“Who the fuck are The Stone Roses?”
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of “social media ninjas” asked this question to themselves and their peers as fast as their thumbs could articulate in less than the last 24 hours. The attitude is a voracious one that’s devolved into an indelible, fire-branded frowny face emoji attached to their initial excitement of the 2013 Coachella lineup finally being unveiled. This entitled, and frankly embarrassing reaction not only kept me awake well past my intended bedtime last night, but prompted me to scream into my pillow for a second wondering what in the fuck has possessed the American youth to so brazenly look a gift horse in the mouth.
In plain English, your ignorance is molding you into the amateur hour dipshits that have infiltrated festival culture and in this case, Coachella’s core audience. People have spent years hoping your kind would not proliferate, but you have. You even squeezed an extra copycat weekend out of these people to cater to your ravenous desires to hang among the cutoff-sporting supermodels seen in the “Just Like Us” pages of US Weekly and create memories your grandchildren will never hear about, so help you God. No one is going to show you an iota of sympathy simply because you’re not going to have your desired soundtrack for experimenting with candy flipping for the first time.
This is undeniably a generational issue. You don’t want to be this person! I know you don’t! And frankly I don’t want you to be “that guy” either. But your bed is made. It was made with the flapping wings of your Tweets like the sparrows fluffing Cinderella’s pillow.
Luckily, I have some faith in you, young Coachella grasshoppers. I want to aid you in beginning to embrace the hand you’ve been dealt. You are all way better than looking like the out of touch idiots you’ve resembled since Midnight EST, and you need to stop complaining effective immediately. This is a small dose of the tough love to follow here.
First of all, let’s just look at the two “tough shit” fundamentals currently at play.
One: a memo to Layaway purchasers - IF YOU PURCHASE A TICKET TO A FESTIVAL WITHOUT A LINEUP, YOU’RE GETTING EXACTLY WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR. Letdown potential. To sprinkle a little extra salt in that wound, there’s the additional inescapable reality that Goldenvoice has your money and they’re going to do whatever they fuck they want with it. That’s the pinnacle of tough shit, kids. You gambled! And you did it before you even booked your Coachella flight with a strategic layover in Vegas!
Moreover, let me remind you RUMORS… ARE RUMORS. “A story in general circulation without confirmation or certainty of fact,” according to Webster. Why does it make sense to waste your energy on commitments that probably never existed in the first place? “But… but… The Rolling Stones still don’t have any West Coast dates! This makes no sense!” Who CARES why this didn’t work out. Those dudes are amazing, but in reality, they are OLD. Maybe they’re tired. Maybe they couldn’t get the guest appearances they wanted that made the East Coast shows so special. Maybe Mick Jagger has a great-great-grandchild that casually mentioned to him that Coachella was “bollocks nowadays” and THEN he turned down the offer. So you’re feeling kind of hosed, but why waste your energy on things that were never in your control? That’s insane! Here is where the nonsense stops.
You are all on drugs if you think that this year’s lineup is a “letdown.”
Sure, Goldenvoice could have ridden their cash cow galloping to the bank on the promise of stadium-fillers and computer-controlled beats being doled out at hyperspeed, but the reality is that you’re stuck with the exercises of the old guard. And if you get those sourpuss looks off your faces, you might conclude that this is actually a pretty cool opportunity.
Guess what, you may not realize this right now, but Goldenvoice is handing you a gift. They’re doing you a massive favor by challenging your affinities and maybe, I don’t know, expanding your horizons. But you can’t even take two seconds to process that the producers’ are actually attempting to be thoughtful enough to indoctrinate you into the Coachella experience of yore.
This festival is a long-standing beacon of alternative music. There is still a fundamental difference between alternative headliners and mainstream talent. It’s fluid. It’s not a hard line, but it is distinct. You could see it grow towards the mainstream end of the spectrum in recent years, but the core has remained, maybe if only nominally minimized over time. So Goldenvoice bent a little further in a classic direction for 2013. What’s inherently wrong with that?
Let’s get back to the lineup itself. So you don’t know The Stone Roses.
Do you know the band Oasis? I know you do, because I’ve endured at bare minimum 27 different blackout renditions of “Wonderwall” in karaoke rooms up and down the east coast. Did you know Oasis would cease to exist without The Stone Roses? That dreamy guitar sound had to come from somewhere.
You get to see Blur, too. Bet you didn’t realize their catalog goes beyond “the woo hoo song.” It’s called “Song 2” by the way. Take a few minutes and watch what they’re capable of doing in front of a festival crowd. Maybe you should consider trading in “Wonderwall” for “Tender” next time you return to said karaoke parlor. Moreover, you should probably be aware that in the scheme of lead singer Damon Albarn being the closest thing we’ll know to a true renaissance man, this band was never supposed to even come back into existence once he put them to bed years ago. He’s done it with Gorillaz. Are you going to complain when Albarn brings Gorillaz back from the dead in 2014? This is better than a Tupac hologram! It’s a real live band in the flesh, with an incredible show and legacy to boot.
New Order. Spiritualized. JOHNNY FUCKING MARR. Better known as the signature melodic master of The Smiths. Lobbying all the way up to James Blake, The XX, and Hot Chip. Do you sense a pattern here? Can you comprehend the kind of frame these festival producers have painted gold and put together? This experience is a bona fide clinic in the pillars of alternative-bent British music, and you only had to pay for a continental flight to see it in one single place.
Some people that grew up with these bands aren’t going to get to see them live over a lifetime, let alone in one location. If you were looking at this in a decent light, you’d stop and realize you’re being handed a significant history lesson without stepping foot in a classroom or sitting directly in front of a screen. Personally, I find this angle of the lineup to be far more compelling, meaningful, and valuable than the surprise reunion of a band that formed a decade ago at most, released one album, then licensed the fuck out of it to remain in the ether (more power to you, Postal Service fans) - but despite that, the domestic offerings at the same level are still just as compelling.
On second thought, with your insect-like attention spans, I don’t even know why I’m trying to convince you cherubs to give a chance to synthesize the magnitude of things you don’t understand, and apparently were too lazy or enraged to take .04 seconds to hop onto YouTube or Spotify and better inform yourself. So alternately, why don’t we apply the brakes and then be honest with ourselves about your decision-making abilities. You KNOW that regardless of whoever is playing on the main stage nightly, YOU HAVE OPTIONS. You have a tent with EDM from Noon to Midnight. You wouldn’t even have to move from a tent lined with lights overhead from front to back! Did you dream about that once? CAUSE ITS REAL AT COACHELLA! If you care about the UNTZ so much, you can fucking have it whenever you want it!
This year’s Coachella is an exercise in ROOTS. And this is a relief to me as someone who did this festival one time AS a mildly experienced borderline buzzchaser such as yourselves, and surmised upon leaving that one weekend there was enough. Forever. The taste of 2008 was satiating enough for me. And you know what? This editorialized and thoughtful lineup five years later was strong enough to genuinely change my mind and reconsider a return.
Maybe you should have stopped complaining and realized that instead of paying $50 a head on multiple occasions to see the best producers in the world at overcrowded coastal R.A. parties, you can see the incredible talent of Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Jamie XX, TNGHT, and everyone else in their class with a specially built sound system and a purple sky behind you.
Maybe you should have realized that you have an opportunity to see the greatest gamut of smaller bands whose club tours are going to be completely sold out by the time you get the convenience of checking them out with the price of flat admission. Palma Violets. Alt-J. Purity Ring. Disclosure. Jessie Ware. Youth Lagoon. Cloud Nothings. Thee Oh Sees. FONT SIZES DON’T MEAN SHIT.
So there’s a lack of hip hop. If that was my bread and butter, I’d be irritated too. You can have this one. But what’s here doesn’t suck. Even the choices here are carefully curated and inherently alternative, as you’ve learned. These aren’t the rappers you see ranked by mics in print. You discovered them on the Internet from your friends that are heads. Earl Sweatshirt - alone and devoid of the rest of his crew’s shenanigans. El-P. Danny Brown. Action Bronson. Even the legends will be an unexpected treat: Jurassic 5 playing live for the first time in over five years (by my estimation). You’re disappointed with the Wu Tang Clan? You know full well to NOT FUCK with that.
And please, PLEASE, I’m begging you: don’t rule out “the olds” here. You might be life-alteringly moved the second you hear Rodriguez open his mouth. You won’t believe how damaged your ears will be after Dinosaur Jr. You’ll get a refreshing kick in the face while getting your ragies out at Descendants. Did you ever think you’d get to hear “Blister in the Sun” live and noodle like Angela Chase as you did in your dreams? YOU CAN. Violent Femmes play on Saturday.
So the good folks throwing your party didn’t align with the continuing metamorphosis of its clientele. The reality is: you’ve signed yourself up for a physical adventure into a relative unknown. And you know what? Your ears are going with you. So open your eyes and your heart, too. The adventure has panned out to become greater than you planned for. THAT, my friends, is the luxury and beauty of the festival experience. Beyond the easy access to mind-altering substances, you’ve bought yourself a ticket to an even more graceful easy accessibility of music discovery. So stop acting like brats for the lack of your dreams being fulfilled, and start exploring. Now. It’s only after this exercise that the true beauty of the desert will be guaranteed.