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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

So you really want to go to Coachella, see some super-cool bands and have the time of your life.

But you have no tickets, and the event is sold out. Other than watch for another possible locals-only sale, what do you do?

I worked at the Coachella box office during the last two festivals, so take it from me: Unless you don't mind pissing a few hundred bucks into the wind, and watching your friends go in while you cry by yourself, don’t buy a festival wristband from anyone unless you’re 100 percent sure everything’s legit.

The most heartbreaking case I saw involved a young girl who came to the Coachella Valley all the way from Australia. She'd bought a dodgy ticket and couldn't get in touch with the person from whom she’d bought it. Boy, did I feel bad for her. It was also unseasonably cold, and she was wearing short shorts and sandals. I did lend her my sweater while she tried to get in touch with the guy from whom she'd purchased her pass. Alas, it was not meant to be.

You do not want to be like her. Here are some guidelines.

No. 1: Do not buy wristbands from a third party. Sure, there are large third-party ticket-sellers that sound legit, but if you have any issues, the folks working the front gates at Coachella cannot help you. You are only covered and if you buy through the one legitimate channel: Goldenvoice/Coachella and the ticket agent, Front Gate Tickets.

If you have any issues with those third-party-purchased tickets, you will have to get in touch with the company from whom you bought them, and it will be up to them to help you. If you, say, have a faulty wristband and need a new one to be issued, good luck getting them to come to Indio to bring you a new, working wristband. I repeat: The folks working at Coachella cannot help you.

No. 2: Do not buy from a “friend.” Unless you know this friend’s middle name, or their parents came to your bar mitzvah, or they know that you wet the bed until you were 9, don’t do it. I’ve seen too many people standing in front of the box office, heartbroken and crying: “But I know this guy/girl; they couldn’t come, so I bought their ticket off of them.” The standard response is: “OK, so call them up, and tell them to call/e-mail the ticketing people, and have them let us know that they are happy for you to have the wristband. Maybe then we can help you.”

Far too often, the story continues: OK, the person is actually just a friend of a friend of a friend, and the wannabe Coachella attendee with the non-functioning wristband doesn't have a phone number for the friend of a friend of a friend.

One popular scam involves a person reporting a “never-received pass,” even though that person did, in fact, receive a pass. That person then gets a new pass to replace the “never received one,” and sells the first, now-deactivated pass.

Another common story: “This one guy bought all of the tickets for a big group, and we paid him back. All of the others got in, but my wristband is not working.” I repeat: You need to know the person from whom you got the wristband very well. Have the phone number, the address, the middle name and photocopies of the ID and the credit card used for the transaction, with a statement that you are allowed to have one of their wristbands. Trust no one you haven’t known since kindergarten. The wristband is attached to the purchaser's name, and his/her presence or lack thereof can make or break you. The purchaser has all the power as to whether you’re going in.

Here is what you can do to protect yourself (and even then, there are no guarantees): If you get a wristband from someone, have he or she contact Front Gate, the Coachella ticket agent (frontgatetickets.com; 888-512-7469), and add your name to the system. Register that wristband before you buy it. If the person is legit and can’t go, then why would he/she care if you change the shipping address in the system? If he/she refuses or says it isn’t necessary, DO NOT BUY THE WRISTBAND. To be extra-safe, get the wristband number after he/she calls, and call Front Gate yourself to make sure the wristband you are about to buy is now attached to your name.

If there’s a conflict, the person who bought the wristband and whose name is on the account has full authority. If you registered this wristband, and you also show up in the system, you are second in command—but you will not win if there’s a dispute. I’ll say it again: You should only buy a pass from someone you completely and utterly trust.

No. 3: Do not buy a wristband from a dodgy dude/dudette standing outside of the festival gates. Why? Re-read the last 800-plus words.

If you have a truly close friend who is getting rid of his/her ticket, and you follow all of the above advice, chances are you’ll be OK if you take the ticket—and you should thank your lucky stars that you have such a friend. If not, accept that you missed out this year, and get ready to buy your 2015 passes when advance sales begin; you can even opt in to a payment plan. Remember: If you are the original purchaser of a pass, you do not have to worry about being scammed.

But, please, do not trust Craigslist and other third-party sellers, “friends” who really aren’t, or scalpers. It isn’t worth it.

For more info, read up at www.coachella.com/festival-info.

Published in Community Voices

While other Coachella Valley cities tend to get more attention, it’s the city of Indio that—by a fairly wide margin—has the largest population.

With more than 80,000 residents, it’s one of California’s fastest-growing cities; it’s also the home of the Coachella and Stagecoach music bonanzas. In fact, city leaders recently gave Indio the tagline “The City of Festivals.”

However, a drive down once-bustling Fargo Street in the downtown/old town part of Indio reveals that all is not well: Most of that population growth has been in the suburbs, and the city’s core features numerous vacant, boarded-up buildings. Meanwhile, the city government’s reputation is still recovering following the 2010 retirement of Indio City Manager Glenn Southard following a series of financial controversies. (Editor's Note: Elaine Holmes wants to make it clear that she was a supporter of Southard and his "positive approach to Indio.")

But there are signs of progress in downtown Indio, too. For starters, the College of the Desert’s new East Valley Center is rising on Oasis Street, and is slated to open in a year or so. And back down on Fargo Street, the quirky Indio Performing Arts Center is drawing people to downtown for a variety of entertainment.

One of the people who is leading the charge to improve both Indio itself and its reputation is Elaine Holmes. She and her husband, Doug, gave up jobs in corporate America to move from San Clemente to Indio in 2004, when they bought PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts, located in downtown Indio on Miles Avenue. During her nine years in Indio, she’s gotten increasingly involved in the city leadership. She was on the board of directors of the Indio Chamber of Commerce, and 2 1/2 years ago, she was elected to the five-member Indio City Council. This year, she’s serving as the city’s mayor (a title that rotates among members on an annual basis).

The Independent recently sat down with Holmes at PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts to talk about the city of Indio, her involvement, the city’s future—and even medical marijuana.

So, why Indio?

The people. The people in this community are wonderful. They are very giving; they’re very generous with their own selves and their own time. They are people who are eager to see other people successful. … You just can’t help but get involved with that, and we did, and we really got engaged.

Was there something special—something different—that you noticed about Indio when you moved here that, for example, you hadn’t seen in San Clemente?

It’s a whole different way of life, and, certainly, Indio is a smaller community. It’s a tightly knit, more-close-knit community. When were in San Clemente, because we both worked in corporate America, we didn’t have time to get involved with the community, so when we moved here, we became more engaged.

What made you decide to jump into political life? Even in a relatively small town, politics is politics …

I am a businessperson—really, a small-business-person now—and I felt that I needed to be an advocate for other small-business folks in the city of Indio. That really was the first launch. Secondarily, we are involved with this old town, or downtown, and became a part of the revitalization. I saw the potential; there’s so much potential in Indio, up by the freeway, but also in this old town area, and I really wanted to be involved and be a part of it.

The first time I drove through here (downtown/old town Indio), I went: “Whoa. This looks rough,” especially the part that IPAC is on (Fargo Street). Here (Miles Avenue), it looks nicer, and you’ve got the big (College of the Desert east) campus going in just a few streets down, which is great, but, frankly, there’s a long way to go. Tell me what steps you want the city to take to get it so downtown Indio is vital again.

It’s been a work in process for several years. We began the revitalization process before the downturn in the economy, on Miles Avenue here, predominantly. … Here on Miles Avenue, we redid all of the electrical, the underground (work), the sewers, the water. We tore up the streets and created a walkable area, a well-lit area … because before you can entice business in, you have to have water; you have to have sewer. If a restaurant comes in, you have to have the ability to put in, say, a grease trap. So we put in all of the infrastructure, all of the not-pretty things, first, so we could then work on the rest of it. College of the Desert is something that’s been in the works for several years, and we’re seeing it come out of the ground.

The great thing about Indio, and about this downtown: It used to be that they called it the hub of the valley. This downtown area used to be absolutely thriving with shops and visitors and all of that stuff, and then, as things changed, and the world changed, it continued to deteriorate. … People have a perception that the area’s rough. There’s not an issue with (violent) crime. There’s theft; there are theft issues, sure, but there are theft issues everywhere, particularly now with the downturn in the economy. … We work day and night here; we always have at this store. That’s what small businesses do. We saw the fact that this was a safe place; it had just fallen into disrepair, and I when (my husband) Doug and I look at something that’s in disrepair, we think: “Ah ha! Potential. We can fix it up.”

Concrete steps: How is downtown/old town Indio going to become a place that’s vital again?

It starts with College of the Desert and the fact that there will be 3,000 students at peak enrollment in the downtown area. You need people here, day and night, in order to make an area successful, because that’s what will drive retail and restaurants and the housing component. … (On May 15), the council approved moving forward with mixed use, so there will be restaurants and retail on the bottom, and living (spaces) on top.

Where?

Right across the street from the College of the Desert, there’s an empty lot. … The new detention center’s coming up; the new county administration center is also coming up, so in the next three years, there will probably be an additional 5,000 people in the downtown area. … Both (the detention center and the county administration building already) exist on a smaller scale; both are going to be torn down and rebuilt on a much larger scale. … There will be a captive audience here.

If it were up to you, would downtown Indio become like El Paseo or downtown Palm Springs is, in the sense that they are draws for tourists and people from elsewhere in the valley alike? Or are you content with Indio being a hub mainly for people who live in the east valley?

The vision for downtown/old town Indio is that it’ll be a combination of both. There will be specialty retail and restaurants. … When you think of the number of people who come into the desert, from Canada and tourists, it will be a draw for them. As it stands now, there are (already) some eclectic and unique stores. But also, with the college and the people who live here, there will be services, so people from the east end of the valley will come here, because there is something specific here that they need. So it will satisfy both as it evolves.

There’s going to be a law school here. Ultimately, my vision is: We have the (Indio) Performing Arts Center; we have the CV Art Center. … The (Coachella Valley History) Museum is just a block away. So, if you will, it’s arts, culture and entertainment, and you’ve got that educational base. So you have people moving here, and you’ll have things to do, places to go and places to eat. That’s ultimately where I want it to be.

How does the state dissolving all of the redevelopment districts affect Indio? Did it hurt the efforts badly?

It did. It threw us a curveball, there’s no doubt about it, because the city amassed quite a bit of this property several years ago, so we could bundle or package it to developers, and they could have a large area. When the state took that over, it all came to a screeching halt. There are challenges with it. Right now, we’re trying to deal with the state of California in terms of leasing some of the building space, and looking at disposition agreements in terms of how we go about selling (the property) to specific organizations or developers for future development. It slowed things down in terms of the forward momentum.

Let’s get a past downtown for a bit and talk about the big festivals. First of all, does it annoy you that everyone calls (Goldenvoice’s biggest festival) Coachella, when it actually takes place in Indio?

You know what? It’s all part of the vibe. It would be great to have Indio in the name, but … I think most people know that the festivals are in Indio.

There was a move last year by a fellow City Council member (Ascencion “Sam” Torres) to add a large tax to Coachella tickets. That got shot down, and you were opposed to it. Since then, Goldenvoice has signed a new agreement to stay in Indio (through at least 2030, and to possibly add two more festival weeks, perhaps in the fall). What are your goals, from the city’s standpoint, in terms of the festivals—bringing people here, what Goldenvoice does, etc.?

First of all, Goldenvoice does an enormous amount with the city, particularly with the kids. I think people see the concerts, and that’s what they associate with Goldenvoice, but what we see of Goldenvoice are people who really spend a lot of time and money focused on the community. We had the (remote area medical) health thing at the fairgrounds just before the concerts. They play soccer with the kids; they support the teen center, the Boys and Girls Club, so they’re already engaged in the community, and we want them to continue with that engagement, and to an extent, become even more engaged.

People come from all over the world; that is so neat, and I want, from a business perspective, for all the businesses in the community to reap the benefits of those tourists who are in town. … I also want the world to see the city, and some people are going to move here, and to have people from different cultures, and different parts of the country and world, to move here, to me, adds more to the eclectic flavor of the city that Indio is.

How do you get the word out to the festival-goers that, “Hey, you should actually stop and look at what’s going on in Indio?”

At (the May 15) council meeting, we put together an ad-hoc committee—I did as the mayor—to look at how we can engage the tourists and the people who come here for the concerts to let them know about all the restaurants and great places to go in the city. So we’re going to be pulling together a committee, myself and Mayor Pro-Tem (Michael) Wilson, with some of the local businesses, to address that very issue, and to see how we can be creative to drive people to our businesses.

Would you like to see more businesses come in that could benefit from the festivals? From what I understand, Indio's first new hotel in decades, a Holiday Inn Express, is soon opening.

Absolutely. … It’s “The City of Festivals.” Let’s look at more festivals. Let’s look at something that the city does every month that draws people and tourists into our city that therefore drives retail, and drives hotels and motels. … The more people we have here on a consistent basis, the more of a need we have for the hotels, the restaurants and the retail, because they’ll be able to sustain themselves.

I want to specifically ask you about IPAC. It’s such an eclectic, work-in-progress venue, and they do some pretty cool stuff there; in what direction would you like to see IPAC move?

… There are three components: community theater; a learning environment, particularly for the kids, because music and the arts just aren’t in schools any more; and a place to hold concerts. There are so many local bands here; let’s have a venue for them to play and perform.

Regarding medical marijuana: Right now, Palm Springs is the only city in the valley that allows dispensaries, and a lot of medical-marijuana dispensaries and collectives are closing up shop (after the California Supreme Court ruled that local governments could prohibit them). If it were up to you, where would Indio fall in terms of allowing dispensaries or other medical-marijuana businesses?

It’s come before the council once, I think, a couple of years ago. I think all of us would look at what a medical-marijuana clinic would bring to the city. We’d look at it on a case-by-case basis and decide if that was something that would be a benefit to the city and to the residents of the city. What decision would be, I don’t know. I know that the council is pretty open-minded or is very good at taking each item that comes to us on a case-by-case basis and asking the questions … to determine if it’s something we want in our city, whether it’s medical marijuana or a business.

The story that we did for our first print-version cover story was on growth. We got some numbers from the Southern California Association of Governments that showed Indio, Coachella and especially the nearby unincorporated areas were going to see the bulk of the growth in the valley between now and 2035. With that growth comes challenges: Indio’s going to have to deal with infrastructure, new roadways, and so on. What kind of a role is the Indio City Council taking for Indio to prepare to be a city of more than 110,000 people by 2035?

We’re updating our general plan, first of all. We always look at infrastructure improvements, and we do infrastructure improvements every year, whether it’s to our roads, or whether (it involves water)—we have the Indio Water Authority, our own water agency—and we are constantly upgrading that in terms of water storage and our ability to deliver water to our residents and businesses. (Growth is) something that’s forefront in our minds all of the time. Our city has grown, for the last 15 years or so, and continues to grow, so we have to be ready for that, and we’re constantly looking at: Where do we need to make changes? Where do we need to upgrade? That’s always top of mind. …

The east end of the valley has the highest number of youth here, so the need for services and the environment for these young people to be entertained or to eat or to hang out is critical. (We need) parks. My dream would be an aquatic center—something that was envisioned several years ago, and the economy kind of took that away from us. … That’s the future … the kids. That ties in to education and the whole economic engine, to have the jobs here for these kids to go to.

One of the things I really miss in terms of living in the Coachella Valley is a full-fledged four-year university here …

It’s coming.

It’s coming? Tell me about it.

I want to defer to Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert, but what drives that is a student population to go to these schools, and therefore, when they come out of school, the ability to find jobs and careers. … As the population grows … it’s a cycle. That’s how it works. As the desert is growing, so is the need for a university.

This is your first foray into elected office. Are you content to stay on the Indio City Council …

Absolutely.

… Or might you have bigger plans down the line?

No. I am all about being involved with the city. The reason I got on the City Council, as I said, is to be an advocate for small business. I like the city; I like being an advocate; I like being a part of the growth. And that’s the beginning, the middle and the end of my political career.

Published in Local Issues

When I decided to attend Coachella and Stagecoach on behalf of the Coachella Valley Independent, editor Jimmy Boegle and I had some concerns about my physical limitations. A back injury that I suffered in 2011 has left me with problems with standing and sitting for long periods of time.

While I was indeed concerned, I was confident that I was up to the task. However, by the third day of Coachella's second weekend, I was starting to really feel my physical limitations.

I decided to visit promoter Goldenvoice’s ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) Access Center, located in the lobby area of both Coachella and Stagecoach. I was given an ADA wristband, which allowed me access to the handicapped areas, where I could sit and watch each band from a comfortable distance.

One of the things I’ve always loved to do is attend concerts. It’s an amazing experience to be able to experience live performances by bands and performers you’ve enjoyed for years, and to experience new artists you aren’t familiar with. However, I’ve been nervous and hesitant to do since 2011, given the issues I have with both sitting and standing.

Government statistics say that about 20 percent of Americans have a disability—so how do you accommodate those who have a disability at a music festival?

Goldenvoice employees have been trying to answer that very question since they created the ADA department, and have been making improvements every year—from how they design the layout of the grounds, to how the staging areas are set up.

“It’s a never ending commitment,” said J.B., an employee of Goldenvoice who is affiliated with the ADA Access Center (and who declined to give his last name). “We are constantly refining everything in every aspect of the festivals. We’re working hand in hand with every department.”

The department has a broad range of services available for handicapped patrons.

“We cover everything from the parking lot and designated wheelchair and companion areas to sign-language interpreters on the stages,” he said.

While the ADA Access Center does try to accommodate each case on a per-need basis, they have no control over some parking-lot access issues, he said; that is handled according to the DMV and law enforcement rules, meaning placards or license plates are required for handicapped-access parking.

For those who have a disability and have been hesitant to attend Coachella or Stagecoach, I can say that Goldenvoice has you covered.

“Ultimately, I would say the numbers (of disabled attendees) grow every year,” he said.

He also offered an inspiring thought after providing access to disabled patrons over the years.

“(By) providing ADA services here at the festivals, we are opening up to a broader audience that perhaps never thought, ‘Hey, I could go to a music festival,’ and now they’re seeing they can go in their wheelchair and enjoy it as much as any other able-bodied person.”

As someone who sought services from this department over two weekends, I can say that the ADA Access Center does a good job. As I was leaving the Access Center at Stagecoach to go catch John C. Reilly and Friends, J.B. told me something that almost made me choke up: The department has provided services to terminally ill patrons who have told them that it might be their last Coachella or Stagecoach.

I’d personally like to thank Goldenvoice for providing me with ADA access; without it, I don’t know how well I would have been able to hold up and cover the festival as I did.

They saved the best for last.

Day 3 of Coachella 2013’s second weekend started off with blistering temperatures, but attendees came prepared. While a windstorm put a damper on the closing events of Coachella’s first weekend, the winds on the second Sunday remained relatively calm.

While Saturday’s schedule was heavy on the EDM, on Sunday, it was mostly about the rock. Throughout the Coachella’s history, Day 3 has always seemed to feature the biggest acts.

The Gaslight Anthem took to the main stage at 3:30 p.m. One figures the New Jersey punk outfit would attract a sizable crowd, but the attendance was quite thin.

The band walked onstage and began performing without an intro and without addressing the crowd—and they suffered through technical difficulties throughout the set. Guitarist and lead vocalist Brian Fallon’s microphone didn’t appear to be loud enough; the guitar solos were low volume and barely present. Overall, the band’s performance seemed … dull. The band—notable for being the closest thing to Bruce Springsteen within modern music—decided for some reason to cover Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” toward the end; they closed with “The Backseat,” which was probably the best song of their set.

Too little, too late.

“I like them; they were on my list of bands that I wanted to see,” said Karen, who came all the way from Toronto.

However, she was honest about the band’s performance.

“I enjoyed them, even though the sound wasn’t perfect. It was still worth seeing.”

The eccentric and renowned Dinosaur Jr. performed on the Outdoor Theater stage at 5:10. The Massachusetts band—known for lead guitarist and vocalist J Mascis’ perfection of the art of feedback—offered a variety of songs from throughout their career. The band’s sound—which could be described as a combination of hardcore-punk, metal and psychedelic rock—made them a perfect act to follow Kurt Vile and the Violators. Mascis’ Marshall stack amps were arranged in a feedback zone that he moved in and out of between vocals; on couple of songs, he ceded lead vocals to drummer Murph and bassist Lou Barlow. Toward the end of their set, Dinosaur Jr. played a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” in their own unique sound.

Rodriguez—the subject of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, which won Best Documentary Feature honors at this year’s Academy Awards—took the stage in the Gobi tent at 6:35 p.m. to an audience of die-hards excited to hear the newly famous Detroit musician, whose music became the soundtrack for the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, unbeknownst to Rodriguez. Rodriguez’ folk sound, however, presented a problem: At the same time, Social Distortion was blasting throughout the entire festival; Tame Impala was performing in the nearby Outdoor Theater; and James Blake was performing in the neighboring Mojave tent (with Rza of Wu-Tang Clan making a special appearance during Blake’s set).

When Rodriguez walked on to the stage, he was guided on each arm to his guitar and microphone due to the inoperable glaucoma that’s causing him to go blind. When Rodriguez began his performance, the other bands easily drowned him out. Still, his fans got as close as they could to try to hear him. His performance of “I Wonder” early in his set led to loud applause when fans heard the opening bass line.

Despite all of the noise, Rodriguez and his backing band were on the ball. Fans began to trickle in after James Blake and Social Distortion were finished, just as Rodriguez began “Sugar Man,” which sent smartphones up into the air to capture video or shoot photos. After a folk-sounding cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille,” Rodriguez began to lose a portion of the audience to some of the other performers about to go on stage, but nonetheless, Rodriguez delivered a strong performance until the very end.

Regarding the art exhibits of Coachella: When the sun sets, the night time is the right time, because many of the exhibits have lighting that makes them visually stunning. On Sunday night as Vampire Weekend played on the main stage, the exhibits in the areas closest to the main stage came alive for one last night.

The Balloon Chain looks more impressive at night as it moves through the festival with balloons lit and streaming across the night sky. Mirage lights up at night, putting an impressive accent on the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired structure. The Do LaB’s teepee-style tents glow at night, bringing out the different shades of the fabric.

One exhibit that grabbed attention throughout the weekend was the Poetic Kinetics’ PK-107 Mantis. A cherry-picker-like structure with wings that look like they came off a jet fighter, Mantis moves up and down, looking like a giant, robotic praying mantis.

Lindsay, attending the festival all the way from Ireland, stood and watched it with curiosity

“It’s quite spectacular. It really stands out at night time,” he said.

Another attraction that could be seen moving around the festival at night were the Electric Butterfly Effect butterflies. They were illuminated in neon colors and looked like they were really moving.

In the evening, nothing is better than a ride on the Ferris wheel—one of the festival’s most popular attractions. Despite an $8 ticket price, there was a long line on Sunday night.

A couple offered a very sentimental take on their Ferris wheel experience, stating that from up above, you can see the diversity of the festival. “You can see music bringing everyone together,” said Karen from Pasadena.

Her friend, Matt from Palm Desert, agreed.

“It’s such a great thing to get all these people together. It was kind of epic seeing everything up there going on at once,” he said.

When it came to the last of the musical performances, the main stage seemed to lose a large percentage of the attendees’ interest.

After the sun went down, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took the stage, at 8:40 p.m. Cave’s dark songwriting—referencing the Old and New Testament, plagued characters, and sometimes heartfelt sentiments—make him an unusual performer, and several people didn’t know what to make of him. As he walked onto the stage—backed by a children’s choir and with a woman doing sign language in front of the video monitor on the right side of the stage—he didn’t have much of a crowd. As he started his first song, “From Her to Eternity,” the choir provided a drone to Nick Cave’s howling of the lyrics.

While performing “Deanna,” the crowd sang along to the chorus of “Oh, Deanna, D-e-anna,” giving Cave the crowd participation he deserved, before a good chunk of his audience moved over to the Outdoor Theater to wait for Wu-Tang Clan.

If there was one important lesson to be learned during Coachella 2013, it’s this: Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to … mess with.

Wu-Tang attracted an audience at the Outdoor Theater that went into to the Main Stage area, around The Do LaB, and near the Gobi tent. Wu-Tang, backed by a large orchestra, rocked the audience with their hard-core hip-hop anthems from their legendary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album. Wu-Tang’s energetic set ran into the end of Nick Cave’s set and into the beginning of Red Hot Chili Peppers set, holding the audience even as the Peppers took the stage. After Wu-Tang finished their set and wished the fans a happy late 4/20, the crowd at the quickly moved to the main stage area.

Last week’s performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was plagued by a windstorm, and it seems that last week’s attendees didn’t get to see the full stage show by Hall of Fame inductees. The band’s full stage show, with video monitors and much more colorful lighting, seemed to help the band perform a little better. Unfortunately, the set list didn’t offer much of their early ’90s classics other than “Give It Away.”

While the Coachella 2013 lineup seemed a little lackluster, and too many performances were plagued by technical problems, scheduling problems, and various other problems, the event was nonetheless solid and a full experience for those in attendance.

Published in Reviews

It’s definitely hot out here.

The second day of the second weekend of Coachella 2013 featured high temperatures in the 90s by mid-afternoon. But despite the heat, most of the attendees were having a good time.

Still, many sought shade under the Mirage art exhibit, designed by Paul Clemente of Los Angeles. Mirage, a Frank Lloyd Wright-looking housing structure, was crowded in the open spaces under the roof.

“It’s pretty hot, but not too unbearable,” said John, from Santa Monica. “It bothers me a little bit, especially right now.”

The Helix Poeticus—a large mechanical snail that moves around—was close by, attracting the curiosity of attendees who were snapping photographs and touching it as it slowly slithered around the main stage area, close to Mirage. Eric Hendricks, from Orange County, was in awe.

“I love it; I love the interactiveness of Coachella with the people,” he said.

However, there was a potential downside.

"It’ll run you over if you’re not paying attention,” Hendricks said.

The Do LaB, a long-running exhibit at Coachella, features live DJs in an area within teepee-like structures. “The vibe is great, and there’s a lot of bass,” said an Indio man coming out of The Do LaB. The dance floor and the DJ stage resemble a smaller version of the dance parties once shown on MTV’s Spring Break.

On the subject of electronic dance music, Saturday’s lineup of EDM artists was featured in the Mohave tent as well as the large EDM-featured Sahara Tent.

Major Lazer took the Mojave stage at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday to a full house that extended to areas around the stage. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire jumped around, barking orders to the crowd to jump, put their hands up, and remove their shirts and toss them into the air. The people obeyed, sending a collage of various colored shirts into the air. Diplo stayed at the mixing board, offering remixes of songs from Nirvana, Damian Marley and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Toward the end of the set, the group was joined by 2 Chainz, who performed earlier in the day.

The EDM in the Mojave and Sahara tents drew a large chunk of the crowd, trying to get a peek at artists such as Grizzly Bear and Fedde Le Grand. The main stage and the outdoor theater saw drops in crowd sizes between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The ‘80s British ska band The Selecter took the stage at 7:10 in the Gobi tent to a small crowd. Many of the attendees had most likely never heard of the group, yet were dancing and bouncing around to the band’s anthems such as “On My Radio,” “Missing Words” and “Too Much Pressure.” The crowd had very few people “skanking”—a signature dance move done by ska devotees. But regardless, attendees couldn’t resist dancing or bouncing.

Punk icons the Descendents took the outdoor theater stage at 9:05. Milo Aukerman walked on and started playing “Everything Sucks” with some technical difficulties (the volume was too low) to a smaller-than-expected crowd. The band only plays a few shows a year due to Milo’s gig as a “plant researcher” at DuPont, and he chooses his vacation days wisely when it comes to touring. Still, the band had incredible energy and managed to pull in an audience that increased in size throughout the entire set. Milo read off a list if “punk commandments,” some of which were “thou shalt not commit laundry” and “thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain.” During what seemed to be a longer set than last weekend’s show, the Descendents looked happy and energetic.

The EDM presence remained strong through the evening. Moby … ahem, DJ Moby was performing at the Sahara, which was packed to capacity with an overflow. Moby, dressed in a Black Flag T-shirt, jumped up and down to pump up the crowd. He moved between fast-paced beats, ambient, trance, dubstep, and even a few cuts from his own albums. The visuals that flashed through the video screens were at times psychedelic, somewhat chaotic, and breathtaking. 

As The xx prepared to take the main stage, with Franz Ferdinand scheduled to play in the neighboring Mojave tent, DJ Moby’s audience began to thin out.

While Phoenix played on the main stage, New Order headlined at the Mojave tent. For a moment, it felt like a Metallica concert: New Order used the same intro as Metallica, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” When Bernard Sumner and the rest of the band took the stage, Sumner addressed a technical difficulty, thanking the sound engineer for failing to fade properly.

While Sumner (guitar and vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums) both look like they have aged into AARP status, make no mistake: They still rock! While Peter Hook is sitting out this reunion (and took a shot at the band in the press by referring to them as a “tribute band”), Tom Chapman fit in nicely on bass guitar.

Throughout the set, Sumner took shots at main stage headliner, Phoenix. “Thank you for being here instead of over there,” he said. Later on, he said—while experiencing technical difficulties in between songs—that they were out to prove to Phoenix that louder doesn’t mean better.

New Order played songs from throughout their career. “Your Silent Face,” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies, featured a makeshift film in the background that made light of mankind’s destruction, showing shipwrecks off the shores of beautiful islands, helicopters flying over ravaged cities, shanties in parts of Los Angeles, and a big tidal wave hitting homes on the L.A. coast line. The band’s performance of “Blue Monday,” their hit single that was later covered by Orgy in the late '90s, delighted the audience. The former Joy Division members paid tribute to the late Ian Curtis with a portrait of him appearing on the backdrop as they played “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

While I was leaving, I had one question in mind: Phoenix who? Performances on other stages stole the show from the early evening until the very end.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Published in Reviews

The Dropkick Murphys’ set during Weekend 1 of Coachella seemed … off. The performance by the Boston-area band seemed cut in half, and the band only played a string of songs off their two most-recent albums.

Of course, a lot has happened in the week since that performance.

Dropkick Murphys have always had a soft spot for their hometown and have never held back in expressing their love for their city.

The Weekend 2 appearance of Dropkick Murphys, of course, came a day after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As the world now knows, he and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, allegedly planted two bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon, and killed one police officer.

The Dropkick Murphys’ style of including Celtic music in their punk-rock sound has always made them a popular live act around the world. The band has always included their hometown of Boston as a theme in their music, and even recorded the song “Tessie” for the Boston Red Sox. They also play a series of shows throughout various venues in the city on St. Patrick’s Day every year.

As one of the darkest weeks in Boston’s history unfolded, the band again did their hometown proud, raising more than $60,000 this week with a collector’s edition T-shirt they sold via their website for victims of the bombing.

The band’s intro music—The Chieftains’ “The Foggy Dew,” featuring Sinead O’Connor on vocals—played before the band took the stage earlier today. The band’s road crew struggled to secure a flag featuring the seal of the city of Boston, and they eventually took down due to technical problems. The band opened up the set with “For Boston,” the first song off their 2001 album Sing Loud, Sing Proud. The large crowd that gathered at the main stage screamed the lyrics back to the band.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their support for our hometown of Boston,” said Ken Casey, bassist and vocalist of Dropkick Murphys. Casey and lead vocalist Al Barr traded the lead vocals on several songs.

The crowd was energetic, even in the hot sun, breaking out into mosh pits and crowd-surfing. (See the photo gallery below) The band asked people to “put their arms around their neighbor and do an Irish jig,” the crowd obeyed, despite the blistering heat.

Al Barr ran down to the crowd level and stood on the security fence to sing during many of the band’s songs.

Dropkick Murphys played several of their fast-paced Celtic/punk rock songs, but they also played some of their sentimental ballads, including the song “Rose Tattoo” from their new album, Signed and Sealed in Blood. Dropkick Murphys were joined by The Pogues’ accordion player James Fearnley last week; this week, the crowd was treated to Gordon Gano from Violent Femmes, who followed Dropkick Murphys on the main stage. Gano played the fiddle on “Captain Kelly’s Kitchen.”

The band closed their memorable set at Coachella Weekend 2 with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” after stating that they were happy to be headed home to be with their families.

Have a safe journey home, boys. You did your city proud at Coachella.

Published in Reviews

Coachella Weekend 2 is officially under way.

While this weekend is essentially a repeat of last weekend, there was still a great deal of excitement and anticipation in the air.

“There are some awesome bands and great weather. It’s going to be a good time,” said a man from Calgary as he went through one of the security lines.

There was even excitement among the bands playing at the festival. “We are very excited to have opened the main stage,” said Lorna Thomas of Skinny Lister. “The crowd was up for it today, and we had a good time, and it was a great gig.”

Art installations are widespread throughout the grounds. One exhibit that caught my eye on Day 1 was called The Coachella Power Station, designed by Los Angeles artists Derek Doublin, Vanessa Bonet and Chris Wagner. It looks like a model of a power station, with costumed workers wearing white jumpsuits and horse masks. It isn’t very clear what they are doing, but they open tool boxes and stuff the mouths of their masks with plastic imitations of wood and grass chunks.

“I love it,” said Ramin Omid, from Marina Del Ray, Calif. “I’ve been coming here for 10 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.” When I asked him what he thought about the costumed individuals inside the exhibit, he laughed and said, “They look like nuclear engineers to me.”

Another exhibit makes rounds throughout the festival. Balloon Chain, developed by Robert Bose, from New York City, is a kite-like chain featuring numerous helium balloons, pulled by individual operators who allow attendees to take hold of them for a few moments. When Andy with Balloon Chain allowed me to take control of the handle, the pull of the 1,800-foot-long cord with small balloons was incredible. “When the wind picks up, it’ll drag you across the ground,” Andy said. “Last weekend, we did shorter lines due to the wind. Last Sunday night, it was really windy, and we had to bring the Balloon Chain down.”

For those who are looking to cool down, Heineken’s air-conditioned “Dome” is an inflatable dome featuring a bar and a dance floor, complete with live DJs. “It’s super refreshing,” Paloma Martinez of Los Angeles said. “The music inside here is definitely different than what you hear out there.”

If you ever wanted to learn more about the subject of drinking water, the Oasis Water Bar is the place to go. “We’re sharing with people where our water comes from, and some potential places where our water might come from in the future,” the Oasis employee explained to me, before handing me a survey sheet asking questions, like: Do I own a water bottle? Do I drink tap water at home? Do I order tap water or bottled water in restaurants? Participants then receive a sample of one of the various waters; the one I tried was called “Moonshine Secret Sauce.”

It tasted just like water.

When it comes to music, Coachella Day 1 definitely featured some noteworthy performances.

Johnny Marr—former guitarist with The Smiths—played mid-afternoon inside the Mojave Tent. Walking onto the stage with a rose in his mouth, he opened his set with the opening track on his newly released debut album, The Messenger.

“Is anyone smoking pot? I know someone is!” Marr said in between songs, earning a laugh from the crowd. He asked the guilty individual to raise his hand; one attendee then pointed out the man to the rest of the audience.

“Here’s one you know,” Marr said before he started The Smiths’ tune “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which electrified the audience and led to a sing-along. Marr closed his set with the Smiths’ hit “How Soon Is Now,” which gave the crowd another opportunity to sing along to a song they actually knew.

Reggae legend and producer Lee “Scratch” Perry appeared in the Gobi tent for an early evening performance. Perry, known for producing Bob Marley, was colorfully dressed in attire inspired by punk rock and Rastafarianism. Perry’s reggae sound has always been eccentric and nontraditional; he was accompanied by a dubstep DJ and a reggae band.

Following Lee “Scratch” Perry was former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra and his band, The Guantanamo School of Medicine. Biafra, who once ran for president on the Green Party ticket, is known for his heavy political themes in his music; he referenced the debate on firearms and people who fear having their guns taken away.

“If that were ever to happen, I’d get out my lawn chair with a glass of lemonade and watch it,” Biafra said to the audience.

Biafra taunted the audience with his strange facial expressions and hand gestures; he resembled a punk-rock circus clown, only without makeup. He performed two Dead Kennedys songs during his set: “California Über Alles” and “Holiday in Cambodia.”

While The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are experiencing some negative reviews for their new album, Mosquito, their performance on the main stage proved the band still knows how to turn in a great live show. The band’s lead-singer, Karen O, is a pop-star diva with a little bit of punk-rock attitude. The combination of the band’s rock sound and dance elements got the crowd moving. They dazzled the audience with a performance of “Sacrilege”—backed by a full gospel choir—toward the end of their set.

While Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are playing Sunday night on the main stage, he also performed with his side project, Grinderman, in the Mojave tent. The stage featured sets of large amplifiers on each side; amplifiers were also placed on the ground level between the security fence and the stage. When the band started playing, the ground felt like it was shaking; the feedback from the instruments was screeching enough to almost shatter ear drums. While Cave generally sings ballads and well-crafted songs when he plays solo or with the Bad Seeds, Grinderman is a harder, faster, louder experience.

A reunited Jurassic 5 took the stage at the outdoor theater at 10:45 p.m. Jurassic 5’s positive and political themed hip-hop songs brought out a laid back vibe. An oversized turntable in the middle of the stage turned out to be not just a prop; both DJs, Cut-Chemist and Nu-Mark, took turns scratching the large record and messing with the mixer. As they say in one of their songs, “we came here to entertain,” and entertain, they did. They also made mention of Public Enemy being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and dedicated their performance to them, stating that without Public Enemy’s influence, Jurassic 5 wouldn’t have come together.

With Damon Albarn supposedly at odds with Jamie Hewlett as far as the Gorillaz are concerned, it’s not a surprise that he is continuing the Blur reunion. Blur, who switched spots with The Stone Roses this weekend, took the stage at 11:35. The 3-D, hologram backdrop of the underbelly of a bridge was realistic; it actually looked as if the band were playing under a bridge.

The group proved worthy of being headliners. “Out of Time” had many people gently swaying side to side, singing along to the sentimental song about not having enough time to appreciate life. Of course, no Blur show would be complete without their hit “Song 2,” which made the audience scream “WOOOO HOOOO” along with Albarn.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Published in Reviews

Tens of thousands of music-lovers are enjoying the debut day of Coachella 2013's second weekend.

Independent music writer Brian Blueskye and photographer Noelle Haro-Gomez are on the scene, and will be there throughout the weekend. Check CVIndependent.com for regular updates.

Below are some pics of the action from day 1; more will be added throughout the day. (Last updated at 7:45 p.m.) Enjoy!

Two summers ago, I was feeling anxious, nervous and scared. But it was more than the usual sadness about another summer coming to an end; I was about to begin my freshman year at a fancy prep school outside my community—not to mention my comfort zone.

I have lived in the city of Coachella my entire life. The great majority of the population is Hispanic, and many families who live here don’t have access to adequate living conditions, health care or even healthy food. In the near vicinity are thousands of acres of farmland where many people, including my own grandfather, work every day in order to support their families.

Up until last year, I attended elementary and middle school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, just outside of Coachella, in the city of Indio. Even though OLPH is a Catholic school, things like exotic family vacations or fancy computers never mattered to me and my classmates. Catching the latest episode of our favorite television shows was far more important.

But in eighth-grade, my friends and I started talking about high school. I decided I really wanted to go to Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, a private Jesuit school; however, I did not have high hopes. Seeing my parents struggle with tuition at OLPH, attending Xavier did not seem realistic. Yet I filled out my application and anxiously waited every day for a response. I was thrilled when I was accepted and awarded financial aid.

During the summer of 2011, there was one thing that never left my mind: Why am I leaving the Latino Eastern Coachella Valley for the glitz and glamour of Palm Desert? Palm Desert is an affluent community, and I feared I would never fit in.

During my first weeks of school, I realized my fears were coming true: I did not fit in. I never had most of the things I wanted in life, so I figured everyone must be just like me. I’ve only been out of state once in my entire life, and here, kids were talking about their lavish summer trips to the East Coast and Europe. I had only seen MacBooks and other Apple products on television, and here, kids had all of them at their fingertips.

But I was smart enough to realize that their MacBooks and European trips did not make my new classmates better than me. David Allan Coe once said, “All men are created equal; it is only men themselves who place themselves above equality.”

And then, I came across an opportunity that was only for youth from the Eastern Coachella Valley: I was offered a chance to be a reporter for a news website (which now also has a brand-new print version). I would be able to cover events in my community and improve my writing and photography skills. I filled out my application and was eventually hired by Coachella Unincorporated in January 2012.

The reporting I knew from television is different than the reporting I am doing now. Contrary to popular belief, journalism is not only flash photography and-breaking news headlines. For us, it is being the voice of the voiceless, and shedding light on the struggles that our community goes through every day. Writing for change is what I consider myself to be doing, hoping that someone will listen to our voices and that together we can resolve these issues for the betterment of my community.

In the end, I finished my freshman year with outstanding grades and was elected to student government. I am now a sophomore, a locker higher and a year wiser. I plan to continue my writing career for as long as I can. I plan to further my education in college as well.

In the end, I found the answer I was looking for. I leave my rural community every morning for Xavier College Prep, in the wealthy community of Palm Desert, for one thing: opportunity. An opportunity to better myself in this world. An opportunity to leave my mark in this world. An opportunity to change my life, the lives of others, and to change the community I call home for the better.

Coachella Unincorporated is a youth media startup in the East Coachella Valley, funded by the Building Healthy Communities Initiative of the California Endowment and operated by New America Media in San Francisco. The purpose is to report on issues in the community that can bring about change. “Coachella Unincorporated” refers to the region youth journalists cover, but also to the unincorporated communities of the Eastern Valley with the idea to “incorporate” the East Valley into the mainstream Coachella Valley mindset. For more information, visit coachellaunincorporated.org.

Published in Community Voices

Hot, windy, crowded. Long lines for the toilet. Overpriced food.

But all the bands you love. And now, you can have wine carefully paired with the music.

Yes, we’ll be listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds while drinking some red wine barrel-aged in a cavern. Maybe one of those Castello di Amorosa 2009 Zingaro “The Gypsy” reds. Yeah, the Castello in Napa is fake, with its caves excavated centuries ago (in 1995). Still, the Tuscan-style replica has a fun vibe. And Zingaro would pair nicely with the band’s “Red Right Hand.”

Ah, now you’re wondering: Coachella’s doing wine-music pairings? The lyrics of aged Cave, 55, come to mind: “We call upon the author to explain!”

Sure, no problem.

I’m not going to Coachella the Fest. This means avoiding pricey tickets and constricting wristbands. This means not having to worry about finding parking, obtaining a shuttle, camping and enduring strip searches, hoping security guards won’t find the bottle of Aquafina that I slid into a balloon and swallowed in order to save serious water dough.

This means no chance encounters with a drugged-out Lindsay Lohan, who’s outfoxed her handlers and disappeared into the crowd, disguised as an 80-year-old man to confuse the paparazzi, and who’s now spending way too much time in the portable potty. I need to pee, Old Man Lohan; I need to pee now!

This means no long waits for service in the wine tent. What, wine tent? What wine tent? No wine tent?

This means no live music for me. So sad. I’m crying in my Riedel. But necessity is the French oak barrel of invention, as they say.

So I’ve fermented a plan. I hope you like it: I’m calling it the Sniff the Cap Laundry Room Music Fest and Wine Pairing. Or SCLRMFWP, for short.

My laundry room is about 8 by 10 feet. It’s a nice place for Granny Deidre to wash, dry and fold towels and undies while listening to punk rock from the ’70s, ’80s and whatever. The room is half the size of the Matson shipping container that carried my household goods—beds and tables and chairs and books—from Honolulu to Oakland’s port last summer. I wanted to be closer to the grapes.

My laundry room should hold 60 people or so. SCLRMFWP 2013 will be exclusive and sufficiently crowded. My friend with public-relations expertise says that holding an event in cramped quarters builds excitement. If the room is too capacious, people flop around and go limp with boredom.

We’ll jam into the room, compact, like riding a big-city metro during rush hour. I’ll turn on the dryer for added heat and noise, and run a couple of fans to simulate wind. My gigantic 32-inch monitor should rest nicely on the shelf next to my detergent and fabric softener. Or maybe I’ll just use my MacBook. Haven’t decided.

Then, the music. We’ll stream all our favorite Coachella artists on YouTube. And drink. The plan’s still rough, but here’s a sample of what you might experience at SCLRMFWP 2013, in oenological order, from whites to reds:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs and sparkling wine. Obviously, California champagne is in order for the triple Yeahs, who’re releasing their new album on April 16—coincidentally, between Coachella’s weekends one and two. My guests will be pleased that I’ve tasted the sparkling wines of Carneros, south of Napa. The 2008 Domaine Carneros Brut Vintage feels celebratory to me. “Pack up. I’m straight.” I hope you’re singing. I hope you don’t mind plastic cups. Broken glass = laundry room lawsuits. No thanks.

Lumineers. My folks made dandelion wine when I was 8. No me gusta nada. But the dandelion vibe feels about right for the Lumineers. I like to boast that I saw the Lumineers before they were famous, at the Biggest Little City Club in Reno. Yes, that’s really the name of a bar.

My friend and I went to see Kung Fu Sophie but stayed for the obscure folk-rockin’ hippies from Denver. The Lumineers were into audience participation, but only about eight drunks were at City Club that night. Most of ’em were regulars, ignoring the floor show. I ended up playing something percussive with the band. And the Lumineers changed the lyrics of “Darlene” and sang “Deidre.”

If you come to my event, I will regale you with this tale at least two times while we listen to “Submarines.” Since I have no dandelion wine, we’ll go with an organic chardonnay from Mendocino’s Girasole Vineyards. Sunflowers on the label! “Ho hey!”

Red Hot Chili Peppers. No prob. Just pair this with whatever you’d serve with spicy Tibetan, of course. First, I was thinking a barbera, fruit forward, like Pilot Peak’s 2008. I tasted this in Grass Valley last summer. Alas, sold out. I blame psychic spies from out of state. On reflection, something grimmer and glummer might be in order. Plummy, hint of minerality, without losing popular appeal. So not too complex. I’m talking about the wine. Turns out any big garish cab will do. “Space may be the final frontier, but it’s made in a (Napa) basement.”

Violent Femmes. Wisconsin. Not known for wine. So, beer? Don’t mock; it’s not all about the Schlitz. Milwaukee has been brewing up some crafty tastiness in recent years. Horny Goat. Buffalo Water. Cheesey Bratwurst. (I made up the last one.)

I spent the first 25 years of my existence in Wisconsin. If anything would get me to Coachella, it would be the chance to see the Violent Femmes live for a reunion after 5 1/2 years of performative silence. Even though, you know, the lead guy Gordon Gano’s a bit older than me. He turns 50 in June. I don’t turn 50 for two more fabulous years.

Oh yeah, wine. We’re listening to Viva Wisconsin and sniffing Bounce in my laundry room in California. What wine pairs with weird? What’s shadowy enough to accompany “Dahmer Is Dead” and “Blister in the Sun” and the catchy ditty about the dad who, during troubled economic times, throws his lovely daughter down the well?

Ah, something from the far reaches of the state of California. In the deep north, a winery in the Redwoods obtains grapes from all my favorite places. Moonstone Crossing’s 2007 Dark as Night is a blend of Mendocino merlot, Amador County cabernet Franc and cabernet sauvignon with Lake County petit verdot. There’s nothing subtle about its dark fruit, black oak, brown spice and bramble.

“Words to memorize, words hypnotize. Words make my mouth exercise. Words all fail the magic prize.”

I haven’t plotted overpriced snacks yet. “Wait a minute, honey, I’m going to add it up.”

Deidre Pike has no actual plans for a music festival in her laundry room. No SCLRMFWP 2013 wristbands will ever be available online. Please don’t call or write with your credit card information.

Published in Wine

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