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Coachella Music Festival 2010: Old and New Favorites Perform Live to Thousands

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Philly2Philly's own Diane Cooney shares her Coachella Music Festival experience.Coachella Music Festival 2010.

My plan for Coachella  developed after the third snowfall came, dropping another few inches of white onto Philadelphia. I’ve never been to a big festival like this before – but this year’s lineup was irresistible. I made three lists: the bands I needed to see, the band’s I was curious about, and bands I heard of, but didn’t know what kind of sound they had. I planned on checking out everything else as time allowed. We thought we left LA with plenty of time to catch the mid afternoon acts on Friday. Unfortunately, the Coachella event planning the first day was a debacle….and we along with a few thousand others were stuck in ridiculous gridlock two miles away from the venue.

When I finally got in – I checked out LCD Soundsystem - the music was great, but the lyrics felt like a bad haiku. I wandered over to the Outdoor stage where Vampire Weekend  performed. Some of their songs I enjoy - Oxford Comma, but others - such as Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa leave me bored. They were solid performers – but I probably won’t bother to see them headline. I discovered the Sahara stage where back-to-back sessions with DJs/remix/electronica artists Benny Benassi  and Deadmau5 were excellent.

Saturday had a late start – mostly because I was pretty sick, and one of my favorite bands didn’t go on until late afternoon. The Coachella folks look like they created new walkways to get to the event from the outside parking lots, and since most of us already had our wristbands, security and check in went quick. Old Crow Medicine Show played a rollicking set of American roots and standards. Their banter in between songs was delightful as they playfully poked fun at the California food options, stating they were sick of tofu.

Disclaimer: I love White Rabbits. I will do my best to provide objective commentary but considered yourself warned. I first saw themWhite Rabbits performed Saturday on the Coachella stage with Stephen Patterson on vocals/keyboards, Jamie Levinson on drums. at beautiful Johnny Brenda’s where they barely fit themselves and their instruments in the venue. This time the sextet sprawled across the main Coachella stage. The dual ribcage-pounding drum kits were constant throughout the set – and the backbone to their glorious Percussion Gun.

I caught some of the XX, and then a few songs from Dirty Projectors – I felt like their material would take some more time to fully appreciate. The main draw for me that evening was MGMT, the longer I listen to Oracular Spectacular, the more I like it. I didn’t get a chance to buy the new album before the event – but I liked what I heard that night. They went in an experimental direction for their 60’s inspired sophomore LP – Congratulations, but it still has some elements to make it recognizable as MGMT. Major Lazer ran an energized room filled with flashing lasers and tribal beats.

The Sahara Tent ended up becoming my go to destination throughout the weekend…. I could always count on an excellent beat and cool vibe, where lasers or glow sticks flew through the air, and the music from Orbital  and Club75 kept me moving.

Sunday had so many great acts – Florence and the Machines  overflowed the Gobi tent, the crowd growing larger as they played. I heard a few songs from Charlotte Gainsbourg’s  set – beautiful melodies and lyrics - before heading off to find a good spot for Spoon. They delivered a tight set with a nice mix of songs from the new album, Transference, and some hits from their previous records, like The Underdog (complete with horn section) and I Turn My Camera On. White Rabbits’ Stephen Patterson and Jamie Levinson made guest appearances on drums, and Bradford Cox from Deerhunter  joined in on guitar.

By the time Phoenix played, I just parked myself on the grass, and let their happy pop float over me. Watching people stream across the site to get to their stage was amazing. I’ve never seen so many people in one place before.…. until I saw everyone head for Atoms for Peace, Thom Yorke’s supergroup. The sound was similar to Radiohead…but at times more languid, tribal, and ethereal. They played the album The Eraser  in its entirety, and then Yorke performed two Radiohead songs.

The best part of the weekend was the overall vibe – everyone happy to be at Coachella, listening to the music they love, enjoying the sunshine and discovering new favorites.

Contact Diane Cooney at DC@dianecooney.com