Archive for April, 2012

Coachella wrap up, damn you time…

Posted in The sun rises in the east but they can still set it in the west. on April 25, 2012 by robdc

With time being the universal restriction that it is I’ve had to do a pretty slap dash job of finishing the process of getting my thoughts down about Coachella and LA this time around. It won’t do the trip justice but I have to get some more stuff down before it leaves my mind forever. At the end of the first night I had to split from the group to catch Godspeed You Black Emperor, a group that no one else I was traveling with had ever heard of before. The experience was truly breathtaking. They played for an hour exactly and didn’t stop making music for one second of the whole performance. As they started playing the song “storm” the wind blew through the crowd more than it had previously been doing, a moment I took note of.

The musical acts were truly eclectic and a good deal of these acts had not performed together in over a decade. Refused, Company Flow, At the Drive In, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (I’ve got quite a bit to say about this one, especially about the appearance of Tupac in the middle).

The next mind blowing show was At the Drive in, they opened with Arc Arsenal which was pretty much expected and played a majority of Relationship of Command. It was a solid show but I had to miss the last song (one armed scissor, still kind of pissed they didn’t play Enfilade) to make it to DJ Shadow. He opened in truly epic form, mixing up stuff from Endtroducing and Private Press but there was one thing missing… Where the hell was shadow?! All I see is a ball on a stage with stuff being projected onto it. Melissa and I were on opposite sides of the stage so we got pretty good shots from both angles.


Just as I was thinking that the cuts were too perfect and the timing was too on point, maybe he just sent in a recording… Oh no!… The sphere turned, revealing Shadow with his decks, a sampler and a digital drum kit that was linked to the sampler. YES!


He lost me for a bit when he said “here’s a new one” and dropped a purely dubstep track, is my favorite DJ and producer now making dubstep?! oh god no!

He quickly regained the favor of the crowd by turning the dub step noise into a more palatable drum and bass symphony, playing the snares and bass by hand. He then threw two of my all time favorites together with “Stem” and “Organ Donor” with some Rage Against the Machine lyrics over the top. Then the roof got blown off the fucking place when Zack de la Rocha jumped up on stage and finished the set live!!! YES!!!


There were other highlights and all the bands put on stellar shows but I feel that I might be cut short so let me get to the most important subject, if I’m gauging by how many people have asked me about it. Tupac.

During Dr. Dre and Snoop’s performance there were many cameos and 2 fallen homies paid respects to. Cameos included but were not limited to: Warren G, Eminem and 50 Cent. And the first homage was to Nate Dogg, they played songs featuring Nate Dogg while a heart warming powerpoint presentation of old pictures of all the people on stage with good ol’ Nate was shown on the gargantuan screens on either side of the stage. It was not super great but I’m sure a very warm thought to take this time out of their performance to honor a fallen friend. The show went on and classics were played, then it happened.

Out of the black stage, arose Tupac……. no seriously, he rose out of the stage, and began performing in all his crappy, uncanny valley, glory. With Snoop. Lets take a step back here and think about what’s actually happening here. A dead man’s image is being pranced around on stage in front of 90,000 people for the sole purpose of making money. Thinking more deeply about it, the company that was paid $400,000 to make this atrocity is the same company that did the fantastic work on Tron Legacy, making the young version of Jeff Bridges. What this means is that someone, somewhere, was paid to dawn a mocap suit (black spandex with white balls placed strategically throughout) and prance around like Tupac. Then the image was rendered using the video of this undisclosed person, to look something like Tupac on stage. The worst part to me was when Snoop interacted with it, acting as if there was a person on stage to perform with. The effect was thoroughly underwhelming and without me expressing any of these thoughts to the others in the group, as I looked over to them they were all laughing as outwardly as I was, it was pretty ridiculous in person. Also, although the video of the event and some accounts say that it looked pretty good, I’m pretty sure that this is due to a very specific proximity to the performance. As best as I can gather, the sweet spot was 75-100 yards from the stage, and within that range you were seeing the performance as it was meant to be seen. Everyone else, myself included, was presented with a cartoonish representation of a dead guy dancing and singing with a super high guy, who may or may not have been aware of the fact that he wasn’t performing with a person.


I hate to be negative about the last performance of a downright amazing few days of fantastic music, beyond delicious food and side splitting laughs but it’s what I’ve been asked about the most and I think Dre and Snoop really dropped the ball on this one.



Coachella Day One, Soakin’ it up

Posted in The sun rises in the east but they can still set it in the west. on April 17, 2012 by robdc

If I hadn’t already put it in writing, Brando and Natalia are my travel dream team. Let me now make it official that Melissa has been added to that team. The jokes and maniacal laughter carried us out of LA and into palm springs, the city we would be calling home for the entirety of the Coachella madness. On the way in we saw a real deal wind farm, hundreds of acres of turbines dancing in the desert wind.

IMG_6536I apologize in advance that the standard I’ve been setting for pictures will be abandoned for the rest of these posts since we were not permitted to carry “professional” camera’s into the show so I had to drop back to the old point and shoot. (although there was a suspicious amount of douche bags with dslrs inside the pearly gates of the damn show)

To put it frankly the weather on the first day blew ass. It was windy and freezing but we were still happy to be there and see some incredible live acts.

IMG_0383 IMG_6537

Although we originally planned to be apart for most of the show since our music tastes didn’t appear to overlap, it seems our assumptions about each other’s opinions were wrong. Most of the show was spent either together or splintered in half as we ran around seeing acts like Pulp, Black Keys, Neon Indian, Jimmy Cliff, M. Ward, Atari Teenage Riot and Refused.

I’d like to take this moment to make a comment about the retarded nature of substance control at this particular event. Drugs are bad, got it. You have to take some action to at least appear to deter people from doing drugs at these events, also, got it. The sad reality is that without some level of substance use these types of events would not be profitable or exist. That being said, alcohol is not a drug in the legal sense and you allow  it’s use (profit from it’s insanely jacked up prices). Why in the name of holy hell would you not want people to be able to buy a drink then walk to the stage and drink it while they watch their favorite crooner?

There are beer gardens where you are checked on the way in and out and in these beer gardens there are only 3 options: Heineken, Newcastle and Tequila?! If tequila is an option why not other libations?! Who is responsible for this?!

After enduring these pitiful options for most of the day we decided to venture to the mysterious tent in the corner of the beer garden:


The line outside seemed to be getting larger and we could all use a redbull so we decided it was a good idea. At the entrance there was a woman dressed in 1920’s garb asking for a password… this was a speakeasy. After watching the people in front of us flub the password I asked a man in suspenders standing just outside the entrance, after some coercion he let loose with the pass phrase “when bulls fly”. The flapper asked us for the key, we thus spoke, entry was granted. Upon entry things changed rather quickly. The interior was not that of a tent but a real deal bar, wooden floors, paintings hung on the walls, booths and a man at a piano. We proceeded to the bar to find… VODKA AND JAGER!!! Oh thank god, someone up there liked me and provided this oasis. Of course Jager bombs were $14 but what the hell, beggars can’t be choosers. I like this first picture because it looks like I’m wiping a tear away at the extreme joy I’m experiencing at the moment I set eyes on that bottle of Jager.

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We somehow managed to secure a booth and soaked in the period aura all around us.


I’ll get to the hand signals later.

A live band came on and people started dancing their asses off, it became a pretty interesting little microcosm of activity in the middle of the gargantuan music cluster fuck that was going on outside. Did the other Coachella goers know this was going on? If a tree fell here and only we saw it, did it make a noise? Who knows? Who cares? We were there, it was awesome.


As night fell, the Coachella scenery changed drastically, the place became, well, beautiful. The organizers had gone through some pretty extreme lengths to make this place breathtaking in the evenings. Lights on every tree and blazing into the sky. A network of spotlights convening directly above the event, creating a ceiling of converging light. What seemed like miles of lit balloons on high tensile strength line sprawled out across the sky. There were also a number of artistic creations strewn about the place, with no real rhyme or reason but still mostly very nice to look at.



Of course the music was the main focus here, all this other nonsense was superfluous but it was the experience nonetheless. I’ll stop with the rambling now as I have to catch my flight and I have a very arduous journey ahead of me. I’ll try and get more info about the actual musical acts and our comedic exploits when I get a chance.



Now entering NOHO

Posted in The sun rises in the east but they can still set it in the west. on April 17, 2012 by robdc

The trip in was a bit taxing, using miles to get from Gainesville to LA meant 2 transfers and over 12 hours in the air. Luckily it was more than worth it, our gracious host, Amber, facilitated a phenomenal first couple of days in Cali. Thanks to her we were able to have a bit of a buffer between switching coasts and entering the maw that is Coachella.

I’m writing this from our rental car on the way back from Palm Springs to LA after the madness and any particular details that are written here are either coming from Melissa’s gernal or our collective memories.

The first night in we got in late and headed to Big Wangs, had a couple of drinks and turned in. We awoke and started out on our adventure of the nearby cities. We had mostly been to this part of Cali before but everyone for specific reasons so we decided to do the touristy stuff. We saw the Hollywood sign and moved around Grauman’s theatre, the starwalks and such. It was pretty rough, and the level of pandering was embarrassing. I’m sure the Micky and Darth Vader charging for pictures were not licensed by Disney and Lucas, respectively, because they were thoroughly depressing.


We had some drinks at a quick spot and headed out for a scenic drive down the coast.


The drive up the pacific coast highway was beautiful. I’ve lived on the water for most of my life but the east coast is all level and lined with beaches, because of this the concept of mountains and cliffs is invigorating to me. On a beach you fear rip tides and animals, here gravity could kill you. I don’t know why the mortality of the scene makes it more breathtaking to me but, there it is. We ran up the coast for a few hours, snapping pictures and stopping occasionally to take in the view.


Here’s my favorite shot of the ride.


Then we pulled off to El Matador, a beach about as north as we were prepared to go that day. The view was spectacular.




I’ll have to break here since the drive back is proving slightly more involved than we had anticipated.



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