tonight’s headliner, Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles. I was somewhat surprised when Paul began his two-and-a-half-hour set with an acoustic guitar, playing slower songs from his solo work. After a couple songs Paul informed the crowd that eleven years ago today his wife Linda had passed on, and this night would be dedicated to her. From this moment on the crowd joined in, singing each song in support of Paul and the memory of his late wife. The audience was able to laugh and cry as Paul moved into Beatles classics such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’, fireworks were let off during ‘Live and Let Die’, and ‘Here Today’ was dedicated to his ‘dear friend John (Lennon).’
On the second day, Henry Rollins performed his own version of stand up. While jokes were told, Rollins was clearly at Coachella to deliver a message. His mission, he informed the crowd, was to travel to various countries, stick his hand out to anyone that would pass by, and say ‘Hey what’s happenin, I’m Henry!’ He said repeatedly thoughout his performance that this would prove to the world that all people have some good to them, and war is unnecessary and scam. Thanks to festivals like Coachella, he said, we are able to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together to appreciate music and life.
Space to walk was difficult to find that night as M.I.A. began sound check. After releasing only one album I was surprised to see that M.I.A. was granted the main stage, and drew one of the biggest crowds out of any band that weekend. While the music lacked any real substance, a performance is what we were given. Horns were blown loudly as if to call everyone in the venue to that particular stage. The audience was teased as the music built slowly. Finally, Mathangi Arulpragasam of M.I.A. came out wearing a glow-in-the-dark suit. Although she barely sang, the overwhelmingly loud and pounding repetition of beats kept the audience dancing eccentrically for the remainder of her performance.
This mix of music, art, and community would be almost impossible to find anywhere other than Coachella. Nowhere else could you find 151,000 people gathering to appreciate life, love, and art. While the crowd could listen to rock, rap, and house music they could also spend the day appreciating the art displayed at the festival. This included ‘Serpent Mother,’ a larger than life snake that set ablaze every night, keeping the people beneath it warm under the night sky. And ‘La Familia Divina-Shrine,’ a holy relic meant to display what the artist and her family appreciate most in life.
Whether one attends Coachella for the music, art, or atmosphere, its importance is undeniable. In times of war and recession, gathering to appreciate love and life is incalculably important.