Sunday, May 08, 2005

desert skies, pt. 2

fortified by a breakfast of waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, bacon, OJ, and coffee furnished by our palm springs neighbor mr. m, we started day two of coachella. rappers the perceptionists were on stage as we breezed in on sunday -- breezed, is right; it was much windier during the day than it had been on saturday. on the other hand, the search line was far more relaxed than on saturday, when i watched, both amused and dismayed, as a screener rummaged thoroughly through each bag; i was anxiously thinking of the special brownies hidden inside my own. fortunately, a young man ahead of me hadn't been too crafty; the woman opened up his pack, and out came a multicolored, six-inch-long glass pot pipe. "you don't know what that's for," he challenged her. she just scolded him indignantly and started looking through the rest of his jumbled belongings, quickly unearthing a fifth of whiskey. i nearly laughed out loud. the guy simply turned around and walked away toward the entrance; she didn't do anything further. she said to no one in particular, who happened to be me, that he probably had his stash on him anyway. "i used to get high," she said. "i know." she went on to say, while patting the many zippered compartments of my bag, that she didn't have to search so completely, "but i've got people watching me, too." i concurred sympathetically and asked where the guy had gone. she indicated he'd simply taken off, and that wasn't her problem. i agreed wholeheartedly. she relinquished her hold on my bag long before getting near the contraband, and i was on my way.

anyway, nothing nearly so exciting happened in the search line on sunday. after grabbing some water from the press tent, we dashed off to hear the last seven minutes of autolux feedbacking in the mojave-tent darkness. fuckin' great. a distant quick-tongued echo of m.i.a. sounded agreeable, a faraway dash of jem proved momentarily compelling with a cover of the reggae-inflected dance tune i think is called "just be good to me." what i heard of the fiery furnaces sounded awfully twee ... but it was token sensitive-aggro band thrice that nearly incited me and ms. millionaire to violence (haha). god, they were awful. and they seemed to play forever as we ate our indian curries and ice cream.

we fled to tegan and sara on the smaller outdoor stage; the setting sun nearly blinded them, but they sounded great, very big and pop, alternately zingy and twangy. the arcade fire proved multifaceted and sporadically intriguing, but i was a little bored, despite the accordion. gang of four was surprisingly enjoyable with its spastic political new-wave funk. 00soul griped about it but later admitted it was pretty good, their middle-aged fuddy look notwithstanding. we caught a bit of the cabaret-punk rantings of the dresden dolls, including a weimar-ized take on sabbath's "war pigs," complete with anti-bush diatribe, woo-hoo.

it was desert goth day, the crowd peppered with a strain of strange visitors from another planet in their black attire, thick-soled boots, wild hair and bruised makeup, sexy slashed tops and tight trousers and bondage accouterments and pouting black lips. appropriately, the sunset this night was harsher, not diffused by any clouds. the sky went hard gold, then briefly pink, and then it was dusky blue. a black sea of humanity surged slowly toward the main stage as new order emerged and played some joy division songs; i watched from the VIP terrace as three young people chased each other exuberantly, like little kids, around the edge of the crowd during the opening number. the shiny happy darkness of it all, i reflected, would soon give way to the shiny hateful darkness of nine inch nails. the difference b/w '80s and '90s goth-pop in a nutshell. 00soul and i again slipped away to the smaller outdoor stage to check out british sea power, a pretty good brit-pop act that was in any event better than watching new order.

we made it back to the terrace to see trent and the boys do their thing; by this time, the field was surging with fans, maybe even more than had come for coldplay. our boy came out and sang about feelings: do you know how it feels, this is how it feels, how do you feel, etc. i dunno. i never dug nine inch nails, all apologies to johnny cash. at least they've cooled it with the aggro synth-thrusting posturing, but even the more guitar-centered version was tedious. i just don't buy the sensitivity routine ... or, actually, the anger. but i was outvoted by the crowd, who sucked up every note.

decision time again: leave in the middle of NIN, or stay and watch black star or perhaps bright eyes while the hordes disperse? the chief wanted to see the show, so we stayed. (it was during the middle of this set that the marissa incident occurred.) my feet were too blistered to hope to hike over to the smaller outdoor stage for bright eyes, who we've seen and will doubtless see again. thanks to the video screen and the relative quiet b/w sets, we caught some of the sound and fury signifying nothing that was the faint, from faraway. the stream of humanity continued out the gates unabated as black star took the stage. i had been interested in hearing it -- black star is hip-hoppers mos def and talib kweli -- but it was hard to pay attention to them due to the distance from the stage and my general exhaustion and sensory overload. we stayed for about half the set, maybe more, then bailed. once again, the return trip proved smoother and quicker than the previous night. we congratulated ourselves on our logistical genius, then stopped at a convenience store for some beer and water.

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