This was my seventh trip to Coachella and it was another fun one.
It was very hot — 100 degrees just after 2 p.m. Saturday, as you can see in the photo taken about 1/2 mile from the venue — but a trip to the Do Lab was all I needed to cool off.
The Do Lab is an area in the middle of the grounds where there are plenty of folks wielding hoses to spray people down and cool you off. There were DJs, including Adam Freeland, playing records at the Do Lab area all weekend, and everyone there seemed to be having a great time.
The musical highlight for me was Spiritualized, who played in the Mojave tent on Sunday as the sun went down. It was an “Acoustic Mainlines” show featuring leader Jason Spaceman playing acoustic guitar accompanied by a guy playing a Fender Rhodes, a four-woman string section and three female backing singers. There were some frustrating problems with the sound during the first couple of numbers, and I’ve heard that the sound was bad further back throughout the show, but I was up toward the front and could hear everything just fine. They played a lot of songs off their new album, which I like, as well as older tunes such as “Oh Happy Day,” “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” and “I Think I’m In Love.” The latter is my favorite Spiritualized song, but on Sunday it was “Ladies and Gentlemen…” that stole the show. As in the “Elvis mix” of the song that you can find if you dig around, it blended lyrics from “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You/Fools Rush In” (sung by the backing singers) with the original “All I want in life’s a little bit of love to take the pain away” etc., and it came together just beautifully. When the song ended I swear I saw three different people wiping tears from their eyes.
There were many other highlights over the weekend. It was great to finally see Portishead after all these years, and they delivered a killer set. Prince was excellent as well, opening with Morris Day and Jerome from The Time singing a couple old Time classics, then Sheila E. singing “The Glamorous Life,” then Chaka Khan singing “I Feel For You.” Then he started popping out his own tunes and things got even better.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks were very good, as were Dan Deacon, Love & Rockets, Fatboy Slim, Swervedriver, the Raconteurs, Roger Waters and Kraftwerk.
Among the more disappointing acts were Vampire Weekend, who were a bit blah; Aphex Twin, who played a laptop DJ set that didn’t do much for me; and Cut Copy, who I love on record but didn’t quite click live.
But the fun for me with Coachella is just being there. There’s a great vibe in the air, lots of fun people-watching, plenty of good music. I wish I didn’t have to wait a year for the next one.