I find that my most favourite concerts ever generally have a side story to them. Usually this side story is exciting and involves a stroke of luck. For example, I mentioned before that I happened to be in LA for one night only and on that night The Decemberists were playing. This is why context can really make a moment amazing.
Calexico, 18/04/09 @ Coachella, Indio, California
I envy Americans. Their country has one of the most thriving and incredible arts scenes in the world. Great Australian films and musicians are never as plentiful as they are in the States. Americans have regular opportunities to see great musicians live and regularly. When American musicians tour the US, their concerts are frequent, cheap and intimate. When they tour Australia, their concerts are sporadic, huge and expensive. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to go to a few concerts in the States, including the Decemberists, but also I happened to be in New Orleans during one of the jazz festivals (I really do have amazing luck when it comes to concerts). However, this post is in relation to neither concerts mentioned above.
I was in Los Angeles (prior to the latest trip) during my epic 6 month Americas backpacking trip. I was there for about 4 days from what I can remember. I was reading a local music newspaper when I realised that Coachella was on! I read through the line-up for my last day in L.A., the 18th of April 2009, and a few bands caught my eye: Amy Winehouse (although I was promptly informed by hostel staff that she’d cancelled), Atmosphere, Mastodon, Henry Rollins, and whaaa?! My favourite band Calexico?! I couldn’t believe it. More luck for me! I promptly went downstairs to the hostel computer and booked my ticket for the following day.
I woke up early to catch a bus to the festival in Indio. From Indio I had no idea how to get to the festival, so me and a Dutch guy I just met paid a guy to take us there. It was an amazing place. Gloriously toasty hot, studded with palm trees, mountainous vistas and thriving with colourful concert-goers. It was an incredible scene. I entered and went for a wander. I looked around to see if I could find some Calexico merchandise to document my visit, but failed. I tried to get an over-21 wristband – apparently my passport was not a sufficient form of ID as it did not mention my height and eye colour. I told the nice man that my licence was stolen and even if it wasn’t, Australian licences don’t include this information, but he insisted that I was wrong and that he’d seen many Australian licences that included these details! In fact it was rather the argument, but after visiting several other wristband-givers, I won in the end. After all that effort I ended up having one beer in the shade as I forgot my sunscreen. I did buy a hat though.
I watched a bit of the set for Joss Stone, and then did a lot more walking around, trying to decide who I wanted to see for the day. I walked past a signing tent and got a glimpse of Slug from Atmosphere. Wasn’t able to see them perform though as they were playing too late and I had to get the bus home.
Eventually I made my way to the main attraction, Calexico, and found myself rather close to the stage. It was the perfect location to see Calexico live – in the hot California desert, surrounded by palm trees. It really epitomised the essence of their music style, which is very inspired by spaghetti westerns, alt-country and latin culture. They played mostly new songs as their set was rather short, however it really built up the excitement and expectation for their older classics. I still can’t believe the beautiful blue sky in these photos – it was 6.30pm when they were taken.
I had to leave the festival soon after to get the last bus back to L.A. I had such a great day, and given the chance, I’d love to go to another Coachella as I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the festival. An incredible day overall, only made better by the fact that on my sleepy bus ride home I got to call my future husband and wish him a happy birthday.