Coachella Streaming Review: Postal Service, April 13-15, 2013

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment


The Panic Manual has fallen on hard economic times lately, and despite having members of our blog attend Coachella in previous years, we were unable/unwilling to send anyone to Coachella for the music extravaganza this year. Just take a look at our estimated costs for sending both a writer and a photographer:

- two flights from YYZ to Palm Springs: $1300
– taxi to and from Coachella grounds – $50
– camping ground fee – $85
– sunscreen – $25
– meals – $200
– drugs – $100
= too much

However, we absolutely pride ourselves on being a reputable source of music and festival reviews in and around the world, so we decided to review Coachella anyway. I was going to do more then one review, but as you can see, this one is too long already.

The Postal Service

One of the biggest acts on the Coachella bill was the newly reunited Postal Service, featuring the newly divorced Ben Gibbard and DNTEL, who could be delivering your pizza tomorrow and you wouldn’t even recognize him. I wonder if the recent divorce with Zooey Deschanel and the subsequent rise of her show had anything to do with Ben Gibbard’s decision to resurrect the one thing he did that a bunch of non emo kids would recognize. Why didn’t anyone book She & Him in the same time slot? Would that not have been the best thing ever?

While Postal Service’s epic album Give Up was indeed one of the defining moments of early 2000’s (it should be sold in a companion pack with the first season of the OC and Garden State dvd), I wasn’t quite sure how it would translate live. More importantly, I wasn’t sure how the minimal twee-electro sounds of the band would translate live, then to a streaming 500×400 screen on my laptop then to me, sitting on my couch, half drunk. I had my doubts. More importantly, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make a mistake not paying 65 dollars to go see them at the Air Canada Center in about two months. I wasn’t quite sure if the crowd was anticipating this set, because the camera was just focusing on the stagehands. It is one of the many downsides I found when watching via streaming youtube channels. Here’s a list

Disadvantages to watching Coachella via Streaming vs actually being there

  • Lack of crowd excitement/buildup: the camera’s are only focused on the stage. I can’t get excited because the crowd is excited, therefore, I am less excited
  • Inconsistent camera work: One minute, I am behind the stage, the next, I am in front of the stage. The next minute, I am 300 feet back. The next minute, I am in the air. Dude, I am not Nightcrawler, how am I suppose to get into it and pretend I am there if I’m switching viewing locations every 30 seconds
  • Not quite loud enough: Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t quite get the audio of my laptop quite up to the ear splitting levels of a music festival. Even if I did, my roommate who was sleeping would have yelled at me and I would have had to turn it down
  • Eye candy: Coachella is becoming more and more about people watching. If I’m at home, I can’t just look around and try to spot Kate Upton or Katy Perry in the crowd. This makes it very un-coachella.

The Postal Service took the stage around the time Weekend Update came on for SNL. I was pleased to notice that they had a live band with them, including former child actress Jenny Lewis as the backing vocalist (she also toured with them in 2003). The classic the District Sleeps Alone Tonight started off the set. It was nice to see Ben Gibbard animated behind his microphone and he did sing the tune with a restrained gusto, but to me, it just sounded like a slightly different version of the album version. Maybe I was expecting too much. I wasn’t quite into it. We Will Become Silhouettes followed and I expected the quicker tempo of that track to move me a bit more. It didn’t. I was quite dismayed. Perhaps a drink was in order. Luckily, the drink lineup was short at my apartment and I was able to make it back for the next song. Sleeping In is one of my favorite tracks off Give Up but once again, I didn’t find myself quite moved by the live rendition. At this point, I was losing momentum. The crowd only seemed moderately excited, but I could only see the first row of people, who by this time no doubt, was completely exhausted from being in the sun all day and being crushed by the people behind them. It was at this point I wondered if watching streaming videos of a music festivals was really the way to go. Festivals are a matter of endurance, and sometimes, during the times when you are tired, the sheer excitement of the crowd can lift you up. At home, when you are tired, you just go to bed. Which is basically what I did after they played “Such Great Heights”, easily one of the anthems from the past decade. Like previous songs, it sounded great, but it didn’t necessarily sound like it would be a great live experience. I guess I wasn’t really watching it live anyway, since I was at home. As I reflected on my forty five virtual minute journey to Indio, I did come up with some positives.

Advantages to watching Coachella via Streaming vs actually being there

  • Climate control
  • Cheap beer prices plus no lineup for bathroom/beer
  • Clean toilets (unless you are dirty)
  • Always a good view/no tall guy blocking your view
  • Smells better
  • Takes about 30 seconds from the stage to your bed
  • Can watch in pajamas
  • 1 click away from watching another act vs walking 20 minutes
  • Cheaper


Despite the comforts of home, I can’t really recommend watching a live stream at home versus being there. It’s so hard to full comprehend a live show over a small screen. Even though the Postal Service sounded nothing more then a more organic recording of their album, I didn’t get to experience all the other aspects of a concert to fully judge it. Maybe next year, they will have youtube 3d and I can actually feel like being there or something. Until then..stick with going to concerts.

Concert Review: Coachella, May 1st-2nd, 2004 [Radiohead, Pixies, The Cure, Kraftwerk, Flaming Lips]

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Taken from my livejournal account circa 2004:


Hi readers! How’s it going? I just got back from LA / Palm Springs after a weekend trip to go to this music festival called Coachella. I think this is the fourth year they run it, and it’s super cool!!. Not a lot of people but excellent bands. I really hope it stays this way and doesn’t expand into some random two week thing or go on a cruise ship or something. LOL. Who does that? I don’t know, I have a lot of imagination. Anyways, let’s take it from the top.

Haha look how nerdy me and Derek are, with our ipods and all. I freaking love using that wheel. Don’t ever change that Apple, it can’t get any better then this.

So instead of camping at Palm Springs, we decided to rent a hotel room. We had a great idea to bring an air mattress, but no one brought a pump so we had to use a gas station to pump it. So clever. Can’t wait until Coachella tomorrow! My first ever music festival. Who knows if I’ll ever go to one ever again.

Day 1

First of all, it is freaking hot in Palm Springs. Why would Coachella put a festival in the middle of the desert in May!? They should move it to April or something, but we all have dreams. We all have dreams.

I started off the day by checking out Stellastarr*, they are this up and coming rock act from New York city. My Coco and Jenny are great tracks, I am pretty sure we are going to see a lot from them in the future. I discovered them by going to some band I liked on and then clicking on “similar artist”. Can’t think of a better way to find bands I like. Anyways, check them out.

Beck was freaking packed, and it’s also 4 pm which is arguably the hottest time of the day. I am going to seek refuge in the shade somewhere. I probably shouldn’t drink beer. Oh what the hell. What’s that famous phrase people use? you only live once? no that’s not it.. life is short, play hard! Yes, from Reebok. Of course.

You see that on the stage right there? That’s the freakin Pixies! I heard they reformed just for Coachella. They were great – Debaser, Wave of Mutilation and Here Comes the Man all got the crowd singing. What a moment, surely a once in the lifetime event.

Radiohead was awesome as well, but they are always awesome. Kraftwerk? mind blowing. What a light show.

The only downside to the whole event was that it took two freakin hours to get out of the parking lot.

Day 2

Kind of exhausted from Day 1, we decided to hit up the hotel restaurant first and slowly mosey our way towards the grounds.

We arrived just around 3:30 and met our friend Pete, who checked out this local Toronto band called Broken Social Scene. Who goes to Coachella to go see local music? Pete does. I made my way over to the main stage to check out Muse, who originally began as a Radiohead cover band. Well not really, but check out Showbiz and tell me it’s not The Bends part 2. I hope they are able to find ways to sound different with their next album but who knows with these bands.

It’s still super hot, I wish my friends back home could know how hot it was. If only there was some way for me to convey these feelings to them online at this very moment of time. Sigh. The girls at the stands are letting you soak your towel in cold water for 1 dollar. I have been doing this all day.

Couldn’t quite decide on the Killers or the Thrills, but since The Thrills excel at upbeat surf type rock, decided to check that out. Killers are kinda new, and playing the smallest tent, so I’m sure it can’t be that good. I bought a wicked BRMC shirt, because let’s face it, BRMC are the coolest people on Earth, except today, I don’t know if the all leather look is going to be good for this weather.

Belle & Sebastian at sunset. Doesn’t really get better then this. Unless I see them open for Pulp or something. If only.. haha.

Frickin broke my sunglasses dancing to Basement Jaxx. Goddamn it. I guess this is growing up.

Hamster balls! floating balls! giant hands! confetti guns! dancing mascots! That, ladies and gentleman, are the Flaming Lips. I think they were on 90210 once, and this Soft Bulletin record is pretty good. Their show – amazing. They didn’t sing Waiting for Superman though.

I am glad they didn’t book The Cure during the day, or fat Bob’s face would have looked like olive and cheese pizza you take out of the oven. I am a bit pissed that they booked Le Tigre on stage next to The Cure, as I can hear them whenever fat Bob does a quiet song.

We left before the encore to beat the traffic.

Overall, Coachella seems like a fun festival. They don’t really have many festivals like this in North America, which is a shame. Anyways, talk to you later!

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Should I Stay or Should I go: Coachella Edition

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Music | 1 Comment

The Coachella lineup was released Tuesday night, and as you would expect, the knee jerk reactions from hardcore music fans (including myself) ranged from “OMG I have to go!”* to “what a lineup!”* to “I would DIE if I can’t make it!”* Given the usual rush of emotions that comes when a music festival lineup is announced, I’ve decided to write a little article about whether or not you should go to Coachella. For the record, Panic Manual members have been to Coachella in 2004, 2006 and 2010.

Let’s start with the obvious – Can You Afford Coachella?

Let’s say you have 3 other friends interested in going. You are on the East coast in a major city with an international airport, then here are some costs. I am assuming you are going to take Thursday off, and Monday off. Here are some rough estimates:

YYZ – LAX: 400$ if you book early
Car Rental: 30$ a person if you are over 25, and someone has a credit card with collision insurance
Gas: 20$ a person
Accomodation: 125$ a person for four nights stay at a reasonable hotel
Coachella ticket: 280$ (absurd)
Food, Merch, Drinks: 150$ (assuming you don’t go nuts)

This ranges out to about $1000 a person for a five day trip. Not insane prices, but definitely will make you want to assess your plans. Some people might suggest you go camping. I don’t know about you, I don’t really want to camp in a desert. Maybe I’m old, but the weather at Palm Springs varies wildly (as would any place in a desert climate) from day to night. The other thing you have to realize is that music festivals are draining exercises, and the last thing you want to do after a night of music festival going is to wander into your campground, finding your tent, realizing your sleeping bag is in a weird angle and then having to fend off any potential drunk/high neighbors. If you are going to Coachella or anywhere far, might as well drop a few more dimes and get yourself a cozy hotel room with a hot tub, so you can get fully recharge for the next days adventure.

Still, music festivals are a great adventure, and as someone who does go to these things, it comes down to the music. So here is my general assessment:

Reasons to Go#1: OMG bands

Anytime I assess a music festival lineup, you pretty much have to find a few bands there that are in the “oh my god, this is something I won’t ever be able to see” zone. These are either bands that are reuniting after a long period (not DFA 1979, who broke up not even 3 Harry Potter movies ago) or bands who rarely tour. Looking at the list, these are the only bands that come to mind:

Duran Duran
Suede (reunited in 2010)
Chemical Brothers
Lauryn Hill (released from mental institution)
Big Audio Dynamite (reuniting)
Leftfield (reunited in 2010)
Empire of the Sun (apparently put on mind blowing shows, but excessive drug use means they sometimes schedule two concerts on the same date in different cities)

Now if you are a hardcore fan of any of these bands, then by all means you should go, assuming they also don’t schedule a North America tour at the same time, or recently just flew to England to see them.

Reason to Go #2 – Haven’t seen many of these bands

Sometimes I forget that I go to a ridiculous amount of shows, and so basically, I’ve probably seen a majority of the bands playing at any festival so if you have never seen bands like Interpol, Animal Collective, Mumford & Sons, The National, PJ Harvey before and you want to somehow wrap up all those experiences in one weekend, then by all means, go. However, you must realize that festival time slots means that each act other then the major headliners will only play about 40 minutes. Do you really want your first time seeing the National to be a 45 minute affair? What if it conflicts with another band you want to see? (That will happen). Still it’s a great way to see a lot of your favorite new bands for a reasonable price. I am guessing you will see about 10 bands a day, 30 bands in total if you go there day and night.

Reason to go #3 – Never been to Music Festival

If you haven’t been to a music festival, Coachella is a pretty sweet first time festival, it’s warm, there are a lot of pretty people everywhere, they all speak English, you get to go to LA, you might run into drunk celebrities and it’s also a pretty good lineup.

Reason to Not Go #1 – You live in Toronto or New York

Let’s face it, most of these bands are going to roll through here at one point or another. You have your own music festivals in which all the bands in size 12 point font will play two or more shows and really, you’ve probably seen these bands before. The Arcade Fire played Toronto 3 times last year and aside from the OMG bands, every band on the list will be here at one point or another if they are touring/and are smart. There are better ways to spend $1000

Reason to Not Go #2 – Most bands only play ~30-40 minutes/ Crowds / Overlap

The two massive drawbacks of overpopulated music festivals is that most bands play a short set and also some major act will be stuffed in a tiny tent that will be too crowded and you’ll get pissed that you didn’t see them (ie Beck in 2004). There will also be at least one instance where you wish you could be at two places at once, although none will be as bad as having Lady Gaga play opposite the Strokes at Lollapalooza. Either way, these are probably the major setbacks of any festival, if you are one to get frustrated easily, then music festivals might not be for you at all.

Reason to Not Go #3 – Propensity for Heatstroke

It gets hot in Palm Springs. There are also thousands of thousands of people. This will raise the heat further. If you are the type who can’t handle heat or a crowd, then this is probably not a great festival for you, unless you are only interested in seeing the bands in size 10 font.


Going somewhere is always fun. Coachella is always fun. It also has the benefit of being the first North American festival, keep in mind there’s also Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Sasquatch, some thing in San Fran and pretty much every major city that happens every summer, so while you are frantically messaging your friends trying to convince yourself you need to be in Indio, remember that there are other options and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t go. Which you should..probably. I don’t know, I’m not your father.

* I just made those up, didn’t bother looking for references, assumed it to be true. Real Journalism, yo.