Coachella Day Three: Neil Diamond's Amazing Performance Opening for Justice
Sunday at the Empire Polo Field is softer than Saturday, more like Seurot than the previous day's Van Gogh, a little hazy and lazy and everybody's sleeping off last night's feast. Sunday = day of rest, except that at Coachella that's not true, at least in the Sahara tent, which is packed with LA's koolest kids walking around with cockeyed hats and 'tude, and have no more desire to leave Sahara today than the pampered VIPers do to leave to soft grass and the sushi.
"Hi, I'd like to order a box of headbands, overnighted to the VIP area, please." (Photo by Randall Roberts)
In the tent at 11:15 last night just prior to Justice's festival-closing Coachella appearance, we all had a little moment, courtesy of Neil Diamond. Chromeo had just finished cheesing up the place with their eighties schtick, and the stoners were arriving from the Roger Waters and Black Mountains gigs. Justice usually warms up the crowd with a rock mix to reinforce the notion that they're as much a rock band as an electronic band, and tonight they moved from Supertramp to Judas Priest to what would have seemd to be a Led Zeppelin peak when the first few notes of Diamond's “Sweet Caroline” poured forth. The crowd, tight in the monstrous tent and more coming every moment, started to sing along, perhaps 5,000 strong:
Where it began, I can't begin to know when
But then I know it's growing strong
Now, this is a Justice crowd, not Neil Diamond crowd. These people are here to see two leathered up Frenchmen rock balls on synthesizers, not a leathered-up Canadian popular before most of this crowd was even born. And yet they sing along, nearly all of them: “Sweet Caroline, good times never seemed so good.” It's a little Justice trick, dropping the Neil: they did it at the Mayan a few months ago, too. Something about the song, and the sentiment, that the duh-duh-duuuhs turn us on. So we sing.
"Hands, touching hands, reaching out/Touching me, touching you." The fans at Justice's festival-ending performance. (Photos by Timothy Norris)
And then more people, and more. you can't move inside the tent. Steam and fog spill from the entrances. Neil Diamond sings over the sound system, loud, and we all declare our love.
Oh, one, touching one, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Oh, sweet Caroline (DUN DUN DUNNN)
Good times never seem so good
Oh I've been inclined (DUN DUN DUNNN) to believe it never would
The lights go black. The cross lights up. Justice begins, and Coachella ends.
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