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
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.