Coachella starts off with a bang. Depeche Mode, Franz Ferdinand, Eagles of Death Metal. And what happens when a desert is invaded by two alien robots from France?
Boy where do I start? Two days in the desert doesn't sound like too much fun; unless those two days are in Indo, Ca during the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. No more dicking around, Coachella 2006 was a homerun. While I was not there to see the year when Radiohead, The Cure and the Pixies showed up, I can say this was the best Coachella I have attended. The numbers don't lie and there was at least 10,000 watching Daft Punk, the act of the weekend and all had the same religious experience.
Day 1 had a great line up going for it. It was so great, there were so many must see bands going on at the same time. I decided to get there late and the traffic didn't make it easier to get in. But through the drive and the walk in to the venue, I was treated to a mash up of Carl Cox and Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley. Now they weren't on the same stage, they were on at the same time and they both were jamming. On the bits that I heard of them they get a A, I just wasn't at their stage to give you more details.
On to the T-shirt tent and took care of that right away. Bought 3 shirts for $80, which is a great deal since they were Coachella only shirts of Tool, Depeche Mode and Madonna. This was the first mistake of the day. Leaving late and dealing with traffic wasn't a mistake; I didn't want to deal with the heat. The mistake was, not buying a Daft Punk t-shirt. Stupid Stupid Stupid.
On to Franz Ferdinand, they had a 15 minute start ahead of Eagles of Death Metal, so I was stoked to catch some of their set. Opening with Do You Want To, Franz really got the crowd jumping through their set. These guys have great upbeat songs, how can you not want to dance. I think that's why they aren't taken too seriously, because they are a fun band. So to you snobs, who don't like them, crack a smile and let loose.
I moved to the Outdoor Theatre, while I just missed Jamrock, Danny DeVito comes out and introduces the hometown band Eagles of Death Metal. Personally I think anything Josh Homme touches is gold, but tonight I couldn't keep my eyes of lead singer Jessie "The Devil" Hughes. I think his mustache hypnotized me. What ever it was they also had the crowed jumping and dancing, while running through their 2 albums. I was happy to head their cover of Stuck In the Metal With You and they did I Only Want You, on top of the new songs as well. If the crowed wasn't singling along they were dancing. It was interesting because my fiancée remarked how they sound like they are covering David Bowie's Diamond Dogs. I never thought about that but she was right. They are a mix of that song and rockabilly.
I went off to the Coachella Stage to see headliner Depeche Mode. Now when they were first announced as the headliner I had a couple of things on my mind; #1. It's about time and #2. Good, since I missed the three other times they came to town, I can finally catch them here. As time dragged on, the less interested I became. This was really just a band I was familiar with and I didn't want to see Atmosphere, Audio Bullys, Tosa or Living Things. I wanted to get my money's worth since I came late. I don't know if you read or heard anything about their set, but what reviews left out was how the stage looked. It was awesome. It was futuristic looking. AND they had the DEATH STAR on stage with them. Now it wasn't the biblical Death Star up there, but it was a Death Star nonetheless. Usually the acts at a festival use the screens, use lights, and have a backdrop. Like I said earlier, I haven't seen any of the Touring the Angel shows, but at Coachella, they brought the Death Star. The set started slow, but remember they are all gloom and doom, it's been years since Just Can't Get Enough. The new songs were good. I dug them, but they started drawing more and more on older stuff, and the audience was digging it. Shake the Disease, Walking In My Shoes, Never Let Me Down and more. The thing about headliners here at Coachella that I don't like is, we let them off easy. Yea the songs were there, but sometimes the performance isn't. I'm not going to name names, but lets just say the Flaming Lips performance is legendary because they gave 110% out there. Depeche Mode nailed it. I'm not their biggest fan; I am a casual Depeche Mode fan. That said, they had a great looking set, the videos were cool, and Dave Gahan went balls out. While he usually is running around and interacting with the crowd like it was 1989, it worked. You can say he is stuck in the Rose Bowl, but this is why they are a headlining band. I don't know if anyone caught it but when Dave introduced Martin Gore, who is one of the most underrated musicians of all time, along with U2's Edge. Martin was riffing on the guitar his tribute to Daft Punk. Little did I realize that was a foreshadowing of what's to come. I left the Coachella stage thinking this was the best performance I ever saw on the Coachella Stage and maybe of Coachella's history. I was half right.
The night belonged to Daft Punk. Actually Daft Punk owns Coachella now. Coachella names it's stages after deserts, they should now change it to robots. They should have the Optimus Prime stage, the Megatron Stage, the Rosie the maid stage; Daft Punk were that good. I think most people going to see them were blindsided by this performance as I was. Daft Punk last album had really bad reviews and on top of that this was going to be their only show in America. So while they were a must see act, I don't think it was because they were bring a Radiohead quality to Coachella. They were more like a novelty act. Two robots as D.J.s, cool right?
It has been eight years since Daft Punk has played in the U.S. Any worries of rust did not rest on the shoulders of these robots. And let me address the main question: Did they perform as robots? The answer is yes! Thomas and Guy-Manuel wore the iconic headgear that we see in all the press photos of the two. That was awesome to see. Now I know I raved about what Depeche Mode brought on stage. Now I was right to geek out there, but the stage that Daft Punk performed in: genius. You are all familiar with the set; they played in the center of the unfinished pyramid, yes the unfinished pyramid on the back of the U.S. Dollar bill. How cool did that look? It was unbelievable. The pyramid was huge and there they were under the separated cap. Great idea. Now the pyramid it self was covered in a screen so the pyramid, in connection with the backdrop, would have coordinated light shows and images on it. I mean its so simple yet so hard to describe. Just look it up online to see how cool this was.
The music. Oh yea lets talk about their music. It was different than a D.J. set because they only played their material. The great thing about this was they would take beats form their own songs and "mash" them up with lyrics of another of their songs. You got to hear a lot really. One More Time, Human After All, Around The World, Da Funk, among others. As I said earlier, it was like a church experience with Daft Punk in the pulpit. If you want to compare this set to something, I will say earlier sets that are legendary are Underworld's 2 hour show or Chemical Brothers in 2005. Daft Punk clearly raised the bar over these sets.
The 411: Overall Day 1 ranks a 10 out of 10. I wasnít even there the whole day. I saw a small percentage of the act billed, but it comes down to quality over quantity. And it was A+ quality. I cannot rave enough about Daft Punk and I already see there is an online petition to get this performance out on DVD, which isnít a bad idea. If at minimum 10,000 people saw and felt the same way about this performance, instant money maker if they all buy the dvd. The strengths of the other performers on this day backed up my earlier predictions on how this was the show to be at this year. I was just wrong to count Daft Punk and Depeche Mode out so early. That said I was scared to even try Day 2 because the bar has been set so high today.