Coachella 2011 Music and Arts Festival – Review

1

Coachella 2011

It’s been two weeks and it’s taken us this long to look back and process all that was Coachella.

It was hard trying to pick out specific moments from the festival to highlight – the entire 3 days our senses were being overloaded with amazing music, art, and food (especially spicy pies) and we were amongst some of the friendliest music enthusiasts in the world. But after sharing our experience with some friends over too many glasses of gin, tequila and 7up, we think we’ve managed to pinpoint the best (and worst) moments from the 2011 Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

Friday April 15th, 2011

Car Camping at Coachella
The blazing Californian sun over the Coachella campsites

After a long night of drinking and meeting fellow campers and Canadians, we woke up at the crack of 8 o’clock – sleeping any later would have been cause of immediate suffocation. We started the day with an awesome breakfast buffet that was reminiscent of MacDonald’s hot cakes and sausages and then walked by a line of faceless girls who stood in line for hours to shower and blow dry their hair in the 45°C heat (only to sweat off their makeup immediately afterwards). The mist machines by the food area kept us cool for 10 seconds, which is 10 seconds of heaven when you feel like your blood is at boiling point and it’s only 11 o’clock.

Then, show time.

!!! (Chk Chk Chk)

We headed over to the outdoor stage just in time to hear !!! (Chk Chk Chk) play Jamie, My Intentions are Bass. It was a fun show, and Nic Offer and his skinny legs and short shorts were going mad all over the stage and into the crowd.

Skrillex

The Sahara Tent was blocked when we headed over to check out the afternoon’s DJ lineup. We made it for Skrillex, who killed it for the massive amount of Dubstep fans who were spilling out into main concert area. Dubstep really took over Coachella, and even had its own tent dedicated to showering hot festivalgoers with water day and night. I felt it was a little overkill when the wobbles started drowning out some of the main stage acts.

A-Trak

Next up was A-Track who drew in a huge crowd and had cameras zoomed in showcasing his talent on the ones and twos. Even though it was a million degrees outside, people were still going crazy for his set. Over to the side of the stage we saw Usher and closet techno lover Paul McCartney enjoying the show.

Afrojack at Coachella
The crowd threw their hands in the air for A-Trak

Afrojack

One of our favourite acts of Coachella, Afrojack spun some killuhh Dutch House. He kept setting up builds and with every drop the crowd went wild. We had a mad dance off with the people around as we sweat profusely and stripped down to as little as possible.

The Black Keys

This stage seemed to be constantly having AV troubles, which killed the Black Keys set. You could hardly hear the moving sounds we’ve come to love from this blues-rock band, and even though we know they are still awesome, it was sad not to hear them at their fullest.

Marina and the Diamonds

Their set was just meh. The show was late starting, by about a half hour, and they seemed to faulter their first track. It looked like Marina might have had one or two too many drinks, and we split early to head over to Cut Copy. When you’re competing with 4 other stages, you have to be at the top of your game – picking and choosing between artists is hard, but sometimes they make the decision for you.

Cut Copy

And we were glad we did. Over at Cut Copy the crowd was full of energy and it really seemed like everyone was a fan, knowing all the words to every song. Great show.

Monarchy

Monarchy was a pleasant surprise, and was possibly one of the best shows of the weekend. Phantom masks and tuxedos made for a dreamy and chill vibe, and they performed a new acapella track (below). Before the festival we attempted to learn the flash dance they were pushing out over YouTube, but there wasn’t enough room to move, so we just enjoyed the zentai dancer on stage.

Robyn

Robyn put on a good show but once again AV problems caused the screens to bunk out and at that point we were too far back to really get a good view. The crowd was massive and the show definitely warranted the larger outdoor stage.

Chemical Brothers

By the end of the night we were pretty exhausted, but managed to catch the Chemical Brothers set, which had an amazing light show but was a tough choice with Boys Noize being in the same timeslot.


Saturday April 16th, 2011

Coachella Main Stage
Festivalgoers mosey around the main stage between acts

Saturday seemed ten times hotter than Friday, and we tried to find any shade we could for our pasty white Canadian skin. We realized we came pretty unprepared after watching festival veterans set up shade tents, hammocks, personal showers, disco balls, and smoke machines, and were lucky that our neighbours were much more prepared than we were.

Over at the concert area:

Rye Rye

Rye Rye was another Coachella favourite. We made it right up front and experienced first hand how much energy that girl has. Her dancing was a lot of fun and her huge personality made me wish we were real life friends.

Rye Rye at Coachella
Rye Rye doin’ the Rye Rye

The Twelves

Amazingly talented producers, but the Twelves performance was a little lackluster. The show was missing some energy and stage presence, although they did occasionally look up at the crowd and look super appreciative to be there. They mainly showcased their portfolio of remixes which was a huge hit.

Two Door Cinema Club

We briefly checked out Two Door Cinema club who drew a big crowd. They were pretty good, but we honestly enjoy the remixes more than the originals, and at that point we were really feeling the heat and needed to take a break.

Empire of the Sun

We headed back to the campsite to take a nap and accidentally also got drunk (or not so accidentally). So, I unfortunately don’t remember much of Empire of the Sun except that there was a lot of trance and dreamyness going on.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire was a showstopper and probably one of the best shows of the entire festival. They were so humble, modest and appreciative and people were eating up every second. The show closed with a spectacular showcase of lit up beach balls during Wake Up (and if you managed to snag one of those balls, check out the Creators Project on Facebook).


Sunday April 17th, 2011

Crowd at Coachella
Another massive crowd at Coachella’s outdoor stage

Sadly the last day of the festival, sadly the day we discovered the air-conditioned-flushing-toilet bathrooms on back of the porto potties. After 3 days of wearing SPF60 and drinking 1000 bottles of water a day, we started to feel a little worn, but our excitement didn’t fade. We relaxed between shows by checking out people running in hamster wheels at the energy powered DJ station and stopping into a couple of Air Conditioned tents to get free wifi, make some posts and recharge. The H&M tent had free water, which was wonderful given that water was $2.00 a bottle and there wasn’t a lot of refill stations. More cell phone charging stations would have also been a bonus; people were hoarding every outlet you could find.

We were also really digging the DJs who played in the smaller venues like Alph Alfa, who we met and who played three times over the course of the event. It was nice to see a few Lady J’s too, like DJ Frances who stole the show in the Heineken beer dome. After checking out a few smaller sets, we started making our way to the bigger evening acts.

Wicks & Alf Alpha
Wicks and Alf Alpha

Ellie Goulding

We checked out Goulding because we wanted to hear the voice behind so many of the remixes that we love (shook) and because they were giving out free starry eyed sunglasses. The girl looked amazing and gave it her all while she played guitar and a personal drum. Loved loved loved her performance of Lights.

Duck Sauce

Duck Sauce probably drew in the biggest crowd of any DJ set we saw. The set was a little weird but still very enjoyable. Every track ended with an intense drop that left a semi-awkward pause, but then again the sound in the tent wasn’t that great during their show. They started off playing some Armand Van Helden and A-Trak remixes, but the crowd grew impatient for Barbara Streisand: they managed to drown out whatever it was Duck Sauce was playing at the time by singing so loudly that the duo skillfully dropped it in. People went insane for it, but I honestly think they could have hit that on replay for the entire 50 minutes and the crowd would have been satisfied.

Chromeo

We managed to get front row spots for Chromeo and joined people in chanting “Chromeo-oooo-oooo”. Throughout the entire set people were going mad dancing. The cameras put Dave One’s Ableton setup in the spotlight, and I’ve got to admit it would be nice to see the guys perform live with a full band. Nevertheless, it was probably one of our top picks from the festival: the guys had such amazing energy and style. Chromeo also welcomed a couple of guest appearances, including little brother A-track and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend during “I Could Be Wrong” for a saxophone solo.

Dave One of Chromeo and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
Dave One of Chromeo and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend

Kanye West

Our last show of Coachella, Kanye West the robot came out for a solid 2-hour nonstop performance. He made a comment about how the show was the most important since his mother’s death, which kind of made him seem less arrogant. That said, we thought the show was over after the first hour when he performed a musical montage with some fireworks, but stuck it out for another hour thinking there might be a special quest (there was not). Being one of the last shows, people started clearing out early. Very talented man, but went on for what felt like forever.


Conclusion

Sunset over Coachella
Sunset over Coachella

Sure there’s Bonaroo, Lollapalooza, and Glasgow, but there’s no arguing that the atmosphere and vibe behind Coachella is one of kind. Boasting some of the friendliest people, staff included, and being in the hot hot heat of the Californian sun, how could you want to be anywhere else.

For all those who showed love and took our stickers, we thank. Wicks wore the same remix86 shirt 3 days in a row because we got so much love – and it got so filthy that we kind of want to frame it (we’ll be selling our grin. dance. sweat. shirts online soon).

But usually after being in filth and scorching sun for 4 days straight you’re ready to go home. But we just weren’t ready to leave. It was sad seeing all the spots empty one by one. Cars beeped and people shouted as they left to say goodbye. Til next year friends.

xo
Hot Biscuit

(Check out more pictures from Coachella on the remix86 Facebook page).