Coachella 2002

By theajaysharma

This will be Coachella number three for me and it just gets better every year. I saw Cornershop, Groove Armada, Queens of the Stone Age, Beta Band, Sasha and Digweed, Chemical Brothers, Elbow, Strokes, Cut Chemist, Paul Oakenfold, Prodigy, and Oasis. Not bad for 150 bucks. I saw so many artists this year because the organizers are thinking about who we want to see instead of the typical, "biggest artist headlines" rule. This was clear when Paul Oakenfold, clearly the biggest DJ on Sunday spun at 7pm, it was still daylight outside! This made it easy to see Oakenfold, then cruise over to the main stage for Prodigy and Oasis. Saturday also had a lineup that was easy for me because most of the bands I wanted to see played on the Outdoor stage, one after the other. Getting into Coachella is a bitch. You have to get there early, or late, not in the middle. We arrived in Indio and didn't get inside until about 3:30 because the traffic is horrible. If you want to see a band that's playing at three (like Folk Implosion!!), make sure you arrive in Indio at noon.

Cornershop opened with 'Heavy Soup', the opening track from their latest album, 'Handcream for a Generation'. They only played two classics which was their rendition of 'Norwiegn Wood' and 'Brimful of Asha'. Everything else was off their latest album which is great, because I really love the new record. Tjinder Singh was dressed in a pinstripe suit and he must've been burning up on stage because it was freakin' hot!

I only heard about 20 minutes of Groove Armada because I was busy looking for my brother. They were going off and the dance tent was packed even though it was only five in the afternoon. My brother told me later that they played 'Superstylin' which is an amazing track and I wish I was there but I went to check out Queens of the Stone Age.

Something needs to be said about good rock music. I'm not talking about the shit you constantly hear on the radio like that rock/rap junk or any of that rock music with a DJ scratchin' in the background. Just straight up rock with two guitarists, a bassist, and a kick ass drummer. That's what Queens of the Stone Age did. They played about a half/half set, half new stuff from their upcoming album, and half old stuff. Their new stuff sounded great and Dave Ghrol joined them on drums which was pretty cool to see. They played right during the sunset and it was the perfect background, a nice orange-y sky with palm trees while listening to 'Quick and to the Pointless' and 'Song for the Dead'. I can't wait for their new album.

I've seen the Beta Band several times and they are really fun to see. But they seem to be falling in the same trap that a lot of band fall into, they only play a certain number of songs and never venture outside of that set. I've seen the Beta Band like 5 times and they seem to stick to the same tracks every time I see them and it's getting a little boring. But I still love it when they play 'The House Song' and bust out with the two drummers. And it's pure perfection when the trumpet player comes out for 'Dry the Rain'. I won't hold their stale setlist against them since this was a festival and I'm sure the majority of the crowd has never seen them.

After the Beta Band I wandered over to the main dance tent where Sasha and Digweed were already spinning. I have a hard time reviewing these guys because I'm not that into the progressive house scene. Needless to say, I didn't know any songs they played and as usual none of the songs they did play sucked. They were on the infamous Delta Heavy stage and their light show was pretty impressive.

Since I was having such a great time at Sasha and Digweed, I didn't make it to the Chemical Brothers on time (10:45pm). So I missed the first 10 or 15 minutes of their set. Their new material sounded really great and I love seeing the Chemical Brothers because they mix up their songs quite a bit. Even brand new tracks from their recent album, 'Come With Us', sound totally different. I can remember them playing 'Out of Control', 'The Test', 'Song to the Siren', 'Setting Sun', 'Block Rockin' Beats', and there were also little bits of 'Chemical Beats' and 'Galaxy Bounce'. That really pissed me off, I was really stoked to hear the "UGH!" from 'Chemical Beats' during their final track, 'The Test', and it was a total let down when they didn't play it. Other then that, it was a bangin' set and I really enjoyed them.

Getting out of Coachella is a bitch. Either leave during the headliner or right after. Don't stay around waiting for friends or any of that shit, just book it to your car and hit the freeway! It took us another hour to get out of the parking lot and I can only hope that Indio improves the roads by next year.

Sunday was less crowded. The lineup has less of the "heavy hitters" then Saturday but it was still pretty strong. I wanted to get inside Coachella by two so I can see Elbow at 2:15. The friends that I came with wanted to see all of Oasis so already it was going to be a long day.

The traffic wasn't as bad as Saturday but I still got inside a little late and didn't catch Elbow until 2:30 so I missed a few of their songs. They were playing 'Red' when I walked in the tent and rolled through several tracks on their album, 'Asleep In The Back'. They sounded really good and this will be the third time I've seen them do an "opening" slot. They have yet to headline a show in Los Angeles and when they come around with the Doves it will be opening slot number four. They also played "Powder Blue", "Newborn", "Bitten by the Tailfly", "Coming Second", and closed with "Scattered Black and Whites". One cool thing about seeing Elbow in the smaller Dance tent is that they had a pretty decent light show even for two in the afternoon. Also, the tent was packed which means that loads of people made sure to be there early for Elbow like I did.

After they finished up, there wasn't really much else to see until the Strokes at five. Some friends and I sat outside the main dance tent where Bad Boy Bill was DJ'ing and that was really cool. I was just too damn tired to dance or do anything so I sat in the grass drinking water until it was time to head over.

I've had a sorted past with the Strokes. I like them and I hate the fact that I do. They are just a stupid fun band and it makes me feel good listening to their album. There was a pretty big crowd for their show on the main stage and I'm sure most of these people were wondering, "what's the big deal with the strokes?!?!" They came out a few minutes late and banged through a pretty boring set. They pretty much played the whole album plus a couple of new tracks. I wanted to leave by 5:45 to catch Cut Chemist but they had to start, 'Hard to Explain' so I was stuck there for another three minutes.

My friends and I decided to meet up in the main dance tent for Paul Oakenfold when the Strokes were finished. In the meantime I wanted to see what Cut Chemist was all about. I've only heard of him through his work with DJ Shadow so I had an idea of what to expect: beats and a shitload of scratchin'. And that's pretty much what I got; he had three turntables and one of those CD scratching machines. I really enjoy watching "turntablists" work because it's just so freakin' hard to do. Cut Chemist was using all three turntables at once, and there were times when he didn't even have time to switch a record so he would put two or three records on each deck. As he finished using the record he would just peel it off the top, throw it on the floor and use the record below it to cue up the next part. This might be common practice but I've never seen that before! Damn, it's almost time to meet my friends at Oakenfold and I don't' want to leave.... arg!

Eventually I make my way to the main dance tent where Oakenfold is spinning and the first song I hear is a remix of Radiohead's 'Everything in it's Right Place' which is always nice. Before my friends show up, he plows through a bunch of other familiar songs from his DJ CD's. I ask them if they care who we see, Oakenfold or Cut Chemist and the decision is up to me. So we head on back to the small tent for the rest of Cut Chemist's set.

Cut Chemist was finishing up his set and he needed some help from the audience. He pulled out a mic and started recording his own voice asking for a couple volunteers. He asked the first guy to just say anything into the mic and naturally the guy goes, "um... what do you want me to say?"
"umm.. Coachella is cool... umm... this is my girlfriend---"
"Okay, okay, next"
He hands it to a guy that shouts, "WHAT'S UP COACHELLA!!!!!" in this deep voice. Next he asked for a girl and she squeals into the mic, "Coachella is the shit! I drove all the way here from Albuquerque with a bunch of strangers!". Finally he asks us all to end it with a huge cheer so we all start screaming. With the sample recorded he goes back behind the decks and after about a minute or so he asks everyone, "What do you guys think of these CD turntables?" About half the audience cheers for them and he explains further, "Well, they're alright, but they do let me do cool shit like this." On a regular turntable he throws on a record with just beats and then starts scratching in the samples that he just recorded. So you would hear regular beats and then "What's Up--What's Up--What's Up Coachella!!!" It was the coolest shit I've ever seen and easily the highlight of my weekend. What was also weird is when he ended the recording on the crowd cheering and then started to scratch that as well. Once he finished we were going nuts and he did a cartwheel as he walked off stage.

We still had some time to kill before Prodigy at eight, so we headed on over to see the rest of Oakenfold's set. Nothing really exciting happened, just chilled out while he spun some pretty decent tunes.

Prodigy came out and opened up with 'Their Law' from their "Music for a Jilted Generation" album. It felt really good to hear that opening sample, "what we're dealing with here is a total lack of respect for the law." But then it went downhill from there. Everyone I was with though they were fuckin' awsome but I guess I've just outgrown Prodigy. Not so much their music because I still love listening to it but their live shows are annoying. Why? I just don't need Maxim yelling at me "WAIT FOR IT!!!!" or for him to constantly scream into the mic. They did play the hits though which was cool because I haven't heard them in a while. Songs like, 'Breath', 'Firestarter', 'Poison', and 'Minefields'. They also played a few new tracks that were more rock-like then electronic-like and I though they sucked. They closed with 'Feel My Fire' which is another track that I can live without.

One thing about Prodigy is that they have a lot of energy on stage, as opposed to the headliners, Oasis. My friend, Albert, made the comment that Oasis have no stage presence and having them follow Prodigy was a bad move. The entire crowd wasn't into them at all and a lot of people either headed back to the dance tent or just went home when Oasis came on. I only stuck around for four or five songs. They did play 'Columbia' and 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' which was nice because I haven't heard those tunes in a long time. But when they started going into their new material, we just had to leave. I hope their album sounds good, but I'm not holding my breath.

Overall it was a damn fine weekend and I saw a lot of great bands for a pretty decent price. The best part is that Coachella just gets better and better every year, water was only 2 bucks, the bathroom lines were a little long but manageable, and there was even some construction around the city of Indio so traffic might not be so bad next year. As long as they continue to have the Coachella Festival and the lineup isn't half bad, I'll be there.