I set a personal record with 22,145 steps, or 9.61 miles walked on Saturday*. I got 5,000 in before we even fell asleep. LCD played until 1 a.m. and we more floated than walked back to our campsite. We put our tent up in the dark with help from our trusty new lanterns**, wrapped ourselves up in our sleeping bags and blankets and fell asleep around 2:30 a.m. It wasn’t the best night sleep***, but we stayed warm enough in the middle of the night and woke to a toasty tent. We were able air the tent out, play some Uno and take a nap before heading in. The Goddess salad and a whole lot more music was waiting for us.
*I don’t count my steps, but I DID double my “Move” goal on my Apple Watch for the first time ever.
**Zack really loves these lanterns, which I find adorable. I can’t really blame him, they were life savers out there.
***I had to pee. In a Port-O-Potty. In the dark. #pray4me #lanternlifesavers
Our first stop on the way in was to the record store to see if there were any Record Store Day goodies. It looked thoroughly picked over, but we did see a Run The Jewels viewfinder for $20 that we needed to have*. Caitlin stuffed it in her backpack and we put away $23 worth of Goddess salads while talking to some friendly folks at our picnic table in the rainbow colored art installation of a tent. A white-haired man pointed at Caitlin’s Paul McCartney and Wings shirt and told us about seeing The Beatles at the L.A. Dodgers stadium in the mid ’60s and he had a t-shirt on that said “never too old to enjoy live music.**” Being out at Coachella hours before the headliners solidifies that. Respect.
*Zack had been trying to talk himself out of it for the previous 24 hours, but once it was in our sights there was no way music collectors like us could say no. Especially when you start to rationalize, “I split it with the partner, it’s only $10 really…”
**That was actually on Day 1. Day 2, I was wearing my “Fuck the Fuck Boys, Run The Jewels” shirt I custom designed because I’m a CRAZY PERSON.
After lunch, Caitlin was thrilled to find fancy bathrooms and use a real toilet before we caught some of Cloves*. We didn’t know them well going in, but they were a sweet, chill band to relax to and escape the afternoon sun. We walked by the Bernie Bro above on our way to back to back Gary Clark Jr. and Run The Jewels on the main stage. Gary slayed his guitar, taking incredible solo after incredible solo while we nodded our heads in the harsh sun. We scooted up to the second row after he finished, only finding ourselves behind camped out Guns ‘N’ Roses fans (you could tell because of their tattoos), who did not respond to a second of Gary Clark or RTJ**.
*They had STALLS!!! In a BUILDING!!!!!!!!!! AND I WASHED MY HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER AFTER!!!!!!!!! I’m tearing up just remembering it.
**In truth, I think I annoyed them quite a bit. Quite. a. bit.
The wait for Run The Jewels ended up being really exciting. First they inflated and raised up enormous mummy RTJ hands in fist and gun position above the stage. Then their street team handed out RTJ red bandanas to most RTJ fans in the first few rows*. Right before they went on stage, they handed out just a couple of giant flags. Caitlin and I got our hands on it, but since it was so large, this other girl behind us and a dude next to us all had hands on it. I told the girl we’d give her the bandana Caitlin had if she let go. She agreed and the other dude obliged as well**. I later grabbed two more bandanas for us. With an abundance of RTJ gear we were ready to see our boys.
*I snatched one right away.
**That was what pushed her over the edge to fork it over, but really, here’s what happened at first: the guy totally handed the flag right to me, but other people grabbed at it. Ultimately everyone let go except me and this other girl. She offered to rock, paper, scissors for it, but I feared at a loss and whimpered, “Does it mean anything at all that I’m wearing a custom-made Run the Jewels shirt?” and then I turned around to model the back for her. That was when the crowd around us got on my side, and the bandana was the final straw that convinced her to let us have it. I cannot thank her and the other dude who tried to grab it away enough. Y’all really made my day/weekend/life.
It was yet another incredible Run The Jewels performance, my 3rd with Caitlin, her 5th in the last 16 months. I’ll let Caitlin write about it since I already have on Festival Crashers.
What can you say about Jaime Melina and Michael Render? They put their love for each other on prominent display during their shows, and it just makes the whole damn affair like a family reunion of epic proportions. First, there was the Bernie Sanders introduction. Bernie provided a video recording to open up the set where he talks about becoming BFFs with Killer Mike, ending by saying, “And El-P, I hope we get to know each other better in the coming months.” Adorable.
Then the guys came out to Queen before busting out some new tracks. RTJ3 is going to be sick*, and the visuals accompanying the music are already mind blowing. The one on the DJ Shadow track of a pixelated guy falling infinitely down, sometimes smiling maniacally and sometimes appearing to weep, is burned in my brain.
*I was instantly sold on RTJ3 as well.
I was pleased with all the guest appearances during the RTJ set — Gangsta Boo, DJ Shadow, a rapper guy I didn’t know, Gary Clark Jr., and my most favorite, Boots* (he produced and co-wrote a lot of Beyonce’s self-titled album. I mean.) But the stars were Killer Mike and El-P, and I felt a particular connection with Mike. At one point he looked in our direction, so I rapped back at him the words he was spitting, and he smiled and pointed at me. Then, at the end of the show, he hopped down from the stage and doled out handshakes** and hugs to all of us in the first couple rows, and the love was palpable. Mike has said some things that I don’t agree with (particularly when it comes to women), but ultimately I believe he’s a person trying to do the very best he can and I dig his passion. Jewel Runner 4 Life, y’all.
*I liked getting these few guests, but not as good as last year when they had seemingly everyone on the album there.
**I gotta admit I was excited to get a handshake from Killer Mike.
At this point I was finally able to score a pizza, and then we sat on the ground and watched Bat for Lashes do whatever it is that she does (it’s like experimental pop but it was boring to watch, I’m sorry). Then we went and stretched out for Courtney Barnett*, who was much more engaging. Lying in the grass, staring up at the super-blue sky, Barnett’s lazily delivered rambling lyrics over scorching wall-of-sound guitars was exactly appropriate.
*Courtney’s a bad-ass. Loved getting to see her live up to the hype and was excited to see her again at the now-canceled Levitation fest.
My serendipitous luck continued when Zack and I visited the merch area of Coachella. My hair was doing stupid stuff all day so I was finally ready to cave in and buy a hat as a festival souvenir. We went to the stand with all the bands’ merch, and I didn’t like any of the bands selling hats, so they directed us into the boutique shop for Coachella-branded stuff. I immediately fell for a green hat with a grizzly bear wearing an astronaut helmet and playing guitar, but because I’m meticulous I wanted to look at all of the other hats before checking out. When I’d settled on the bear, I realized another group had cut in front of us in the line, and asked for the same hat. I had this uneasy feeling in my stomach, so I tried to make eye contact with a girl at the checkout counter, and when she ignored me I walked up to another guy and asked for the same hat. He disappeared in the back for a while and I started talking to the girl who ignored me at first. I asked when she’d be done with her shift, and she said soon because she wanted to go see Guns ‘N’ Roses. We talked about the hardcore fans we’d seen already lined up. Then, my guy emerged holding the hat. There was a brief conversation with another female worker, and then he approached and said, smiling, “This is the LAST one we have in this style!” My eyes widened and I clasped my hands over my mouth, saying, “Thank you, thank you!!*” He said, “I told her (the girl helping the other group) she could pick who got it, and she picked you.” I heard the fallout with the other group as that same girl told them I was “there first” (I think we all knew that wasn’t EXACTLY true), and I walked out with my sweet hat on, feeling so thankful for the festival workers to be *so* on my side all weekend. It renewed my faith in humanity and made me feel like the positive energy I was trying to put out there was getting repaid to me. *You’ve never seen someone so excited to drop $30 on a festival hat.
I’ll be honest, I thought Disclosure was a punk band* that was reforming for the festival. I should have known it was another EDM-friendly situation. Apparently we missed some cool guests joining these knob-turners at the start of their set, but we did manage to see Sam Smith perform with them (finally! Sam Smith live!**) and that was pretty cool.
*I had no idea who they were either, but it was an enjoyable show and the guys around us were fun to watch with their fur coats and glow stick creations.
**I’d seen Sam Smith at ACL a couple years ago and he was great again this time.
I was looking forward to Ice Cube’s performance, and really hoping for a full NWA reunion. Instead, I got his son (still pretty cool) and everybody from NWA except Dre. I had a suspicion they might save Dre for weekend 2 only (kinda blows your cover if you bring everyone out weekend 1) but still, disappointing. I liked Snoop’s guest spot*, but otherwise the whole thing felt kinda goofy** and over-the-top — for example, Cube made up a fake story about the police backstage telling him he couldn’t “play that song,” a la Straight Outta Compton, and while it was super powerful in the movie (and, I’m sure, when it originally happened) it felt like a play and, therefore, somewhat disingenuous at Coachella. That said, the footage they coupled with “Fuck Tha Police” was powerful — videos of a lot of horrendous transgressions by officers over the past year that just reminded you how far we have to go for social justice and racial equality.
*Snoop was good and we got Common as well, but it was nowhere near as good as the Tupac hologram show with Eminem and Dre and all the other guests a few years ago.
**Not to mention Cube’s throne and cockiness. He wasn’t that good.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Guns ‘N’ Roses. I was sad that Axl couldn’t dance around with his signature moves because of his broken body, but his voice was still powerful and the songs sounded good. I was hoping for more of the hits out of the gate, but only recognized 2 or 3 songs* (including an excellent “Live And Let Die” cover). I was also disappointed (although not totally surprised) by the extremely scantily clad lady dancers doing strip club moves during some of the songs. Ultimately I was glad when Zack said he was ready to head back to the tent**, and enjoyed playing Uno with him while we listened to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “November Rain” from there.
*”Do you know where you are, Coachella?! You’re in the Jungle…” was a fun intro to “Welcome to the Jungle.”
**I truly intended on us staying the whole time, but we got the point after an hour. Slash is an incredible guitar player, Axl still sounds great and they’re an all-time rock band for a reason. Glad we saw them, but it was time to get warm in the tent.