New Order "Waiting For The Sirens' Call"
to Be Released April 12, 2005;
Band Set to Perform at Coachella Valley Music Fest 2005

Review of
2003 Coachella Valley Music Festival

April 26-27, 2003. Indio, CA

By David Krell

Traveling through the most desolate highway and sunny region that our world has to offer might make Indio, CA worthy of enough attention, but on the weekend of the most anticipated music festival of the year, the sun was just an added amenity.

The 4th annual Coachella Valley Music Festival, despite its past financial losses, continued its assault on creating all of our dreams into one weekend; a freak show, a robotics display, and a man walking around with a fish tank as a head, a lounge tent, a Playstation 2 trailer, people walking around on stilts and in themed outfits, an independent movie tent, a mini Virgin mega-store, a beer garden, and every type of food one could ask for.

The smell of burritos and peanut-tossed tofu cradled each stage as if to whisk away our $8 without our approval, $3 water signs appeared at every turn, and overly mischievous fans were found throughout the venue, but once again, the music reigned supreme.

On Saturday, Particle used their techno/jam funk to win over early visitors, while The Mooney Suzuki proved to be too compact and predictable in their simplified version of "The Strokes" to gain any kind of approval on the main stage.

Once it hit mid-afternoon, the Donnas demonstrated how close they are to sounding exactly like the Go-Go's. When asked about their performance, Donna's lead singer Brett Anderson told of her disapproval towards their afternoon timeslot.

"You can tell that everyone was waiting for the sun to go down," said Anderson.
That didn't stop bands, such as "The Hives," from attacking the afternoon sun into submission.

From their most recent album, "Veni Vedi Vicious," came the most energy filled display of raw-punk since the Sex Pistols back in the late 70's. Lead singer, Pelle Almqvist, went from a curious child backstage to the epitome of a worthy frontman onstage.

"How many of you came here today to see the Hives?" asked an inquisitive Almqvust.
By the end of their 45-minute set, we all pretended that we were there to see the Hives, if only for another 45 seconds.

Badly Drawn Boy bored us with a typical rendition of already typical solemn ballads, while The Rapture overcame a singer who can't sing by pulling enough bass strings to confuse even Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In the Sahara Tent, which was one of 5 tents at the Coachella Valley Music Festival, artists such as Christopher Lawrence and Felix Da Housecat created a microcosm within a microcosm, and gave viewers no reason to ever leave. Between the psychedelic imagery scrolled all over the tent walls to the huge computer screen behind each artist, there was enough eye candy to keep even the most rascally rabbit from stealing someone else's carrots.

If you weren't in the mood for a sober trip into a psychedelic world you never asked to be a part of, the main stage had consistent radio-friendly acts.

Blur, who have a new album coming out at the beginning of May, took the stage on Saturday around sunset. Their hypnotic showcase included many songs from their new album, as well as past gems such as, "Girls and Boys" and "Song 2." The crowd, who seemed more eager to hear something they recognized, was not very appreciative of Blur's attempt to bring the world's music to southern California, and thus, stood waiting for the next attempt at rock solidarity.

That attempt came in the form of the "Queens of the Stone Age."

Catchy modern rock hooks with remnants of heavy metal interweaving throughout each song, kept listeners attuned to the "Queens" true purpose at Coachella, which was to literally knock people on the ground.

The Beastie Boys ended Saturday with a set that anyone could have predicted. The "Boys" criss-crossed the stage like they do every night, and allowed mix-master Mike to take over quite often. Unfortunately, even mix-master Mike couldn't save the Beastie Boys poorly choreographed routine.

Sunday was sun day. And who better to start out the day's worthwhile festivities than the Polyphonic Spree? 23 members, who are all dressed in white robes, cast about on stage performing songs that border between the Flaming Lips and a religious cult trying to attract followers.

Mars Volta came onstage at around 4:00 in the afternoon and began playing music that at times seemed jazzy, other times hard rock, and at some moments quiet and beautiful. Don't buy the CD just yet. They've got some editing to do.

Sonic Youth dazzled everyone with their inability to form a cohesive composition, and thus, remained as offbeat as ever.

Jack Johnson brought his surfer motives and an acoustic guitar to an eagerly awaiting crowd. It was the only time during the entire weekend that sitting down was encouraged, and done happily.

The White Stripes tried to represent their status as indie-rock kings, but failed due to their overwhelming hype and lackluster performance. Of course we all stopped to listen to their hits, and yes, "Seven Nation Army" is the catchiest song written since the Strokes last single. And for about 2 songs it was interesting to see brother and sister, husband and wife, or whoever these two mysterious red and white dressed people are, try to play as a band when they're simply two musicians who are in dire need of a third hand. But there was no reason to sit through a full set.

Iggy and the Stooges, who have not played together since 1974, were well respected both onstage and off. And so out of respect, I stayed a lot longer than I wanted to.

Despite many overrated bands leading the Coachella lineup this weekend, many unknown bands provided fans with more of a reason for spending $140 per ticket.

Dirty Vegas and Groove Armada proved that techno music with a live band is always better than just a DJ, while Fischerspooner made it nearly impossible to look at anything besides their stage show.

Ben Folds and Ben Kweller provided some much needed innocence to a very serious weekend. And the Blue Man Group brought their award-winning show to Coachella's outdoor theater for both Saturday and Sunday night.

As the Red Hot Chili Peppers recreated each and every single off of their last two albums to a "T," the crowd sang along with each and every word that came out of lead singer Anthony Keidis' mouth. Not necessarily out of enjoyment, but for the same reason that you sing along to a song on the only radio station that's playing a decent song. Call it respect for your elders.

By the end of the weekend, our "elders" did not represent the reason for our great time at the Coachella Valley Music Festival. Instead, up and coming bands such as the Polyphonic Spree, the Hives, and Fischerspooner showed us who we should be listening to in the future.

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Empire Polo Field
Indio, CA

4/29/2005 through Sunday 5/1/2005

Tickets for festival, tent camping available from

75 Great Hikes: In and Near Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley