First Time At Coachella

Every year on a hot weekend in a bright green grassy field two hours away from Los Angeles, musicians from around the world take the stage and music lovers who have the money go to this grassy field to congregate and listen to some good indie rock music.

That is the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. As a person who has never been to a festival, I could only afford to go one day. One day was enough for this writer.

Coachella, which began in 1999 introducing bands mostly of the indie rock genre in the desert town of Indio, was celebrating its tenth year last weekend. In the past it has had bands like Coldplay, Prince and even reunited 80's Goth band The Jesus & Mary Chain.

On Friday April 17, the lines were long as hundreds of people were ready to get in. Random strangers went throughout the line asking if anyone had spare tickets, a group of boys with a guitar sang near the ticket booths singing indie songs hoping someone would give them a free ticket.

Once inside, for a newbie, the view was heavenly with the mountains and palm trees all around. The weather that so many people told me would be terrible was perfect with a breeze every few minutes and a feeling that there was an ocean somewhere near.

The music would spread through five stages, the main stage, the outdoor stage and three tents which were appropriately called Gobi, Sahara and Mojave.

The atmosphere seemed a bit strange, like something out of Woodstock as boys and girls danced to the beat of opening bands like DJ Switch and El Gran Silencio.

The main stage would be the place to be as headliners like Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey and Paul McCartney would hit the stage.

With the advice given, I packed all the necessary items that I needed to survive this day: sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and money to buy all the supplies they didn't let people in with, such as water and food.

Coachella may want to be a Woodstock but I doubt Woodstock was commercialized having ATM booths, a record store, a video game tent and an array of overpriced food booths where you could choose from eating anything from barbecue and burgers to Thai food.

By the time Scottish new wave band Franz Ferdinand ended their set on the Coachella main stage, I had witnessed nine bands, eaten an $8 pizza, danced with random strangers and had been offered a certain controlled substance twice by traveling hippies with glow sticks around their necks.

Morrissey (or Moz) hit the stage to raving applause as he began his set. Never having seen him live, I wasn't very particular to his music but that all changed as his tunes rocked the park and left a quotable line that will definitely made the night memorable.

The famed vegetarian stated, "the burning of animal flesh is making me sick and I can't bear it."

Paul McCartney followed, closing the first night of Coachella. Many aging baby boomers happened to be there because of the former Beatle and it was sometimes painfully obvious with some trying to act like they were still in the flower power era.

However, once the cute Beatle stepped onstage, everyone old and young gave roaring applause to McCartney as he sang hit after hit from his fab four days to the band Wings that he formed in the 70's. McCartney and the audience would flirt throughout the night as he left and came back to the stage a total of four times.

While the audience roared wanting more, McCartney played more than two hour set, leaving some who had rocked a bit too much a little tired and not energetic enough to dance to his rare performance of "Helter Skelter" off the Beatles' White Album.

For this writer, the experience was a bit overwhelming, the food was a bit overpriced, the air in the tents would sometimes smell a bit like Mary Jane and my feet and back would end up hurting for more than a day but the music was just right.

As I arrived back at home at 4 a.m., it was an out of this world experience but one that I did not want to extend to a three day weekend, even for this hardcore music lover.