CVIndependent

Mon08192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

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!

The Coachella music festival is a great thing for music fans who live in the Coachella Valley—even if those music fans don’t get anywhere near the Empire Polo Club during the festival—because a bunch of local venues go all-out to present great events and musicians during Coachella. For one example, check out BarChella, the two-weekend series of musical events being put on by Bar (340 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-537-7337; facebook.com/barwastaken). On Friday, April 12 (at 8 p.m.), and Saturday, April 13 (at 9 p.m.), BarChella will feature the “simplicity, style and groove” of DJ Mister Blaqk. Mister Blaqk’s real name is Sahil Kumar Dhingra, and the 23-year-old Anaheim native and current resident of downtown Los Angeles works in importing and exporting electronics when he’s not doing music. Learn more about Mister Blaqk at www.facebook.com/misterblaqkofficial and www.soundcloud.com/misterblaqk.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Hanson Brothers.

What was the first album you owned?

A Reggae Gold compilation featuring Sean Paul.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Bands that make her dance ... ha ha.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Country music.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Ace of Base.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Any soulful R&B love-making song.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Pacha Ibiza, in Spain.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“I Get So High,” from “You’re Making Me High,” by Toni Braxton.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Usher and Ryan Leslie. When Usher released 8701, I was mind-blown by the way he infused R&B, hip-hop and dance music within an album all based around love. I like to put emotion into my performances, because it is a reflection of my strong personality.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Michael Jackson: “What was the inspiration behind your first solo album, Got to Be There?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“In da Club,” 50 Cent.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Duets: The Final Chapter, The Notorious B.I.G.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Breach, “Jack” (original mix). (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

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

I had no idea who Sixto Rodriguez was before I popped this documentary into my player. He was a Detroit musician who released a couple of albums in the early '70s and then disappeared. Some said he committed suicide onstage by setting himself on fire, or by shooting himself in the head.

(Spoiler alert: Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know the big secrets in Searching for Sugar Man.)

As it turns out, Rodriguez didn’t kill himself. He just left the music biz and led a normal, secluded life. I’ve listened to his albums, and he is very good.

The other big surprise: Rodriguez was, and is still, a major sensation in South Africa—and he had no idea he had achieved fame elsewhere in the world. After his albums bombed stateside, he went back to being a construction worker. The makers of the movie seek him out, and find him in Detroit. He eventually makes a pilgrimage to South Africa, where he is bigger than Elvis.

He’s actually touring right now, and is headed our way for Coachella.

It’s an amazing story, told in a very good film. Interviews with Rodriguez, his family and his supporters reveal that this is a nice, talented guy who deserved a musical career. And he’s got one now, thanks in part to this film.

Special Features: A director’s commentary that also features Rodriguez is a must-listen. You also get a decent making-of, and a questions and answers session at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

After a flurry of rumors, parodies and anticipation, the lineup for Coachella 2013 was finally released earlier this week.

While those of us here at the Independent have our own opinions on the lineups (No Daft Punk?! Damn it!), we'll shut up for now. Instead, we scoured the good ol' Weekly Wide Web for reactions.

We did find a wee bit of consensus. For example, everyone was understandably bummed that some of the rumored headliners (Stones, Bowie, Daft Punk) were just rumors; and there's a surprising amount of consensus that the second-tier acts are rather strong. 

Here are eight bits of reaction worth noting, in no particular order:

  • The Los Angeles Times' August Brown was surprised by the lack of EDM (electronic dance music) in the lineup. "One has to scroll down to the third line of any given day before a proper dance act is listed (some electro-leaning bands like The Postal Service and New Order have higher billing). In more recent years, EDM acts like Swedish House Mafia and Tiesto have closed out nights on the main stage and drew more fans than the ostensible headliners," Brown notes.
  • The provocateurs over at Spin offer 10 reasons why the lineup sucks—and 20 why it doesn't. Spin's Chris Martins, for example, is excited about the reunion of The Postal Service, but pissed about the apparent lack of holograms. (RIP, Tupac.)
  • Across the pond, the folks at The Guardian seem thrilled that British bands "dominate" the lineup. "Joining Damon Albarn and co on the first night of the event, which takes place over consecutive weekends in April, will be the Stone Roses. The band will be playing their first US gigs since re-forming in 2012," the paper notes. "The lineup has a heavy UK presence, with performances promised from the xx, New Order, Hot Chip, Two Door Cinema Club, Biffy Clyro, Foals, Franz Ferdinand, Jessie Ware, Jake Bugg, James Blake and Johnny Marr."
  • Speaking of the Stone Roses: An entire Tumblr page has been developed to compile the reactions of (mostly younger) Twitter-users asking: Who in the heck are the Stone Roses? It's an oddly amusing read. (Doesn't anyone know how to use the Google these days?)
  • The folks over at MTV.com (Remember when MTV had music credibility? The folks who have tweets on the aforementioned Tumblr page probably don't!) focus on the reunions. James Montgomery writes (after actually using the word "kvetching"): "Late Thursday night, (Coachella) organizers took to Twitter to reveal the full lineup for the 2013 edition of the fest, which features recently-reunited acts like the Stone Roses, Blur and the Postal Service, returning indie champs Phoenix, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend and, uh, the Red Hot Chili Peppers."
  • Up in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Ore.'s Willamette Week is decidedly unimpressed with the lineup. "Coachella’s hotly anticipated lineup is out and—woof. If this lineup was announced for (George, Wash. festival) Sasquatch, we’d be ho-hum. But for the West Coast’s premiere music festival to have Blur, Phoenix and the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining is really bumming us out." Writer Martin Cizmar then goes on to list holograms that could save the festival. Har!
  • Hollywood.com's Jean Bentley sees evidence of Coachella organizer Goldenvoice's disappointment in the lineup announcement's timing: "The fact that the lineup was announced via Twitter after 8 p.m. (Pacific time!) on a Thursday—and the fact that it's out weeks later than in past years—is also quite telling. If bigger names were playing, it seems like the bands wouldn't have been revealed at such a random, late hour."
  • And finally, the granddaddy the alternative press, The Village Voice, gives the lineup a thumbs-up—albeit a weak thumbs-up. Brian McManus writes: "So what do you think? There's lots to like in there if you drill down far enough. Visions of a reunited Postal Service and the four Wu Tang members who actually show up wandering the camp grounds together are already swimming through our heads."

For more information on the festival, including an inaccurate countdown clock (as of this writing, the clock says the April festival is just two days and change away, which we don't think is correct), head over to coachella.com.