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Nightranger: Supermassive Black Hell

Sly Stone at Coachella
PHOTO BY LINA LECARO

Coachella weekend 2010 will go down as the biggest, busiest, most bizarre — and most bitch-worthy — fest thus far, but at least it wasn't boring ... well, once you were there and not in your car. Unfortunately we found ourselves in ours a lot over the weekend since we were also trying to cover the plentiful party scene: corporate-sponsored soirees from Levi's (at the Ace Hotel), Lacoste, Armani Exchange, Night Vision & Guess, Belvedere for Music Loves Fashion, and from mags, including Filter, Urb (IndiOasis), Anthem (Lagoon) and Vice (whose venue, a club called Cougars, was the best and most white-trashtastic). We had an ambitious game plan consisting of off-site shindigs by day, bands at sunset and after parties later, but traffic and our tendons had other ideas. Ended up hitting two off-site soirees, ogling about a dozen performances and even more celebs wandering about each. We'll spare you the name-drop slop of the latter, but it was all the usual (self-conscious) suspects. Of course, everybody in the VIP section and with side and backstage access was too cool to care about famous people. Yeah, right.

BIG PIMPIN'
Saturday, the scaled-down but still sizzling Anthem Lagoon event saw slews of slinky-inked babes in bikinis and dudes in silly sunglasses having fun in the sun and enjoying tasty drinks (courtesy of a master mixologist from Sailor Jerry). DJ sets from Classixx and Diplo kept things lively. Later Saturday (and by later we mean we got there at 3 a.m.!), Bolthouse Productions and 944 with A/X took flight at Tradition Aviation, a not-so-nearby mini-airport requiring a dark and desolate drive out to a "Neon Carnival" complete with rides and games and DJs spinning hip-hop club bangers. It was a fabulous event full of gorgeous femmes, freebies (Armani shades and Mr. Brainwash posters) and food (Fatburger), but the clusters of (coked-out?) creeps trying to win us stuffed animals became a bit much. We still had a whole day of dealing with drugged-out dudes and dames at the concert Sunday, after all.

ELECTRIC ZEAL
Yes, as usual, many Coachella-goers did not "just say no" during the mad, three-day music orgy. When MGMT asked, "Who's on drugs here?" midset during their insanely packed slot Saturday evening, it may have been the loudest response we heard all weekend. While the techno-thumping Sahara tent, the artsy Do Lab wonderland and light-up installations throughout the fields saw tripsters galore, one of Coachella's closers, Sly Stone (who was MIA during his scheduled set time but "played" later), served as a sad and sobering reminder that there's a fine line between intoxicated and obliterated. The train wreck was twittered about so much, we actually left one of our favorite bands, Gorillaz, to see the insanity for ourselves. Kinda wish we'd stayed blissfully unaware and "feeling glad" with Damon Albarn. [See laweekly.com for West Coast Sound's coverage of Sly's appearance.] But Coachella is all about making decisions, and sometimes you have to suffer the consequences of a bad one (lack of oxygen near the front of a stage or a long hike somewhere else if a band is lackluster — or a soul/funk legend is soiling his legacy).

FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Every Coachella has its highs and lows, of course, but this year everything seemed to reach extremes. Lows included a completely disorganized door and parking setup, higher drink prices and the volcanic-ash cloud over Iceland that forced Gary Numan, Bad Lieutenant, Delphi, Talvin Singh, Frightened Rabbit and The Cribs to cancel. Highs (in addition to the literal ones mentioned above) were — as they should be — artist-generated. MGMT, Jay-Z (joined by wifey Beyoncé for a cute if overpraised number), Julian Casablancas (in a shockingly good mood and even throwing us a couple Strokes bones), Devo (love the new blue energy domes!), Muse, Spoon, PiL, Die Antwood, and Little Boots were all worth weeding through sticky bodies for. Boots (aka Victoria Hesketh) was particularly buoyant, and she and her band didn't let a little thing like their crew or clothing being stuck in the U.K. (thanks to the volcano) keep them down. Hesketh tweeted about needing a dress for her set the day before, but she must not have scored one since she wore what was essentially sequined panties. (Woulda thought the omnipresent Jeremy Scott, who dressed Gossip's Beth Ditto and had a party at his McMansion during the weekend, woulda come through on that one.)

PUBLIC IMAGE UNLIMITED
Speaking of Coachella fashion (always an indication of the collective style-consciousness and precursor to the looks we'll be sick of by summer's end), three words: Hippies aren't dead. It might be just about a wrap on the headband, but in its place, feathers are really flapping on females. From peacocky glam gals and boho Pocahontases to roach-clip stoner chicks, it seems trendoids are again nesting in Woodstock. At least it's better than the '80s. Onstage, Gorillaz's suitably cartoony stripes, Die Antwood's wacky color clash and Devo's futuristic costume-change extravaganza kept things interesting, but it was MGMT singer Andrew VanWyngarden who donned the ultimate Coachella garb: He had every band he met backstage sign his trousers with a Sharpie. ... We actually got to see 'em up close from the photo pit but couldn't make out the names. "I wish you could all sign my pants," he told the sea of fans watching near the set's end. Wonder how much those would go for on eBay?

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