The Week The Modern Age Pretended to Be From California
Read Part 1
APRIL 27, 2003
Wait a minute — there’s ANOTHER day of deadly heat and music? Dear Jesus. Gathers body parts, leaves Palm Dessert around 11 AM. Drives to Indio. Spots “Westward Ho” again. Still funny. Laughs.
Heads to press tent and meets up with Melody Nelson and Vince. Spots The Polyphonic Spree doing a photoshoot by the fountain. Loses track of time and ends up running over to Coachella Stage as Whirlwind Heat start their set. Crowd surprisingly receptive to the band. The boys are sporting the now standard Terry Richardson shirts, “poo brown” pants, and white karate shoes. Jack White, wearing a black suit with a red tie and shoes and a black bowler hat, stands sidestage watching his proteges wriggle, squiggle, and smash around the stage in the haphazard nature of most WH sets. Clap clap clap wooh!
Next up is The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Having previously seen them open up for Oasis and calling them “Spinal Tap personified,” our expectations and excitement level was on the low end. In a sea of Swedish bands we don’t get, they top the pile of Swede bands we really don’t get. A few days later Alyse stated to us with bafflement in her voice, “I didn’t know they were so classic rock.” Indeed.
TSOOL’s lack-luster performance slips from our memory as soon as it happens, minus one thing. One of the guitar players wears a nifty British flag blazer, which is a far better fashion choice then the last time we saw him wearing an open gold-lame shirt, but far more confusing because, yes, we could swear that he’s not British. Having never really come across Swedish Anglofiles (usually we only spot Anglofiles of the 15-year-old girl nature, wearing argyle socks), we’re caught a bit off guard. But no matter — we’re hungry — time for food.
Grabs a real hamburger for lunch. While standing underneath the beer garden tent, spots Carrie Von Bondie then Jason Von Bondie than Marcie Von Bondie. Spots Mister Jack White going toward the tour trailers, still wearing the black suit. Soon after he walks past us, we spot a herd of 5 teenagers clad in black t-shirts and baggy jeans walking 7 feet behind him. Eventually we see them stop him and have him sign a number of things and take pictures. He complies. Later we see this same herd stop the un-uniformed members of Whirlwind Heat. Apparently a traveling group of Michigan-band fans.
A crazy looking man wearing a sleazy ‘stash, huge sunglasses, and too-tight shorts rides recklessly in a golf cart around the fountain in the VIP area. Someone films him. He throws trash bags and causes general havoc. Don’t know who he is, don’t care enough to find out.
The Polyphonic Spree crew sets up the stage for the 25+ members. Melody Nelson unexplainably shouts out to one of the crewmembers asking for his Polyphonic Spree mesh hat. Clearly the sun is getting to her. Harps, horns, oddly arranged microphones cover the stage. The Spree come out, all clad in the requisite white robe with contrasting hemline rainbow color. We came to hear them do “Solider Girl” and they do it so we’re satisfied. People are dancing around like neo-hippies and it’s sunny. Tim DeLaughter announces that there are robes in the back if anyone wants to come join them on stage. We spot a man weaving through the crowd. As he passes we hear him say “going to get a robe.” Most likely he was going to the bathroom or to go check out another band, but it was a good line.
We head over to the Mojave Tent to catch The Von Bondies, and some reason by the time we get there it’s already begun. We rush in as Jason Von Bondie is howling about some girl that did him wrong, which isn’t a very helpful description — almost a redundant one at that. We’re basically saying we came in while Jason was singing a Von Bondies song.
Two songs later we find ourselves on the side of the stage where we spot the first sign of being caught in the Bermuda Triangle of music: Behind us, wearing a red halter top and shorts, Juliette Lewis is dancing to the music. A song or two later, Jack White is sitting against the back of the tent (still wearing the suit — the man doesn’t sweat, that’s for sure). We realize Augie and Sammy Mooney Suzuki have been standing next to us as we see the rest of the band filter in. And Audrey from Polyphonic Spree is there as well.
A few songs later, Juliette Lewis positions herself so she’s standing NEXT to Jack White. Whirlwind Heat are in the back of the crowd, to the left, and then a blonde mowhawked Kelly Osbourne slides in with her roaming posse and stops next to the Mooney.
Before the end of the Von Bondies set, Juliette Lewis finally gets a picture with Jack, Kelly Osbourne leaves as soon as she came, and we realize Carrie Von Bondie is the skinniest person on the face of the earth. (She looks great with her new short, choppy hair.)
Falling upon a time slot of no bands to see, we catch some chow mein from the food court. After food’s done we head to Coachella Stage to catch a bit of Sonic Youth. We don’t dare try the photo pit — it’s obvious from a distance that it’s elbow-to-elbow in there. Alyse spots us and we end up munching on Valerie’s funnel cake.
Heads to Mojave Tent for The Libertines’ rescheduled 5:40 set. They successfully complete their set, getting into various stages of undress as the songs go on. By the end, they invite audience members to come dance on stage with them. A few brave souls make it up and shake away. We momentarily think about joining the fray, but decide to maintain the little dignity we have. Libertines surprisingly more attractive then in pictures, but musically the live show falls a bit flat. Not that we’re really fans of their music in the first place…But whereas The Vines substitute shaky music pedigree with Craig’s crazy show spectacle, The Libbies just don’t have the same flair to make up for the mediocrity of their music. Maybe we’ll change our mind later, or maybe we won’t.
We decide against heading to Gobi Tent for the T.B.A. (rumors had been circulating it was going to be Radiohead, other speculation said The Vines. It ended up being neither — it was a DJ set by Perry Farrell.) Instead we went to Outdoor Theatre for Primal Scream.
Melody Nelson tells us about Hard Glitter’s belief that Bobby Gillespie is Alison Kills. We sorta see it.
Before the end of Primal Scream, we head over to one of our two MAIN EVENTS for Coachella — THE WHITE STRIPES on the Coachella Stage. The pit is already filled by the time we get there. By the time the Stripes go on, bodies are everywhere. The sides of the stage are brimming over with VIPs and musicians, and the crowd gathering in front of the stage is massive.
They begin with “Black Math,” but soon after the start, Jack starts yelling out to his tech. There’s some problem with the equipment and they can hardly hear each other on stage. He starts again with “When I Hear My Name” and soon stop, this time really shouting and emphatically motioning to tech that equipment is not working properly. Jack wears a ripped/sewn-up red shirt (with black stitchwork) with the red/black pants. Meg wears white shirt and red pants. High winds whip both their hair around their faces.
As reported by Dean on the White Stripes message board (with some modifications):
- Black Math (partial – equipment failure)
- When I Hear My Name (partial – equipment failure)
- The Hardest Button To Button
- I Think I Smell A Rat -> Take a Whiff on Me -> I Think I Smell A Rat
- Hotel Yorba
- Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground
- Death Letter -> Motherless Child
- Seven Nation Army
- I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart
- We’re Going To Be Friends
- Small Faces
- In The Cold, Cold Night
- You’re Pretty Good Lookin’ – last half acapella (in half time)
- Hello Operator
- Ball and a Biscuit
- Baba O’Riley (Cover of The Who)
Jack changes lyrics in “Ball and a Biscuit” to “Ask your red-headed girlfriends and see if they know”. Raises eyebrow.
Eats hamburger. Mmmm food. Overhears journos waxing poetic about White Stripe set (something about nature reacting to Jack White, causing the winds to change as they went on stage and some other hippy-dippy stuff)/ talking about Detroit gossip, which they get completely wrong. Resists urge to hit them.
Next up on Coachella Stage, THE STOOGES!!!!! The third song is “1969,” and we verge on loosing our marbles. Within feet of Iggy Pop as he sings the words, “It’s 1969 okay/ All across the USA/ It’s another year/ For me and you” we decide this is one of the best moments of our lives. They go on to play classics like “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “T.V. Eye,” “Funhouse,” and “Dirt.” Iggy pulls his usual tricks of humping amps, writhing, and jumping into the audience. The man’s still got it! We fall on the grass and start convulsing. Toward the end, Iggy introduces the band (including “On bass, The New Guy — Mike Watt”) then introduces himself (“And I’m FUCKING IGGY!”). We thunderously applaud and “woo.”
By this point, nothing else matters, so we head over to Outdoor Theatre just as Blue Man Group are winding down. Looks like fun. We get up there and the stage looks a mess as they clear up for Interpol, who is the last band to play the stage.
Interpol has a false start due to technical problems. They play and stuff. Paul wears a British Sea Power patch on his sweater. We head over to Mojave Tent to catch a bit of Fischerspooner because we’ve never seen them. We get to the tent in time to take one picture of ladies dressed up in feathers. Casey Spooner is the grand master in this production of weird smoke and bright lights. They’re doing interpretive dancing and there’s flashing lights. The tent PULSATES AND SURGES with electro-energy, which scares the BEJESUS out of us, and we run out before something happens to us.
We sit on the bleachers facing Outdoor Theatre stage and are pleased that we didn’t miss “Obstacle 1” (the only Interpol song we whole-heartedly like) due to our Fischerspooner incident. We merrily sing along with Paul through our chattering teeth as he sings, “Her stories are boring and stuff/ She’s always calling my bluff,” one of the least eloquent lyrics ever sung in alternarock.
We spot the rest of our Coachella Crew and head off into the night as we hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing “Californication” on Coachella Stage.
We thank God it’s over and we’re still alive.
CONCLUSION OF SECOND DAY OF COACHELLA 2003: THE STOOGES CHANGED OUR LIVES
APRIL 28, 2003
We wake up and take a swim in the pool in a last-ditch effort to get some color. Yesterday’s all-day outing fails to produce a tan due to the usage of 30SPF sun block. Everyone jokes that there’s a secret third day of Coachella that we should attend.
On the way back to Los Angeles, we stop by the Dinosaurs — a ritual all the Californians assure us is a “must-do.” Taking their word for it we take pictures with the dinosaurs.
We pass the rows of eerie windmills that generate power for the desert people. We roll down the window and cause the rest of the car to lose their hearing due to the deafening sound of 80 MPH winds whipping through the vehicle. Oops.
Stop at “The Outlets.” No Dave Grohl but the boys gain toys. The boys decide to climb on top of things, as does Sarah. Take pictures.
Say goodbye to everyone. Fall asleep in car. Say goodbye to Remi before leaving from LAX. Fall asleep again. Arrive back in LA, don’t remember what we ate, fall asleep.
APRIL 29, 2003
Bums around Santa Monica pier.
Drives around L.A. Sees HOLLYWOOD sign.
Goes to Amoeba Records. Is a loser and only purchases the Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Crazy For You” for $5.99. Has a conversation with cashier about what our “I <3 JACK” pin means. “Jack who?” she asks. “Jack White,” we respond. “Ah. Who’s Jack White?” “Jack White of the White Stripes.” “Oh is that his name?” “Yeah it is.” “So tell me, are they brother and sister or were they married?” Groans.
Eats at some steak place, yet orders pasta with grilled chicken. Says “O-pa!” when someone at another table breaks a plate, then has guy sitting across from us repeat the phrase in an attempt to get our attention. Burries head in hand.
APRIL 30, 2003
Mid-afternoon leaves from L.A. for San Diego.
Eats at a Carl’s Jr. for first time in life. Gets regular burger and fries.
Gets car tan.
Arrives in San Diego. Locates Soma venue which is located IN A MINI-MALL near the sports arena. Horrified to see not one, not two, not three, but many many many people dressed up in combinations of red and white. A line full of people in red and white. Checks tickets, confirms status of show as being all-ages. Finds corner, hides.
Later witnesses three teenage girls go absolutely ga-ga over Jack White, jumping up and down, squealing, telling them they prayed that they would see him. “Praying works,” was Jack’s reply. They take a picture with him, and are so excited having just met Mister White, one of them nearly gets herself run over by a car.
Showtime, enters venue, which looks like a pit of hell. A room for 2,300 people to die in a black-box with red lights and a handicap ramp in the back.
Whirlwind Heat open to a less than enthusiastic audience. David Swanson opens the set by telling them, “You might get this… or you might not.” Most don’t get it, are a bit baffled and confused. When Swanson tells the audience about WH’s recently released LP, his comment of “It was produced by this guy named.. Jack,” is met with the deafening sound of confusion.
White Stripes well-received although (to our happiness) the set list leans heavily on material from the first three White Stripes albums and cover songs. Writes down the set list on our hand with contraband pen:
- Black Math
- Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground
- Hardest Button to Button
- Union Forever
- You’re Pretty Good Looking
- Lord Send Me an Angel
- Let’s Shake Hands
- Clarabella (anyone know who originally sang this song?)
- Cold, Cold Night
- Look Me Over Closely
- Apple Blossom
- Death Letter
- Small Faces (Public Nuisance cover)
- 4-String Serenade (Arthur Lee cover)
- Hotel Yorba
- I Wanna Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart
- Seven Nation Army
- We’re Going to Be Friends
- Isis (Bob Dylan cover)
- Sugar Never Tasted So Good
- This Protector
Driving back to L.A., we stop by Denny’s (another first). Orders The Sampler.
Pulled over by California highway patrol.
MAY 01, 2003
Leaves from LAX to JFK.
Surrenders scissors to airport security. Catches plane 45 minutes before it’s departure.
Lands in NYC. Has plane tugged in. Training tugger causes delay in embarking plane.