I drove across the desert Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone on the fresh snow on the mountaintops. I got into the festival. It was sunny and warm. Using the handy Coachella app, I found the stage where Firehose playing.
I had seen a fan and follower of Firehose from their beginning until their farewell show at the Warner Grande theater in San Pedro. Many friends were driving to San Diego or Fresno to check them out since there was no L.A. show so I was glad to get this chance to see them.
Firehose started out playing “Brave Captain”, a song about Reagan that serves as a fitting warning for this election year. It was great seeing the Watt-Hurley rhythm section back in action and playing together. They went into “Chemical Wire” and it was good hearing Ed FromOhio’s doing his distinctive lead. The last time I was at a concert this big was when Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead played together at Anaheim Studium in July of 1987. At that show I was hanging out with Ed FromOhio and now I was seeing him on stage. Greg Ginn was another fixture at Dead shows in the 80’s but I don’t remember if he was at that one. It was great hearing Watt’s bellowing voice and bass playing in the huge gobi tent.
The tents were bigger than circus tents, about the size of an exhibit hall at the county fairgrounds. The tent had no walls, just a roof so that it was shady and there was an air flow so no greenhouse effect would happen. It was a mothership of rock. And at the controls was Steve Reed. Many people know Steve as the drummer of Carnage Asada and bass player of Legal Weapon but he is also a great soundman having worked with bands like Firehose, Devo, and the Alleycats as well as being the house soundman for the Anti-Club.
I was more blown away by Watt doing his opera with the Missing Men. I still thought it was great to see Firehose play together, reliving history on a Saturday afternoon. Firehose just had a retrospective released of their material from when they were on Columbia Records.
Up next was the Buzzcocks. They were 60 years old and still manic and still great. Of the old English bands the Buzzcocks and the Toy Dolls allways exhibited a joyous energy that held the joie de vive like the little little old man from the Benny Hill Show. They seemed happy to be back in California, still playing all their songs, doing it again for over 35 years and still sounding fresh and full of life. The Buzzcocks were the true originators of pop punk and they still rock hard. They were my favorite band of day 2. The whole crowd was jumping up and down and singing along.
Next up was Squeeze. Compared to the Buzzcocks, Squeeze was more doing the gig as a job, like if they were on the county faire / Indian casino circuit. There music was all pop and no punk. At times the keyboard player played drum tracks on his sequencer and the drummer danced around playing a wine bottle. It was kind of sad. The crowd seemed like mainly forty-to-fifty year-old women and their husbands, boyfriends, and kids that were dragged along. But even though I talk shit, I still have the song “Black Coffee in bed” stuck in my head after almost a week.
Now that it was dark there were a lot of stages where there was some guy playing his lap top playing the same artificial measure over and over again waving has hand in the air as lights flashed and people danced, hearing but not listening.
One new school act that was pretty trippy was Lucent Dossier who performed on their own stage. They were kind of like a circus, like a disco version of Cirque de Soliel and kind of like if one was seeing the musical Cats while on acid. They had an electric violin player and it was the only dissonance I experienced all day after a bunch of melodic bands and pre-fabricated “DJ sets”. At least they were a group of people working together to create art. They seemed really serious like something out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary.
I took the Ferris Wheel to get a shot of Coachella from above. The area was vast, it seemed like around the size of Knotts Berry Farm. As there was no more rock only disco we called it a night. Jordan and I were gracefully put up by Herb Leineau from Dead Issue (who will be playing Sunday May 27 at the L.A. Beat Presents the UHF.TV Sunday Matinee at the Redwood with Carnage Asada, Chuck Dukowski Sextet, and Fatso Jetson).
Contributed by Dave Travis