What Else Are Steely Dan Fans Doing at Coachella?
Donald Fagen of Steely Dan performs on Coachella's Outdoor Stage Friday night
Photo by Timothy Norris
Steely Dan fans get a bad rep for being snobby jazzbos who only like eight-minute songs with saxophone solos and overuse the word "musicianship." Which is probably why the Internet's collective mind was blown when it was announced they would be performing at Coachella. How could Steely Dan's pretentious, aging fan base possibly fit in amidst all the hipsters, flower clowns and "cutting edge" music? Would they actually care about anyone else on the lineup, besides maybe the bill's other classic rock radio staple, AC/DC?
But it turns out that Steely Dan really aren't all that different than the rest of us. We found some folks rocking out to "Hey Nineteen" to find out how else they were spending their weekend in the desert.
Arthur, a fiftysomething dad (as handily identified on his T-shirt) spent most of his day discovering new music in the Mojave tent. "I saw Kiesza — unbelievable. Lykke Li — she's spectacular. Before we came out here, I'd never heard of her." His kids, he added, were "around here somewhere."
Several multi-generational Dan fan families were in attendance, including this adorable group, who were there celebrating mom's 50th birthday. They hadn't yet seen any other bands, but were looking forward to AC/DC. "We didn't come until late. My son was saying, don't even bother, it's too hot during the day. We're staying at the Morongo, so we just stayed by the pool."
At 23, this Cal Berkeley student breaks the Dan fan stereotype, but he admitted, "I'm a rare breed. Of my friends in school, less than five percent even know Steely Dan." He and his friends arrived at three and "drank till six, hardcore. Alabama Shakes" — who went on right before the Dan — "was my first real show" of the day.
This blinky-hatted group lives in Palm Desert and have attended Coachella for "many years." Other highlights? "Paul McCartney. That was the best. Lorde was good last year."
Ron, on the right, went hard for Steely Dan's entire set, especially dancing his ass off during "My Old School." (Yes, it is possible to dance your ass off to Steely Dan.) This year is his 11th Coachella. The other big highlight of their day, according to Ron's friend Eric (on the left), was L.A. house music godfather Marques Wyatt in the Yuma tent. Clearly, these guys like to dance.
"I also really liked Kimbra's set," Ron added. "And we're just really looking forward to AC/DC later on." Pretty much every Steely Dan fan we spoke to was excited to see AC/DC. So maybe some stereotypes about Dan fans are true.
Bonus fan note: According to Ron and Eric, there were several kids next to them who had gotten there early for EDM superstars Nero, set to play on the same stage later in the evening. "They minds were blown," Ron reported.
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