Coachella... california love.

I went to Coachella. For the second time. With some of the same friends I went with two years ago, and once there, also spent the days with some amazing new friends. 
We had such high expectations, such anticipation, such excitement... and again, Coachella met and surpassed them. There is nothing like it. 
And since I don't live in California anymore... not even on the same continent as Coachella, and as I live in Scandinavia, it's pretty much the opposite of the desert... it was a real travel adventure in many ways. I read this the other day, from an essay on travel by Pico Iyer, and it pretty much nailed what this music festival was for some of us:

"Thus travel spins us showing us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty. For in traveling to a truly foreign place, we inevitably travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit.
On the most basic level, when I’m in Thailand, though a teetotaler who usually goes to bed at 9 p.m., I stay up till dawn in the local bars; and in Tibet, though not a real Buddhist, I spend days on end in temples, listening to the chants of sutras... and I go to tap parts of myself generally obscured by chatter and routine."

We'd said beforehand that this Coachella might mean something different to us since our lives look so different than the last time we'd all been together, two years before. That was absolutely true. Two years ago, life was a lot crazier with less responsibility and more frequent episodes of fun and crazy experiences. And we lived in California. Now, several of us live in Sweden and we've been working high stakes jobs with long hours and are emerging from the cold and dark of the Nordic winter. 

So this Coachella was more than the fantastic collection of beautiful musical moments of last time. This time it assured us that we hadn't lost the hippie inside us, just that she needed dusting off. It yanked us out of the concerns of real life- of where we're going and how we'll get there- and set us down deep within the thundering beats of melodies amplified over the dancing feet of 80,000 people.  It set us down into conversations by the lake and under the stars with people who grew up on the other side of the planet but who could easily have grown up next door to you, or for that matter, inside your own head. Coachella allowed us, like Pico Iyer said, to be wide open and follow impulse, and so these four days found pride forgotten, guarded hearts put at ease, clenched hands relaxed and encircled with those of another, and bodies that should be weary doing backflips and sprints from one stage to another. 

Some of Coachella 2012 can't be described. But for some of the best shows I saw, I'll do my best:

the Givers... it was like going to the best high school band show ever. Young fun fresh multi-talented musicians nailing it live. We walked up right as they started their biggest hit. fun dance and sing great hits party. Jonas could not have been happier to see one of his longest time band loves, and that made it even better. 

Explosions in the Sky then M83... sometimes I can't forgive the Coachella organizers for the concert schedule overlaps, but we could only stay for a couple songs of Explosions and then had to rush over to catch most of M83. Explosions, while only instrumental and somewhat mellow when played through home speakers, is incredibly powerful and moving when seen live. M83 was the show I was most looking forward to, and while it was fun, I was a bit sad we'd left Explosions. Although M83 had a live saxophone play on their hit Midnight City, and that ruled. I adore a good sax solo.

Swedish House Mafia... I've now seen each of these three guys live at one point or another. They were my introduction to house music about three years ago. They took to the main stage on the opening night of Coachella, with a laser light show, flames and fireworks, and played a fantastically energetic set, songs that form the dance soundtrack of my life the last few years. 

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds... It's fun to hear his new stuff but the best part of this afternoon show, after we ran through the grass, jumping and spinning and goofing around as we got closer to the front, was when he sang old Oasis hits. And at the top of our lungs we all sang along:
"Take me to the place where you go, where nobody knows if it's night or day...Soooooo, Sally can wait..."

Shins... fantastic show. And one of the best music and Coachella moments ever for me here... our group was somewhat near the center front of the huge crowd. Someone in our group said, "let's have two people up on each other's shoulders, instead of just one. A three person tower." I started to shake my head, thinking no, that's crazy, we'll fall over, we'll bother people, we'll kill one of us... and before I knew it, Sabina had me up on her shoulders, and then Philip had her up on his and I was three people high, meters above the crowd, held steady, it was unbelievable. I could see all around me, thousands of people away. I waved my hands to the music and no one in the crowd was annoyed, they actually looked up at us in awe and cameras flashed all around. Pretty much the biggest smile I've ever had spread across my face and I didn't come down off that high for hours. 

Bon Iver...I've been to an intimate small Hollywood venue concert of his before, which was one of the best concerts of my life, and this one, on the main stage in front of many thousands, with a full band and side screens brought his soulful music to arena-sized rock proportions. Words really wouldn't do it justice.

Radiohead- Hypnotic. So Coachella. Multiple hanging and twisting live screens above the stage...such a stimulating concert for the ears and eyes although it's not such a dance experience like other headliners. Encore after encore.  The audience sang along, silent between each pausing line, the words hanging in the desert night air... we hoped that it would never end...
"This is what you get, this is what you get, this is what you get when you mess with us...for a minute there I lost myself, I lost myself..."

Sean Kuti & Egypt 80...I hadn't know about them before but this guy and his entourage rocked the stage, old guys playing trumpets and saxophones, women in facepaint with the kind of booty shaking you only see in Africa and Seun killing it, sweating up a storm for an audience that jumped and danced in appreciation. 

Gotye...this show was at sunset on the last day, and honestly, hearing their hits(s) was everything you would have hoped for. Literally thousands of people singing along to Somebody That I Used To Know, with feeling. Could have been cliche, overdone, since that song's been playing across the world's radio stations and personal playlists for months. It was actually perfect. 

Beirut to Calvin Harris... we thought we wanted Beirut. We got there, they sounded amazing. But then the tent far to the right of us exploded with sound and lights. It was magnetic, we couldn't stop the pull. We ran over to Calvin Harris and he gave us one of the best live DJ shows I've ever seen. Rihanna made an appearance for We Found Love. If he's playing near me I'll never miss him again. In fact, I'm seeing him on June 16th in Stockholm

Florence & the Machine- The most powerful live voice I've ever heard. The show seemed to go on and on. Our whole group was together, and we stood near the back in the open space, and danced and leaped around in the grass just like Florence did onstage. 

Snoop Dogg & Dr Dre... plus Eminem, 50 cent, and yes, the Tupac appearance. Our circle of friends danced our asses off... like we did at school dances growing up to all these hits. It was a hip hop trip down memory lane, complete with "Nuthin But a G Thang," "Ain't No Fun," "Drop It Like It's Hot," "Gin n Juice," "The Next Episode," "Jump Around," "Forgot About Dre," "P.I.M.P.," "In Da Club," "Gangsta Party," and my personal fave, "California Love." California certainly does know how to party. These guys did the festival finale right. 

"Abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love. We live without a past or future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs and open to interpretation."
-Pico Iyer

California, North Dakota, Sweden and South Africa.
An epic mix. 


Popular Posts