Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coachella - Day 3

My last day at Coachella 2009... I had been having a great time all weekend, but I was looking forward to being done. This day was particularly hot outside, and when I got there, there were no clouds in the sky. I walked all the way to the gate, and realized I had either dropped or forgotten my ticket! I walked back to my car, no luck. So I came all the way back to the gates and plead with the people at the media entrance to get back in. After a while of chatting, they decided to let me in. Dang.

One of my first bands today was called Friendly Fires. Sort of dancy rock. It was interesting. The lead singer had a lot of energy and sort shook his butt all over stage. The people watching were pretty entertained. But as always with being a photographer, you just shoot for the first few songs, get your shots, and get out. So sometimes its hard to really focus on the music.

Today was a hot one. My pal Jim snapped a photo of me in the middle of the day. You cant really tell how hot and tired I am, but its there. Look in my eyes.

Today's crowd was a little more subdued. I think people were partied out from the day before. I saw a number of people get yanked out of the crowd for the main stage because they were fainting or dehydrated. Everyone was feeling the effects of the sun. I don't know how some of the bands managed to play.

One other pretty cool thing I saw that I wasn't expecting, was the Lucent Dossier Experience. It was a dance troupe that performed in a sort of Vaudeville style. There were pools of water for them to splash around in, at some points they kicked water into the crowd, and even had a water hose to spray on sweaty passers-by. There was a band playing in the back ground while the dancers interpreted the music. Fun to check out.

I had seen on the Coachella website some neat 'panoramic' images... but they actually went in every direction. (Check out this link to see what I mean.) Anyways, I always wondered how they did it. I know they were stitching photos together in photoshop, but I didn't know how they got all the images at once. This photo explains it!

I was supposed to shoot The Gaslight Anthem from the stage, which would have been rad, but it didn't work out. So I shot from the pit. This was the hottest part of the day. The band went on at 3:00pm and I was pouring sweat. I just wanted to shoot, get out of the pit, and go head for some shade. But, the band was good. Pretty normal light 'rock' sound. I might have stayed for more if it wasn't so hot.

The Hand of Man, another art installation. This was was a gigantic robotic arm, that you can actually control by wearing a glove. Just like the Power Glove on Nintendo! I didn't get to try it, but I watched a guy make devil horns, then pick up a car and toss it on the ground. It was pretty cool actually.

While I was waiting for a band to start, I spotted this tattoo of Freddie Mercury! I'm a big Queen fan, so I thought this was pretty neat. Its the "Hot Space" Freddie. The girl was happy to allow a photo.

One thing Spin mentioned they wanted to see more of, was people dancing. I looked around, but it was so hot out that people were just sort of standing still. (At least during the day) But you can always count on the ravers! Any time there is a techno beat bumping, they will be there. This large dome was right by the entrance to the grounds. It had a huge pile of speakers in the center, and a DJ on top. Most people just walked by, but the select few stayed and jammed out. I was lucky to get such neat lighting on these photos. The sun was just going down, and I caught light just right. It's that "golden hour" photogs talk about. Sweet.

The Yeah Yeah Yeah's. I was probably most excited to see this band play, because I knew they would put on an interesting show. They didn't disappoint. Lead singer Karen O was dressed in a shiny, gold, sort of 70's, dress, thing. It was cool, and she was happy to show it off. She kept spreading out all the little pieces of it. Behind them was a giant eye ball. I was feeling it! It was cool. You can judge the enormity of the stage by the size of the eyeball installation. Generally speaking, the YYYs play smaller venues where that piece would fill up the entire background, but here on the main stage at Coachella, it looked a but undersized. But still neat.

My Bloody Valentine apparently reunited after 10 years. I wasn't really feeling this. I am into guitar effects and noises as much and MORE than the next guy, but this just wasn't working. Lead singer Kevin Shields was barely audible (on purpose) and there was no real light on him to speak up. I just happened to get a few shots while strobes were going off. The band ended with a headache-inducing barrage of noise. No melody, no changes... just a big wall of feedback and whooshing air. This lasted for literally about 25 minutes. It was pretty ridiculous. Sort of not the right vibe.

The last band on the main stage was The Cure. Lots of people were questioning their ability to close out the weekend. I didn't get to hear the whole set, but from what I heard, and what I read, they played for about 2 and a half hours... most of it ok, some really good. I had a band to shoot after the Cure, so I left to get them, then came back to catch a little more Cure. I have to say, hearing the songs blasting through the speakers, Robert Smith on stage, and seeing the creepy guitar player on the massive screens... it was pretty epic. Not a bad way to end it!

By the end of the night, I was totally worn out. It was a great experience, but it was a lot of work. I can only think of one time that I had more than 15 minutes to catch my breath. It was intense, but it one of those things you have to do. I think if you can just go to Coachella and just be very passive with your schedule, and not try to catch all your favorite bands, you would have a great time. It was a really cool set up, and it was pretty magical. I would definitely love to cover it again. Maybe next time Radiohead will headline and I can finally take them off my list of bands I have to shoot!

Anyways. Thanks to Spin for the opportunity. Be sure to check out for more of my photos. Rock your face.

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