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My Coachella 2004 by Dan Zweben

Part of: Guest Bloggers , Music

Breakfast at Tiffany's has only read boring reports on Coachella, so we asked our favorite musician/friend du jour, Dan Zweben, for his unedited account. Dan Zweben is BAT's first guest blogger ever. Thank you, Zweben.

When I heard the Pixies were playing Coachella 2004 in February, I knew I’d hear about it for the next 3 months. I live with my girlfriend, an obsessive Pixies fan who had never seen the Pixies live. I knew she’d be stressing about seeing her favorite dynamic duo (Frank Black and Kim Deal)hash it out on stage in the new century. Would they be good? Could they be great?

This Coachella would be my 3rd consecutive year of heading out to the desert to check out the latest craze in the “indie” rock scene. See, I’m a musician as well as being a huge music fan. But most of the stuff I hear at Coachella is far from the stuff I write, record, and perform. I don’t feel envious of these indie rock darlings. They were born to play the way they do. So I spend my time in Indio (15 miles from Palm Springs where 8 of my friends have been sharing a house for the last 2 years) as a fan of music. As a supporter of the cause. Mingling with the music elite.

So my girlfriend and I threw 2 days worth of light clothing in a bag and headed to Pomona, the first stop of the weekend and the first time I saw the Pixies live. From the opening chords of “Bone Machine,” the first song off the great Surfer Rosa, I was hooked. The energy of Frank Black Francis and every-word-means-something vocals are something you don’t hear in rock these days. After the show we drove to our rented house in Palm Springs where we immediately got in the pool to cool off.

The next day we woke up, sat by the pool, and made our “must-see shows of the weekend” list. After taking my advice and going the back way away from traffic, we parked and headed out in the 100+ heat. Along with 8,000 other fans, I tried to catch Beck in one of the small tents. I loved his most recent record “Sea Changes,” but trying to hear Beck and an acoustic over 8,000 people in the heat wasn’t happening. We drank margaritas and smoked pot in the portapottys, waiting for the sun to come down. We took in the Desert Sessions, Junior Senior, and the International Noise Conspiracy (I appreciated their anti-Bush rhetoric, I mean, it is 2004!) Then for the second night in a row, the Pixies took the stage and rocked it again. I liked the rockin version of “Wave of Mutilation” better than when Frank Black plays the acoustic.

Radiohead, I’m sure you already heard, were mesmerizing to everyone except me. It was so fucking crowded by this point and the buzz from the weed and the margarita started to go to my head. This was just Day 1! We had another day of rock. So we went back and skipped the pool for our beds.

Sunday we were slow to get up and made burgers and got to the grounds just in time for one of my favorite new bands from Ireland, The Thrills. I knew this day would be more enjoyable from the get-go. There were less annoying want-to-be hipsters because there was no Radiohead. As expected The Thrills were great (I still wonder why all their songs seem to mention some town in California, but hey, whatever inspires a European…)What else? Bright Eyes was interesting, Sleepy Jackson was a little sleepy, we missed the Muse (the best band since who???)Air was unexpectedly good, Flaming Lips-- you’ve all heard about the ball Wayne came out in--I told the lead singer of The Thrills that I loved his album, more margaritas, more weed, nothing like another day in the desert with rock and a few thousand of my closest friends.

I never told you about the VIP. I don’t care about The VIP status or anything FYI. I don’t care about seeing Jared Leto or Taryn Manning, or Vincent Gallo, or Adam Horovitz (ok, I do care about seeing Adam but give me a break, he’s a Beastie Boy) oh, and seeing the couple from the OC was amusing because I love how she refers to him as “Cohen” on the show, but I’m not going to name drop just for the sake of it. I mean, it’s all about the music right?

The Cure were a little disappointing….We went to look for our friends…Danced to Sidestepper with 50 other hippies as the night progressed. I love Coachella for these moments. These spontaneous moments remind me of music festivals when I was growing up. This is why I will return to Coachella in 2005. Even though they oversold tickets this year and there were too many dudes with backwards hats and girls trying to meet someone famous by a particular outfit they chose to where, I will return. Because music is about festivals. And festivals are meant to be experienced. And I love the desert.


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