I got back from Coachella yesterday and all I have to say is, “GODAYUM!” I flew out from Jersey and it was worth every penny and effort (including sleeping in my car with two other big dudes) it took to get there.
The overall atmosphere was awesome. Just walking into the event put a smile on my face. 40 to 80 thousand people walking around on the grounds which were absolutely HUGE; pavillions everywhere, a whole bunch of random shit and of course, five stages that were going almost non-stop throughout the day. You could feel the energy just walking into the place.
I didn’t get there until Saturday morning, so I missed Friday’s acts (pissed about missing Stephen and Damien Marley), but there was still a shitload to take in for two days. I was impressed by:
Regina Spektor- Not really my usual cup of tea, but she was a good performer. She’s got a good voice and some of her stuff was pretty cool. Kind of weird, but chill to just lay out on the grass, close your eyes and listen to.
Nightwatchman- Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist) performing his solo acoustic act. This was awesome. Musically a total departure from his work in RATM, but it has the same revolutionary spirit. Instead of expressing it with wailing solos and heavy distortion, he just uses pounding acoustic chords and a simple yet strong singing style to get the message across.
At the end of the set, he brought out Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction) and Boots Riley (The Coup) for a powerful rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” I was about 10 feet away from Morello was he was performing and it was an awesome experience.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- This was the first time I’ve ever seen them live and they didn’t dissapoint. I wish they would’ve done some more older stuff, but they threw down “By the Way”, “Give it Away Now”, “Under the Bridge” and a sick rendition of “Dani California.”
You have to see them live to appreciate just how fucking good Flea is on the bass. The crowd was going crazy by the time they hit the stage, I was all the way up on the front railing and it was awesome seeing them so close.
Lupe Fiasco- The first act I saw on Sunday, Lupe Fiasco is definitly a rising star in hip hop, and doing it with a style kinda different from a lot of artists. Definitly one to check out.
The Roots- Their main MC, Black Thought, declared at the beginning the show that “hip hop ain’t dead.” Well, they proved that without a doubt. Their set had a little bit of everything; they did their own original stuff andthey did a sick medley of popular rap songs with their keyboardist doing the beats. The unquestionable highlight of the show was guitarist Kirk Douglas leading them through a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” that could only be described as Hendrix-esque. If anybody other than Rage was there, they would’ve stolen the show.
Rage Against the Machine- Do I even need to say anything here? You could close your eyes during the songs (after the first three, during which the sound system was a little distorted, but it cleared up quickly) and think you were listening to the CDs. They haven’t missed a beat and they improvised (especially Morello, obviously) just the right amount.
Surprisingly, they hardly addressed the crowd at all, instead just powering through song after song. Their set ended with “Wake Up” and absolutely blew the place up. During the bridge part of the song, Zach went on a 1-2 minute rant which ended with:
"The challenges that we face, they go way beyond administrations, way beyond elections, way beyond every four years of pulling levers, way beyond that. Because this whole rotten system has become so vicious and cruel that in order to sustain itself, it needs to destroy entire countries and profit from their reconstruction in order to survive.
And that’s not a system that’s changing every four years; Its a system that we have to break down, generation after generation after generation."
And then launched into the end of the song, with about 80,000 people screaming “WAKE UP!” at the top of their lungs. To say it was intense would be the biggest understatement of the century. They left the stage for about 5 minutes while the crowd chanted for them.
Everybody knew they’d be coming back, as they hadn’t played “Killing in the Name Of” yet and I couldn’t imagine them not doing that song. Well they came back on, played Freedom and then brought the house down again with “Killing in the Name Of.”
Altogether an amazing show. I can’t wait to see Rage (along with Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique and a reunited Wu-Tang Clan) at Rock the Bells in NY this summer. Anybody from T-Nation going to that?