Coachella 2010

By theajaysharma

2010 will mark my 10th Coachella.  And this review will mark my 4th review (see 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006).  It's been interesting watching the festival "grow up" over the past 12 years, every year little things get better, but they always seem to screw one thing up.  Needless to say, this is the best Coachella I've ever been to, and yes, I say that every year.

Last year I didn't really do any research on the bands.  So I went in wanting to check out a few bands and the days felt empty.  I had a lot of free time to walk around in the burning heat and eventually left thinking that I would never come back.  This year I did my home work and wrote up a quick review of all the bands at coachella.  So I had a plan on who I wanted to see, I was in front of a stage for most of the festival which in turn allowed me to see about 40 bands in 3 days.  Read on for my review.



  • As Tall As Lions:  I originally wrote that they were "trippy indie" but all I heard was that same ol' generic indie sound.  So this was a rather poor start to the weekend.  I was expecting a little more from them.
  • Perry Ferral and Steve Porter:  Left about 70% of the way through As Tall As Lions, headed over to the dance tent to catch Steve Porter with Perry Ferral finish up their set.  Steve Porter was DJ'ing and Perry Ferral was the "MC" running around and dancing on the stage.  Music was great and Perry was never short of energy.  He even sang a version of the Jane's Addiction track, "Superstar", which is the opening song for the HBO show Entourage. 
  • Yeasayer:  I did not like them.
  • Cribs:  Cancelled.
  • Street Sweeper Social Club:  I really liked their stuff.  I can listen to Tom Morello all day do that wakka-wakka-wakka sound on his guitar all day long.
  • She & Him:  The first great band of the day.  Zooey sounded fantastic and they covered Rollover Beethoven.  When their set was over, they ran back out on stage announcing that they had time for one more so they did the Nina Simone track, "I Put A Spell On You". 

    At this point I remember feeling pretty great.  And I thought I would never feel this good again.  Being out in the desert, it was cooling down and the three-days of the festival hasn't gotten to me yet.

  • Specials:  Ska is not my thing, I did not like them.
  • Passion Pit:  I've disliked these guys only because my friend keeps saying they're great, and they're not.  But there was a huge gap in my schedule so I might as well check them out.  And damn it, they ARE fun.  The vocals were really annoying me on the record but live it wasn't a problem.  I doubt I'll become a super fan but these guys aren't as horrible as I thought.
  • Grizzly Bear:  I saw these guys last year and really enjoyed the show.  It was in a club setting where you can really enjoy their slow mellow tracks.  Unfortunately, I picked a bad spot to watch them (the back/left side of the tent) and it just sounded like crap.  So I decided to bail instead of trying to wrestle my way into the crowd.
  • La Roux:  Horrible.
  • Echo and the Bunnymen:  I haven't seen them in several years and I really enjoyed their set.  They opened with a few hits and even broke into a cover of the Door's "Roadhouse Blues" mid-song.  They played (accoring to Ian McCoulloch), "The greatest song ever written":  Killing Moon.  Then closed the set with "The second greatest song ever written", The Cutter.
  • LCD Soundsystem:  These guys are really hit and miss for me.  Some songs are really great, others are really really bad.  They were on the main stage right before Jay-Z and it reminded me of the big "F-U" that Coachella likes to do.  Last year I felt that My Bloody Valentine's 20 minute wall-of-noise was the big F-U to all the Cure fans that had to power through MBV's set.  LCD Soundsystem felt the same way during all their really crap songs.
  • Benny Benissi:  Really fun electro.  The dance tent was going OFF.
  • Public Image Limited:  I was really looking forward to this but halfway through I realized that I'm not a PiL fan.  I'm a "best of" PiL fan.  They ran through some hits but a lot of their stuff is really drawn out and while John Lydon sounded great, you can only take so much.  They were slotted for 50 minutes but did almost 90.  Their encore included some more early PiL hits and they even did the Leftfield track, "Open Up" which Lydon performed on in the mid-90's.


  • Zoe:  One of my "finds" when I was reviewing all the bands.  These guys were an alt- pyschedelic band that sang in Spanish.  I enjoyed the music and it was "good enough".  But I found myself trying to figure out if it's interesting just because they're singing in Spanish.  So I was imagining it with English words and came to the conclusion that it wasn't interesting enough to keep my attention.  I saw about 75% of their set before heading out.
  • Porcupine Tree:  These guys were generic rock.  They should really start to sing in Spanish.
  • Portugal, The Man:  I was feeling the groove the second they came on.  These guys were fantastic and had wonderful pop song as well as some longer jam tracks.  If by playing Coachella bands hope to get a few more fans, then mission accomplished.  I'm a new fan of Portugal, The Man.
  • Camera Obscura:  Lite indie pop music.  There's nothing terribly interesting going on, but it certainly doesn't hurt my ears as other bands do.  So it was nice to just hang out in the grass and enjoy their performance.
  • Girls:  Their "Lust For Life" song is just so frickin' catchy and fun.  Honestly the rest of their set was just okay, but that three minutes is just pure indie pop heaven.
  • Temper Trap:  My notes say, "this year's Bloc Party", but that's not really fair.  They were okay, crowd was really into them but over all they were just kinda bland.
  • White Rabbit:  Nothing interesting going on here.  I had to leave.
  • Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros:  Highlight of the day for me.  Their "Home" song is wonderful, the album is so-so, but their live show is fantastic!  Everyone has so much energy and passion, you just feel so glad that they get to play for such a large audience (they had a large crowd for the second stage).  When Edward Sharp came out, he accidentally knocked over the mic stand and it hit a photographer in the head.  It wasn't a big deal but I caught a glimpse of it on the screen and the guy was bleeding pretty bad.  Ed Sharp felt really horrible (you could tell), he took his shirt off and wrapped it around the guy's head like a bandana.  Kind of a weird way to start off the set but they pulled it out. 
  • The XX:  I love this record, but unfortunately it doesn't really translate into a fun live setting.  So after the "high" of Ed Sharp, these guys were a little boring.  They sounded fantastic and the set was tight, but again, since the music is so mellow it seemed slightly out of place.
  • Dirty Projectors:  Awful.  I had to leave after two songs.
  • Faith No More:  I'm not a Faith No More fan.  This was one of those situations where my group of friends wanted to hang out by the Main Stage to eat, and I didn't object.  They had a great opening cover, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb.  Everything after that was not to my liking.  I've heard from other people who were fans that the set was amazing.  I'm happy for them.
  • MGMT:  I really wanted to like their set more then I actually did.  But unfortunately it was just okay.  The songs from the first record are wonderful, the new songs are just okay.  It took me a while to get into them in the first place so I'll have to give them a bunch more listens.  The *show* itself was pretty run-of-the-mill.
  • Muse:  I don't care that they get played on all the big alt-rock radio stations and they are massive.  I liked these guys when they played Coachella years ago at 3 in the afternoon, and I like them now.  They put on a great live show.
  • Z-Trip:  I love Z-Trip but he seemed to roll out the "angry" set and not the "party" set.  He still does great "blends" (where you mix two tracks together, aka "mashups") and his song selection crosses over all genres of music.  I said it was "angry" because he had a whole section of his set dedicated to "Fuck the IRS" which was kinda bizarre to me.  You see people taking political stances all the time (usually anti-right wing) but the I.R.S.?  Really?  I doubt the 19-year-old drugged up kids in the dance tent could really relate. 
  • 2ManyDJ's:  These guys have played Coachella a bunch of times and I've always missed them.  This time I made it a point to skip Devo (I only really  know Whip It) and swee them instead.  They had a good set and also "mashed up" a bunch of songs.  The best part were their visuals which showed animated versions of the album covers of the tracks that they were playing at the time.  So you'd see a Clash record with the heads bobbing, this Justice cover with a demon eating bodies, it's a little hard to describe why it was great.  You'll just have to trust me.


  • One EskimO:  Sunday was a near "open" to "close" day for me.  One EskimO started out the day and it was nice just sitting in the cool half-empty tent.  The frontman, Kristian Leontiou, had a pop career in the UK back in 2004 but left because he didn't like the direction he was going.  So he left to create a more indie/ambient band like One Eskimo.  He has a wonderful voice and the music was semi-interesting.  I plan on checking out more stuff from these guys.
  • Soft Pack:  I found these guys to be a little boring.  They had those fun 3-minute unoriginal indie rock songs that just don't do it for me. 
  • Talvin Singh:  I had no idea what to expect from Talvin Singh.  I bought one of his albums back in the mid-90's and it was rather ambient.  Then his youtube clip on the site showed him playing an Indian drum called a tabla.  His set was pretty heavy electro sounding, a lot of DJ's are doing that these days which is fine but I miss the progressive house sound from years ago.  He did throw in a cool mix of Daft Punk's "One More Time" which I always enjoy hearing.
  • King Khan and the Shines:  This was one of the highlights of the weekend.  These guys play 60's psychedelic rock and their front man is another Indian guy.  He's a little overweight and he came out in a gold glitter shirt.  Along with a horn section and a cheerleader.  There was even one point where he invited the Yo Gabba Gabba crew to come out and dance during a track.  Before they launched into "Welfare Bread", King Khan asked the audience to pull out a dollar bill and hold it up.  Then he asked them to set it on fire.  And amazingly enough a bunch of people lit their money. 

    Besides all the antics on stage, the music was pretty fun and I enjoyed myself quite a bit.  He put on a great show.

  • Owen Pallett:  He's a "one-man-band" (even though he had some percussion help on stage) that creates songs by looping his violin.  As I've said before, I'm a sucker for artists that use loops this way so I was pretty excited to see him.  Problem is that once the excitement of the loops goes away, is the music any good?  I was hoping it was better, but it just turned out to be okay.
  • De La Soul:  Hip hop legends.  They closed with an Run DMC track.  That's all you need to know, they were great.
  • Yo La Tengo:  I've seen Yo La Tengo over 10 times now and they put on a wonderful set which which was chalk full of hits like Sugarcube, You Can Have It All (with dancing), and Big Day Coming.  I must say that Yo La Tengo looked a little odd on the main stage since all their equipment only took up like 1/4 of the stage.  If you haven't grabbed a YLT record or seen them live then it's about time.
  • Jonsi:  My notes say, "His voice is amazing.  Yea, I know, and water is wet."  His solo work is as good as any Sigur Ros album and I really enjoyed his performance.
  • Sly and the Family Stone Take #1:  We get to the tent, the roadies are soundchecking, so about five minutes after he's supposed to come one someone says, "sorry we're going to have to delay the show a little bit".  After the crowd starts groaning, "No reason for that!  When we come back, we're going to funk this muthafucker OUT!".  I thought they were going to delay it for a few minutes, but then someone else comes on and says Little Boots is up next.  So they were just going to switch slots. 
  • Infected Mushroom:  With Sly postponing his set, I caught some of Infected Mushroom and it was quite the performance.  These guys are a "live" electronic band.  So instead of DJ's they have drums, guitars and keyboards.  They've been playing clubs around LA for many many years and it's good to see them getting their due.  I've never seen them before today and it was a little too borderline industrial for my tastes.
  • Orbital:  Easily the highlight of the day.  Was it as "ground breaking" and "legendary" as the 2006 Daft Punk performance?  No.  And I believe it could have been had the Coachella organizers gave them a full headlining slot with 2 hours instead of the measly 50 minutes.  Early on in the Coachella days, it used to be about quality over quantity.  Now it seems that they are just trying to cram in as many acts as they can. 

    Orbital opened with Lush which my friend and I were just discussing how before they broke up they stopped playing it.  Instantly I was taken back to the mid-90's.  Orbital just has a sound that was so refreshing to hear again.  It's electronic, but it's more interesting then the usual UNCE-UNCE-UNCE stuff.  The beats are more layered, the melodies are more complex, it's just electronic music, but it's better then everyone else.  In their 50-minute set they managed to also play Impact, Chime, Halcyon+on+on, and Satan.  THey closed the set with their version of the Doctor Who Theme song. 

  • Thom Yorke:  To be quite honest, after Orbital, Coachella was done for me.  I wandered over to the Outdoor stage for Thom Yorke but it was insanely packed so I stood about a mile away from the stage listening.  He played all of Eraser, Airbag, and Everything in it's Right Place.  People who were more awake then me said it was a pretty stunning performance and they really enjoyed it.  But they didn't see Orbital. 
  • Sly and the Family Stone Take #2:  While wandering around for Thom Yorke I ran into a friend and she told me that Sly never played but there's a rumor going around that he's going to play in the Mojave tent at 11pm.  I'm game, so I walked over there and we could see that they were setting up the stage and I got excited.  At 11:15 Sly comes out and starts rambling.  He started talking about a lawsuit, how his old manager stole his money because he made a lot of money, how his life is getting sorted out and he can now buy his own shoes, and how he got a computer and is making new music.  Then the band tries to play something and he starts yelling at them, "no not that one!".  They play something else and he stops that too.  Then he continues to ramble.  It was very depressing.  It felt like people were shoving this guy on stage who's fried his brains on drugs.  He shouldn't be on stage, ever.  I left after 15 minutes.  My friend later texted me and said, "he's pulling it off!"  So maybe it ended out alright, but from all the reports that I'm hearing about it doesn't sound like it.
  • Gorillaz:  Another disappointment.  I thought they were some kind of "virtual cartoon" band and had an amazing live performance.  But no, they're just a band with some screens.  Muse put on a better show the night before.  I hung out long enough to hear them play "Clint Eastwood" and even that was a let down.  You had Damon Alburn there singing the chorus but the other guy that actually sings the song was nowhere to be found, so it was all recorded.  C'mon!  They're closing out the Coachella festival.  There was a whole hour and a half that they closed the main stage (and that's why everyone was at Thom Yorke) to prepare.  And this is the best they could muster?  Like I said earlier, the festival was really over when Orbital finished.

    So that wraps up the 2010 festival.  Overall it was a great experience because I was able to see a lot of bands, I think the most I've ever seen.  Also the weather was really nice, moving the festival up to mid-April really paid off and we didn't have those days where it was 100+ degrees by 4 in the afternoon.  I'm already looking forward to next year.