The Coachella Festival features a reformed Jane's Addiction, plus Mos Def, Tricky and The Chemical Brothers...
“These are the most normal people. Everyone’s really smart and clean,” uttered Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher while glancing at the 40,000 or so people
milling around a polo field in Indio, California: everyone from babies in prams to one 60-something rave monkey, soaking up hot sun and balmy breezes. Two outdoor stages and three tents feature over 45 rock, hip-hop and dance acts, and festival-goers traipse around visiting numerous vendor stalls as well as an interactive sculpture garden (fancy jumping into a barrel of sponges?) and some sporadic hot-air balloon rides.
The heart and soul of Coachella isn’t really centered around the main stage but in the tents and on the second stage, where Mos Def play a 12-minute version of ‘Umi Says’, Roni Size/Reprazent rip through old favorites like ‘Heroes’, and St Germain truly have people spinning to ‘Rose Rouge’ amid gusty desert winds as the sun goes down.
Plaid and Squarepusher are among the most inventive sets of the day: the latter’s programme of fractious drum’n’bass and dub sound experiments truly shatter and invigorate both mind and spirit. Later on, 8,000 ravers spill out of a tent to catch a glimpse of Fatboy Slim,
whose slew of party-rockin’ tunes warm things up for the Chemical Brothers, who ensure people keep smiling throughout their headlining DJ set.
In the tent next door, the emotive shoegazing soundscapes of Sigur Ros and the gloomy, twisted sounds of Tricky pacify the sunburnt masses before The Orb finally appear, placating a tent packed with euphoric heads eager for their dose of ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’.
While most people are curious to find out if Jane’s Addiction still have it in them after a four-year absence, most people are sated with a nostalgic greatest hits show. Perry Farrell’s joined on stage by Flea, Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins for a grand theatrical rock performance, costume changes and all. The band tear through epic hits such as ‘Mountain Song’, ‘Three Days’ and ‘Jane Says’, and the field glows with a sea of lighters. It’s a fittingly overblown end to a long, messy, eclectic day.