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Jack Johnson

CNN Music & Art

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Eddie Van Halen

CNN Music & Art

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Ben Harper

CNN Music & Art



The mountains slowly swallowed the big yellow sun as darkness descended on the desert. An art installation shot off massive fireballs and a bright Ferris wheel spun in the distance as a kaleidoscope of laser lights waltzed in the sky above. Giant screens on either side of the main stage counted down from ten minutes as the rhythmic chants of “HO-VA!” cascaded off the canyon like a series of LeBron bank shots. Then the floor parted and up came the forever-young fountain of flow, Jay-Z – the festival’s first ever hip-hop headliner. “Bounce. Bitch.” Jigga Man commanded, beaming behind black shades. Then, with the precision of a lyrical sniper, rap’s finest took aim at a thirty track set list backed by a ten-piece band. From the rugged barks of “Run This Town” to the swaggered horns of “Encore,” thousands of damn hands were thrown up in diamonds. By the time wife Beyoncé joined her man on stage, fireworks began exploding into the night, and our 99 problems faded to none.

Coachella has earned its status as music festival Mecca. It’s a cool oasis of sweltering sound where Muse can create an uprising of eye-popping pyromania and then croon Nina Simone on a baby grand while ripping Hendrix-like chords in the same set. It’s where generations of rock n’ roll legends from Jack White to Thom Yorke and John Paul Jones put on epic performances regardless of the name stretched on the bass drum. In the desert, Emos found the dirt road to alt-rock poured by Pavement, Faith No More “Reunited” with a juicy Peaches and Herb cover and a blue-haired Flea proved he’s red hot on any stage. De La Soul, members of the Clash and Bobby Womack also stirred this melting pot of musical magic during a chest-pounding performance with The Gorillaz. For a little added flavor, French-based Phoenix whipped the crowd into a “Listomania” frenzy despite the grounding of its light technician in Europe from Icelandic volcano ash.

Backstage, John Mayer spewed his own toxicity telling a photo-seeking fan to get her tits out of his face, Whitney from “The City” dodged flying floatable rafts at the La Roux show and Kristen Stewart danced in a Dodgers cap into the twilight. Coachella, a.k.a. L.A. East, was one part West Hollywood nightclub, one part freak factory carnival. For three straight days, 75,000 campers and concertgoers criss-crossed the grassy polo fields. Some made memories with each four-minute song; others like a drunk YouTube douchebag took that long to simply put on his sandals. Coachella 2010 was a place for pacifiers, huge pupils and puny waists to party to David Guetta and Plastikman. It’s also the grounds where Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward earned their pronouns, and breakout bands like Portugal. The Man and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes made fans for life. B.o.B. summed up the whole desert experience best on day three – “Coachella: they got nothin’ on you baby.”

Written by: Ben Bamsey


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