If you’ve never partied with any of the GDD™ fam you might not know that we tend to have our own take on the old proverb and prefer to go big and then go home. Once we’re home though, we like to take our time to collect our respective thoughts before passing them along to you, our dear dirty readers. What I’m saying is, please forgive us for the delay in delivering our 2011 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival review, but really, sorry we’re not sorry. Jonah, ///Bones, Troy Kurtz & myself (Matt Black) will be giving you our reviews of the best sets and our favorite moments from the three day marathon of mayhem known simply as Coachella.
Coachella is a truly incomparable experience. Sure there are the other major US festivals like Lolla, Sasquatch, and the ‘roo, and the major UK parties that put Coachella to shame in terms of scope and size, but the atmosphere, setting, vibe, and enthusiasm that are all part of the unique Coachella experience are truly special to me. In +90Fº weather with a belly full of +90 proof booze the journey to the Polo Fields began early Friday. I literally did not stop running for 45-minutes, sprinting ahead of and behind our party train of GDD™ friends and family, circling like a raving vulture, high-fiving anyone and everyone who would return the skin, from on-duty police and security, to fedora sporting middle-aged elitists and scantily clad ravers. +360 days of anticipation wouldn’t let my feet stop moving and they carried the GDD™ team and I straight to where we would spend a significant portion of our weekends, the mecca of rave, the Sahara Tent. – MB
Check out highlights, downloadable sets, and an interview with Magnetic Man after the jump.
12th Planet, A-Trak, Afrojack, Cut/Copy, Beardyman, Magnetic Man, Sasha, Boys Noize, Chemical Brothers
Joachim Garraud, Laidback Luke, Fedde Le Grand, Andy C, Steve Angello, Arcade Fire
High Contrast, DFA1979, Sven Väth, Duck Sauce, Chase & Status, Axwell, Leftfield, The Presets
In spite of the overwhelming excitement that even just touching my bare feet onto the lush grass of the Polo Fields brings there always needs to be that one, “fuck me, I’m finally here” moment every weekend at Coachella. I honestly had no intention of seeing Afrojack at Coachella but as the set started me and Troy Kurtz found ourselves wanting to stay. After an admittedly shaky start the man found his groove right in time for living legend Paul McCartney and pop megastar Usher to starting gigging out right behind the decks. While watching the Beatle himself fist pumping and hyping the crowd it hit me – the weekend had begun and I was ready to get weird.
With the Chemical Brothers and Boys Noize deadlocked in the most excruciating festival conflict ever to close out Friday’s festivities, I couldn’t have been happier I had just seen the Brothers close out UMF in Miami less than three weeks before. As truly mind-blowing as any Chem Bros. live set is destined to be, I knew where I needed to be and Troy, ///Trevor and Jonah found ourselves firmly planted in the center of the Sahara when the first pitched-down eerie note of ‘Kontact Me’ kicked in. I raged face with no regard for the human life around me for a solid 90-minutes at Alex fired ‘Oi Oi Oi’ and ‘Power’ classics mixed with a few new exclusive collaborations with Erol, Siriusmo, and then GDD™ homies Mumbai Science’s ‘Gold’ and ‘Ancova.’ It was a sight to behold, and the Noize looked like he was having just as much fun as anyone in the crowd. Only three years ago he was playing an early afternoon set, now he’s playing to a packed house opposite the Chemical Brothers. I’m sure he relished every moment of this first of many well-deserved headlining spots at Coachella and I know I speak for us all when I say I’d gladly have him back in the desert in mid-April of 2012.
It had been a long two years since I last had the chance to see Skream and Benga perform side by side. Now, with the addition of Artwork, having the chance to see the dubstep supergroup Magnetic Man (interview with Magnetic Man below!) was giving me goosebumps long before I even stepped foot in the Sahara Tent on Friday. Day 1 brosteppers were treated to 12th Planet, Skrillex, and Excision earlier in the day, however, my bass quota had not been met until the trio opened their set with ‘Mad’ which if you don’t already know, is probably the most ferocious track on their album. Other highlights included when they demanded all lights to be dimmed during the melodic interlude ‘Flying Into Tokyo’, which offered a brief respite from the low-frequency face tickles. However, they stole the show when they sat down the entire tent to ‘Perfect Stranger.’ Maybe it was my infatuation with their album that swayed my opinion of the set, but my only complaint was MC Sgt Pokes, who I felt was a bit excessive at times, and also started the ‘1,2,3,4’ countdown on the first track two beats early (oops). And to those complaining that there was no bass, move closer next time.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, my middle school dreams were made when a rekindled DFA 1979 took the stage on Sunday evening. I caught the majority of main stage attendees acting/pretending like they were “really stoked to be there for the reunion show because Pitchfork told me so,” but the lip-synching-to-songs-you-don’t-know was a bit of a downer. But, I do have to give a huge shout out to my Denver party animals + Jonnie Sax for being obnoxious with me. Love you guys.
This year, more than ever, I was more excited to see the live acts that Coachella had to offer rather than my usual 3-day post-up in the sweaty Sahara tent. Yes, I did still romp around the rave muck Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but my Coachella highlights stray from the far tent. Without question, the most amazing and memorable performance for me at Coachella was the Saturday headlining set from 2011 Grammy winners for Album of the Year, Arcade Fire. Being a fan of the band since their last main stage performance in 2007, I knew that whatever was planned for late Saturday night would be monumental for Coachella and for indie music in general. Needless to say, I was obviously taken back by the amount of talent that the humble Canadian group displayed. From their massive opening with ‘Month of May’ to the incredible illuminating balls during ‘Wake Up’ to their 3-song encore, the Arcade Fire stole the entire weekend for me.
Now, to touch on the electronic side, I have to give mention to the runner up of my favorite Coachella 2011 performance. It was a very tough tie between two hard-hitting sets from GDD™ favs Boys Noize and The Presets, but the live set from the power duo from Sydney blew me away to close out the weekend on Sunday in the Mohave tent. I’d seen The Presets once before a few years back at a festival in downtown LA, but for some reason I had completely forgotten how absolutely nuts they are in a live setting. Although they came on a bit late, their pumping 30-40 minute set was well worth the wait as they played all of the big hits, and a couple new ones as well! At certain points in the performance, it actually felt like I was in an industrial Techno warehouse, as the Aussies live percussion and vocals blasted through the desert wind. The GDD™ fam was huddled together at the back of the tent, jumping and screaming to ‘My People,’ the obvious song that we wanted our Coachella experience to end with. There’s no other song I would’ve rather had ringing in my ears on the cosmic walk home. See you all in the desert next year!
Deep, dark, sinister Sasha. Party ass Fedde Le Grand. Sweaty, euphoria of High Contrast in the dome. Chems and, of course, Boys Noize, particularly the power stance and new dance moves he unveiled. Highlight: bathing in the cosmic desert wind with Trentemoller live at sunset.
Coachella this year proved to be nothing short of spectacular, and I am even proud to say that I ventured away from the Sahara Tent to catch some other great acts featured amongst the other stages… Now let the record show that I still pretty much lived in Sahara for most of my time at the Polo Fields, but on Sunday I was able to witness something I’ve waited six long years to be a part of. High Contrast is without a doubt one of the reasons why I got into electronic music – and ever since going to Bassrush Wednesdays @ The Vanguard here in LA back in 2005 the sounds of DNB have never lost their charm to my ears.
We arrived Sunday to the festival grounds around 4:30pm, leaving me a solid 30 minutes before High Contrast was scheduled to perform in the Oasis Dome – a revived area that showcased a plethora of underground bass driven music all weekend. Once we situated ourselves with water bottles and paper fans to alleviate the heat of the scorching sun, we paved our way to the far front right of the dome to hold a solid spot down for the rest of our friends to rendezvous. We ran into our good buddy 12th Planet, who had also gotten to the dome early so he too could see the full set and pay his respects to the master behind Hospital Records. I had told every single person at the start of the weekend to not miss High Contrast, and that paid off to make an even more memorable experience. At 5pm sharp, the pale, skinny, curly-afro’d legend stepped onto the decks; his MC announcing the beginning of his performance with pride for he knew this was also gonna be a wild hour to remember. As he made the speakers scream, I watched as more and more of my best friends met up with us and danced in the blazing sun. There is something special about seeing great drum and bass live, and that hour was definitely one for the books in my life. The biblical performance was capped with High Contrast’s forthcoming release ‘Fearful Symmetry’ – his own take on the infamous ‘Baba O’Riley (Teenage Wasteland).’ Make sure you watch the video below that I took during this moment, and see if you can relive the vibe. Until next time Coachella!
Jonah also found the time to catch up with Troy’s favorite act of the weekend, Magnetic Man for a quickfire Q&A! Check it out!
GDD: First of all I just wanted to thank you guys for taking the time to answer a few quick Qs with us. What’s the Magnetic Man drink of choice?
MM: We’re on vodka Red Bulls at the moment.
GDD: Last cheesy song you sang out loud shamelessly?
MM: Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me
GDD: Most played track in iTunes…
MM: Anything by Magnetic Man. They’re great.
GDD: Best show you’ve attended this year?
MM: Snowbombing was incredible.
GDD: Favorite thing about working with each other?
MM: Our favorite thing is that we’re constantly with our friends.
GDD: Funniest artist you’ve met on the road?
MM: It’s got to be Benga – He does the best dead guy in a hotel room impression.
GDD: Best meal you can cook at home?
MM: We cook a mean BBQ.
GDD: Language you wish you could speak?
GDD: Last purchase you made over £100…
MM: A secret birthday present for someone.
GDD: Your arch villain name in a comic book?
MM: Anti-Magnetic Man
GDD: Non-electronic artist you’re most looking forward to at Coachella?
MM: We’re really hoping to turn up and be blown away by someone…
GDD: Dancing dirty. For or against?
MM: Definitely for.
GDD: Thanks again for doing this guys. Lastly, your album is seeing its digital release this week as well as this big performance at Coachella. Is there anything else that you guys have coming up that you’d like to tell the fans?
MM: Just to come down and see us cause you’ll have a great time.