Coachella 2016 – The Good & Ugly of A Festival Attendee

IMG_0798

The people we bonded with at the Festival on Saturday night.

People attend Coachella for various reasons. Some go to be seen in the latest fashions, celebrities go for the free publicity, and others go for the music. Attendees spend an exorbitant amount of money over the course of the three days each weekend and this past year was no different. Every year it is a guessing game of “which weekend do I want to attend.” If you are lucky you can go to both, but very few people have that kind of money or time to burn. You risk missing special guests when you chose one weekend over the other, or purchase tickets based on rumors that may never happen.

For the second year in a row my brother and I decided to attend Coachella but this year we did weekend 1 instead of weekend 2. It seemed in years past the special guests have been more exciting the first weekend then the second weekend, when in reality neither weekend is better than the other; you always miss someone you wanted to see. This year the two big conversations surrounded the reuniting of Guns N’ Roses as well as the possibility of Ice Cube reuniting N.W.A.

IMG_0840

Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses did not disappoint. Even though Axl Rose was set up like an invalid with his broken foot, the band made sure the crowd was visually entertained. Richard Fortus jamming on his guitar as his long hair and opened shirt continued to rock out with each song as a series of facial expressions made attendees get a little more lost. Slash on the other hand was calm, controlled and cool with every note that whaled out of his guitar you couldn’t help but think “God I want to be that cool.” The band brought out a rock guitar legend Angus Young from AC/ DC. His school boy charm dressed in an all blue shorts suit is infamous as is his fish like mouth opening and closing in an “oh yeah” fashion throughout his playing.

Ice Cube’s set was a little disappointing. The rumors swirled over the previous months that N.W.A would be getting back together for a performance at Coachella. He brought back DJ Yella and MC Ren, but Dr. Dre was missing. The heart pounding excitement that formed as I watched them perform “Straight Out of Compton” and “F*** The Police” bubbled up, but it would have been more of a celebration if Dre was there and they brought another artist in to sing Easy E’s parts. The second weekend got that treat and I am beyond jealous. Dr. Dre did not sing on the original N.W.A recordings as he was primarily the producer for the group. At the show he came out and performed “California Love” and they had Easy-E’s son come out to perform “Boys N’ the Hood.” It was a full-blown N.W.A love feast full of every guest that truly needed to be there.

Rapper and rocker fans are no different to boy band fan-girls. No joke I have never witness a bunch of 20 and 30 something year old boys lose their shit when Tim Armstrong of Rancid come down from the stage to sing right in the crowd. Being a girl at the front of the gate as a bunch of men reached to touch the coat of their punk rock idol was not only a laughable moment, but one where I could see the inner fan-girl on every outer boy’s face. Lord Huron received a different kind of worship where everyone in the vicinity knew all the lyrics to each song and proceeded to dance with one another as the L.A. Indie folk band played songs ranging from their six year repertoire.  Personally never heard of them, but I felt like I was in the middle of a cult that I didn’t truly understand yet.

IMG_0792

Chvrches

Disclosure and Chvrches were some of the best electronic music and bands that were at the festival this year. Unlike Calvin Harris’ music which all sounds like a Jersey Shore after-party they had music that actually says something. Maybe it’s because Disclosure studied all styles of musicians in college and from their musically gifted parents from funk and soul to hip hop and dub step that intertwines with electronic beats. Maybe it’s because Lauren Mayberry (Chvrches) had a career in journalism where stories were her livelihood and now lyrics hold that place. Not every artists that dabbles in electronic music is good. The best artists in electronic music usually have a background in playing more classical instruments and have a deeper exploration in rhythms, beats, and how it all intertwines.

Alessia Cara was one of my personal favorites at the festival as her sound is still honest and pure. Her set and wardrobe were simple as her band knew every lyric and drowned the audience into the synthesized sounds of guitar, bass, and keys. Her songs are poetic. “Seventeen” is something that I have been able to relate to lately. Turning thirty in the next few months I sometime wish that time could be simpler. It’s not about not wanting to be an adult but to be able to have some moments where time can stop. Where life doesn’t have to move so fast.

“My view with a looking glass won’t catch the past
Only photographs remind us of the passing of days
Oh nothing stays the same from yesteryears
See I recall being afraid of the dark
And holding on to teddy bears
I’d wrap myself in blankets just to cover me from fears
That was then and now I’m here
And the night is mine

So hear me scream
I was too young to understand what it means
I couldn’t wait til I could be seventeen
I thought he lied when he said take my time to dream
Now I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen”

In consideration of attending the 2017 Coachella don’t let anyone try to fool you that weekend one or two is better than the other. More special guests do attend weekend one – Sam Smith and Lorde with Disclosure, Angus Young with Guns N’ Roses, and O’Shea Jackson Jr, Snoop Dogg, DJ Yella, and MC Ren with Ice Cube. Weekend two may surprise you and have such a huge event blow up like a group reuniting that hasn’t performed together in years (N.W.A). There is no right or wrong weekend only an enjoyable one full of memories where you wish you could freeze time. Make music your refuge and curl up into the space between the notes as you fall into the perfect sound.

**Be on the lookout for a video coming soon**

Advertisements

“That’s Just The Way It Is” – Straight Out of Compton

In the song Been There, Done That, Dr. Dre raps, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”  This song came out in 1996 after he parted ways with Surge Knight at Death Row Records, and the aftermath was all that was left from N.W.A and the first ride as a solo artist and producer.  I think this song stands for everything that happened.  This line expresses the importance of truth and vision, and that is what separates you from the masses.  All the members of N.W.A had parted ways back in 1991 where cheap shots at one another in their music filled the air ways.  Boys that grew up in Compton fell apart when money became the focus of their arguments.  When you grow up in an environment where money has always been the for front of an argument who keeps you grounded?  I think the million dollar question is how does a brotherhood of boys that grew up in Compton together, go from having each other’s backs to slinging insults?

I have been hearing the phrase “That’s just how it is” a lot, and with every fiber of my being, I hate that phrase.  N.W.A never accepted the status quo.  Easy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince pushed boundaries with their music. F*** the Police gave people a voice who didn’t have one, who were getting abused for being a different race, and brought to the for front of society the abuse of power that was being thrown around in the depths of the hood.  It was never meant to start a riot or dangerous activity.  It was meant to inspire and drive people to do the right thing if authority was taking advantage of you.  So, why do we in the 21st century still feel that accepting what is considered the rule as what is?

In every part of my career and drive to be in the entertainment industry, I have never accepted people telling me “You are never going to change that,” “That’s just how it is,” or “That’s how it works around here.” Ice Cube and Dr. Dre fought against the unfair pay and contracts they were given as apart of Ruthless Records and N.W.A; and when they hit their breaking point, they stepped away from the group and did their own music, their way. I wonder what would have become of N.W.A had the blow out not happened.  What would they have created had Easy-E not died in 1995?  What if Jerry Heller actually cared about the men in the group and not just the money?  N.W.A were striving to be well-known artists in Compton, but they became a generation of men that turned the music industry on its head into a voice to be heard.  They put rap music into popularity and wrote lyrics that wasn’t coated with a string of lies and fantasy, but more of a sense of reality they dealt with everyday.

In the end, N.W.A was family.  Even when they were fighting they ultimately forgave each other for everything, because in the end, all they were doing was being honest and expressing themselves.  The beauty behind the madness was always the music, and honesty was what they chased.  I think they said it best:

“When I start expressing myself, Yella slam it
Cause if I stay funky like this, I’m doing damage
Or I’mma be too hyped and need a straight jacket
I got knowledge and other suckers lack it”
-Express Yourself (N.W.A)