Part 1 of The Best of the Westerns

The Week The Modern Age Pretended to Be From California

IF THERE EVER WAS A TIME to write about our visit to the Left Side, it’s now. That’s because we feel a bit unstable and delusional thanks to the 104 F temperature yesterday morning. (Our body temp has now subsided to a pleasant 100 F. Guess we don’t have SARS.) We take it as a sign from God that the spirit of Lester Bang’s psychotic ramblings should naturally live on without the combination of cough syrup and speed.

APRIL 24, 2003


Leaves New York City 7AM. Arrives in Los Angeles 10:08AM. Alyse picks us up. Sleeps. Eats chicken quesadilla. Sleeps.

APRIL 25, 2003

Leaves LA for Indio late afternoon. Pit stop at LAX to pick up Remi. Makes request to eat at In-N-Out. Orders regular burger combo. Sprite soda. Finds burger satisfying. Worth the request. Mystified by elaborate wax paper wrapping of burger. Burger juices drips down sides of hands. Notes the red and white color combination of the decor. Takes picture of inside of In-N-Out, scaring little children sitting at opposite table. Sees child wearing In-N-Out paper hat, gets jealous. Remi obtains paper hat for us and stops our whining.

Stop by Eddie’s for pick-up. Catches part of Elimidate featuring three large-chested bimbos and one greased up himbo. Our mouths drop to floor and we shake our heads at the poor state of American television.

Car ride down to Indio soundtracked by a Hot Hot Heat sing-a-long. Also featured, Blur, Madonna, Portishead.

Arrives in Palm Desert around 9PM. Last minute supply stop at Ralphs. Immediately associates with ‘ralph’ being a slang term for vomiting and laughs to self that an establishment would call itself that. Debates whether or not to purchase a pair of blue, sea green, and black aqua socks for $5.99 to wear to Coachella. Decides not to buy the socks.

Settles into sleeping destination. Tries out Lay’s Guacamole chips. Immediately addicted. Eats green grapes. Barely stays awake for arrival of rest of Coachella party. Gets Alyse to flip from Kilby to Conan just in time to see White Stripes play. Scares the lot of the Coachella crew by freaking out over White Stripes. Flips back to Kilby. Doesn’t miss any of Blur’s TV time. Everyone happy.

APRIL 26, 2003

Leaves Palm Desert around 10:30AM. Drives to Indio. Along the way to the parking grounds, spots a street called “Westward Ho.” Laughs.

IT’S HOT IN INDIO. Within minutes of getting out of the car, we realize that our whiter than white flesh is already on fire. Thrilled at prospect of getting tan.

They start letting people into the grounds at 12 noon. Semi-frightened our pens and candy will be confiscated due to the seemingly strict Coachella policies. (See their list of things NOT to bring.) Breezes through security without so much as a second glance or a pat-down.

We head to the Press tent. We get dangerously close to a group of girls sitting on a black leather couch when we realize it’s The Donnas. That bassist sure looks hungry. There is a whole bowl of candy sitting in front of them, but we aren’t about to try our luck. Inching away slowly without any sudden movements, we escape with all limbs in tact.


We locate Melody Nelson and Vince by the Mojave Tent. We head over to the food court to jam in some food before the music starts. We choose a vegan sloppy joe concoction for our lunch. And water. Mmm water.

South is scheduled to go on at 1:20 in the Mojave Tent, but they don’t go on until 1:30ish. This makes us grumpy. One late act in a tent will make everyone else late — and mess up our scheduling.

South does a nine song set featuring a bunch of new songs off their recently wrapped new LP:


  • Same Old Story
  • Paint the Silence
  • Keep Close
  • Recovered Now
  • 9 Lives
  • Live Between the Lines
  • Colors in Waves
  • Motiveless Crime
  • Dolphins

We run through the crowd after South and spot two guys toting baby pink Mooney Suzuki #1 fingers which we assume were given out during their 1:30 spot on the Coachella Stage. (The next day The Mooney tell us that the Coachella folks wouldn’t let them sell them at the merch stand, so they decided just to give them out for free.) We ask the guys to pose, and we snap a picture.

Next up in the Mojave Tent is Idlewild. BIG FAT BLUR in our minds. Roddy looks real cute in his checked shirt and jeans. We still wonder where Bob is. Set list:


  • Little Discourage
  • You Held the World in Your Arms
  • I Am A Message
  • I Am What I Am Not
  • 10 Words
  • Modern Way Of Letting Go
  • American English
  • When I Argue I See Shapes
  • Rusty
  • A Film for the Future
  • Roseability

California’s very own (by way of New York) The Rapture bring on the grooves to Mojave soon after. The place gets sweaty really fast. We find ourselves staring at a guy in the middle of the crowd wearing a white blazer, jeans, a bare, tanned chest, and tinted shiny sunglasses. Melody Nelson asks us “Hey, is that Casey Spooner?” We never can identify Casey Spooner even if he’s standing right in front of us, so we take Melody Nelson’s word on it due to her superior celeb-spotting skills.


Hot Hot Heat bassist, Dustin Hawthorne, crawls out from backstage to check out the DFA darlings and we see Damon Gough on the sidelines, wearing a wooly cap, jean jacket, and jeans. We sweat just looking at him.

Soon after “House of Jealous Lovers” hits us hard, we can’t believe our eyes when we see the man previously identified at Casey Spooner go over to Damon and start talking to him. It’s a brief exchange, but it ends with Casey handing Damon a pin, and Damon nodding. Only at Coachella will you get Fischerspooner pimping out to Badly Drawn Boy.


We head out of Mojave-land for the big boys and a little sun. The Hives take Coachella Stage on time sporting spiffy white and black triangle ties and the standard black on black shirt/pant combo (but with BLACK BELTS). Pelle is fantastic as “loud shouty foreign guy” but the crowd gives him some heckles, because mid set he starts razzing on some guy by saying something like “You should talk, you don’t even have any hair” then saying “Doesn’t it look like I could kick anyone’s ass?” Other highlights of Pelle crazy-talk included, “After The Hives all the other bands are dessert.” etc etc.


Next is Blur. As you may remember, the last time we saw Blur was in March at the Bowery show and our main conclusion of the events of that evening were Damon Albarn was on the drugs. But this time he seems less on the drugs (or are we more on the drugs?). The sun is setting, and the sky is a beautiful blue. There’s a slight breeze. It’s perfect weather. “Out of Time” makes us want to get out a lighter and raise it high in the air. It feels good to see Alex actually play with Dave and Damon. Oh yeah, and The Verve’s Simon Tong was there too. Yeah yeah yeah.

We catch some food mid-Blur set. As we chow down on a veggie burger, we see Ben Kweller walking about sporting a blue and black check shirt and jeans, hair just as moppy as it’s ever been. He heads over to the Press tent and chats with journos. We hear the sounds of thousands of people shouting “WOO HOO” as we finish our meal. On our way to the Coachella Stage we almost get run over by Tommy Lee and friend as they recklessly weave through crowds on some of those stupid Segways.

Heading back to Coachella stage for Queens of the Stone Age we spot Jared “30 Seconds to Mars” Leto with long black hair and red streaks and no Cammy Diaz (who was spotted earlier in the day frolicking with gal pal Drew “This is my boyfriend Fabrizio Strokes” Barrymore). Having just come off a 2-day My So-Called Life DVD marathon, we’re stoked. We get a picture with him and laugh our heads off.

Queens of the Stone Age -- CLICK ON FOR BIGGER IMAGE
Granted, we don’t know much of the QOTSA song catalogue, so we are resigned to just making devil horns and head banging throughout the set. Some dudes next to us are dancing all funny weird, so we start dancing like them just to amuse ourselves.

We go back to Mojave Tent and soon find ourselves in the midst of an angry electro crowd. Scheduled to go on at 8:30, Ladytron is waaaaaaaay behind due to some equipment problems’as in none of their equipment is working properly, and neither are the microphones. We already hate Ladytron, so this doesn’t make us happy at all, we start screaming out ‘Let’s go you international motherf*ckers!’ ElectroKids give stop-and-go spurts of boos and various other noises of discontentment.


Whoever made up that term “Better late than never” was wrong. How about “Better you not go on at all than mess everyone else up”? But alas, we don’t run the tent, so ONE HOUR AND 20 MINUTES LATER Ladytron go on stage. We wonder how this will affect The Libertines 11PM slot. Groove Armada is supposed to go on AFTER Ladytron, but Ladytron is just STARTING when Groove Armada was supposed to. We sulk in the corner.

Back to Coachella Stage for a little Beastie Boys action. The photo pit borders on an insane asylum. Photogs coming out of our ears, all of them with the sharpest jabbing elbows known to man. Our squatting skills are put to the test by less than kind requests by the security people not to stand on the risers out of fear the crowd might get angry and start a riot. We can’t be bothered with all this hullaballo and get the hejezus out of there with as much of our sanity as we came with.


We have nothing against Groove Armada, but we have no strong inclination to like them. They go onstage at Mojave Tent around 10:50 or so. And they play and stuff. By this point in the evening we’re so tired we really don’t care about much. We sit on boxes filled with gear and swig down bottles of water to pass the time. We have an internal debate as to weather or not The Libertines will get to play at all. This goes on for Groove Armada’s entire set.

After Groove Armada, the Tent kinda clears out, but some people are still coming in. We’re hazy with times but near 12 midnight an announcement is made over the PA: “We appologize for the delay — Next up is The Libertines.” Hooray! They’ll perform.


10 minutes later The Libertines swagger onstage, pop open bottles of champagne and spray the audience, throw red shiny confetti, and make a grand spectacle of themselves. About two songs later, the cops bust in and pull the plug on them. Peter throws down the mic stand in a fit of rage and everyone is ushered out of the tent.


Read Part 2

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