The new wristbands issued this year are already turning out to be an effective measure. Coupled with the police/security checkpoints at various intersections within a mile perimeter of the festival grounds, the wristbands are helping keep out the gate crashers that made last year such a disorganized mess. The wristbands also show that Tollett and co. care about their paying customers and that they want everyone to have the best possible time while attending the festival.
On to the festival grounds -- every single stage and tent is different this year. While 2010 was a complete mess, it did make Goldenvoice a whole lot of money. That money has been put back to work in the updated main stages -- the Coachella (main) stage and the Outdoor stage. The lighting rig is much bigger and more impressive and the video screens are also bigger and much crisper than years past. All of three of the tents are now about the same size and they have newly added video screens. There is even a new black curtain in the Mojave tent to help fans bear with the glaring sun that sits behind the stage. The Sahara tent has a new light installation that is timed with the music. Everything just seems better.
The crowd size feels like it has in previous years. I was waiting for some sort of bum rush to happen right around 7:30pm but everything felt pretty much normal. The crowd itself seemed relax with the general euphoria that comes with being at Coachella, Whatever worry that came with half-expecting this year to be anything like last year died away once the bands took to the stage. There was a palpable sense of relief that washed over the polo fields once everyone finally realized that 2010 wouldn't rear its ugly head.
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- Yesterday was definitely Brochella -- the bros were out in droves for The Black Keys' set. It didn't hurt that headliner Kings of Leon were to play the main stage right after them. The main stage, at that point in the evening, was operating about 20-30 minutes behind schedule thanks to Cee-Lo's tardiness earlier in the day. The video screens also weren't working for the Keys' set -- utterly dwarfing the duo who already appeared diminutive on the rather larger main stage.
- I'm just going to say it right now -- I don't like dubstep. I don't understand the appeal of someone like Skrillex -- his music or his look -- yet his 4pm set in the Sahara was insanely packed. It boggles my mind as to why people like his music.
- Being the hypemachine that they are, I had to catch some of OFWGKTA's (Odd Future) set. Tyler came running out onstage with his trademark green stocking cap covering his face. Their energy was through the roof. Interesting to see them in the normally electronic/DJ-centric Sahara tent.
Cedric Bixler Zavala -- former lead singer of At the Drive-In and current lead singer of The Mars Volta -- joined his longtime guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez onstage. I didn't know that was going to happen and it turned out to be the best surprise of the festival yesterday.
- The Aquabats brought out a Chinese dragon mockup of Falcor -- aka the giant flying dog thingie from The Never Ending Story -- for their set. Danny DeVito also got up onstage during their set.
- Lauryn Hill absolutely killed it on the main stage. That is all.
Apparently he didn't like the volume during his set in the Gobi, but I really have no clue what Ariel Pink's fucking problem is. He sulked around like a whiny baby, singing whenever he felt like it and pissing off most everyone in the crowd that was eager to see him perform. Someone needs to tell Pink that Coachella doesn't revolve around his selfish ass.
- I had a brief chat with Chris Masterson, a longtime Coachella fan and costar of Frankie Muniz on Malcolm in the Middle. Masterson worked with Muniz for seven years and had nothing but positive things to say about his costar. It's a shame that we in Phoenix only know Muniz for his, ahem, interesting girlfriend.