Saturday, April 17, 2010


Saturday, day two of the music festival. I awoke in the back of the truck in an empty parking lot, driving to CoCo's an exit or two west on the highway for breakfast. The plan was to drive to the Marble Mountains in the Mohave Desert to hunt for trilobites. What looks like a relatively short distance on the map turns out to be a one way 140 mile trip on the back roads through desolate valleys flanked by barren mountains. It was beautiful to a geologists eye! Picked up some drinks in Twentyone Palms, and then on the road again. One must keep an eye on the fuel gauge since the distance between gas stations is 50 miles or greater in these parts.

Exposed on the face of the southeast end of the Marble Mountains are shale and limestone outcrops laid down in the early Cambrian Period, the dawn of more complex, hard shelled lifeforms. This locality is well known for the trilobite fossils it yields to hammer and chisel wielding rock hounds. The guidebook said that they were so abundant that I'd walk away with several complete specimens in an hour or two.

It took a while to find the correct location, traveling miles down rutted dirt roads that crossed dry stream beds. The air temperature was well into the 80's, or 90's by the time I parked the truck and hauled out my heavy rock cracking gear, trudging up the hill. An hour was spent looking through spoil piles and float coming down the mountainside, hoping to see bits and pieces of fossil material I could then use to trace back to a particular outcrop that I could attack with giant pry bar and hammers. No luck. No sign of anything. All I found were a hammer and chisel someone else left behind, probably because they were delirious from the heat. I gave up after an hour of that heat, marching up and down the barren slope with no success.

Had I found something I would have considered spending the entire day there, possibly staying overnight. But with nothing to keep me there, I retreated back to the truck and drove the 140 miles back to the Coachella music festival to catch the shows that night, Muse being the one band I wanted to see.

I got there in time to move through the crowd and make my way to the stage to see Faith No More, an American rock band from San Francisco, CA, formed originally as Faith No Man in 1981. The band is best known for combining elements of heavy metal, funk, progressive rock, hip hop, hardcore punk, trash metal, and jazz, among many others, and have been hailed as an influential rock band.

Faith No More: Big Pimping Their Coachella Reunion!
By Chris Martins on April 18, 2010 8:06 AM

There he was: Wearing a crimson leisure suit with a gold chain around his neck, track shoes on his feet, and a cane in his hand -- dressed, essentially, like a trashy Italian pimp.

The inimitable Mike Patton led Faith No More through a Saturday night Coachella set that was excellent, but over too soon.

The reunited seminal funk/pop/metal act opened, fittingly enough, with "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb. Their straight-faced delivery of that smooth, sexual R&B hit wouldn’t have been possible without Patton’s propensity for impeccable crooning -- an ability he turned on its head moments later for the infinitely more raucous 1989 FNM track "From Out of Nowhere."

Barking, shouting, spitting and growling, Patton hurdled his walking stick into the blood-red curtain behind his band before executing a gymnastic series of leaps and lurches. When he came up for air, he had a question for the crowd:

"Are we having fun, Coachella?" Hearty applause. "I don’t know -- you look confused. I know we look like we’re 80 years old, but give us a fucking break."

Truth be told, the rest of the band showed its age. Drummer Mike Borden’s trademark waist-length dreadlocks had long gone gray, keyboardist Roddy Bottum looked like a loopy banker in his tie and dress shirt, guitarist Jon Hudson wore the dour visage of a mortician, and original bassist Billy Gould nursed a glass of red wine between songs.

But Patton? The project-hopping evil genius -- the erstwhile voice of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Tomahawk, and what seems like a dozen other bands -- was virility personified.

Which isn’t to say the others didn’t pull their weight. Faith No More were exceptionally heavy, bearing all the hallmarks of late ’80s/ early ’90s metal: outsize bass, skittering guitar effects, synthesized strings, and drums that thud and thump.

The four-piece played fast and loose with its catalog, going as far back as debut single "We Care a Lot" (which solicited a sing-along despite being 22 years old and relatively obscure) and as recent as "Last Cup of Sorrow," from FNM’s final 1997 release, Album of the Year.

Naturally, they hit a lot of favorites along the way -- including "Surprise! You’re Dead," "Midlife Crisis," and "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," -- and delivered a couple of surprises.

A cover of Michael Jackson’s "Ben" found Patton out among the masses and, eventually, crowd-surfing his way back to the stage.

And during the slow-grooving closer "Just a Man," actor Danny Devito ran across the stage with his shirt wide open and an even wider grin on his face.
"Alright, Coachella, you still fuckin’ horny?" Patton snarled before the band dove into its only megahit, the still inescapable "Epic."

If there was a problem with the set, it was that despite his amped-up spazzy rapping and Faith No More’s full-tilt approach, this show felt like foreplay to a much greater, more epic performance.

The crowd was huge in front of the main stage. A group of guys behind me would periodically begin jumping and then thrashing about, crashing into each other and the surrounding people, opening up a window as people drew away from them, allowing them to make their way toward the stage. I followed them, also making my way to within a few rows of the front rail. But at that point people were so pressed together that you could not even move your arms, trapped in the mass of people swaying to and fro. I was seriously concerned that if I fell I would easily be trampled. I was not enjoying myself and decided to back out and find a more comfortable location, even if it meant giving up a position right in front of the stage just before Muse was scheduled to perform. I retreated to the rear of the crowd near the sound booth.

Muse took the stage and put on an eye popping performance involving both sight and sound. One anthemic song after another accompanied by copious amounts of smoke and an amazing laser light show. The sound was good and I had room to dance, record the music and sip from the water bottle containing tequila.

Wikipedia says:

Muse are an English rock band from Teignmout, Devon. Since their inception in 1994, the band has been composed of Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals ,keyboards), and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesizers). After the release of Black Holes and Revelations, Morgan Nicholls (Keyboards, Percussion, Bass guitar) has performed live full time with the band. Muse are known for their energetic and extravagant live performances and their fusion of many music genres, including progressive rock, classical music, heavy metal and electronica.

"I looked up from one of MGMT’s last songs to see that Muse had already taken the main stage. No delayed gratification here: Unless I missed something before dashing over, Muse opened right away with their hit “Uprising.” So began an hour and a half of trembling falsetto vocals, histrionic guitar solos, gnashing bass lines, and brutal drums. As if the music wasn’t bombastic enough, the band pulled out all the stops visually, too, barraging us with images of robot armies and colonizing the night sky with a Matrix-green laser show. Look, I understand the appeal of presenting songs like “Resistance” and “Time Is Running Out” with maximum melodrama. Many Coachella attendees seemed to be having a blast while Muse performed; I certainly don’t begrudge any of them their enjoyment. But Muse spent its entire set dialed to 11, and after a long day of listening to bands, that kind of relentless spectacle wasn’t what I needed."

Download the show here:

DJ Tiesto headlined the day of performances on the main stage, beginning at 11:40 PM and closing the place down at 1 AM. A massive crowd assembled in front of the stage and danced without stop to his electronica beat.

"Highly regarded by both DJ Magazine and ultra-loyal fans, DJ Tiesto, due in part to his legendary six-hour, energetic live sets, has been elevated to mythical status as one of the world's foremost trance DJs."

I retreated even farther back away from the stage where I found ample room to dance wildly for the hour and a half he performed, like so many others around me. It was definitely a trance inducing beat that never let up. I just did not want it to stop.

The show ended sometime after 1 AM, at which the crowd turned and slowly made their way out to their cars or the surrounding street. I hung around for a while just to watch the strange assembly of people at this late hour. I eventually made my way back to the truck where I popped open the back and crawled under a blanket to fall into a deep sleep. Spotlights shone straight up into the night sky, the palm trees lit up and swaying in the cool desert breeze. It's so nice not having to deal with the traffic of the parking lot and surrounding streets when 70, 000 try to exit at once.

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