Coachella 2006 Review

By theajaysharma

This will be Coachella number seven for me. I've reviewed it a handful of times and even though I don't write too many reviews, I always enjoy posting a wrapup of the weekend (2002, 2003, and 2004). Click on the "read more" link for a full account of the events and an explaination as to why this might be the best Coachella I ever attended.


My goal is always to get there as early as possible, but that rarely happens. I was reading some of my old reviews and it seems to be a common complaint so I'll stop bitching about it now. The crew this year is Albert (best friend from Denver), Alicia (friend from years back), and her roommate Brenda. Albert, Alicia and I have gone to the last 5 Coachella's in a row and I've been to every single one so this is my 7th trip to Indio.

We get to Indio around 2, Albert doesn't have tickets so he was just going to buy one at the door for Saturday and pick one up from a scalper for Sunday. We see a scalper selling tickets, he's selling Sunday for 150 and Saturday for 90 (Sunday is sold out because of Madonna and Tool, Depeche Mode wasn't a big draw for Saturday since they just played LA a few days earlier). So as we're parked on the side of the road with the scalper on the passenger side, a girl comes up on the driver side offering to sell her extra ticket for 80 bucks. The scalper gets pissed and starts yelling at her through the car. She eventually just says, "whatever, you guys can blow him off and just buy the ticket from me two blocks down". The guy lowers his price to 75 bucks and Albert jumps on that.

We get sweet parking really close to the exit and proceed to the gate. As we're in line, Albert checks his ticket and realizes that the scalper made a mistake and gave him a Sunday ticket by mistake! So instead of paying 150, Albert gets hooked up for 75 bucks. I tell him to meet us before Clap Your Hands Say Yeah because he now has to head to the other line to buy tickets.

Alicia, Brenda, and I proceed to get searched and we're inside around 3pm. Nothing terribly exciting is going on so we head over to see the Zutons.

Zutons sound like a straight rock band. Unfortunately every song sounds like the same old straight up rock song. The one "ballad" they did sounded horrible, the vocals are tough but lame.

Alicia suggested that we check out Wolfmother and it was a great call. These guys remind me of the Music which in turn remind me of Led Zeppelin. Since we got here late we just hung out in the back of the tent so you couldn't really see anything except a silhouette of a guy with an afro rockin' out and jumping off the drum riser. They have a really great 'classic' rock sound and some of their riffs can be straight on a Black Sabbath record. Good stuff, and a welcome change after the Zutons. I was slightly torn on leaving but I really wanted to check out the Animal Collective.

My friend, Brian, told me that the Animal Collective were bad live. Sometimes you just need to experience things for yourself, and this time I regret that I should've listened to Brian. So I apologize to Brian for doubting him and I apologize to Alicia and Brenda for dragging them away from good stuff like Wolfmother and making them suffer through Animal Collective. They opened with the eight minute, "Banshee Beat", which sounded nice and similar to the album. Then 30 minutes of absolute noise. "Feels" is mostly a good album, they have good songs on there but it can get a little too spacey at times which I can't really get into. I was hanging on waiting for a song like, "Grass" or "Turn into Something" but never got it. Just noise and more noise. Eventually I had enough and had to leave. So they might've played that stuff later in their set but I couldn't take much more. They were bad. Laughable bad.

We got to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah a few minutes earlier which gave us a few minutes to find Albert. He was inside really quickly and even tried looking for us during Wolfmother. He bought a ticket at the booth for 80 bucks so not having tickets actually saved him a few bucks, but I'd rather pay the Ticketmaster charges and not have to worry about getting in. The Mojave tent was a little empty so we moved in. Literally, a few minutes later the tent was packed. They started a little late but the crowd didn't seem to care. I'm pretty sure they opened with, "Is This Love?" What I do know is that with a name like "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah" you're going to get a lot of spontaneous clapping. Pretty much during all the non-vocal parts of every song the bulk of the audience in the now crowded tent would burst out in synchronous clapping. And I must admit that it's quite contagious. The songs are really fun and they sound great live, so you almost want to clap along. I needed to leave a few minutes early to catch My Morning Jacket so I didn't see them close their set. But they managed to play, "Details of the War", "Gimmie Some Salt", "Heavy Metal", "In This Home on Ice", "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away", and a few more including a new song. They pretty much did the bulk of their first album.

Everyone was kinda hungry at this point so we headed to the food area by the second stage. My Morning Jacket came on and I scarfed down my food and left Albert, Alicia, and Brenda behind in the shade.

My Morning Jacket opened with "Anytime" which is the best song on 'Z' in my opinion. Simply, they fuckin' rock. They pretty much stuck to the tracks on Z and only veered from that a few times. They played, "Gideon", "What a Wonderful Man", "Off the Record" and "Wordless Chorus" which looked like they had some vocal help. I'm not totally knocking 'em for that because hitting those vocals every night is going to be tough.

My Morning Jacket had a decent crowd and that's really the best part about Coachella. Bands like Clap Your Hands and Animal Collective can get a decent crowd because it doesn't cost anymore to see them. People are just willing to "check out" a band if they've heard of them. This year I saw more bands based on suggestions versus previous years. A lot of these bands have already toured and I just didn't bother checking them out, but since I'm already at the festival and I plunked down my money, checking out the horrible Animal Collective didn't really cost me anything (except missing a few Wolfmother songs).

Finally a little break before heading to the main stage for Sigur Ros. I met up with Alicia, Albert and Brenda, we chilled out in the food area for a bit. The rest of the night had back to back bands so the rest was welcome.

I've seen Sigur Ros a couple of times and the last few times were a little dull so I stopped going. Their latest album, "Takk", is fantastic and much better then the previous one, "( )". Since I can't remember Clap Your Hands songs, there's no way I'm going to remember the titles. I do know that they played Haffsol which I haven't heard in a while and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. It was simply stunning. They also played at the best time, right at dusk. When the sun is gone but there's enough light to see everything, and the temperature starts dropping. Over the years I've seen so many great bands at this exact moment like the Beta Band, Queens of the Stone Age, etc... As of this moment, Sigur Ros are the best performance of the day.

Franz Ferdinand came up right after Sigur Ros and then Depeche Mode. It was a Main Stage evening for me. Which is perfect. No need to run around the grounds when all your bands are lined up. I like Franz Ferdinand like I like the Strokes. The songs are catchy and fun but that's where it stops. There's just no way I'm going to end up being a super fan or ever seeing these bands on their own since I'm just not that into them. An opportunity like tonight is perfect for me. A bunch of my friends have told me that Franz Ferdinand puts on an amazing live show, and they weren't lying this time (I'm referring to all the friends that told me that I need to experience Travis live to "get it". No, they still suck and I hate everyone that suggested them to me. I'll never get that 90 minutes of my life back!). Franz Ferdinand on the other hand put on a really energetic performance loaded with a lot of great songs like "Take Me Out", "The Dark of the Matinee", "Jacqueline", and "40 feet". As you can tell I have the first album and only heard the new one a few times. Like I said, I'm not a super fan, but I really dug these guys live.

Out of all the bands, I've had the opportunity to see Depeche Mode the most and have never gone to their real show. I've seen them at a KROQ Acoustic X-max festival, and some short promo tour where they only did four songs. So tonight was no different...another festival appearance. Maybe they're one of those bands that I would never go see on my own. I love Depeche Mode, "Music for the Masses" is one of the greatest albums of all time. But I just never bother to catch them on tour. Anyway, they opened with a new song then went right into "Question of Time". Albert and I hung back a little because we knew that we had to split a little early for Daft Punk. Depeche Mode ended at 11pm and Daft Punk started exactly at 11pm. Before we left I heard, "In Your Room", "Stripped", and "Walking in My Shoes". Depeche Mode is just a classic band. Those old songs are burned into your head and are simply fantastic live. Would I pay money to see them live again? Probably not, but I really enjoyed their short set. Maybe one of these days I'll catch them doing a full show so I can wave my arms during "Never Let Me Down Again". But tonight, it's all about Daft Punk.

It's about 10:25 and Albert and I start to head back. We're smack in the middle of the crowd so peeling through the ten thousand people behind us is a massive pain. Albert's racing through the crowd and I'm about to lose him when I hear someone yell out, "Vic?". It's my friend Joe looking for my brother. I stop and talk to him for a few seconds, I turn around and Albert is long gone. Fuck it, I'll see him at the car. When I get to the Sahara tent it's about half full, the Audio Bullys must've just finished and the place cleared out. I start racing through the thin crowd and run into a barrier right in the middle of the tent. Working my around that I eventually run into another barrier about 20 feet from the stage. I eventually work my around that one too and now I'm about 15 feet from the stage, perfect.

The speakers are playing some random electronic stuff, there's no DJ on the stage or anything, just a massive curtain blocking the view. I'm in the very front and every time they flashed any lights behind the curtain the ever growing crowd would burst into applause and chants of "DAFT PUNK DAFT PUNK DAFT PUNK DAFT PUNK!!!!" Oh this is going to be good...

A few minutes after 11, the curtain is removed and this giant pyramid is pushed forward with two guys in full robot gear standing in the middle. Both of them had helmets on, black leather jackets, and even their gloves had a metallic look on the outside. Very bizarre and cool. I've only heard about their transition from humans to robots but never seen it in person.

They open with "Robot Rock" off their latest album, "Human After All". So far everything is pretty tame but it's still pretty rockin', I'm dancing up a storm and the crowd is going nuts. They follow that up with another new song, "Technologic". As they mixed into another new song, "Television Rules the Nation" they mixed it in with samples from Homeworks's "Around the World" and Discovery's "Crescendolls" teasing the crowd of what's to come.

They were scheduled for an hour set and I was getting a little pissed because they were wasting too much time on new stuff and not getting to the classics. I could live without "Da Funk" but I absolutely needed to hear as much Discovery as possible since that's one of the greatest electronic albums of all-time.

Eventually they stopped teasing and worked into "Around the World" and the crowd went insane. They also mix in "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and loop over the "Our work is never over" line. I'm just about to fall over out of exhaustion but I still find energy to keep dancing. And it's only 11:30pm.

As the show continues the lights start to roll out. At first the pyramid is all black and the lights are a minimum. But about half way through the set, the whole pyramid lights up in solid colors. Then later on they start to throw full visuals on the pyramid, perfectly in sync with the music. I've seen the pyramid stuff before when I saw the Orb back in 1997 but that was just a massive white screen that they threw projections on. This time around the pyramid was a massive video screen.

They ran through their catalog by pulling out songs like "One More Time", "Night Visions", "Rollin' and Scratchin'", "Daftendirekt", "Da Funk", and "Face to Face". Midnight rolls around and they pause for a second. I thought the show was over since Coachella is notorious for having a strict midnight curfew. But they launch right into "Da Funk" and everyone freaks out. They played a tight mixed up version for eight minutes and then pause again. Okay, that has to be it right? No, they launch into "Superheroes" from Discovery and now I freak out. They mixed that in with "Human After All" eventually ending their set at 12:15am.

As the crowd's cheering is dying down I start to take off. As I'm circling the tent the pyramid lights up again and the crowd starts chanting, "DAFT PUNK DAFT PUNK DAFT PUNK!!!" again. There's no way they can come back for an encore and they keep messing with the lights to keep the crowd going but they eventually stopped and never came back out. Who cares, I was expecting a great show and just got my ass kicked by Daft Punk.

Getting to the car is a pain in the ass. They only opened one main exit and everyone was packed tight trying to squeeze through one exit. I finally make it to the car where Alicia and Brenda are lying down, we have to wait another fifteen minutes before Albert shows up. I ask him his thoughts on Daft Punk. He says, "Not only was that the best show I've seen at Coachella, it was the best show I've ever seen." I've been going to concerts for 14 years now and I have never seen anything like that before. Daft Punk put on one of the best shows that I have ever seen in my life.


Since Albert was concerned about buying an e-ticket from a scalper, we had to get in there early. The problem with an e-ticket is that anyone can just print out like 20 copies and sell them on the street. Then the first person to get in with the ticket gets in. The 19 people after that are screwed. I have no problem getting there early since since Giant Drag hits the stage at 1pm.

We took separate cars this time because Alicia wanted to leave after Massive Attack at 10:30pm, Albert's #1 band is Tool at 10:45 so I decide to say for the whole festival. Before we left we told Alicia and Brenda to meet us at Giant Drag at 1. Albert and I get in right at 1 and head to the second stage. Alicia and Brenda are nowhere to be found so I move towards the stage, we'll catch up with them later.

Giant Drag is a duo of Annie Hardy and Micah Calabrese. Annie plays guitars and sings while Micah plays drums and keyboards at the same time. It's actually really cool to watch when they aren't having so many technical difficulties. At one point Annie asks the crowd, "does anyone have a Roland keyboard in their backpocket?" Their keyboard was giving them problems throughout the set, and it got to the point where their tour manager had to lay on the drum riser and hold a cable in just to keep it on. Annie explains the lack of a bass player by saying, "he died on the way over here in a horrible felching accident." Oh yeah, she's really funny on stage. While Micah is setting up the keyboard for the next track she rambles into the mic and cracks me up. She introduces their cover of "Wicked Game" by saying that Chris Isaak stole the song from her and left her with a "broken heart and a broken hymen". They pretty much blaze through their album and play, "This Isn't It", "My Dick Sux", "Pretty Littel Neighbor", "Kevin Is Gay", and "High Friends In Places". They did one new song called, "White Babies" (I think) and a b-side called "Swan Song" which is my favorite song. It's now 1:45 and the 85 bucks to get in is totally worth it.

Right after Giant Drag was Mates of State on the second stage. But I've heard good things about the Dears so I wanted to run to the Mojave tent to catch a little of their set before Mates of State started. I find Alicia and Brenda and tell them the plan and everyone's down for it. The Mojave tent is crowded but only because the back half is filled with people lying down, the sun was really pounding today so it's understandable. The Dears were okay, I didn't hear anything spectacular so I doubt I'll ever see them again. It's been 20 minutes, time to head back to catch Mates of State.

Everyone got comfortable in the shade and Alicia wanted to check out James Blunt. He's that guy who has like the #1 song in the country and was on Oprah with "Your Beautiful" or something like that. What's cool is that the guy has a HUGE hit on his hands yet he's still playing the small tent in the middle of the afternoon. A #1 song doesn't mean anything to Coachella, and that's why despite Madonna's appearance, the festival will always stay indie. I setup a time to meet up with my group before the Magic Numbers and then head out to catch Mates of State.

Mates of State are fun. It's another duo with the guy on drums and the girl on keyboards. I've listened to their album, "Bring It Back", a bunch of times and I guess I wasn't paying attention but I always thought there was more to it then that. The song that I knew sounded great and they played a lot of old stuff too. The crowd was way into it and the band looked like they were having a good time despite the heat. They closed with a cover of Nico's "These Days" which I guess is most known for being on the "Royal Tenenbaums" soundtrack. At least that's where I remembered the song from and it literally put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Met up with the crew at the Virgin tent and we found a spot by the main stage to hear the Magic Numbers. They are nice, pleasant, safe songs. Nothing out of the ordinary. I "like" them but there's just absolutely nothing special about the songs, except for the two new ones, those seemed to sound a little better then the old ones. So maybe their sophomore album will be better.

I asked if anyone wanted to leave and check out Phoenix but no one was interested. It's too early to split off from everyone since I'm going to be on my own for a chunk of the night so I said, "meh, I'm not married to Phoenix." We finished up the Magic Numbers, no one was really impressed then we went to the food area by the Gobi tent where Phoenix was playing. As we're standing in line for something to drink, I hear them kick into "Too Young" from the Lost In Translation soundtrack. "FUCK, I didn't know this was them!" Apparently I've made a terrible mistake and missing Phoenix becomes my only regret of the weekend.

So without Phoenix, the afternoon was pretty much wide open. Most of us were pretty tired from the day before, Sunday's are always like this so we just sat around and chilled out. There wasn't anything really great until Bloc Party at 6pm. I did take the time to get my Giant Drag CD signed which was really cool. Made me feel like a kid again to get an autographed CD. It was so important years ago but like most stuff I guess the excitement wears off as you grow older. While we're at the Virgin tent getting my CD signed, Albert ran into a few friends that he used to know back in the day when he used to work at Virgin. And I've met all these guys every year at Coachella since we started going. So it's nice to catch up. They were all headed to Bloc Party and that was minutes away.

Bloc Party is another band that's good but I'd never see them on their own. They are good, but not great. It's just another band that gets a lot of hype and I guess I can't see why. Sorta like the Magic Numbers. They're also another band that my friends tell me I need to see live to "get it". All in all, they are fine, but just not great.

After Bloc Party, we head over to the Mojave tent to catch the last few minutes of *stellastarr. These guys are in the same vein as Block Party but not as good. They put on an energetic live show but the music just wasn't there.

We have some time before the Editors hit the stage, Alicia and Brenda take off to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs while Albert and I hang outside of the Sahara tent to listen to Paul Oakenfold. He throws on Underworld's "Born Slippy" which is lame. I guess I'm over him too. Seriously, I'm a lame DJ so I throw on "Born Slippy" to work the crowd, he's fuckin' Paul Oakenfold and shouldn't have to resort to that crap. Granted, I'll be the first one to point out that I'm a hypocrite in that I saw Sander Kleinenberg a few weeks ago and one of the highlights is when he threw on Underworld's "Cowgirl". Who knows why that was amazing, and Paul Oakenfold is lame.

The Editors was another band that was suggested to me. I guess they are being called Interpol II, but their show is much more entertaining then Interpol. Don't get me wrong, Interpol is great on record, their live show just kinda sucks. Since I don't have the record I have no idea what they played. Their guitars just have a sound that I really enjoy. It's kinda droney but with solid riffs. It's a style of indie that I really dig. This is a band that I would pay to see again and I'm going to get the record. It was the most surprising performance of the day. I didn't really expect much after being let down by Bloc Party and stellastarr* and these guys blew me away.

The Editors ended at 8:25pm and Mogwai started at 8:25pm. So it's one of those decisions to leave early and miss the end of their set or miss the beginning of Mogwai. It's not really a tough decision because I'm going to see the bulk of each band. In past Coachella's they would be laid right on top of each other and I could only see one or the other (Z-Trip vs. Arcade Fire.... damn, I still can't believe I choose Z-Trip on that one). Albert was really digging them too but I had to leave at 8:20 to get over to Mogwai.

Mogwai played mostly old stuff like "Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home", "Mogwai Fear Satan", and "Helicon 1". I've seen them a bunch of times and they are always fantastic live. They also played, "Hunted By A Freak" and the only new song I recognized is "Glasgow Mega Snake" from their back-to-basics album, "Mr. Beast". At first we were sitting towards the back of second stage but I had to move forward because the sound was just fading in and out too much. Moving up was the right move, I could almost feel the music knocking me over when they'd launch into songs. They closed their set with "My Father, My King". Mogwai still got it and put on an amazing show (if you're into their music).

Albert left towards the end of Mogwai to catch Massive Attack. I stuck around and waited for another suggested band, The Go! Team. They are also said to have a stellar live show and they didn't disappoint. The Go! Team are from the UK and I believe this is their first US tour, it's certainly the first time at Coachella and they seemed a little overwhelmed by the turnout. They have six members in the band, three girls and three guys. Two drum kits, two keyboards, tons of guitars, and a crazy energetic singer. Everyone switched up instruments between songs, people would help with vocals here and there. I've said it before, switching up instruments is always great. Like when the drummer comes out to sing, "Hold Yr Terror Close", it's just a welcome treat. Or when the singer goes off stage so the band can do some instrumental, it's just something that you don't really expect. They did do some of my favorites off their only album, "Thunder, Lightning, Strike" like, "Get It Together" and "We Just Won't Be Defeated". There's a lot of audience participation and a lot of booty shaking fun. They were running a little long and I promised I'd meet up with Albert before Tool at 10:30pm. So I had to leave during their last song but I could hear them clear across the field.

10:35 at the Virgin tent again and I find Albert. We start working our way into the crowd for Tool but we still kinda stay back since we want to bail the second their done. It's Sunday night and I have to drop him off at the airport and head to work in a few hours.

Tool start late, like 20 minutes late and open with "Stinkfist". Their live show consists of four screens behind them and hardly any lights on the band. So you can't really see anything from where we're standing except silhouettes. Even the giant screens that are on the sides of the stage just use their visuals so if you're not up front, you're not seeing anything. I've only seen Tool once before at a Lollapalooza in 1997 and I was so tired that I literally fell asleep in my chair. This time was totally different, I thoroughly enjoyed their performance. I knew a handful of their songs like "Sober" and "Schism" and since I haven't heard that stuff in forever it was really cool to hear live. They sounded great and their new songs fit right in with their old material. I know that Tool isn't the typical genre for this site or me personally, but I do appreciate the fact that there is something else there besides the bullshit rock you hear on the radio. Their songs are longer, more intricate, and tell a full story. Only a handful of "rock" bands can pull that off and I'm really glad I stuck around to see Tool.

Since they started late, Tool finished at 12:20am. Albert and I made a b-line for the car and got out of there pretty quick. We still didn't get home until about 2am.

Without a doubt the best band of the weekend was Daft Punk. The worst band was Animal Collective. The most entertaining band was Giant Drag, and the biggest surprise was the Editors. I originally thought they would be just another Interpol/Joy Division rip but they really surprised me. And if my description wasn't enough, check out some Daft Punk video clips of their Coachella performance. The quality isn't the best but you can get an idea of what they were up to.

Without question, I will return next year with Albert and Alicia.