Coachella 2014
  • Coachella 2014
Although I'm usually an upstanding member of the Coachella Boosters Club, I have to confess that the ultra-heavy crowd on Friday coupled with the return of the dreaded dust storm on Saturday evening (last year's struck on the night of Red Hot Chili Peppers, this year's hit Muse, correlation/causation, I know, I know) had me feeling a bit beaten down by the festival. Not to discount great sets from MGMT, Lorde, Pharrell Williams and Solange, but I was feeling kind of beaten down until my Saturday night ended finding shelter from the sinister winds with Darkside in one of the few tents with walls, and Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington's blistering electro/rock technological fusion turned my weary frown into a giant smile that held up for the rest of the weekend.

It certainly helped that Sunday's weather took a turn for the miraculous, high eighties and breezy, and featured Neutral Milk Hotel (not pictured, Mangum's vampiric anti-photo policy extended even to the monitors, which played a constant loop of the spinning Grande Wheel throughout) playing the coveted sundown set. Although I'd just seen Neutral Milk Hotel at the Neptune, familiarity did not diminish the potency of the kind of spell cast by singing saw solos and shouty fever-dream lyrics accompanying a welcom drop in temperature and the sun ducking below the mountains. Before that, we preserved our energy by investigating the satellite pool scene in the early afternoon, paying visits to parties at the Sonos/Pandora House (transport from an elementary school in Escalades to a branded house, complete with bathtub as champagne ice bucket and Diplo lazily tending to an iPad DJ set while a backyard of revelers bounced beach balls across a pool and grabbed free drinks) the Saguaro (technicolor backyard, fake Icelandic vodka-sponsored snowstorms), the Ace Hotel's annual Desert Gold (laconic, perfectly chill, a shabby chic hipster paradise).

Later, after Beck pleased the crowd with retro hits and Disclosure liberated dancing from of the tents, my festival concluded with a full dose of Arcade Fire. Dressed for a Halloween Formal and bringing reliable locomotive of the real feels, they reaffirmed my True Believer status in the joys outweighing the sorrows of Coachella. I'm sure there's a thinkpiece on the topic of What It All Means for the depth of the indie rock bench that one band headlined a major festival twice in four years, but I was too busy screaming along to "Rebellion (Lies)", jumping around like an idiot on blistered feet to songs from last-year's Reflector, and appreciating the brilliant choice to invite Debbie Harry to sing "Heart of Glass" before providing guest vocals on "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)". The band raced against the clock to play as many songs as possible before the midnight cutoff, pausing occasionally to express gratitude to the fans, to speak truth to power about how it "super sucks" in VIP rooms, and to invite a bunch of new friends to dance along with them while wearing giant papier-m√Ęché faces of world leaders before sending us all back home for another year. Or few days, for those willing to brave the festival again next weekend.


  • MGMT: keeping it weird, putting a mournful/realistic spin on the classics.

  • Lorde, excellent as usual, but if you want to feel the true weight of your own advancing age, listen to a teenage superstar prodigy muse about how scary it is to get older.

  • Lorde

  • Solange
  • Solange

Pharrell Williams
  • Pharrell Williams. The man, the hat, the legend. The set featured originals and covers from his deep production catalog, with a ton of guest appearances.

Pharrell Williams
  • Pharrell Williams, losing himself to dance.

  • Darkside

  • Darkside

#selfie #notreally
  • #selfie #notreally

Diplo, tending to a poolside iPad for Sonos
  • Diplo, tending to a poolside iPad for Sonos

  • #coachelly

  • #selfsies

  • #selfsiebot


Lana Del Rey
  • Lana Del Rey: debuting "West Coast" on the West Coast and actually pretty good live! I guess SNL isn't a reliable indicator.

  • Beck, playing all the hits.

Disclosure: The fire, it is starting to burn.
  • Disclosure: The fire, it is starting to burn.

Arcade Fire Mirror Bear Welcomes You
  • Arcade Fire Mirro Bear Welcomes You

  • Reflektor Regine

Win Butler borrows a camera from the photo pit
  • Win Butler borrows a camera from the photo pit

Arcade Fire
  • Arcade Fire