Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coachella Day 3

Day 3 - Sunday!

The day you almost dread, because it's the last one, because you're the most tired, because you tried to save money and didn't book a hotel room that night, counting on the fact that you'd be able to maybe leave early and drive the three hours to home.

Except The Cure was closing. And you don't skip The Cure.

Liz and I got up at a decent hour that morning, checked outta the hotel, packed and gassed up the car and hurried back to Indio to arrive at the beginning of Day 3. It's a long, long way from the parking lot to the music. First, you walk through the dirt lot.
Then you walk down the dirt path.
And you walk through the grass lot.
And then you walk through the dead grass field where the entrance lines start. And finally you get inside!
At this point you should know where my first stop is. Yes, yes, the Sahara dance tent to see Supermayer start it off with some green alien attacks. Kinda weird, but sometimes you get that with European electronica.

Next up was another of my must-see bands for the weekend. I came across their Paris track during my research and it quickly became the #1 most played song on my iPod. I hated that the Friendly Fires got scheduled for such a short set time, they were in the smallest tent at the very beginning of the day, and that it was so crowded. But Coachella knows a hot band when it's playing. I wish I had gotten more on video, so you can check mine, then check their actual video for the song. Why do I love skinny, pasty-skinned boys from the UK who sing and shake it on stage? Such a weakness. Also nominated for the Mercury Prize this year. Love them!

Friendly Fires - Paris from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

They've been scheduled at festivals all over the US all summer, must catch them again. And the 2nd chorus of this track with the extra cowbell = amazing.


The next few bands are a little fuzzy - I think we saw a bit of Okkervil River and then the Gaslight Anthem, who were a lot of fun. Okkervil's side project, Shearwater, is a recent new favorite of mine too....

Lupe Fiasco was on the main stage about this time, and I had to get a little hip hop in, then catch a bit of French semi-weirdo Sebastien Tellier, who I actually rather enjoyed. The French have quite a few powerhouses in music, M83, Phoenix, Daft Punk, etc.

Next up at the hottest part of the day, Ms. Lykke Li - I think I'm a Little Bit in Love with her. Turns out I've had all the wrong stuff of hers - what she performed on stage was fantastic. She brought her A-game. And for some reason I've always pictured her all dark-haired and exotic looking, but no, she was every bit the Swedish blonde that you could expect.
We meandered through Peter Bjorn and John on the main stage (though I don't recall hearing the whistle song) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (who I sometimes like but mostly feel indifference towards) and finally Liz and I laid on the grass at the Outdoor Stage, stared at the sky and listened to the beautiful haunting sound of Antony and the Johnsons. Definitely some different stuff there that I don't think I can listen to on a regular basis, but for that moment as dusk started to settle in, it was perfect.
Back to the dance tent for Plump DJs, who got a top rating on my research scale of who to see. As the video I took reminds me, they were definitely good.
I think I saw a few minutes of The Horrors, but they scared me. And I was hungry and hot. Time to cool off in the dolab art installation, complete with some DJs breaking it down, dancing people and a handful of people perched on stands, holding water guns and spraying down the crowd.
Liz and I grabbed some food, walked around looking for souvenirs and soaked up our last few minutes of free time, skipping Devendra Banhart and My Bloody Valentine.






Alright, back to business with Christopher Lawrence, who was unknown to me until I began the research process. And he's now a new favorite. The tent was packed and everyone was into it. Watch the whole place just light up - I heart progressive trance.

Christopher Lawrence from L Dubbs on Vimeo.


The last act I'd see in the Sahara tent - Groove Armada. Packed and awesome. They're always a classic and you've probaly heard more of their stuff than you realize. I was excited that they were there. The energy in that tent is impossible to describe - you've just gotta be there and be in that moment. It's like nothing else exists (even though there are 40,000 people still around the grounds watching 4 other stages of music at the same time). No one cares how awkward you may look - you just throw your hands up and move. It's impossible not to. Ridiculously fun.

Groove Armada from L Dubbs on Vimeo.




Finally - time for the festival closer. And no one more perfect than The Cure. They're a classic. Disintegration is one of my favorite albums ever, even though it came out when I was 8 years old and it took me more than a few years to find it. It was pretty late in the evening and I knew I had a 3 hour drive ahead + work on Monday morning but when they took the stage I was mesmerized.

Absolutely mesmerized.

I couldn't move. I couldn't take my eyes off them. There was no way I could just catch a couple songs then leave. Liz and I parked it towards the back of the crowd and settled in for the night.

When you're the closing band at the end of the day, much less the end of the entire festival, you gotta give people their money's worth. The Killers the night before had huge lights and fireworks and a grand presentation, a live Beatle had been on stage Friday night, I've seen crazy Bjork with dozens of dancers in costumes of all shapes and sizes, Rage Against the Machine reunite to a fanatical crowd. But Robert and company just did their thing with minimal distractions, and it was more than enough. The 90 minutes or so that I saw was incredibly memorable.

Finally at midnight I had to drag myself to the car, as they continued to play. And they played, and played, as lights got turned off, amps got shut down, and finally they were kicked off stage past curfew.

Coachella 2009 - you were simply amazing! Third time was truly the charm. Until next year!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Coachella Day 2

Day 2 - Saturday!

Liz had to drive back home that morning to get some clothes and things since she'd come straight from work the day before. I slept in our lovely dark motel room til 11ish or so.

Ida Maria had gotten the green light on my schedule, and she was on at 1:30. Except the next green light wasn't until 4, with Paolo Nutini. We decided to skip most of the afternoon in favor of some lunch in Palm Springs.
We arrived at the Polo Fields around 5pm, in time to hear a tad of Michael Franti on the main stage as we made our way back to the ever amazing Sahara dance tent where Zane Lowe was breaking it down. I was so so so looking forward to Glasvegas at 6pm (and am bummed I missed them in Tuscon this past Saturday) but their singer got sick and they had to cancel. They're still on my must-see list, especially since they were nominated for a 2009 Mercury Prize Album of the Year.
That gave us time to catch some of Calexico (which my notes say I need to have more of in my life, especially since they're from Tucson) and TV on the Radio (who I still can't really get into completely, even though I admire them and think they have a cool thing going).

I had to skip James Morrison, who I've started to like quite a bit lately, but in favor of seeing the absolute number one can't miss band of the whole weekend - Fleet Foxes. Their music is exquisite. And they did not disappoint. My favorite memory from 2005 was seeing Arcade Fire on the Outdoor Stage, sun setting, surrounded by mountains and palm trees, lights starting to come on, and incredible musical moments happening. This was the exact place and timeslot that Fleet Foxes performed, easily the best time of day at Coachella. Man, I shed a few tears. But only when the smoking Mexican teenagers around me quieted down.


Fleet Foxes - Drops in the River from L Dubbs on Vimeo.


Fleet Foxes - Mykonos from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

It couldn't have been more beautiful. You always worry about crystal clear harmonies on studio albums translating to the stage, especially outdoors with thousands of people crammed around. Was amazing. Must see them again.

The finished their 50 minute set and Liz and I ran over to the main stage to catch a few beats of Thievery Corporation. Thievery started in DC at the famous 18th Street Lounge, also the name of their record label. I have no idea why I didn't go there more often or go see them when they'd play 4 nights in a row at the 930 club. It took a Cali trip to finally catch them live. I'd love to see them again in a smaller venue. This clip gives you a glimpse of the vibe of Coachella in the dark.
Back to the Outdoor Stage to catch Band of Horses. They were also high up on the list of must-sees and were great.

Band of Horses - The Funeral from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

Flip flop back to the main stage to catch M.I.A. The woman was amazing for being a new mother. However, she said this herself later and it was evident - her show just didn't translate well to the huge stage. I first saw her at Coachella 2005 in the smallest tent there. Granted, there was a lot of buzz about her then and it was packed, but it was super great. This year on the main stage, I felt like she maybe performed four songs. The rest of the time was filler with her DJ running his mouth, horns blowing, and a lot of walking around. I know I wouldn't have wanted to rehearse a full show after having a child, but the whole thing just felt kinda - eh.
Jenny Lewis, I'm sorry we skipped you. But your set overlapped completely with Chemical Brothers at one end of the festival and the Killers at the other end. They both won our time. Liz loves the Chem Bros, so we ran back to the dance tent to catch their DJ set. It was packed! And super, super cool. We kicked it there for awhile and decided to maybe head back to the motel and see just a little bit of the Killers on the way out since we were getting pretty sleepy.
I read a lot of unhappy ruckus on message boards and magazines about The Killers being chosen to headline Saturday night. I'd never seen them before but had kinda heard they weren't that great. Granted, I love Hot Fuss, but never really got into Sam's Town or Sawdust, and only started listening to a few tracks from Day & Age in anticipation of Coachella. Liz and I decided to park ourselves on our towels at the back of the crowd for just a little while to see how it'd turned out. And boy were we surprised! They were so much fun! And when you're headlining Coachella, you've gotta bring it - and they did! I was impressed, and that takes a lot for a big arena-type show. And Mormon boys - listen up. Follow the example of Brandon Flowers. If you do, I promise more girls will be dying to go out with you. I fell a little bit in love that night. We stayed for their entire set, fireworks and all, jumping, dancing, singing along and were super happy....all the way til midnight. Day 2 - fantastic!

The Killers - Human from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

Coachella Day 1

I've intended to cover Coachella for months, especially since it happened in April. It was easily one of the best weekends of my life. Three solid days of music in a beautiful setting - the 3rd time was truly the charm.

I had planned for months. I always research every single band on the lineup, making plenty of Excel spreadsheets. It takes me weeks to do this. First, a list of all bands, notes about the music if I don't already know it, and a numerical rating from 1-4 of who I need to see, with 1 being the top priority. There are some half numbers in there. Then I translate that into a color-coded schedule of priority as set times are announced and conflicts start to happen. I read reviews in music magazines and blogs to see who's up and coming and who can't be missed.

As a seasoned veteran by this point, I know how it works. I know that you can't see everyone on all five stages. I know that the days are long and you get tired and you need to rest and sometimes you just give up in favor of the pool or a nap, instead of trekking down to the fields. I know that some bands won't be worth all the hype and other bands who you accidentally walk by turn out to be your new favorites.

Let me dig out these printed spreadsheets now, worn and battered from days of use with notes scribbled on them.

Day 1! Friday!

My trusty companion Liz was going to meet me in Indio from her home near LA for the magical music weekend (her first Coachella!). Great for her, after being laid off, she had just gotten a new job. She decided to be responsible and not ask for a day off so soon. Little did we know that her new boss would turn out to suck beyond belief. She planned to work til 4 or 5 then head to Indio. I'd have to spend the majority of the day alone. I could deal.

First up on the schedule was Dear and the Headlights, nearly kicking off the entire festival at 1pm. I left Phoenix around 9am, hoping to get there on time, but alas I didn't make it. Traffic in Indio clogs up pretty quickly and I didn't get to park in the closest lot. Missed them completely! Lucky for me, they're from Phoenix and I will surely get a chance to see them again.

Second - Alberta Cross started around 1:30 and I stepped into the festival in time to hear their last track. Bummer. Whatever it was, it was good. And Leave Us and Forgive Us is still one of my favorite tracks this year. You can get it free on their website right now! New album out in September....I'm waiting.

I caught a few minutes of the Courtneeners, who were good and fun. I always have a spot in my heart for any band from the UK.

I left the main stage area in search of the dance/DJ/eletronica tent. I ended up spending a good chunk of the weekend there. I'm still trying to figure out how I got into that genre. That type of music certainly didn't exist in Oklahoma where I grew up. It was all country with a little top 40. Even in college I wasn't super into it. I think living in Spain and coming back and being neighbors with a Spaniard and an Italian who had turntables in their living room may have had something to do with it.

It's very evident at Coachella that I'm not a glowstick dance kid. I'm there in my J Crew shorts and flip flops, sticking out like a preppy sore thumb sometimes. But there's nowhere else I'd rather be than an all day rave with some of the best DJs in the world in beautiful Palm Springs. It was truly blissful, even alone.

I walked into the Sahara tent and promptly fell in love with a chain-smoking Brazilian DJ named Gui. I had never heard of him, never heard his stuff, but was instantly mesmerized by the beautiful hooks. And sadly, he has not done a date in the USA since, nor are any on his schedule. Why can't I live abroad again?

He had his laptop and a mixing board and built it all, piece by piece. Gorgeous layering. I've been scouring the internet for downloads of some of his live sets so I can have a complete session. The video I took only captures a couple minutes of amazingness. I love you, Gui Boratto!

Gui Boratto from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

I had planned to catch Noah and the Whale and We Are Scientists, but I had to watch all of Gui. I'd just seen WAS in Phoenix a couple months before at a small gig, so not too big a loss. I do love them though, they're always really funny in addition to great tunes.

I caught a few minutes of Cage the Elephant. Ain't No Rest for the Weary was enough to entice me to check them out, but I thought they were just okay. I jumped back into the dance tent for Steve Aoki - the dude was crazy. There were dragons and dancing ladies and people on rafts and maybe even some fire. The music was a little too screechy fast for me, but he puts on a good show.

Time to hit the main stage for Airbourne Toxic Event, who were really humbled and excited to be there on the main stage as a local Cali band. I loved some of the stuff, felt okay about the rest. I'd go see them again.

Stupidly at this point I decided to get food. I missed M. Ward. Completely. Doh, I am kicking myself now! The Black Keys were also playing at this time, but I missed them too. Back to the dance tent for the Ting Tings. That's Not My Name drives me a little crazy, but they really impressed me with their live set. Every song was fun and very danceable. I had a good time.

I ran over to the little Mohave tent to see White Lies, another UK band who I stumbled upon in research. Fairwell to the Fairground is a great track. Their whole set was great. I hope to catch them again. They're playing with Kings of Leon in Oklahoma soon, maybe I should go home that weekend?
Next up was Crystal Castles. I've been in love with their album for awhile, the weird video game soundtrack that it is. I was really, really looking forward to them. And I hate to say, I kind of hated it. The female singer's voice was loud and annoying and didn't need to be there. If they took her out, you'd have a great live performance. I could only handle a couple tracks til it got to me. Probably the biggest disappointment of the weekend. Sorry, Alice.

That freed up time to catch the end of Franz Ferdinand, always a crowd pleaser, even though I missed Conor Oberst. Eh, that's okay. Saw a bit of N.A.S.A. (I'll pass) and got to see the beginning of Leonard Cohen's set. The man's a legend. I don't know any of his newer stuff, but at least I can saw I've seen him!

Back to the dance tent AGAIN for Ghostland Observatory. Knocked my socks off. Awesome, awesome stuff. By this point it was dark and the corresponding light show was amazing. If you are prone to seizures, you would not have survived. The tent was starting to get packed as the better acts were set to take over the rest of the night.

I had planned to run over to the main stage to catch the legend that is Morrissey and/or Silversun Pickups, but this is when I met the Aussies. The pack of shirtless Australian men, who had all been laid off from their jobs temporarily and decided to road trip America during that time. They had flown into Seattle in late December, purchased a cheap van, drove all across the US, to New York, down to Florida, back over through El Paso, sleeping at campsites and in the car, until they ended up renting a house in Palm Springs for the Coachella weekend. They had even been through Phoenix and were planning to go back again on their way to Vegas. I couldn't leave my new friends, Angus, Angus and Charlie, especially since Girl Talk was coming up, so I parked it there and kept dancing.
Girl Talk - totally worth the hype. I had only wished I'd been able to catch him earlier at a small venue. He sets up in the middle of the floor and just mixes with the dance party around him. His shirts say "I Am Not a DJ." So so so fun. All you favorite old and new tracks, mixed and layered with great beats. Such a blast.

Girl Talk from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

I couldn't desert the Aussies just yet, since The Presets were up next and they're Australian. Also one of my favorite albums of the year, I was glad to catch them. Lots and lots of fun. However, Liz had been texting from the road, she was getting closer and closer to arrival. Sucky thing about Coachella, your phones don't really work when 60,000 people are in close proximity and trying to text/send photos, etc. I had to leave and go to our designated meeting spot to find her, which I did, and I think she was in a daze of wonderment at the whole event.

The Presets - This Boy's in Love from L Dubbs on Vimeo.

I think the two of us ran back to the dance tent for a few minutes, then it was time for the Legend of All, a living Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney.

I don't know that anyone my age knows his more recent material. But who cares?! He's a Beatle! We headed back to the main stage and parked it, hearing some classics woven in with the newer stuff. Even when I first pulled into the parking lot at the beginning of the day, it was evident that Friday's crowd was there for Paul. Car windows painted, Hey Jude blasting, that sort of scene.

Liz and I took it all in, glad to be there. However, tiredness got the best of us. Paul was supposed to end around midnight, but kept going. We hadn't heard Hey Jude yet, nor a couple other must-haves, but we started the long walk back to the car anyway. Thankfully the sound projected. We were able to sing along for part of Hey Jude. I also walked around the outside of the dance tent where The Crystal Method was tearing it up. Man, tough choice between that and Sir Paul, really.

We had quite a drive back into Palm Springs, all the way at the other end of all those towns that run together. It was the only decent hotel I could find for a decent price, 45 minutes away. Aussies invited us over that night, but after 12 hours of sun and dancing, plus 2 more long days ahead, I wanted nothing but sleep!

Day 2 and 3, coming up!


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wishes....

Dear Santa Claus/Birthday Fairy,

My birthday is coming up somewhat soon. I know that I have already made plans to celebrate in a big way, by purchasing plane tickets and concert tickets to see Phoenix, Metric, Bon Iver, Snow Patrol and Jason Mraz over the course of a month in Phoenix, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Generally I would rather have fun experiences with friends than physical things as gifts. However, the new fall catalogs from J Crew and Crate and Barrel just arrived in my mailbox. And they are AMAZING!! Not to be greedy, but I kind of want most things in them.

I hate to have two brands define my life/personality/character/everything in my closet/house, but if I had to live out of these two stores for the rest of my life, I wouldn't mind. They are classics.

If you can deliver any of the things below, I promise to write you a really nice thank you note and wear/use them to the best of my ability. And if you're going to deliver anything from Crate and Barrel, can you also please include a larger apartment or house for me to put it in?

Lauren




















May Update #3

I am not a camper.

Since moving to AZ I have felt compelled to at least attempt to be an outdoorsy girl. I wanted to be social when people invited me to go hiking, hit the lake, go camping, etc.

Except I am not one of those people. I have tried. Hiking around here isn’t all that fun. It’s hot, it’s brown and there’s not much to look at other than rocks. I spend so much time looking at my feet, that even if there was something to see, I’d miss it.

As for camping, our Carpenter family reunions every other summer involved meeting up a campsite in the White Mountains of AZ to spend a weekend together. My family always traveled from Oklahoma to AZ, and we never wanted to haul any camping gear with us. My mom’s version of camping at the family reunion means calling the nearest Marriott property and booking a room. Worked for me then, works for me now.

Somehow I became a co-leader of a camping trip to Sedona on Memorial Day weekend. I figured I could handle one night (I could shower just before leaving and just when I got home), put up with awkward bathroom situations just once, and enjoy the scenery of beautiful Sedona, which is considerably better than the Phoenix desert.


Friday night the journey began in terrible traffic. We took side access roads as long as we could, until they ended and turned us around completely. Way to go detour….

We inched our way along Route 89 north of Sedona, looking for our reserved spot in a campground as the rain came down. As we turned left into the site, Adam realized he had overshot the entry way and had to come to a stop to reverse and pull in again. Except the oncoming traffic, not going that fast, maybe 35-40mph, didn’t acknowledge us at all and was headed straight towards me, sitting in the front passenger seat. Our car of friends behind us shielded their eyes, waiting for the collision. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. But close!

It was dark and drizzling as we unpacked the car and attempted to set up two tents. We were able to buy dry firewood from the ranger and started to build a fire. And we tried. And we tried. And we tried. And really only got some tiny flames and a whole lotta smoke. As a girl who doesn’t camp, I can tell you I’m only there for the s’mores. I didn’t even get one with a hot melty marshmallow.

The bathroom situation – probably the most disgusting I’ve seen in a long time. If only my bladder were slightly larger, I wouldn’t have had to experience that hole in the ground. Ewh. Ewh. Ewh.

Finally I called it a night, and snuggled into the down comforter I brought from my bed at home, since I am sans sleeping bag. It rained on and off all night, yet I only got cold once.

Morning came too soon; everyone made fun of me for being the last one up. My idea of enjoying nature is lying in a tent or hammock and looking outside, not necessarily going on a hike at 7am. Nevertheless, I got up and we set off on a hike. A very muddy hike. I got halfway up the hill and called it a day. The view was lovely and the only thing higher up was a whole lotta mud. I turned around and headed back to base while most of the gang continued up. Their return on investment was marginal. I always know when to end a hike, it seems.


We packed up and headed into town for some sightseeing and food (and real bathrooms). Sedona was crowded as usual, and full of over-priced weird art and vortex crystals. We grabbed lunch at a Mexican joint and got back in the car to head home just as it started to pour.

My once a year camping trip was over…and I survived.

Back to Bulgaria with some Amsterdam

After a long day of driving we made it to Plovdiv. We had booked an Airbnb place with a Bulgarian guy - took us a minute to find his apartme...