By the third day, we were knocked out, loaded. Hungover, weary, wandering the festival grounds like lethargic lemmings, queuing in lines off instinct, jostled, aggravated and in no mood for the weird Aramaic gibberish spouted by the kid seeing God underneath the Tesla Coil. Three days of this is too much to handle, unless you're either steadily downing a diet of amphetamines, booze and hash; 16 years old, and/or Keith Richards at 16 years old.
To make matters worse, Sunday's lineup had no chance in hell of topping Saturday's Prince/Portishead extravaganza and everyone knew it. Scalpers couldn't give tickets away and out of the five years I've been to Coachella, I've never seen fewer people on the field. It actually would've been nice, had my brain not felt it was composed out of hardened tapioca pudding and squelched grape fruit. The performance enhancing drugs, the miles of walking, and the dry desert heat have a way of sapping any and all energy you may have left after two days. Yeah, seeing Chromeo and Justice would've been nice, but the P.C.E. * levels would've been far too high. The followers of Vigo the Carpathian, scourge of Moldavia, were still out in masse, tucked away from the scrum, creeping their way through the VIP section. Even Carmen Electra was there and something told me that she and her ilk weren't staying late to see Roger Waters.
I remained still standing for My Morning Jacket, partially because after having expended 2,500 words telling people that they're the best live band in world, I needed to see if I'd look like a complete jerk for doing so. Thankfully, I did not. At least not more than usual.
My Morning Jacket: Coachella Stage (7:00-8:00 p.m.)
Whenever, Jim James is wearing his zebra-striped moon boots, it is a good sign. It means that like the Wu-Tang Clan and Vladimir Putin, he is not to be fucked with. Of course, per compressed Coachella scheduling, My Morning Jacket only got an hour to work with, so there was no time to fuck around. And they didn't, opening with the one-two knockout punch of "One Big Holiday" and "Off the Record," two songs usually used to crescendo high points within the band's typically 2-hour plus sets. Not tonight. There was no room for any of the At Dawn or Tennessee Fire stuff, nor any fun covers, it was strictly business and part of the reason why I really think these guys are so great is because they have to capacity to go all Erick and Parrish on when need be. "Evil Urges," the title track and lead single from the band's polarizing new record sounded fantastic live, seemingly sturdier and more sonically complex than on wax. In the violet dusk and the dull desert breeze, the intro to "Gideon" sounded more menacing and mysterious than usual, before turning into a lights-out, free for all of backbreaking drums and crunching guitars. They ended their set with the new record's stand-out track, the woefully titled "Touch Me, I'm Going to Scream Part 2," an eight-minute, disco/soul/rock song, already an instant staple in their set list. It was only 7:57 and we wanted more, but sadly there was no encore. Roger Waters was up next and one can never underestimate how long it takes to blow up an inflatable pig.
Roger Waters Coachella Stage (8:30-11:00 p.m.)
Roger Waters is a huge asshole. I don't know this for a fact. For all I know he rescues kittens, donates billions of dollars to impoverished Nigerian orphans, and operates a highly successful Socialist brain-washing operation in London. But after two hours too many of his live show Sunday night, you couldn't convince me otherwise. It was the sort of bloated, self-indulgent set that allows you to truly understand why punk rock was necessary.
Don't get me wrong. I'm about as big of a Pink Floyd fan as there is, but like anyone who has ever been to college and had a marijuana habit, I have heard Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall enough for eight lifetimes, the two albums that 30-plus years after their creation, Waters is still milking for all they're worth, with or without David Gilmour. Which makes sense from a purely economic standpoint. No one in their right mind would go see Waters doing the entirely of The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. But you'd think that the guy could dig a little deeper into his back catalog. Atomheartmother, Meddle, and Obscured by Clouds, all are unsung gems in the Floyd canon, but Waters sticks to the bread and butter: Dark Side, The Wall, Wish You Were Here. Which could be fine were he to do more than merely re-create the albums note for note. You might as well be at the laserium.
As for the new material, "Leaving Beirut," is the most ham-fisted political screed I've ever heard, with Waters declaring that Americans should have been against the Iraq War because one time when he was 17, a Lebanese family helped him when he had car trouble. Really--of all the myriad reasons to oppose the War, the Arab ability to fix a flat is not one of the best. Of course, there were all the massive props you'd expect. Fireworks and flames, videos of people rolling joints and childhood rooms with antique furniture flickering through "Mother." Naturally, the inflatable pig made an appearance, covered in "Impeach Bush," "No Blood for Oil," and an anarchy symbol. Apparently, Waters let a class full of 7th graders off their adderall medication design it. When they finally let the massive white pig go, floating off into the violent sky, it seemed a perfect metaphor for Waters himself: bloated, windy, and probably a little too high.
*Pure concentrated evil