Festival Dispatch: Two New Yorkers Take on Coachella


[Editor’s note: The following dispatch was co-authored by Flavorpill co-founder Sascha Lewis and his little bro David Morrow — but mostly David. We’re glad they both survived the weekend so we can make them write about it again for us next year. Enjoy!]

Even for East Coasters, Coachella is a legend. When we set out on our festival expedition a day later than most, we were well aware of the mouthwatering acts we’d miss on Friday (including a now legendary 3-hour set from Paul McCartney) and the tough decisions that would lie ahead (if there was ever a time to be in front of two stages simultaneously…). But we were determined to make the panicked rush down the Grand Central Expressway and a 2,500 mile trip worth our while by packing as much Coachella into one weekend as humanly possible. After the jump, a few of our favorite things…

Surprises Joss Stone: True soul and depth with incomparable energy and enthusiasm in an undeniably sweet package. We especially loved her singing while journeying into the crowd. K’Naan: Poetically gritty yet energetic hip-hop. Simultaneously dance friendly and thought provoking. Beats Antique: A fantastically woven together set compounded by a strong ability to play to the crowd’s mood. Chock full of breaks flawlessly integrated with a smart, worldly influence.

California Elements Cannabis: Ever-present set an appropriately loose and open tone. Even the cops seemed to have caught a contact high. Fashion: Scandalous! Goth with a somewhat ripped, rocker feel is popular here. Ever present skin and cleavage of all sorts. Do Lab: Creativity at its zenith. Incredible re-use of wooden palettes and Giant Flowers. Continually friendly ambiance plus vibrant and fresh music, sweetened by water hoses present at the perfect moments.

Art Cauac Twins: Invigorating dialog between the two Giant Tesla coils. Powerful enough to wake up our child-like wonder. Mark Lottor’s Quad Cubatron: Strung-up ping-pong balls diffusing LED gave them power and depth. Flawless progression of patterns made it hypnotic. La Familia Divina-Shrine: Lively Inca evocative temple made of re-used and found materials provide a nuanced view of artist’s relationship with family.

Songs Lupe Fiasco, “Superstar”: Lupe’s commanding presence and flawless delivery, with Matthew Santos’ perfectly pitched live vocals, pushed the song’s amusement factor and vibrancy off the charts. Etienne de Crecy “Sinsemilla, Marijuana”: We lost it to the supremely catchy classic’s sublimely hard French touch-y reincarnation. The genius, high-tech Hollywood squares-esque “the cube” set-up blew us away. TV on the Radio, “Staring at the Sun”: Wall of sound guitar riffs, throbbing synthesizer reverberations and a bit of drama. Often true to the original with some alterations made this strength asserting rendition especially effective.

Performances Lupe Fiasco: Smart hip-hop with lots of flair and rhythm paired with a genuine performance luminary. The lively accompaniment and lack of pretense made the performance undeniably lovable. M.I.A.: Cooler and more confident than ever. Her forceful finesse was clear in every beat, bassline, dance move and clever lyric. We loved the podium and visuals. Public Enemy: Abundant energy and enthusiasm with a shot of funk. Tight composition and flawless interplay (teamwork?) made them as fresh sounding as ever.

Acts That Need a Visa Lykke Li: Just a few tracks needed to show her pure creativity, musical smarts and wide range. Adorable and catchy as hell. Para One: A most rocking set. His perfect sense of timing and knack for weaving together hard-hitting, big tracks with quirky samples had the whole tent stomping and jumping. Tinariwen: Searing guitar riffs with stirring, exotic vocals and deep, warm drum beats make a sound that is truly new and unique. Their delightful stage presence was icing on the cake.

NYC Acts Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Perfectly balanced aggression and Karen’s (often) manic vocals rocked the house down with a perfect selection of tracks. A consistently charming band showing real maturity. Gang Gang Dance: A truly whimsical avant-garde journey with a flawless progression and plenty of rhythm. We’ll never look at a trashcan lid the same way. TV on the Radio: Demonstrating their talents through a range of tempos and moods to create a truly unique set. A knack for rocking out and smart cohesion show they still got it.

Food Jenny’s Raw and Organic: Astonishingly inventive raw food dishes and vegan desserts illustrate that festival food is evolving. We appreciated it for keeping us going and our stomachs clearly appreciated the enzymes. Sambazon: Acai! At our most overheated and danced-out this curiously delicious, frozen rainforest superfruit hit the spot. Multiple visits made on both days. Spicy Pie: Quality ingredients make all the difference. Seemingly double-wide slices of light, herby dough and vibrant flavor combinations had us satiated yet wanting to keep eating.

Burning Man Flashbacks BLVD at Do Lab: A high-energy set of groovy breaks with a spirited mc with fantastic crowd interaction skills. Thoroughly danceable. The Flaming Lotus Girls’ Serpent Mother: Elongated copper snake blasting fire from every vertebra reminded us of nights on the playa. Rimski’s Bicycle Piano: Dark old world charm meets fresh whimsy and modern inventiveness against a desert background. The well played character’s dubious intrigue kept us thoroughly entertained.

Things to improve upon next time iPhone Car Locator app: The sea of cars and confusing parking zones are only more daunting after a day in 100 degree heat, partying, et al. Hotel Situation: Crashing with Shana (Flavorpill LA’s powerhouse managing editor) and Otis was a delight but trying to sneak by the B&B management was a bust. Plus we’ve never felt like such lightweights up against these unstoppable party forces. Transport to the festival: Tens of thousands of attendees causing the seemingly biggest bottlenecking in the world, on top of an unfathomable amount of fumes being spewed out. Pedal power unite!

Ultimately there was more delight and revelry than can be conveyed through any piece of writing shorter than a novel. The seemingly abundant ingenuity and talent left us inspired to say the least. We are already planning our now annual rite of passage from the concrete jungle of NYC to the desert oasis of Coachella.

– Sascha and David

Did you hit up the festival, too? If so, what were a few of your favorite things at Coachella 2009? .