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Coachella Day One: I Already Have Bruises On My Feet

Coachella 2009, Day 1

Apr 18, 2009 By Michele Yamamoto M. Ward
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The Coachella weekend always opens on an optimistic note. Free gerber daisies on the way in, scalpers shouting at the lines, clean and crisp official schedules—or in my case, a crumpled up printout covered in highlighter markings, shared with a friend.

Following our itinerary (again, an optimistic beginning), we took the scenic route across the field. We passed under the giant metal spine of Serpent Mother, around the palette mountain of the Dolab, and along side the crushing Hand of Man to the Outdoor Theater. The transatlantic act, Alberta Cross, was the fourth act of Coachella 2009 and began their set promptly around 1:25. Their folk-rock-inspired sound and classic-rock-inspired vibe was perfectly suited to the freakishly mild early afternoon weather.

After a quick lunch and stroll across the field, I parted ways with one friend to be joined by another and we peeked into the Gobi tent around 3 p.m. to catch Los Angeles-based hip hop group People Under the Stairs. The crowd flowed out of the arches on the side of the tent as the duo proclaimed, “Party time is anytime, and anytime is party time.” Overall, the group was occasionally self-important, consistently interactive. And serendipitously, the crowd was very responsive (it’s not too often you witness a mass of people in a long upward glissando, capping it off with an obscenity).

Since the Outdoor Theater line up took priority over most other stages for us, we ducked out early and headed over to catch the tail end of Molotov over a waffle ice cream sandwich. Hailing from Mexico, most of the banter was in Spanish, which I am not fortunate enough to understand. Judging from the crowd’s reaction, it seemed witty enough. They played their funk-laced eclectic rock to an audience clearly excited to see a Mexican act, including their biggest hit, “Frijolero.” Roughly translated, the song is called “Beaner.”

You couldn’t have asked for a more disjointed adjacent act than M. Ward. The crowd purged itself quickly after Molotov and was replaced by a sea of fresh faces, which allowed us to march easily up to the railing. M. Ward marched out to open the set with an acoustic only to be met with technical snafus. “Welcome to the soundcheck,” he remarked to an understanding audience. Once the set was underway, M. Ward went on to deliver a great set replete with rollicking Chuck Berry and John Fahey covers as well as several appearances by the inimitable David Rawlings.

Conor Oberst followed M. Ward nearing sundown—again on the Outdoor Theater. Taking the stage in a wide-brimmed black hat, he and the Mystic Valley Band raucously attacked their boot-stomping, organ-laden set. Banter was usually handled in a half-mocking manner, broken once when Oberst discussed the concept of eight universes and the dimensions they inhabit, ostensibly in all seriousness.

The highlight of the Outdoor lineup, however, was the legendary Leonard Cohen. Just after sundown, Cohen walked out and raised his hat to the audience. The crowd was enraptured as they followed his untrained voice into the basement of his lower register. For many, it seemed, the performance climaxed during “Hallelujah” as almost every member of the crowd put their hands in the air and was inundated by the stage’s front lights. And though Morrissey began to bleed through Cohen’s last song and a half, the crowd seemed mostly unfazed until the end of “Democracy”.

Friday’s lineup was epic overall with Sir Paul McCartney taking headlining graces. However, the fact that he played nearly two and a half hours worth of music including multiple encores was enough to move the night into something bordering monumental. An unexpected fireworks display during “Live and Let Die” and a Beatles medley at the very end of the performance was enough to keep the fatigued crowd on its toes until well past midnight.

An optimistic but tiring day one, I thought, as we pulled out of the parking lot around 3 a.m. And by the way everyone, let’s make it easy on ourselves and not turn one exiting lane of cars into a five-lane highway. It’s inefficient. See you on the field.



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Acai
May 25th 2009
11:01pm

I would have loved to see Leonard Cohen and Paul McCartney. Sounds pretty amazing!

Acai Berry
September 20th 2009
4:03pm

These guys are legends of music and very inspiring.

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October 15th 2009
7:11am

I really enjoy the shows of leonard cohen, great music.

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October 30th 2009
3:51pm

They played their funk-laced eclectic rock to an audience clearly excited to see a Mexican act, including their biggest hit…

Acai Berry
October 30th 2009
3:56pm

The crowd was enraptured as they followed his untrained voice into the basement of his lower register.

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October 30th 2009
3:58pm

Well, I really enjoy the shows of leonard cohen, great music.

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October 30th 2009
4:00pm

Just after sundown, Cohen walked out and raised his hat to the audience.

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October 30th 2009
4:01pm

Well, The crowd was enraptured as they followed his untrained voice into the basement of his lower register.

Acai
October 30th 2009
4:05pm

Hailing from Mexico, most of the banter was in Spanish, which I am not fortunate enough to understand.

Extenze
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The crowd flowed out of the arches on the side of the tent as the duo proclaimed, “Party time is anytime, and anytime is party time….

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I am a die hard fan of Leonard Cohen.All of his performances are excellent.

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The Coachella weekend was awesome. I am a die hard fan of Leonard Cohen.All of his performances are excellent.

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