COACHELLA 2012: THE WINNERS AND LOSERS

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(image via Boston.com)

Coachella is, without a doubt, one of the best-run music festivals in the States.  I have made the pilgrimage to the vast polo fields in Indio, CA for the past 10 years and went both weekends this year in order to give you the full rundown.

So…who were this years big winners and losers?

WINNER:

WEEKEND 1

This was the first year that Goldenvoice experimented in letting us all know just how greedy they really are. One magical, special, communal experience?  Goldenvoice said f*ck that and decided to give us the same exact lineup on two separate weekends… essentially doubling their profits.

On the surface, Weekend 2 seems like the winner based on weather alone. Weekend 2 had typical, hot, sunny skies, while Weekend 1 was f*cking freezing for California in April (IT WAS RAINING ON FRIDAY!!!).  But like I said, it’s always sunny at Coachella. Weekend 1’ners got an unique experience.

We got to laugh at all the people who failed to look at the weather report. It was in the low 50’s and girls were still walking around with nothing but a tiny marijuana leaf to cover their nips. Then, once we were done laughing, we were able to act as (creepy?) gentleman, offering the warmth of our body.

The real reason Weekend 1 is the clear winner: Who the hell wants sloppy seconds? There was a palpable excitement when “Hologram” Tupac (who, as COED pointed out, was not really a hologram: http://coed.com/2012/04/16/how-tupac-came-back-to-life-coachella-2012/) came on stage that first weekend. Weekend 2 had no big surprises. In fact, even Snoop Dogg’s crowd banter was the same both weeks. The set-lists were known. The reviews, already written. Weekend 1 got there 1st. Weekend 2 was just sloppy seconds.

LOSER:

ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC (THE SAHARA TENT)

The Sahara tent is usually filled to the brim with drugged out bros, hippies, and ravers–many of whom care about good electronic music. This year, the Sahara tent was filled up with bros, hippies, and ravers. Period.

In past years you could find acts like Boys Noize, Chemical Brothers, 2manydjs, Deadmau5, Orbital , MSTRKRFT, Simian Mobile Disco, Hot Chip, Chromeo, Fatboy Slim…all headlining the Sahara. This year, they filled the lineup with the most generic and mainstream EDM acts like David Guetta and AVICII. It was a douche-bag haven.

You had to explore outside of the “dance” tent to find music worth dancing to this year. Justice destroyed the Mainstage and great acts like Flying Lotus, The Rapture, SBTRKT, Amon Tobin, and Modeselktor could be found tearing it up in the alternative tents.

WINNER:

REFUSED: HARD ROCK REUNIONS

“Can I scream?!” The lead singer of the Swedish hard-rock band, Refused–that broke up in ’98–asks us this question. It is the first line of their song “New Noise.”  Thank god, the answer is still a resounding YES!  This mother*cker can scream. The band could have easily taken a big paycheck and phoned in a few reunion gigs, but these guys look like they rehearsed their ass off. Their sound was brutal, but oh-so-clean. If they end up touring near you, SEE REFUSED!

And while Cedric Bixler-Zavala, lead singer of At The Drive-In, can’t quite scream like he used to, these guys still brought the epic-punky-goodness in their first big reunion gig. If you wanted to mosh, this was the place to be.  My friend was literally bleeding by the end of their set.

THE BIG LOSER:

PARTY GOERS

Listen, if you are going to any of the myriad of pool parties during the day or night, you are doing Coachella all wrong. The festival goes from noon-2am. Great music is happening all day. Unless you desperately want to stand around with a cocktail in your hand and hope you get a glimpse of Paris Hilton or Gerard Butler, you better be on those polo fields doing drugs with your friends and trying to see every band you possibly can.

THE BIG WINNER:

RADIOHEAD

If you don’t think Radiohead is the best band in the world…well, you are wrong. Listen, I’m not the biggest fan of their last album, King of Limbs, but it appears their last two albums were a bridge to an awesome new sound that is finally emerging in the new songs in their set.

The lighting was beautiful. The band’s faces were chopped up and shown on large screens that hovered and moved above the stage.

No other band could switch out 30% of their setlist between weekends without missing a beat. No other band could get away with only playing one of their “big hits.”

Thom York spoke about the reason that they chose to play these big, scary festivals.  He spoke of the communal experience. And after they finished their song “Karma Police” and 60,000 people kept on singing the words below the desert sky, holding on tight to the people they love, we all knew exactly what he was talking about.

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