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Official reviews, complaints, and admiration of this year's first weekend

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    Official reviews, complaints, and admiration of this year's first weekend

    So... how was it? What worked? What didn't? Who rocked? Who sucked? Talk to me...

    #2
    Four Tet, IMO came out with the surprise set of the weekend. No visuals what so ever and that whole Mojave just got down from beginning to end. Everyone I wanted to see was perfect. Janelle, Rufus, Tame Impala, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Even Aphex Twin put down some really incredible music, not too experimental at all. Visuals were bonkers. Weekend Two, get in early and see Jambinai. Some of the strongest energy I’ve ever felt from a band. Bassnectar was a big surprise for me. Not into his music, but I didn’t want to leave the festival that night so I just went for it. Bailed on Thursday for the first time in 12 years and it was totally worth it. Won’t do another one again...

    Art was great

    Antarctic was amazing (still wish they put it back at camp)


    THE BAD

    From what I’ve heard, getting into camp was an absolute shit show. The staging area was poorly planned and created an undesirable amount of chaos.

    The water heater tank explosion was a bit terrifying.

    Food seems to to have gotten more expensive. Water was still $2

    The Sahara crowd (what else is new)

    The Sound in the Yuma. I seriously can’t understand why the can’t fix this. No mids or highs, just awful

    Comment


      #3
      Another beautiful year. Agree on Four Tet. Just a damn good musical set, nothing else. Really enjoyed the Weezer/throwback hit and guest parade. Enjoyed the weirdness of whatever Nina Kraviz was doing with her audio/visual synced thing. Anderson-->Rufus--> Janelle Monae was our highlight. Billie Eilish was a surprise for us, we were just passing by and ended up catching a few of the songs. The hype might be justified. Aphex was cool, although surprisingly sparse, especially in the last 30 mins when we were there. There were more people at Parcels next door (who were a ton of fun). But Tame ending so early Saturday really left a weird space that night. People didn't know where to go or what to do on a vast swath of the grounds. Anyway, good times. Let's do it again this weekend!

      Oh, the zombies lumbering from Diplo to DJ Snake were a true sight to behold. We ducked behind an info booth to let the World War Z storm pass.

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        #4
        I have a few questions for those who went to W1:
        1. How crowded did the festival grounds feel?
        2. Were people more attentive to the performers this year, especially on the main stage?
        3. How were the acts in the Sonora tent? Were the sets well attended?
        4. How packed was the Mojave for CHVRCHES set? Did the crowd spill over beyond the confines of the tent? It was hard to judge that on the webcast.
        Coachella '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12 W1, '13 W1&2, '14 W1, '15 W1&2, '16 W1

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          #5
          Originally posted by wxdude View Post
          I have a few questions for those who went to W1:
          1. How crowded did the festival grounds feel?
          2. Were people more attentive to the performers this year, especially on the main stage?
          3. How were the acts in the Sonora tent? Were the sets well attended?
          4. How packed was the Mojave for CHVRCHES set? Did the crowd spill over beyond the confines of the tent? It was hard to judge that on the webcast.
          I am going W2, but the gist from all my friends who went W1 for the first three Qs is that the grounds did not feel crowded at all other than obvious choke points (Sahara), the crowds at all stages were consistently larger and more attentive with very few under attended sets and far more of a sense that people were there for "the music" and not a few huge names, and that the Sonora was at least half full for almost all bands in there and that is was heads and tails better than the sparse Sonora tent the past few years. I'm very curious to see if all the above is true, but I heard it from many different people.

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            #6
            The festival grounds are ginormous, and it didn't feel crowded. The shuttles ran MUCH more efficiently this year, and the lines all three days at security were short. I was amazed. The weather was cool, the winds were calm - unlike the weekend coming up which will be hot, windy, and dusty (I am not going Weekend 2). My favorite acts were Childish Gambino, Kacey Musgraves, and Blood Orange. The people weren't anymore attentive to the music than usual - they were attentive to fashion, texting, and social media. One guy was like "I came all the way from Canada to see this act. I will be banging my head against the rail I am so excited!" All during the performance he was recording the set on his phone, and never made a peep nor a movement - just staring into his phone. I don't get some people. There were WAY less older people this year than ever before - I think because the lineup didn't have much to offer older people. Weekend 2 didn't even sell out. They need to reconsider the lineup better next year, if they are at all interested in having the older folks come back. I enjoyed myself and had a great time. I am glad I went and look forward to Coachella 2020, my 13th year, when I will be 65 years old.

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              #7
              So this was my fourth year at Coachella, all W2. Have to say when the line out was announced I wasn’t overly excited. CHVRCHES, Interrupters and Weezer stood out and I was curious to see how Childish Gambino would get on, but I had to go digging for other acts to see. Once I spent a few weeks on Spotify I was discovering quite a few new acts I liked and came into Friday afternoon quite excited. By the end of the weekend it felt like a very solid, though not vintage, year. I certainly had a great time and fully intend to return from rainy England next April.

              General thoughts
              Apart from the really dense crowd for Kid Cudi (which was inevitable given the likelihood of Kanye showing up) it was easy and quick getting to and from stages. Main stage to Sahara/Mojave took 5-10 minutes.

              Likewise, getting in and out was easy. Don’t think I ever ended up in a line of any note, compared with last year when there were several 10-20 minute lines in the campsite. The security staff were great this year. Many seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves and I was offered free water on three separate occasions as I was walking past various guards.

              The Sahara continues to evolve from a solid dance stage to an immersive light and sound experience. Really helps create atmosphere, especially for the solo acts.

              The crowd seemed the most diverse in the four years I’ve been there, likely reflecting the diversity of acts in the lineup. Nice to see given the worrying state of the outside world.

              It was good to see decent crowds in the Sonora. Hopefully its long-term future is now secure. Having a bar in there was a great addition and further adds to the feel of the place.

              The H.I.P.O.s. WTF? Have no idea what was going on but spent about two hours captivated by them. I really hope they make it to space.

              The only real downside: That wind on Saturday. Jesus! I’m still picking dust out of my *%¥#.

              Music
              The standouts for me were Interrupters. They seemed to have some technical issues just before they came on that had the stage crew looking anxious, but there was no hint of a problem in their performance. Aimee dominates the stage and the band certainly have the energy to grow into a really big act. They deserved a bigger crowd in my opinion but that just meant it was easy to get up the front.

              Other highlights, in no order:
              Childish Gambino. Great set. Really enjoyed it even though I only knew a handful of his songs in advance.

              ARIZONA. Just good fun. Their songs hit the spot for me and Freakin Out in particular got me hyped up for day 2.

              The 1975. I saw them here in 2016 when they were still relatively new. This time they owned the stage for the full hour. Visuals were amazing too and I liked the series of critical quotes about their music flashing up as they played main stage at Coachella.

              Alice Merton was great. Love her voice, and the beats are simple but enjoyable. She was on my ‘maybe’ list beforehand but I’m really glad I went along.

              Gryffin. I watched the live stream from W1 which moved his set from my ‘maybe’ to ‘must see’ list. I like the range of instruments and the uplifting feel to his music.

              CHVRCHES. I just love Lauren Mayberry’s voice. Was surprised they were in Mojave rather than Outdoor but I think it worked out really well and was full but not uncomfortably so. The atmosphere was amazing.

              Sofi Tukker. I saw them a few years ago when I basically was waiting around until they played Drinkee. This time they teased us with the riff at the very beginning which got everyone hyped up. I enjoyed the whole set, more so than I expected.

              Also liked: RAT BOY, The Frights, Wiz Khalifa, Kid Cudi, Weezer.

              Not for me:
              JPEGMAFIA. I went with an open mind but I just don’t get it.

              Same for DJ Snake. The guy’s headlining the Outdoor so he’s doing something right but I just didn’t feel it.

              Wish list
              Should be obvious from above that I like a variety of music but I have a bias towards rock and I felt it lacked a big rock band this year. I hope there will be a place for an act like Metallica, RHCP, Muse etc in the next year or two.

              It would be nice to have a better variety of beer in the main bars. They used to have Lagunitas, then replaced it with Heineken’s H41 which wasn’t as good but at least had more flavour than the regular stuff. Now it’s just varieties of Heineken or Dos Equis which all taste the same to my palette. Yes, there is the Beer Barn but the lines in there are crazy!! Still, a minor gripe and at $11 a pop I wasn’t drinking much anyway.

              See you next year!

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                #8
                Man I know almost everybody here is totally over the fest which is OK, we move on from things and they move on from us, but...W2 this year was incredible. Honestly my favorite crowd I've ever experienced at the festival. It was diverse, it was friendly/polite (no pushing, shoving, camping, or talking), it was engaged, a huge range of races and ages (tons of international fans, lots of older couples, teens with their parents, lots of people letting their freak flag fly). Not one band I saw was worse than "very good", and many were exceptional. The undercard variety was wonderful. Sonora had a great and large crowd for everything I saw there. Logistics were perfect, and that word is not hyperbole. Shuttles for example...every single day I walked right on one which left promptly, and every single night while leaving same thing (no wait ever). Virtually no phone recordings. Every single act had a great and respectable crowd at worst. Even acts you'd be nervous for in the past few years (Sonora acts, SALES, Aphex, Perfume, Calypso Rose, etc) packed their tents with fantastic crowds. I honestly thought the girls from Perfume were about to cry when they were thanking the (surprisingly huge) crowd. Acts like J. Balvin or Billie Eilish that were eye rolls to me on the poster really fought for their right to be there and stepped up to the opportunity...Balvin on the mainstage was a ginormous fucking party. All three headliners were clearly engaged in creating something special for Coachella. I think Ari would have gotten more credit on that front if Gambino and Tame hadn't shot for the moon and landed it. WOW. Both of those headliners really set out to create something special for the crowd and did so in spades. They have finally perfected the expanded layout, there were no choke points, it was SO easy to get from stage to stage, the Sonora really shined this year.

                Honestly this did not feel anything close to a festival that was past its glory days. It anything it felt like a new era was beginning after a couple years of growing pains/trying to find their identity in the modern musical landscape. I was 100% positive this was my last year after some declining returns the past few years, but this was incredible and I am eager to return.
                Last edited by travelfan; April 23rd, 2019, 08:28 AM.

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                  #9
                  Yup. 2020 will have a tough time matching this year. Any thoughts I had of retiring have disintegrated

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                    #10
                    Weekend 1 was my 10th Coachella, but first since 2016. I was weary of the huge expansion and added capacity watering down what was left of the fest I fell in love with twelve ago. However, this might have been the most enjoyable Coachella yet.

                    The crowds were very polite and highly engaged at every set I attended with huge dance parties breaking out all over (Four Tet, Perfume, and Jon Hopkins to name few). Sure, people are taking selfies because it’s so fucking beautiful there and you get to wear wacky clothes, but that crowd was overwhelmingly there for the music. Not once did I experience someone pushing through up front after a set had started and there was very little chit-chat during shows.

                    Other positives: The lineup and the crowd were both the most diverse I’ve seen at the fest. The schedule was excellent and nearly every set had just the right amount of people (except Kid Cudi...way too many people). The grounds never felt over-crowded and, despite long distances between some stages, getting around was easy. There were short or no lines for shuttles, entrance, food, alcohol, or toilets. Lines for merch but still better than the chaos at the old merch tent. The portos were clean and stocked all weekend (except for the hilariously stinky Yuma portos). I also couldn’t believe how clean the grounds were all weekend. Oh and the art was as good as it’s ever been (did anyone else see the hippos’ medical examination of a human Sunday night…WOW that was insane).

                    The only real complaint I have (other than Nina Kraviz’ set) is about the supreme clusterfuck at the narrow point halfway down the path to the shuttles after the fest Sunday night. Need to find a way to open that path up a bit. With that said, the crowd was chill and shuttle lines moved rapidly once we finally squeezed through.

                    I truly thought Coachella number ten would be my last, but we've already booked a hotel for 2020.

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                      #11
                      you all are talking me back into going next year. Still might wait for the line up and go Wk2, but with the positive response I may just jump back in.

                      Comment


                      • wxdude
                        wxdude commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I'm thinking the exact same thing as well.

                      #12
                      8th Coachella and first since 2016, best crowd I've ever experienced there hands down. My wife and I made this remark to each other continuously throughout the weekend, the vibe and energy of the crowd was more tangible then it has ever been. We met so many people and had so many fun random encounters with strangers where we wound up hanging with them for hours attending a couple sets together, dancing our asses off. Everyone was literally having the time of their lives there and sexy and chill as fuck. I am so glad we weren't the only ones who realized how amazing the crowd was this year. Literally the nicest and most considerate group of people I have ever been around. I have no idea what to attest this to, maybe it's because all the old asshole prick message board people stopped going and its just filled with really nice people from reddit now. JUST KIDDING, Coachella still needs the old curmudgeons back, maybe the board will come back to life if they do start giving the festival a shot again.

                      Never waited in line for the bathroom, every port-o-loo I used was in great to pristine condition all weekend.

                      Do-Lab beer garden is a game changer.

                      Specifically went back for Aphex Twin this year, as I also thought I was done with the festival. He's the most important musical artist of my life, and it was my first time seeing him. He broke my brain completely then put it back together. I literally felt it happening. I assumed seeing him was going to break my brain completely, and as it was happening I turned to my wife and I told her that I wasn't sure that what was happening to me was good for me, there were times where it was scary as fuck and everything about life felt more uncertain than it ever had. However after he finished breaking my brain completely he proceeded to start rebuilding it at about the halfway mark. I felt my neurons reforming and my brain coalescing back into something new. After it was rebuilt I was ready for anything. What a master.

                      I had never heard such sounds in my life. I was certain the sound frequencies he was playing were creating a direct link to another part of the universe where some alien planet has its own Aphex Twin and they were communicating to each other and we in the crowd were part of that link sending our energy to another part of the universe.

                      Also I took acid for Aphex and thanks to him I never tripped harder in my whole entire life. It was the most beautiful madness.

                      Will most likely be back in 2020 and hopefully some of the magic of 2019 will still be there.
                      Last edited by cdh81; April 24th, 2019, 01:36 PM.

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                        #13
                        Ahhhh these posts! Glad everyone had such a great time.... I love W2 and it felt sooo weird and wrong not being there this year. I hope the lineup is good next year so I can convince my husband to go again, haha. Or I need to make some new younger friends.... LOL.

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                          #14
                          Originally posted by travelfan View Post
                          Man I know almost everybody here is totally over the fest which is OK, we move on from things and they move on from us, but...W2 this year was incredible.
                          Dude, I think this statement is a bit of a mischaracterization of the people contributing to this message board. First off, as you can see above there are those like yourself who actually went this year and enjoyed it, even if it might not seem to be the majority; and I'm sure there are others who haven't posted anything yet. Secondly, while there are some here who are probably forever done with attending Coachella for myriad reasons, there are plenty of others, including yours truly, who have been sitting out but would be willing to hop back on the Coachella festival train if certain issues are addressed. This includes shoring up a better overall quality and more distinguishable (from other festivals) lineup that is less dependent on pop drivel to justify the expense of a three-day pass. After all, it is one of the most costly NA festivals to attend just at the GA level. I would also say the amount of criticism and dissatisfaction that has been expressed here is quite mild compared to what it would have been over on the old Coachella board. You know that the 2019 lineup would have been ripped to shreds there, as well as the newbies who would have posted glowing things about it. One thing though that I admire about this and the old board is that people can state their honest, no-holds-back opinions without being castigated for ruining vibes, being subjected to a fucking juvenile upvoting/downvoting popularity contest, or worrying about scoring karma points. I'm sure you recognize that several of the people here are older, long-time Coachella veterans, and we do have some high expectations.

                          I am heartened by your account, others who have posted, and those that I read on other sites about the how pleasant the experience was this year. I realize your bias in having admitted to being a GV apologist before, but your enthusiastic review has been corroborated by several people. Concerns about lack of audience engagement and self-awareness, overcrowding, decreasing support of and turnout to lesser-known and indie acts, and the rising level of attendee douchebaggery and apathy seem to have been allayed. That is indeed a huge improvement! You stated that this was the most polite crowd that you've ever encountered there. I don't think you go back that far to know, but if that could match the way it was pre-2010 (minus the people surrounding me just to watch Rage in 2007 who seemed to be out on work release back when single day tickets were sold), that would be ideal. I wonder if the de-emphasis of booking mainstream EDM-pop artists has anything to do with that. I'm another person who stopped going after 2016, but I'm guessing the current setup now pretty much confines (cages?) the insufferable bro/basic element that genre attracts to the SW corner of the festival grounds, save for the likes of Zedd and DJ Snake.

                          I am also pleased seeing reports about the turnout and attention that acts in the Sonora tent and the indie rock-oriented and crossover artists on other stages received. As you know there was a lot of bitching and whining about the paucity of rock on the 2019 lineup, which I think was justified considering Coachella's and GV's heritage. There were dozens of articles, blog entries, and social media posts that claimed rock is dead at Coachella even though half of these were merely clickbait and lacked substantive journalistic content. Perhaps the epitaph was written prematurely. I hope Paul T. noticed how well those acts were received and can boost the offerings back to a respectable level again.
                          Coachella '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12 W1, '13 W1&2, '14 W1, '15 W1&2, '16 W1

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                            #15
                            Originally posted by wxdude View Post
                            Dude, I think this statement is a bit of a mischaracterization of the people contributing to this message board. First off, as you can see above there are those like yourself who actually went this year and enjoyed it, even if it might not seem to be the majority; and I'm sure there are others who haven't posted anything yet. Secondly, while there are some here who are probably forever done with attending Coachella for myriad reasons, there are plenty of others, including yours truly, who have been sitting out but would be willing to hop back on the Coachella festival train if certain issues are addressed. This includes shoring up a better overall quality and more distinguishable (from other festivals) lineup that is less dependent on pop drivel to justify the expense of a three-day pass.
                            Just quoted part but read the whole thing. I...agree and disagree. You say I'm an apologist and that may be true, but I think first and foremost I'm a realist. In that I love this festival and would like to continue enjoying it, but after a decade of attending, I also have to come to terms with the fact that in order to continue enjoying it, I have to also accept that as time passes, replicating the type of lineups I enjoyed at the start is not feasible for the fest, and I can decide to accept that and attend, accept that and not attend, or fight it viciously. I just don't have the energy to fight it viciously. And many here have well over a decade of attendance and so that becomes even more challenging.

                            First, I want to clarify - saying people are over it isn't a slur. I think that's part of life. Re: people wanting to hop back on the train, yes, I totally get that but I think here (and in real life) that falls into two clusters. Cluster 1 is people that would jump back on the fence if there was a critical mass of acts they liked, in other words they are making their decision on there being enough "WOW" to go and see. Cluster 2 is people that *might* jump back on the fence if that critical mass was present AND the acts they don't like AREN'T on the lineup. In other words they are making their decision on there being enough "WOW" to go and see, AND nothing that they deem beneath them, beneath the festival, whatever it might be.

                            So if a second line on a day went: Chem Bros * Halsey * Massive Attack * G-Eazy * Fugazi * Lil Uzi Vert, group 1 might say "damn that's a crazy day of options for me" and group 2 might say "I don't like the pop, I'll catch these acts at their solo show".

                            And I don't think Coachella will ever put together a lineup to satisfy Group 2 again (nor should that be a priority). And that's for a number of reasons. First, Coachella is no longer counter culture. It's mainstream. Sure they book counter culture acts, but anybody who, consciously or unconsciously, includes being a part of the counter culture as part of their perception of self will avoid the festival almost no matter who is on it, whether they realize that or not. Second, it's a lot bigger now and they have to move more tickets. To get a return on investment on booking Aphex Twin and Jamiroquai, they have to also throw in a Zedd or Kygo to balance it out.

                            Third, and most importantly, genres are shifting. Yes Coachella was built on rock, because rock was the face of alternative music in 1999, as was hip-hop and dance music (both to a lesser extent but still very prevalent). In 2019 and presumably 2020, both rock and indie rock are a much smaller part of that. R&B, rap, and even pop are the dominant force of alternative music. An act like SZA or Frank Ocean is taking over the cultural role that an emotional and heartfelt act like Neutral Milk Hotel or Fiona Apple may have once held. Punk rock? Man punk rock was ALIVE at Coachella 2019. It was just all rap. JPEGMAFIA, for example. If you were 20 and loved punk rock in 2002, if you were 20 in 2019 you'd love JPEG. And vice versa. Now that certainly doesn't mean anybody has to enjoy that change and shift, but to be blind to the fact that it's happening I don't think is particularly helpful either.

                            In 1999 Coachella booked what was at the forefront of alternative culture then, and they weren't really centering or catering to what was at the forefront of alternative culture fifteen years earlier. And so for 2020, they might throw some bones to what was at the forefront of alternative culture in 2005/2006, but they're also going to prioritize what's "now". Because I think that's closer to the heart of what they've always attempted to do rather than focus on rock music just to focus on rock music.

                            So I do think after this year that the epitaph of Coachella is premature. They have never felt more on the pulse of what's exciting and emerging in music *right now* in the undercard. But the epitaph that the Coachella of 2005-2007 is over, if we're assuming that view of Coachella is that of a counter-culture festival with a heavy focus on rock and indie rock, is certainly correct.

                            I think so many of us have put our hearts and soul into this fest at some point, many of us (myself included) to the point where this weekend in April even becomes a part of our self perception. And so by saying that people are over it, I'm hardly being dismissive or combative. I think that's totally fine. After this year however, I am inclined to say that those who assume the magic of Coachella is dead for a different generation are wrong. Watching acts like Lizzo, King Princess, Let's Eat Grandma, etc overflow their tents to rapturous and engaged fans was a sight to see. To me, this year it felt like the trendy Instagram mania that dominated the last few years is over. The posers and casuals and "I have to be seen here" types were greatly diminished. It felt alive and full of music fans who saw this as a fest highlighting what was new and exciting, and that felt awesome to be apart of. But I don't also begrudge anybody who will never find a Coachella lineup appealing again. But I think it's healthier to move on and let it be what it is than wasting time and energy raging against what it has become.
                            Last edited by travelfan; April 25th, 2019, 02:56 PM.

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