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Coachella 2008
April 25 – 27, 2008
Empire Polo Field
Indio, Ca 92201

Written by Joshua Williams
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo:
Kim Deal of the Breeders



April 25, 2008 - Day 1

The Treehouse

Some people may ask, “why in the world would you hold a music festival in the desert?” With its brutal heat and sapping sun, it may not seem to be the likeliest of venues. However, it all comes to light with the setting of the sun. As the cool desert breeze cuts across the field it becomes apparent that this is indeed the perfect venue.

That being said, the concert-goers who braved the daytime acts must be commended for their fanaticism. One is either a masochist and loves to melt under the sun, or in the alternative, is such a fan they will go through such torture for their favorite acts. I got the feeling that this act of devotion was appreciated by the bands, and they reciprocated in kind by playing their hearts out.
It is impossible to cover all of Coachella. With so many bands playing, an entire team would be needed to cover the two stages and three tents. So this will only cover what we were able to see and photograph.

Les Savy Fav

Les Savy Fav

We had been here the previous year, so I was a bit surprised that we were able to enter the grounds so quickly. Either attendance was down, or the Indio police figured out a better way to get traffic onto the grounds. Once in, we decided our first band to check out was Les Savy Fav at the outdoor theater. It is a bit ironic to be reviewing a hometown band on the other side of the country, but nevertheless, there we were. The set started off with front man Tim Harrington screaming “what in tarnation!, get off my property!”, over and over again as the band went into their frantic, angular, hardcore infused set. The man is a true front man in the vein of classic Iggy, and probably a bit of G.G. (save the feces). It warmed my heart to see a paunchy, balding front man bring it to the crowd. And he did bring it, by stripping down to the red drawers and riding someone as a pony. The hometown boys definitely brought it home to the left coast. They made me proud to call N.Y.C. my home.

Kim Deal of the Breeders

After being sonically assaulted by Harrington and Co, we made our way to the Main stage to witness the return of The Breeders. It has been a few years since The Deal Sisters have played, thanks to the usual culprit of substance abuse. Kelley seems cleaned up now, and they looked really excited to be on the stage. They were there in support of their new album, "Mountain Battles." As a fan of all of Kim’s work in The Pixies and The Breeders, I was excited to finally see her on stage. Unfortunately, it was a rough start. As they began “overglazed”, their seemed to be a problem with the delay in the vocals, or maybe Kim was just off on the keys. In any event, she had the band stop and start over. I hate it when bands start over—I’d prefer they play their way through. She’s Kim Deal though, so it’s hard for me to fault her. They found their way by the third or fourth song, and eventually had the crowd sated when they heard the distinctive opening bass riff of “cannonball”.

Christopher Leigh of Electric Touch

Shane Lawlor Electric Touch

Afterwards we made our way over to the press tent to meet with Electric Touch. Electric Touch hails from Austin Texas. They are a four-piece consisting of Vocalist Shane Lawlor, Bassist Ross Dubois, Christopher Leigh on guitar, and his twin brother Louis Messina, Jr. on drums. These guys are amazed by how far they have come in the last year. They are truly a humble bunch of guys. The twins grew up playing with another brother, transitioning from video games to musical instruments, then discovering a love for Black Sabbath and Aerosmith. They then met up with England native Lawlor and Bassist Dubois. There is a sincere love of Stephen Tyler, who apparently had made an appearance at the festival, which excited them greatly. These guys seemed to me to be a bunch of fans that had the fortune to find their way onto the stage. They credit the city of Austin with helping them as a band, As Lawlor noted, it is a city where one can move and become an artist. And oh yeah, these guys can play. Go check out “Love in our Hearts”, and “Breakdown” on their page, They will be playing Bonnaroo, plus a bunch of other dates. Go check them out, and go up and say hi. And ask them if they know what the state insect of New Mexico is.

The National

The National

Afterward, we made our way back to the Second stage to check out The National. For lack of a better term, I’ll call them Orchestral Indie-Rock. Like Electric Touch, they have a set of twins. Then they have another set of brothers. I was impressed with the vocal melodies and baritone of vocalist Matt Berringer. Orchestral arrangements and reverb laden guitars came in, and they entertained the crowd with their mellow brand of carefree lounge pop. They played while the sun began to set, and desert breeze made itself known. They are going on tour with R.E.M. and Modest Mouse. If you’re going, make sure you get there in time to catch them.

The Verve
The Verve

After dinner washed down with vodka sodas while The Ranconteurs played, we made our way back to the outdoor to catch the return of The Verve. As to be expected, the crowd went nuts for the Brit-Poppers best known release, “Bittersweet Symphony”, plus all the other crowd favorites. I have no complaints about the set. They came rehearsed and ready. The Verve started with a few dates back in October 2007, their first tour in a few years. A new album is apparently in the works and should be out later this year.

Serj Tankian

Than it was time for Serj Tankian. For those who are not aware, Mr. Tankian is the singer for System of a Down. System has been on hiatus for a while, and in the interim, Tankian has recorded an album entitled "Elect the Dad." In my opinion, Tankian gave the best performance of the day. The sound was perfect. Tankian's voice is unmistakable and distinct. The sound is very reminiscent of System, mainly because Tankian’s voice is so distinct. The complex arrangements, down-tuned guitars and general metal heaviness were there. These were intertwined with the Armenian folk melodies he is known to employ. Although I enjoyed it a lot, and Mr. Tankian is definitely a professional front man, It did make me miss System, and it wasn’t that much different than a System show. Unfortunately, I was not able to see Scars on Broadway the following day. Scars encompass two of Tankian’s former band mates, and I wanted to do a comparison of the two bands. But alas, the schedule did not permit. So, until SOAD comes back for another tour, there is still Tankian, who can fill your fix nicely. And hopefully, I’ll catch Scars soon.

By now, it was 11:00, and time to make the trek back in order to do it all over again the following day.


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