Coachella 2011 - Indio - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Coachella 2011 - Indio

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:

It's time to crack out the sunnies, apply the sunscreen and get ready for the good times at this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Every April, California plays host to a three-day festival unlike any other: With incredible headliners and a festival site surrounded by palm trees against a mountainous backdrop beyond, it's no wonder that music lovers from around the world fly here for a few days of fun in the sun.

The lush grass of the Empire Polo Fields, Indio is an oasis in the desert, where the mercury easily pushes 35 centigrade, and this year's festival promises to be a memorable weekend, even if the beer does cost $9 a pop.

So here are my tips and highlights from one of the best weekends of my life…

The Digs

Being fond of some home comforts, we opted to stay off site at a local motel. Unfortunately, the advertised as one mile from the festival was a lie. Rescue came in the form of Indio local Franchesco, who collected and delivered us to and from the festival daily for a steal of $25 per journey. Take note - there are no actual taxis or alternative un-booked transport.

The Booze

Once in, our first thoughts turned to BEER! This is where we ran into a major difference with American festivals. Alcohol can only be consumed in designated, fenced-off beer gardens. And at $9 a glass, the only option was to smuggle.

Smuggling Opportunities

For the rest of the weekend, we were on a mission to breach security barriers with hidden water bottles filled with our lovely new find, Bacardi Dragon Berry. Having gained extensive experience in the matter, here are my top tips for future Coachella-goers:

1) Security pat you down, only avoiding bust (girls) and crotch

2) They check under hats and in any loose clothing you are carrying or have tied to your waist

3) They do not check in the side of your boots under a floor-length summer dress - WIN!

But enough about all that - what about the music?

Cut Copy

Having only just heard their new album and loving their previous two, I was looking forward to seeing Cut Copy strut their stuff live, and they didn't disappoint. With a slick sound set up and good vocals they played all the favourites and seamlessly dropped in their lesser-known new songs without breaking the flow.


Playing to a full tent, it's evident Robyn's appeal has spread from the GAY circuit and reached a much broader fan-base. Girls and men were pushing over each other to get near the stage. She worked the crowd well, gyrating and purring her way through her pop classics, which were all greatly received.

Kings of Leon

While in no hurry to see KOL, the strains of 'Molly's Chamber' pulled me towards the main stage just in time to be treated to a selection from their back catalogue. I was starkly reminded of what a good band KOL are, and my love for them was re-ignited. That is, until the opening chords of 'Sex on Fire'.

Chemical Brothers

Playing Friday nights closing set at the main stage, the Chemical Brothers whipped a crowd that were already pumped into a frenzy. The light show was astounding, the sound top quality. Banging out classic tunes the atmosphere reminded me of the illegal raves of the early 90's and looking round all I could see was a mass of bouncing, smiling faces.

Erykah Badu

The beautiful angelic neo-soul stylings of Erykah Badu were the perfect antitode to the sweltering midday heat. Most of the crowd were lounging and swaying to the infectious hip hop/jazz beats. You could feel the love in the air under the summer sun. Erykah and her band ran far over their set time and only stopped when the power was turned off.

Arcade Fire

Lying on the grass, looking into the night sky at the silhouetted palm trees was the only way to enjoy Arcade Fire. The chirpy tones of Win Butler and his merry band of musical genii carried on the breeze and reverberated through my brain conjuring and overwhelming feeling of bliss and contentment. What an end to a beautiful Saturday.


This was the first time I've seen, or heard of Brooklyn-based, art/performance collective MEN and I was pretty blown away by them. They have an edgy electro-pop sound, which underpins provocative, boundary pushing lyrics. They mix music, fashion and art to create an engaging memorable live show.

Death from Above 1979

After only recently reforming, causing riots at SXSW, this band has been mine and evidently a lot of other people's 'must see' of the festival. Despite the sound not being quite right, the set was high energy, dance-punk, noise-rock. They took a standing 'moment' half way through the set to take it all in. The way they were smiling broad grins at each other, I think it's safe to say DFA1979 are back and here to stay.

The Strokes

The anticipation for tonight's headliners has been with me since the line up was announced., I would say 'look' but I think 'disguise' may be more appropriate when describing Julian Casablancas. Notably a few kg's heavier and sporting a trucker cap and huge shades, he looked like a fat Elvis.

Despite this, his vocal and playful banter were on top form, as were the rest of the band. They didn't put a foot wrong, every song was an electric explosion of pure Strokes bliss, culminating in a frenzied roar of applause as they closed on 'Take it or Leave it'. The stars of the whole weekend.


This Sydney duo know how to get people moving their feet, playing to a full dance tent that was simply pulsating. A full light show, pounding bass and the resonating vocal of Julian Hamilton brought the atmosphere alive. There was a lot of love for the Presets that night and they responded by closing their set with the statement ' That was the best time we've had in so long... Thank you, Coachella.

Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'm jealous, so want to go to this and SXSW.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Lots of useful tips here. Fun piece of writing.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'd heard about the fact there was no bus service to and from the site which is insane. Also wondering what I'd look like in a summer dress and boots as it'd beat paying $9 a beer.

There are no comments posted here yet