Coachella 2003 Review

By theajaysharma

Ahh... My fourth Coachella. I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about how great it was, but I've been writing bits and pieces of my review for the past few weeks and I'm finally finished. So click on the 'read more' link to see what went down this year.


We started late (as we do every freakin' year) and arrived around 1 o'clock when South was taking the stage. The traffic was terrible, the lines to get in were insane. It was barely 1:30pm and the lines were longer then three hours at least. But there was a second line on the other side which was very short so as we were walking to the shorter line, our line just started to haul ass so we kinda sneaked in and cut our entrance time down by 2 hours. We got in around 2:30pm and proceeded to walk around as there wasn't much too see until Badly Drawn Boy.

Badly Drawn Boy

This will be my third time seeing Badly Drawn Boy and I really love his live shows for the sole reason that you never really know what's going to happen. I also think he's pretty funny onstage. He started a little late starting due to some technical difficulties and later on I would find out that the Mojave tent had problems all day long. If you picked up his last album, "Have You Fed The Fish" then it came with a bonus "Live at Glastonbury" disc and his set was similar to that. It was just him with an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and a piano. He played "The Shining", "40 Days and 40 Fights" (which was about recording the album while booked into a shitty Los Angeles hotel for 40 days), and "A Minor Incident". He also wrote a song about how he was screwed over and promised that he would be headlining Coachella instead of playing at 5pm in one of the smaller tents. Which was odd since they did the same thing to Siouxsie and the Banshees last year. They promised her the headlining slot but Bjork and the Chemical Brothers followed her on the main stage last year. So I'm wondering how many people Goldenvoice are pissing off by promising the headlining slot? Anyway, it's better for me since I would hate to have to choose between seeing Badly Drawn Boy and Gomez (who did headline the smaller stage). Since he started late they tried to cut him off after only thirty minutes. And I seriously doubt that Badly Drawn Boy has *ever* played a thirty minute show in his life. He's notorious for playing two and a half our shows and even the instore show I saw he played for over an hour! So he kept playing stuff like You Were Right" but started out with just playing the main riff and calling out artists that have past away like John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Stummer and I was especially pleased that he called out Rob Collins from the Charlatans. That was really cool. He played a few more songs and was ready to leave but jumped on the piano one more time and told the roadies that it's okay to start setting up the next act while he does one more song. By this time he's already gone like 35 minutes over the scheduled time. He finished up his set with "Golden Days".

Felix Da Housecat

Since we had a few minutes to kill before Blur started, we decided to check out Felix Da Housecat finish up his set. I've heard a lot of good things about him. And it was pretty damn good. Sometime I wish I *just* liked electronic music so I can just chill out and dance in the tent all day long. But every Coachella I'm running in and out checking out DJ's and indie bands. Before we left he mixed in New Order's Blue Monday and one of my friends who caught the beginning of his set said he threw in some Pet Shop Boys. Next time he comes to town, I'm going to check him out.


I wasn't really interested in Blur, but there was nothing else going on. They played a lot of new songs like "Crazy Beat" which were horrid. And they played few classics like "Boys and Girls" which was nice to hear after so long.


This will be the third time I've seen The Music. The first time was brilliant, they just had so much energy on stage. I haven't seen a show like that in quite some time. The second time they were opening up for the Vines and they just didn't have 'it'. I was really hoping that they could turn it around and they did for Coachella. They pretty much ran through the album and played the bside, "The Walls Get Smaller" to close out the set. A lot of people don't care for these guys based on the vocals and I felt the same way for quite a while. The first single I bought was "Take the Long Road and Walk It" and the two bsides where fantastic instrumentals. So I would listen to those over and over again and each time I would go through "Take the Long Road and Walk It" so eventually I got used to the vocals. No one should really judge this band without hearing those two instrumental tracks.

Queens of the Stone Age

We missed quite a bit of these guys since my friend wanted to stick around to see the Music's set. We did catch them playing "The Sky is Falling" and "No One Knows" with a little bit of "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" mixed in the middle. They also played "Tension Head" or "Quick and to the Pointless" but I'm not sure. It was one of those screamin' songs though. :)

I did see enough to realize that they are great live.

Blue Man Group

Every time I tell someone that I saw the Blue Man Group they look at me funny and now I know why. These guys suck. Simple as that. Yeah, they have weird shiny blue heads and their magic is cool (if you like that sorta thing), but their music sucks. And that's what they're doing this time around, it's not weird magic stuff, it's normal concert type stuff with guest singers and all that crap. And did I mention that it sucks?


I've seen Gomez a bunch of times off their first two albums and they never disappointed me. I missed out when they came to LA supporting 'In Our Gun' because I was broke and the album wasn't all that great. Their set was cut a little short due to the curfew but they did manage to play, "Rex Kramer", "Get Miles", "Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone" and "Get Myself Arrested". They might've played one or two more but I can't remember, but it was older material.

They were still really energetic and just happy to be playing music for us which is one of the reasons that I fell in love with Gomez in the first place. I didn't really like "Bring It On" but I saw them anyway when they toured with Mojave 3 and just thought they were so much fun live. It's good to see that they still have that.


We started a little earlier today and I was really pissed that we might be too late to see Soundtrack of Our Lives or even worse miss Polyphonic Spree. Surprisingly when we got there the traffic was very light and the line was almost nonexistent!! We got in with enough time to catch both bands which I was thrilled about. Especially since I missed South the day before. I mean, when you spend seventy-five bucks on a ticket, you want to see every single band that you want to see. Missing an act just because of traffic or long lines just blows.

Soundtrack of Our Lives

I was really thrilled to be able to see these guys. Not that I was looking forward to them or anything, but just the fact that I made it through the traffic and entrance line so quickly. I heard their album a few times and it seemed okay and I saw them on Letterman and had the same "okay" feeling. And sure enough, when they came out, they were okay. Nothing really amazing about these guys. The two guitarists really bug me though, they act like their rock stars headlining the festival but they're playing at 1:30 in the afternoon. I guess you can credit that to their excitement or their live energy, but I just found it lame. The lead singer jumped in the audience which is always cool. I dunno, I guess it's the fact that you don't really know what's going to happen but when a lead singer jumps in the crowd the show is *instantly* better. :)

Polyphonic Spree

A friend asked me to listen to this album and said, "It's kinda like a wannabe Flaming Lips." And they're right, not really as good as the Flaming Lips but the vocals were definitely there. So there wasn't really anything else going on and I was curious about their show since I've heard they come out with quite a few people on stage. Plus the same friend who recommended the album said it was "one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen". The stage setup was pretty odd, there were a bunch of keyboards, a riser for a choir, drum kit, guitars, weird percussion stuff like a timpani, and assorted mics all around. Then they start to come out on stage one by one in their white robes and tennis shoes. They launch into the first track which sounded surprisingly good?!? Usually the first song is the soundcheck with the lead singer yelling off-mic to the sound guy to turn this up or that down. About half-way through their set, my friend leans over and says, "there's twenty-one people onstage!!" These guys were very energetic and simply blew me away since I didn't expect anything like this. The Polyphonic Spree was the best act of Sunday. The sad thing is that people just won't get it by listening to the album, it just doesn't sound nearly as good as it does live.

Timo Maas

only saw the first 45 minutes and he played some cool stuff like some remix of Michael Jackson's Billy Jean.

Sonic Youth

If you're looking for them to play the "hits" then don't bother. They usually play their latest stuff which is a good thing in this case since their last album, "Murrey Street" was really good. They burned through a bunch of songs from that album like "The Empty Page", "Rain on Tin", "Plastic Sun". They also played some older tracks like "Drunken Butterfly" and "Disappearer". And they closed out their set with "Sugar Kane". Very solid performance and I'm glad I saw them.

Primal Scream

I didn't want to see Primal Scream. Mainly because I saw them on the Exterminator tour and they were super boring. The album was fantastic, but they were just so dull and I would've rather seen Deep Dish. But we saw those guys on Friday night and my friend never seen Primal Scream before. I'm not that familiar with their most recent album, 'Evil Heat'. I've only listened to it for a few times and it was just too industrial for me. But it didn't sound half bad live. Plus Bobby Gillespie was way more animated. I was also surprised that they played so many "hits" for the crowd, they played, "Rocks", "Jailbird", "Kill All Hippies", "Pills", and "Swastika Eyes".

Deep Dish

I only caught the last thirty minutes of their set but I knew what they were going to play since I saw them on Friday night in San Diego. And just as I expected, they closed out their set with an extremely long remix of Coldplay's "Clocks". It's very cool because it starts out with a remix version, then they mix in the regular album track and then go back into the remix. It lasts at least 10 minutes. Other stuff that they played in San Diego (and I'm assuming Coachella) was Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" followed by Emperion's "Narcatoic Influence".


Underworld played in the biggest tent in Coachella which I'm happy about. The dance tent is usually the only stage that's on time because there's nothing but DJ's in there and there isn't a lot of soundchecking problems once the turntables are setup. :) They opened up with the Rez/Cowgirl and had the tent *packed*. There were so many people that it was spilling out of the entrances, very cool. But that was a little short lived since people started clearing out once they played "Born Slippy". I didn't mind since there was more room to dance. They played some odd tracks, "River of Bass" sticks out as something I've never heard live and it didn't sound anything like the track. I was only able to identify it from the vocals. They did plow through the usual hits like "King of Snake", "Two Months Off", and "Pearl's Girl".

Their show was good, but it wasn't up to their earlier performances. A lot of it had to do with the fact that Karl Hyde is the new Darren Emerson and he spent way too much time behind the decks instead of out in front. Oh, and another big strike against this show was that they had *no* visuals! That's right, no Tomato visuals at an Underworld gig, I don't see how they expect people not to notice something as massive as that. Overall it was a good show though and I had a lot of fun.


By this time I'm totally spent. After it took us a hour and a half to get out of the parking lot last night I was fully prepared to leave after Underworld. But I felt that I owed it to myself to see at least a few Interpol songs before I left. So that's what I did, I walked over to the smaller stage, grabbed a seat on the bench and promptly froze my ass off. Interpol came on a little late, plus they had some sound problems (who didn't see that coming?). They opened with "Untitled" and had to play the intro like three times before the tech guys got it right. Then they spent another five minutes tuning their guitars. Then they played "Stella Was A Diver and She Was Always Down" and after that I took off.... I like Interpol, they have a nice sound and their show (from what I saw) wasn't that bad. But you can instantly tell that nothing special was going to happen and getting out of the parking lot before Red Hot Chilli Peppers was finished was more important then seeing them do "PDA" live.


*BUT* I couldn't leave without seeing Fischerspooner. I had to see Interpol because I knew the album was good. But more importantly I *had* to see Fischerspooner because people were telling me that I had to see their amazing live show. When I'd ask, "But the album is so shitty??" they would respond, "it't a totally different experience live!!" So I managed to crawl over to the Mojave tent around 11:30 and they weren't even on yet. *sigh* What to do, wait or stay? Fuck it, I'm outta here. As I'm walking away I hear them go on so I turn around so I can say that I saw them. My god, they are the worst thing ever. I obviously don't get what people see in this. The music is terrible, and the show consists of a bunch of people doing choreographed dance moves like a boy band. Needless to say I saw about three minutes and determined that there's no way this was going to get any better and proceeded to leave Coachella 2003.