It’s that time again… Coachella 2011 Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the yeaarrr….almost. Coachella season is OFFICIALLY here and so is my annual Chellz Survival Guide (find last year’s here). I am ready for the heat, the pain, the crowds, the over priced booze, and ready to try and face my fear of porta potties (fingers crossed). I am also ready to find Unicorn Girl again, DON’T LET ME DOWN LADY. Now that I am a well-seasoned veteran (hahah yeah right) I feel it only fair to pass on some pearls of wisdom for the Summer music festival goer this year. Things like:

1. Remember to pre-party. Unless you enjoy paying $9 for a fuckin Heineken or $10 for the sweetest margarita you will ever guzzle down (which leaves you with little more than a sugar high and a sticky mouth), sneaking booze in or keeping a steady supply of libations in your car or campsite is ardently suggested.

2. Don’t forget a sweater/hip cardigan and sunblock. The desert gets real cold at night y’all, a mistake I learned firsthand at our first Chella night as I practically froze my romper-clad bum off. And unless you are all blessed with the bronzed goddess-like tan I so easily acquire upon standing in the sun for 2.5 seconds, you’re gonna want to protect yourself from some tomato red tinged pain and shame.

3. Hydrate. Don’t forget to drink water! Excessive sun exposure + inevitable children almost overdosing on ecstasy should probably lead me to change this to #1 but I am, of course, too lazy to hit backspace in this bitch.

4. Baby Wipes. I don’t think this one needs any further explanation.

5. Set up a rendezvous point for you and your fraaands. You will have limited to pretty much zero cell reception so when you do break away from your group always have a meeting spot and check in times so you’re not left all alone, like a creep. This lone state will lead to super freaky lurkers or free love hippies trying to recruit you into their masses. Remain vigilant.

Anyways onto the good stuff and the only reason you have subjected yourself to my ramblings. Here is my compilation of the artists I am most excited about seeing this weekend. Hard, Sophie’s Choice-esque decisions will have to be made to fit in the maximal amount of musical goodness, I fear.

COACHELLA 2011 SURVIVAL GUIDE MIX (.zip)

Tracklist after cut —>

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Coachella Day 1 – Recap

Coachella has come and gone taking its heat stroke, sweet beats, dehydration, balmy winds at night, rayban wayfarers, straw hats, endless lines, and everything lovely and terrible with it. Now don’t let the fact that three days in the desert has left me a sickly, voice-less, former shell of myself, dishearten you, because Coachella truly is the most wonderful time of the year (getting there, however, involves some expletives from my end). But we fought through the traffic and Monroe St. for 6+ hours and finally made it to our destination in Indio on Friday @ about 6:00 pm. Having missed Yeasayer and most of She & Him already, there was nothing left to do but head straight for the Heineken Beer Gardens for a beer and a tweet, gotta have your priorities straight, right?

So, after acclimating ourselves to the Empire Polo Fields (I’m actually still referring to the Beer Gardens tbh) the first act we took in was Passion Pit, a band that I had been following for quite some time and was rather looking forward to seeing. Now, the outdoor stage may have been terrible placement for the band, or the sound could have been glitching, but this highly anticipated performance was subpar to lackluster, at best. Angelakos’ falsetto vocals would not carry and the infectious dancey beats seemed to flop and drag themselves down to the crowd below. sigh. At least they closed with “Little Secrets” and the vocals seemed to improve towards the end of the performance.

Passion Pit – Little Secrets (mp3)

Then it was off and running to catch Grizzly Bear‘s set in the Mojave tent and thankfully they were anything BUT disappointing. Once again, the boys put on an A+ performance and their four-part harmonies, at-time melancholy tunes, and downright gorgeous noise-scape of dream pop was transcending. I may be biased because these boys have always held a special place in my heart since I first heard them in the tiny cathedral-like Kerckhoff Ballroom one afternoon, or that I think Ed Droste is devastatingly and unobtainably handsome, but listen for yourself and you will see why Grizz Bear was in my top 5 performances of the weekend.

I nearly swooned when I heard the beginning chords of “Ready, Able”

Grizzly Bear – Knife (mp3)

After hearing one of the most moving performances of Coachella, we migrated to the main stage to experience LCD Soundsystem, another act I had been waiting YEARS to see. LCD frontman James Murphy was humorously talkative all night and even launched into a 10+ minute speak/sing of “Losing My Edge,” dedicating it to fellow Coachella performer Gil Scott-Heron (a song that would haunt us all weekend as Kristen Honea would drive it back into our heads at unexpected times). I was ecstatic when they played “All My Friends” but was saddened to walk away not hearing them perform”Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” or “All I Want,” which is my personal favorite off of their new album, This Is Happening. “All I Want” is a catchy and sometimes dissonant track modeled in the vein of “All My Friends,” what with its repetition and looping melancholy. You can’t help but fall in love with it as Murphy asks for your pity over the contrasting, upbeat synths and sliding guitar lines.

LCD Soundsystem – All I Want (mp3)

Feeling the weight of the long day coming down on us, we dragged ourselves over to catch the latter half of Vampire Weekend‘s set at the Outdoor Stage, and it was a great decision. The New York quartet played with a renewed vigor I hadn’t seen in a while and left me more impressed than my first go around with the adorable boys. They were energetic and pleased the crowd with some oldies like “Oxford Comma” and the wonderful “Walcott” and newer dance-able tracks like “Cousins.” Then we were obligated to bask in the glory of Jay-Z for a bit and Hova proved once again why he is a BIG FUCKING DEAL.

Vampire Weekend – Walcott (mp3)

Watching weird rave kids sing along and writhe to J’s heavy hitters was an almost out-of-body experience so it was time for a Sophie’s Choice moment: Deadmau5, Fever Ray, or Whitest Boy Alive?? After deciding Erlend Oye can not be missed, we saw a bit of Deadmau5 set up (way to rip off Daft Punk hard circa 2006) and stayed for a song or 2 (who can tell? they all sound the same.) Walking by Fever Ray I longingly looked back towards Karin as I made my way to the Gobi Tent. Life is so hard sometimes.

Regrets were soon pushed out of my head as Whitest Boy Alive took the stage. They kept the crowd dancing the whole time and Erlend’s so adorable-it-hurts stories and comments were the perfect way to end day one. He too seemed to have trouble getting to the festival as he relived getting out of his car stuck in traffic to walk the rest of the way to the Polo Fields. The Berlin-based group came to prove that: yes, white boys can get the party started (successfully) and their sexy, bass-filled, somewhat-electro songs had the whole tent smiling and dancing.

Whitest Boy Alive – Courage (mp3)

*most photos and videos provided by this lovely creature, the bff kristen

(and thank you Jamesy, the other half of this blog that never writes, for introducing me to dropbox. now hurry up and return from your Aussie adventures already!)

-Michelle