It hurts that I missed Hurts, the British duo you’d swear is the second coming of Tears for Fears. They got the bum time slot at 1 p.m. on Day 1 of the brilliant music festival that is Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Even if my plane landed on time in Ontario, the five-member family in the Avis line didn’t all have to sign paperwork at a glacial pace to be drivers, and if the boxes of Cheetos had not fallen off some truck on I-10 (seriously) and cause a traffic jam, I still would have missed them. But that was my only disappointment over the long weekend and my first lesson about what Coachella is all about. Chill out, and be cool. Stressed out New York mindset: Off.
After checking in to my casita, I collected my fabulous friends at the Hollywood hipster hangout Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and made our way to the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif. Amazing how well the event was organized and logistically smooth given that 75,000 people descend on the grounds from all directions. We got there in time to gorge on chili cheese fries and a delicious bacon-wrapped hot dog and catch our first act, Yacht, as the sun set, featuring front woman Claire Evans who looks and sounds like the love child of Annie Lennox and the chick in Roxette. I liked them immediately.
I earned the reputation of being somewhat “obsessed” with certain acts among my friends. This was underscored when Marina & the Diamonds time slot came about, as I dragged them to the front of the Gobi tent with me. Unfortunately, team Marina had some technical issues and got started 15 minutes late, sadly cutting into her set list. Still, she managed to pull it together and while it wasn’t Marina at her best, I’m still a huge fan. I’m even planning a Jersey Shore weekend to see her perform at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Seriously obsessed.
She opened with “Are You Satisfied?” “Girls” and “The Outsider.” Then moved into her more mainstream hits, “I Am Not a Robot,” “Obsessions” on the keys, and “Oh No.” She ended with my favorite Marina song, “Shampain,” “Hollywood,” in which she dawned her “obsessed with the mess that’s America” sequined twosie, and her standard closer, “Mowgli’s Road.” Love you, Marina. See you in New York and New Jersey in June. Btw, I have a crush on her guitar player. So hot.
Then came the main event, at least for me. Forget Kings of Leon, it is about Robyn, who delivered a perfect performance and a put a huge stake in the desert that she’s a force to be reckoned with. So much energy, so much attitude, so much confidence. And she did it so perfectly. Such a pro, and a class act. I’m still befuddled why she’s not the biggest pop star in the world. Hooky songs like “Hang With Me,” “Dancing on My Own” and “Indestructible” are pop music gold and people don’t embrace her here.
Though the thousands who packed the Mojave tent for the Robyn experience, they were not disappointed. Appearing in her standard uniform flower print and sporting severe bangs, she opened with “Fembot,” “Cobrastyle” from her 2008 album, and an awesome mash-up of “We Dance to the Beat” and “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do.” But it’s “Dancing on My Own” that most of the kids in the tent came to see. Insane how she moves, commands the stage and dances her ass off. I’m in love with Robyn. It was the fifth time I’m seen her in the last year, and it was by far her strongest performance. The woman knows a break-through opportunity when she sees one. She closed her set with “Hang With Me.” Yep, I will, R. And that was just Day 1.