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The Cure

Donald Glaude


The Flaming Lips

inside the Sahara Tent

Perry Farrell


British hip-hopper Dizzee Rascal


photos and report by Carl Noone, Jr.
(see photo & report from Saturday here)

Officially titled "The 5th Annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival", this year's edition of the West Coast version of "Ultra Fest-meets-Bonnaroo" proved to be an awe-inspiring wonderland filled with beautiful people, magical sounds, and enough memories to last an entire lifetime. A little bit of Miami's long-running Techno party came crashing head first into Tennessee's 3-day Hippie extravaganza for 2 days of sheer bliss. Unfortunately, my first Coachella experience was reduced to only one day by unforeseen circumstances, but this proved to be a godsend as the large glowing orb in the sky known as the Sun took its toll on my un-acclimatized Pennsylvania body.

As with previous year's events, Coachella 2004 was held in Indio, California amongst the rows of palm trees that line the lush 90-acre grass fields of The Empire Polo Ground. Nestled in the Palm Springs Desert near the base of Mount San Jacinto, Indio is quite literally an oasis of extravagant homes, high-priced shops, and ritzy golf courses that begs travelers to endure its arid temperatures. On Sunday May 2nd, 50,000 people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds (Germany, Mexico, and Japan were all represented in the press pit) heeded the call of the wild, coming together to sing and dance in the 105 degree weather and became bonded together in a communal experience because of their love for complex alternative music and the lifestyle it represents.

That one single day of entertainment revealed an amazing lineup that included alternative rock icons The Cure and The Flaming Lips; folkie ethereal Belle and Sebastian; trippy downtempo act AIR; and a slew of Indie Rock's who's who including Thursday, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and !!!. Hip-Hop was represented in true fashion by freestyle virtuoso Supernatural, 19 year-old UK phenom Dizzee Rascal, who performed his first-ever live set in the U.S. (sans a few TV appearances), and regional hot-shot B-boys Atmosphere.

But it was the massive "Sahara" tent that took home the cake this day with its incredible lineup of stellar DJ talent that included an opening DJ set from UK Nu-Breaks masters Hybrid, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, the West Coast's favorite son, Donald Glaude, 2manydjs, Adam Freeland, an amazing live set by The Crystal Method, and a totally out-of-character closing set from Berlin's own superstar DJ, Paul Van Dyk.

Surveying the layout with my partner-in-crime upon our early arrival, we discovered a treasure trove of activities that included the Coachella Film Festival tent that world premiered the new Beastie Boys video and a host of independent films all weekend; a bicycle rodeo consisting of a 2-man bike-operated Ferris wheel, a 4-man bike-operated carousel, and an assortment of awkwardly customized and altered mountain bikes and adult-sized trikes; a giant Tesla coil that spewed 30-foot purple bolts of lightning into the night sky; acres of beer gardens and ethnic food vendors; giant abstract metal sculptures and remote-controlled giant robots; plenty of interactive art installations; and enough cool merchandise for sale from vendors from around the country to help make the walk from stage to stage a jaw dropping sightseeing tour of epic proportions.

Highlight from Sundays menu of tasty musical samplings included blistering DJ sets from Peretz (featuring Perry Farrell and a partner, trading off deep progressive house mixes while Farrell added tweaked-out elements and echo-y vocal effects with a sampler) and Donald Glaude, who performed his typical mind-blowing set that included behind-the-back scratching. Saul Williams barked out a blistering barrage of socio-political rants and raves to the cheering throngs after Thelonius Monster had finished telling the main stage crowd to "smoke some weed, smoke some coke, drive real fast!!" in their tongue-in-cheek Punk rock fashion. Meanwhile, MC Supernatural was busy rhyming about everything from drinking Heineken and smoking blunts, to the contents of one concertgoers purse in his comical yet refined display of lyrical expertise.

The Cure performed all of their hits in excellent form, hitting all the right notes on "Fascination Street", "Pictures of You", "Close to Me", and the perennial "Lovecats". The Basement Jaxx rocked the second stage with selections from their latest CD "Kish Kash" with the help of a cast of players that included a drummer, guitarist, and a host of vocal guests including Dizzee Rascal who performed the single "Lucky Star". Finally, back in the DJ tent, Paul Van Dyk unleashed a torrid of evil-sounding hard trance numbers that were filled with haunting samples of laughing, reminiscent of old slasher-type movies while echoes of the Cure's encore faded in the distance.

But it was lead singer/songwriter Wayne Coyne of Oklahoma City's Flaming Lips who provided the most spectacular and quite possibly most memorable vision from ANY Coachella festival this night. After an awkwardly emotional farewell speech, prior to the start of their second-to-last set in which he thanked the crowd "for making my 11-year-old dream come true", Coyne proceeded to enter a slowly-inflating clear beach ball that rose 20 feet into the air. As dozens of performers costumed as farm animals roamed the stage with flashlights in their hands, Coyne slowly rolled himself off the edge of the stage and into the crowd, appearing as though he were walking on the sea of hands held up to support his self-described "bubble that fell from outer space".

After the classical fanfare that welcomed him back to the stage had subsided, he donned an acoustic guitar and proceeded to launch into selections from the band's latest conceptual opus, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" while scenes from "The Wizard of Oz" lit up the sky over his head.

Only one word can describe the collective thoughts of me and the other 49,999 people who witnessed it………"wow".


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