Coachella Day 1 – April 20, 2012 – The Afternoon

Well, now that I’ve spent some time on my best act, I guess I’d better start in on the rest of my weekend.

I’d gotten to my hotel late on Thursday night, and of course even though I’d called, my reservation was messed up.  I realize that I’d booked the days at different times…but seriously Red Roof Inn…how hard is it to merge a couple reservations under the same name and credit card.  Fairly impossible it seems.  So, they “upgraded” me to a king room, but I’d have to check out the next day and check back in.

So I started my day hauling my bags to the office and storing them with the knowledge I’d have to drag them to my room sometime in the early hours when I returned from the festival.  (of course even better was later on when I also had to go though all the paperwork for a second time to check back in at 1:30am…before I could drag them to my room.)

Thankfully the shuttle stop at the Tennis Garden was much more organized.  There was no wait and I was right onto a bus headed to the festival…and air conditioned bus, the last AC I’d get to feel for about 14 hours.  Did I mention it was over 100 already?  Yeah, hot as hell hot….over 100 and climbing.

Once off the bus we shuffled along the cattle chute fences to swipe our pass and then cross the street to a set of stations where we were searched.  From there it was a long walk through the campgrounds to reach….another search to get into the festival.  That was one of the few issues I have with the way things were set up.  The two searches were a pain and overkill…they should really consider if there is a better way to handle this.  (As well as the shuttle locations themselves which will be a later topic).

The wait at the gate was a bit long-ish and it took me about another half hour to get inside.  From there I picked up my prepaid locker key, stored some of my extra stuff (a change of t-shirt and a couple things I didn’t want to lug around all day), then I went to ADA booth.  Due to my bad knees, I’d asked my Dr to write a note to allow me (if possible) into an ADA seating area.  They were extremely nice and helpful there, giving me a wristband to allow me a seat when available.  They ended up being available at every stage I tried and each platform was staffed by very nice folks.  This was a huge win for the festival…they really made it possible for an old guy like me with bad knees to still have a great experience on site and enjoy the show.  Not sure how’d I’ve have handled it if I had to stand all day.

At this point in the heat I realized I’d need to make some on the fly decisions.  I wanted to see The Sheepdogs, but they were at the Outdoor Stage and there was no way I was going to cook in the mid-day sun out there.  I adjusted my sights and headed to the Mojave Tent for honeyhoney.  I had their EP and had heard some good buzz about them from weekend 1.  They didn’t disappoint.

Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe have an appealing sort of alt-country sound that went down very well on a hot desert afternoon.  Suzanne plays both fiddle and banjo and has a terrific voice.  I’m not completely familiar with their catalog but stand out songs that I did know were “Little Toy Gun”, “I don’t mind” and “Ohio” (Not the Neil Young song.)

This is a version with just the two of them of their “Ohio”:

They wrapped after about 40 minutes and decided to randomly stay in the shade and watch the next band Givers on that stage.  (Plus, it kept me out of the sun).

Givers had a nice “poppy” sound and proved to be from Louisiana (and I’ve since learned, recently cover on the Glee, which explains the reaction a lot of kids had to the song “Up,Up,Up”).  They had a nice breezy song that made me think of Two Door Cinema Club or maybe even a bit of Phoenix, bot who I saw at Glastonbury in 2010.  It’s prefect mid afternoon festival music.

I headed to the record store tent after their set and happened to run into them doing a signing.  Impulsively, I bought their disc and had them sign it.  I chatted with the lead singer and he was genuinely nice and seemed really happy that I’d seen their set and liked it.  He said basically that was why they were there and hearing that made him happy that people were listening.  They all looked so young and eager, which is another reason I love to see the bands in the  smaller print on the festival poster.  They are so happy and thrilled to be there and really appreciate the folks who take time to hear them.  It was nice chance to talk to a performer up close and I was happy that I bought the disc and chatted with them.

Here’s a taste of Givers:

I took a break for some food, but not too much in the heat.  A small pizza and I spent some time chatting with a random group of college kids out from Boston for the show.  The food areas are a great place to chill in the shade and meet interesting people to talk about what you’ve seen or are excited about seeing later.  It was a nice break and after filling my empty water bottle I headed to Dawes, one of my must-see bands of the festival.

Dawes had caught my ear and intrigued me with their connection with Jackson Browne.  They remind me of a young Eagles or Poco type band.  As faithful to the West Coast LA sound band as I think you can find these days.  Their set was short, but really well done.  They hit the highlights that I’d hoped for and also did a nice cover of “The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down” as a tribute to Levon Helm’s passing the day before.

These are two songs from Weekend one that were also standouts of the set that I saw:

When Dawes finished it was finally sunset.  I’d survived the first afternoon of blazing heat and dust.  The cool evening was fast approaching and I had much more to see.  But, that will have to wait until my next post when I stagger into the Outdoor Stage for Madness and then see Pulp for a second time in two nights!  I will try to have that all written up soon!

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