Coachella wrap up, damn you time…

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.

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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!

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

Cojelo,

Rob

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