It's what you've all been waiting for my friends, yes; it's the first installment of my Coachella 2009 series. I had to learn a lot of things the hard way on this journey, and part of this series is for you understand what I fucked up on so it doesn't happen to you when you go. So let's get into the nitty. Coachella 2009, part one. Here I am Thursday (April 16th), driving past Los Angeles on the I-10 doing ninety on my way to Coachella. It's about 11:45, and I feel like an asshole on the road, because as fast as I'm going, there are still plenty of cars passing me. Even a tow truck had to swerve around me because my dinky engine couldn't handle it.

Why am I trying to hurry so much? Because on the website, it says that the campground check in ends at midnight on Friday. Little did I know that the website was referring to Friday night, not Thursday night. And apparently everyone else thought the same thing, because we were all rushing to disappointment. I made it to the campsite at midnight anyhow, with a stupid grin on my face when I realized my error of midnights.

When you arrive, you better be carrying all your shit at once, because the line to get checked in took me over an hour to make it through. But for the record, it watched how half-assed the check at the gate was, because my tent neighbors got in with a plethora of cold alcoholic goodies. Some people got really creative (rolling up their bottles in their sleeping bags and whatnot).

I made my way to my campsite, without the help of the idiotic staff holding their flashlights attempting to guide the flock of music fiends. This is where I met the aforementioned neighbors, Renee from Phoenix, and Dan from Australia. We set our camp up in the 16-by-16 space provided, complete with a shade tent, which proved to be the best idea I never had all weekend.

I must say that the energy of the campers arriving that night was amazing. Every ten minutes, you would hear a cheer starting on one side of the vast campgrounds, with a wave effect ending at the other end of the campground. I knew that the weekend was going to kick my ass, but dropping my inhibitions, I went to bed around 4am, with a new mindset.

I awoke about five hours later, to some other neighbors playing their guitars (that they must have snuck in, as musical instruments are forbidden on the campgrounds. Stupid.), and talking about the upcoming weekend.  Below is a snippet of the guys playing Big Papa by Biggie Smalls.

Tent City, as it was deemed by various denizens, was a harsh place, filled with expensive food tents, overfilled porta-potties, and not enough shower trailers. This brings me to Coachella Lesson #1: GET YOUR ASS UP EARLY IF YOU WANT TO TAKE A SHOWER! I can't stress this enough to you all. Truth be told, the showers on the campground are actually pretty clean and decent, but you'll be pissed waking up at 11am to see an hour long line for your five minute shower.

Fail.

Hot spot number one on the campground was the internet café. It was a large makeshift tent that houses laptops for you to check your email and whatnot while at the campground. Adjacent to said laptops was the charging station, where people crowded most of the time I was there, as it was one of the few spots to charge your devices outside of the festival grounds. The charge wall was were the cool kids got together, and apparently were the thieves gathered as well. This brings me to Coachella Lesson #2:  IF YOU OWN AN IPHONE, DON'T LEAVE THAT SHIT UNATTENDED! Luckily, I have a Blackberry Storm, which is the phone everyone hates.  But literally within minutes of people plugging their phones in and walking away to sit down in the shade, their phones were stolen. I witnessed 3 phone owners yelling about their stolen phone in the span of literally about ten minutes.

That little green thing on the left is the thief hangout.

Later on in the internet tent, I got footage of 3 friends from southern California, talking to me about who they wanted to see over the weekend at the festival. Bonus if you can count how many times I said 'OK'. (sorry for the goddamn wind, but we needed the fan, due to the dumb amount of heat)

Right before I set off to the grounds for the first time, I got video of another blogger (Jermaine Joseph) who was making his rounds around the camp site.

But enough about all this. In the stark heat of the afternoon, I made my way to the festival grounds to see what this Coachella thing was all about. I must say, the sights were incredible, and better kept than I expected them to be.

Not being interested in anything before them, I went to the main stage to see The Black Keys to find out what all the fuss was about. To be honest you guys, I expected to be blown away by this band, as they took the main stage, and I had heard so many good things about them.  But at the same time, it was ok that they disappointed me, because I would rather save the best for last (or at least the over the later parts of the day).

Next on my list was Franz Ferdinand, also on the main stage. I was excited to see them because I loved their most recent album, and had never seen them play live. Now, the reason why I loved the live performance so much is because the amount of sheer power on the main stage is amazing, yet strangely perfected. You can hear it from miles away, but even when at the front of the stage, your eardrums aren't blown out. First though, I'll go ahead and say right away that Ulysses was one of the best songs I've ever heard live. It was the first time of the festival where I just let myself go.

Franz Ferdinand

Here was their set list:

  1. The Dark of the Matinee
  2. No You Girls
  3. Michael
  4. Turn It On
  5. Walk Away
  6. Do You Want To (with snippet goodness) 182
  7. Take Me Out (of which I have the intro video below) 184
  8. Ulysses
  9. What She Came For
  10. 40 Ft.
  11. Outsiders
  12. This Fire

After the lovely set was over, I ran into my home girl Jessica T, whilst on her way to see Santa Fe folk band, Beirut. I had never listened to the band, but let me say now Jess, that this was probably one of the few sleeper hits of Coachella. These guys may look dorky as all hell, but they can play their hearts out. Also, I've never see so many girls swept off their feet at once than in this tent for their set. The band has only been around since 2006, but this didn't stop everyone in there from cheering at the first note of every song, albeit they mostly sounded alike at first listen.

Beirut blowin' away.

Later on, I moved on over to the Sahara Tent, to see Girl Talk, the Mashup DJ from Pittsburgh. This was the main focus of a few friends of mine to see at the festival, and for good reason. It was hands down the most insane tent show of the weekend, and my arms were quite sore for waving my hands in the air whilst not caring. Still with Jess, we got shoved all the way up to the front while listening to Kelly Clarkson mashups, with an amazing end of the set with Girl Talk getting on a massive raft and riding it through the crowd. Below is a few insane seconds of a Serj Tankian/ System of a Down song, with him waving his hands to and fro. Also, watch the first video for some weird black dude with a dumb look on his face....me.

Now this last segment might make some of you upset, but here goes.  I don't really care for Paul McCartney as much as the world does to be honest. Yes I understand his history and all that, but after standing so long all day, I had to put the camera down and sit far away on the grass to enjoy his epic performance. And I mean epic ya'll...Paul played 35 total songs over his set and two encore performances. I don't need to tell you that the set was great, as the band didn't miss a note. But I will say that I salute him for playing on the anniversary of his wife's death. Below is the intro to Jet and his set list for the evening.

  1. Jet
  2. Drive My Car
  3. Only Mama Knows
  4. Flaming Pie
  5. Got to Get You Into My Life
  6. Let Me Roll It
  7. Honey Hush
  8. Highway
  9. The Long and Winding Road
  10. My Love
  11. Blackbird
  12. Here Today
  13. Dance Tonight
  14. Calico Skies
  15. Mrs. Vanderbilt
  16. Eleanor Rigby
  17. Sing the Changes
  18. Band on the Run
  19. Back in U.S.S.R.
  20. Something
  21. I've Got a Feeling
  22. Paperback Writer
  23. A Day in the Life
  24. Give Peace a Chance
  25. Let It Be
  26. Live and Let Die
  27. Hey Jude
  28. Encore:

  29. Birthday
  30. Can't Buy Me Love
  31. Lady Madonna
  32. Encore 2:

  33. Yesterday
  34. Helter Skelter
  35. Get Back
  36. Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  37. The End

I left after Hey Jude, but could hear the rest of the set from my tent, and it was beautiful music to fall asleep to. And trust me, Coachella will drain you, but in a worthy way. Oh and that reminds me of another lesson. If you really don't wanna see a whole set near the end; Coachella Lesson #3: LEAVE TO YOUR CAR EARLY! It was like cows being herded through a tiny gate once the show was ending, complete with people literally mooing for half an hour trying to get out of there.

It was well past midnight, but the night raged on all around me while I was trying to sleep. But Coachella was just beginning. With that, I conclude Coachella Day 1. Keep your eyes peeled later this week for more snippets, pictures, and Coachella Lessons in my upcoming segments.

Until next time my friends,

~Flak

P.S.- If you wanna jump ahead to Day 2 or Day 3 go right ahead.