Coachella 2011: Same Festival, Polar Opposite Crowds

This guys wasn't at Duran Duran

photo by Wendy GilmartinThis guys wasn't at Duran Duran

Coachella is all about variety and sure there are those fleeting chocolate-in-my-peanut butter moments when scenesters, hippies and douchebags all get down together (see Animal Collective, Saturday night). But right now we're talking about the fest's polar opposites. And shows/events/scenes that happened at the same time, with completely different vibes:


There's one group who packed in to Mom's 1996 Chevy Malibu and drove up from Oceanside Friday afternoon to share gas money, and then there's another group who flew charter to Palm Springs airport Saturday morning, with easy rides in complimentary white Escalades awaiting them. Such is the gaping divide that separates the Coachella crowd these days.

Let's get this straight, we don't want to call the pink wristband crowd the have nots: They have the wristband coveted by hundreds of other wanna-bees who either didn't get one in time, couldn't afford one or lost or broke theirs on the first day. Ouch. But don't be fooled, when you consider the perks that the "have mores" have - the parties, the shuttles, the hotel suites, the misting machines and A/C in the VIP areas - kinda makes the little pink guys seem, well, . . . limp.

With VIP

photo by Wendy GilmartinWith VIP

Without VIP

photo by Wendy GilmartinWithout VIP

These two polar opposite crowds have been doing a revolving dance around each other all weekend long, and the only place they ever really connect is at the front areas of the stages. That is, if any of the "have mores" actually emerge from the VIP area to see the show.


Duran Duran gently swayed the nostalgic crowd at the mainstage Sunday evening while, during the same time slot, guitar/drums combo Lightning Bolt tore the ears off anyone near the Gobi tent with their noise barrage and fuzzed-out shredding. The crowds were a bit different from one another as well. Duh.

Simon, John, Roger, Nick & Co. had the girls and MILFs screaming and bouncing while other guys in the crowd sang the words to "Rio" into their water bottles.

Duran Duran, Stadium Style

photo by Wendy GilmartinDuran Duran, Stadium Style

Simon's biggest fan

photo by Wendy GilmartinSimon's biggest fan

Over at Lightning Bolt, fans whipped up a tent-sized pit, where revelers got pummeled left and right, a few leaving with bloody gashes in their heads, no joke.

Lightning Bolt

photo by Wendy GilmartinLightning Bolt

the pit at Lightning Bolt

photo by Wendy Gilmartinthe pit at Lightning Bolt


Saturday saw the oil & water time slot combo of Arcade Fire and Scissor Sisters. On one hand, there's Arcade Fire with their nuanced, anthemic odes to adolescence stifled by the cancer that conformity breeds (the physical manifestation of which is the suburbs). On the other hand there's Scissor Sisters with sweaty fun disco.

Scissor Sisters

photo by Timothy NorrisScissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters came out in a blaze of bedazzled grandeur - complete with silver sprouting tubes that shot out over the crowd. (Masters of subtlety they're not). Arcade fire ended with an expertly orchestrated glowing ball drop.

Blue Win

photo by Timothy NorrisBlue Win

Arcade fire rocked the (smart) college girls, the older straight couples and guys with glasses. Scissor Sisters worked over the leather dudes, the single ladies, anyone wearing a costume, and the kids wearing giant foam monkey masks. In a strange turn of events, Scissor Sisters appeared with Duran Duran late in their Sunday set. What goes around certainly comes around!