Friday, April 29, 2011

BLOOD PRESSURES - The Kills (2011)

Here we go, starting off 2011 with a bang.

Breaking out in the early aughts near the same time as two other celebrated blues-rock duos, The White Stripes and The Black Keys, The Kills, with their seedy posturing and more contemporary punk-flavored aesthetic, have always been the most intriguing of these acts conceptually, but the least interesting in actuality.

Most of this is a simple reflection of core talent.

The band has always been solid,  but as songwriters they've never been a match for Jack White's clever humor or prolific and at times boundless compositional imagination, and Meg White excluded, they pale next to both acts when it comes to sheer instrumental virtuosity.

But that hardly means The Kills have thrown in the towel.

Following two intermittently inspired but monolithic first releases (03's Keep On Your Mean Side and 05's No Wow), the band started to stretch with 08's Midnight Boom...accelerating the pace, shifting more purely toward punk and a touch of pop, even working in a few ballads.  To many listeners, it was the band's most successful outing, but beyond the dynamite 1-2 opening punch of U.R.A. Fever and Cheap and Cheerful, and the moving Black Balloon, it was my least favorite.  I just didn't feel the rest of the material was up to snuff despite the greater diversity.

Enter 2011's Blood Pressures, which finds the band expanding its range even farther, but this time swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, away from punk and towards a slower, bluesier, classic rock sound.  As with Midnight Boom, early reviews have been mixed, but this time I am solidly in The Kills' corner.

This is the best album of their career.

In slowing the tempo, they've managed to make Alison Mosshart's edgy PJ Harvey-styled vocals and their always gritty, fuzzed-out sound feel even edgier and grittier

In expanding their textural and melodic pallet and sequencing their songs well, they've produced their first record that genuinely works as a front-to-back listen, as opposed to merely existing as a full-length suppository for two or three great tracks.

Take the brief, Lennon-esque Wild Charms, guitarist Jamie Hince's first lead vocal for the band.  The song's a tiny throwaway, but its placement is perfect, giving us a short respite before album centerpiece DNA's hard charge.

And what a hard charge the first half of this record makes.

Starting with the killer off-kilter riff to Future Starts Slow, the album's opening tracks move like gangbusters despite the slower tempos, incorporating a choir, Hince's backing vocals, and all manner of exciting, subtle textural flourishes.

After the mesmerizing DNA (to date, my favorite track of 2011), the back half of Blood Pressures drops off some, but still contains a few strong tracks, making the album a fully engaging listen to the very end.

So for fans of classic-flavored rock of the riff-driven variety,  I feel this is a near must get, missing out on a strong recommend by the slimmest of margins.

Status: Solid Recommend.

Cherry Picker's Best Bets: Future Starts Slow, Nail In My Coffin, DNA, The Last Goodbye.

Here's a live performance of Future Starts Slow from last week's Coachella 2011 Festival.

Component Breakdown:
1. Future Starts Slow - 9
2. Satellite - 8
3. Heart Is A Beating Drum - 8
4. Nail In My Coffin - 8
5. Wild Charms - 7
6. DNA - 10
7. Baby Says - 7
8. The Last Goodbye - 8
9. Damned If She Do - 7
10. You Don't Own The Road - 8
11. Pots And Pans - 7
Intangibles - High

What are your thoughts on The Kills's Blood Pressures? Let readers know with a comment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coachella 2011 - Sunday Day Three Review

Sunday was probably the weakest day of Coachella 2011, bogged down by a lackluster three hour scheduling block in the late afternoon.  But boosted by a fantastic opening three hours and a memorable evening set from PJ Harvey, this closing day still delivered an abundance of great live music.

Here's how I'd rank the Sunday offerings I was lucky enough to see.


1. PJ Harvey - 9:45 - 10:35 The Outdoor Theater: Just a fantastic near the end of the festival set.

The exhausted crowds had begun to thin, and a cold wind had kicked up something fierce by the time PJ took the stage, but the chilly vibe proved a perfect match for this quietly mesmerizing show.  Stepping out clutching an autoharp, and adorned in a white gown with large feathers woven into her hair, PJ was a perfect visualization of one of latest release Let England Shake's dominant themes - a people's eternal marriage to their native lands.  The rest of the band, dressed in British regalia, re-enforced that album's other dominant theme, war, straight down to the bloody severed hands attached to the drummer's sticks.

Starting with Let England Shake and The Words That Maketh Murder, PJ proceeded calmly through seven of England's tracks and four others, most of the rest culled from mid-90s release To Bring You My Love (C'mon, Billy, To Bring You My Love, Meet Ze Monsta).  Hardly moving save to change instruments, she was nonetheless a commanding stage presence from start to finish, and the new songs couldn't have sounded or flowed from one to the next better.

Here's an excellent fan captured double hit of The Words That Maketh Murder and C'mon Billy.


2. Delorean - 2:00 -2:45 The Gobi Tent: I knew next to nothing about this contemporary House/Electronica act out of Spain going into this set, other than that their debut album, Subiza, had just squeaked in on the backside of Pitchfork's Top 50 in 2010 list.  Since then, I've given the album several spins,'s just okay.  But on this day, passing through for the opening twenty minutes, something about their swirling, soaring sound really took hold.  Maybe it was their drummer, who outside of the drummer for Foals, was the best I saw all weekend.  Whatever it was, I loved the intoxicating mix of processed vocals and samples combined with live rhythm section these guys were laying down in this early afternoon set.

Here's Grow.

3. High Contrast - 5:00 - 6:00 The Oasis Dome: For 2011, Coachella added a six stage, a tiny dome sponsored by Pure Filth, just for niche DJ and drums & bass acts.  I spent very little time there, but based on another recommendation from my assistant editor/up-and-coming DJ Kenneth, I decided to give this Scandinavian artist who works almost exclusively with his own proprietary samples a try.  What a lucky break for me.  Aided by a measured, savvy hype man who knew just when to interject and when to take a break and let the music speak for itself, High Contrast had the dance crowd totally revved up from the moment he kicked off his set.  Probably the best crowd response to any set I saw over the weekend save for Cut//Copy.  But it was the music that floored me most...really cool, really sophisticated with a lot of art rock flavors...almost as if Radiohead decided to make Kid A or In Rainbows as a dance album.  I don't go to a lot of DJ shows, so take my praise with a grain of salt, but this was my favorite DJ set ever.

Here's a brief video of the show's opening moments.

4. OFF! - 3:05 - 3:30 The Gobi Tent: Yep, you're reading that right...just twenty five minutes.  But when you are OFF!, the punk supergroup composed of grizzled L.A. veterans and fronted by former Black Flag/Circle Jerks lead singer Keith Morris, twenty-five minutes is all you need.  Playing almost all sixteen tracks from their debut full length First Four EPs, the set was one ferocious sixty second blast after another, with Morris providing far and away the best stage banter of the weekend in between.  Selling the band as really not that different from the gaggle of indie acts on the bill, "just a slightly different flavor," he broke into tears introducing one song, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, a heartfelt eulogy for the deceased punker, one of Morris's best friends, and was all class in another instance when one rowdy fan shouted out "Fuck Duran Duran!," to which Morris replied along the lines of "I have to respectfully disagree with you there, Duran Duran rules."  A very brief but highly charged, thoroughly engaging set.

Here's one of several fan videos on youtube that caught the Jeffrey Lee Pierce performance.  It's not the best visually, with the band lost in silhouette, but it's the only video that captured Keith's introduction to the song, which really conveys the vibe of the whole set.

5. Trentmoller - 7:10 - 8:00 The Mojave Tent:  Another band I knew next to nothing about going in, other than having caught the grandiose concert video the Coachella website was promoting the week before the lineup was announced.  Only had time for the opening fifteen minutes before heading over to indulge some personal childhood nostalgia with Duran Duran, but the portion I caught totally worked.  Delivering a instrumental post rock variation on Explosion In The Sky's soft/loud dynamic, but with more of a Euro Disco veneer, the band started out performing behind a maroon slash-ribbon screen, which descended near the end of the first song.  It was a thoroughly impressive show of musicianship and composition, full of shifts, builds and left-field instrumentation, and I wish had been able to stay for the complete set, which many ranked as the best of the festival.

Here's one of the number's that I missed.

6. Phosphorescent - 12:15 - 12:45 The Mojave Tent: It's sets like these that keep me foregoing sleep and coming back every day the moment the gates open.  Judging by lead singer Mathew Houck's bed head and torn black tank top, I had gotten up this morning far earlier than he when the band took the stage (if he had slept the night before at all), but in no way was early morning grog apparent in the act's delightful performance.  Spinning a brand of witty country rock that echoes strongly of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-era Gram Parsons fronted Byrds, with all the tunes coming from latest release Here's To Taking It Easy, this was as welcoming and easy going a set as the day produced.  Might have benefited from replacing one of the many ballads on the set list with something more uptempo like I Don't Care If There's Cursing...but why quibble.  The band's renditions of It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama), Nothing Was Stolen, and Mermaid Parade were beyond reproach.

Here's Mermaid Parade.

7. Twin Shadow - 1:10 - 1:55 The Mojave Tent: Wow, is this guy someone to watch. What a live performer. The press often refers to him as "the black Morrissey," but the dance rock artist he reminded me of most was Prince, and any artist that can remind anyone of live Prince has to be taken seriously.   I only had a few minutes for the start of his set before breaking off for another show (Menomena), but once again, as with The Tallest Man On Earth the day before, the Coachella god's smile down upon me as the band took the stage a full ten minutes early.   Managed to catch four songs before splitting, of which When We're Dancing was the definite highlight.  But again, watch out for this guy in the years to come, he is a serious live talent.

Here's a admittedly glitchy snippet of When We're Dancing.  The audio problems are with the recording, not the set.

8. Lightning Bolt - 7:50 - 8:35 The Gobi Tent:  There are few bands in existence more deserving of the disclaimer "NOT FOR EVERYONE" than this positively assaulting, racket-raising drums and base duo out of Providence, Rhode Island.  But what can seem ear trashing on record can often play vibrantly alive on stage, and that was definitely the case here.  Donning a "Leatherface" mask with his microphone jammed fully into his mouth underneath, drummer Brian Chippendale and his partner, bassist Brian Gibson put on one of the most horrifying, but also most electrifying, sets of the weekend. 

Here's an awesome fan captured video of the last song of their set.

9. Menomena - 1:20 - 2:00 The Outdoor Theatre: I'm a huge fan of this band and their hard-cutting, sample pastiche style...but what's invigorating on record can be challenging to pull off live...challenging, but not impossible.  Performing without recently departed founder Brent Knopf, the set consisted entirely of Justin Harris and Danny Seim compositions, and for the most part, it was the hard-charging Harris material...The Pelican, TAOS...that shined, though Seim's Dirty Cartoons was a definite highlight. Other numbers, while still solid, found the band struggling a touch to pull-off all the rapid fire instrumental changes and herky-jerky rhythms that hit so effortlessly on record, but the peaks of this show (especially TAOS) were as good as any all weekend.

Unfortunately, good fan videos of the best numbers of this set are in short supply, so here's Weird instead of one of those highlights.


10. Kanye West - 10:30 - Festival End - The Main Stage: Kanye West's headlining set was a mixed bag.  I missed opener Dark Fantasy, in which Kanye rode a crane onto the stage, while closing out PJ Harvey, but was able to get over soon after.  Dwarfed by a massive Roman Bas Relief background, Kanye engaged the audience with virtually no support.  Two sequencer DJs stood deep to the left, Justin Vernon stepped out to add backing vocals on a few tracks, and the toga'd dancers from the Power video made a couple of appearances.  That was it.  Otherwise it was just Kanye rapping to track.  Given how strong his recent recorded material has been, that was often enough.  Power brought the whole crowd to a frenzy, a two song interlude in the middle of the set honoring his mother had a lot of heartfelt punch, and Vernon's backing vocals at the end of Monster, a change-up substituted for Nicky Minaj's legendary rap on the recorded version of the song, were genuinely haunting.  But other portions of the set really suffered from the lack of live backing and West's limitations as an MC, particular a poorly executed greatest hits medley two-thirds of the way through the show.  Wish I could have stayed for the final few tracks, but with about four songs left, I hit my exhaustion wall and headed for the exit...which leads to a general point.  I was far from the only attendee bailing due to exhaustion...I think the approach the festival took on Friday night, closing the mainstage with a DJ, and having the headliner play the set before, should become the Sunday night standard.  Give your final headliner a chance to deliver the goods without the audience worrying about the drive home, and then let a great DJ act close things out for the die hards who want to see things through to the very end.

Here's the official video of the first half of his set.

11. Chromeo - 8:35 - 9:20 The Outdoor Theatre: I can't say I paid close attention to this set, but as I referenced in my favorite moments list in page one of this festival review, for a few minutes the schedule broke so they were the only band playing, you could hear them everywhere on the grounds, and it felt like every single person in attendance got caught up in the band's infectious brand of techno/disco cheese.

Here's a montage of moments from the show.

12. Good Old War - 11:30 - Noon The Outdoor Theatre: Simon & Garfunkel harmonies and acoustic pop reigned supreme during this young Pennsylvania act's delightful little opening set.  Vocals sounded great, and another of my favorite moments of the festival came at the close of this set, when lead singer Keith Goodwin brought out his music loving father to sing backup on the band's final number.

Here's a snippet of That's Some Dream.

13. Duran Duran - 7:25 - 8:25 The Main Stage: While not my favorite performance of the day, Duran Duran acquitted themselves quite well, rolling through an hour long set of most of their MTV hits and several songs from 2010s solid comeback effort All You Need Is Now, and no band seemed more genuinely honored or excited to be included on the festival bill.  The first two-thirds of the set was solid, not exceptional, but the band's tremendous enthusiasm help keep things moving, and then the show suddenly kicked into high gear with fantastic back-to-back performances of Girls On Film and a heartfelt multimedia tribute to recently deceased James Bond Composer John Berry, anchored around the song he co-wrote with the band, A View To A Kill.

Here's the Bond medley.

14. City And Colour - 3:35 - 4:25 The Outdoor Theatre: Following OFF!'s blistering set moments earlier, no show could have been more perfectly counter programmed than this mid-afternoon cooldown from Canadian alt-country act City And Colour.  The music, spare and primarily acoustic, was easy to take in, and lead singer Dallas Green's voice, a gorgeous Jeff/Tim Buckley-flavored instrument, sent a chill up my spine...easily one of the most striking voices on display the entire weekend.

Here's a fan-captured vid of Sleeping Sickness.

15. Jack's Mannequin - 2:30 - 3:20 The Main Stage: Though not too familiar with this veteran, LA-based bar band act's piano-anchored material, this show proved to be an agreeable and highly animated set.

Here's the song Racing Thoughts.

16. Ellie Goulding - 5:00 - 5:40 The Gobi Tent: The better of two young, mainstreamy female Brits on Sunday's bill with classic pop and soul leanings, Goulding displayed a greater stylistic range and a much stronger voice (think Adele/Florence) in what I caught of her set than peer Eliza Doolittle.

Here's Animal.

Here's Animal.

17. Eliza Doolittle - Noon - 12:40 The Gobi Tent: Okay, full confession here.  I was taken far more by the looks than the songs of this young, petite, very cute Amy Winehouse/Lily Allen wannabe, but after watching fifteen minutes of her set, felt at least a modicum of future success due to video exposure seems all but assured.

Here's her cover of Kanye West's Runaway.

18. The Strokes - 8:55 - 10:00 The Main Stage: Can't say I was huge fan of The Strokes set.  Julian Casablancas was clearly drunk, and while that actually was a net positive, leading to some funny stage banter and not affecting his performance much, I've always seen the band as a present day Cars...owners of some great material, but a band that does little more than deliver acceptable versions of their songs live.

Thus, this show was a real peak and valley affair, with the fate of each moment completely tied to the quality of each song...their best songs (Last Night, Take It Or Leave It, Machu Picu, and especially Two Kinds Of Happiness) played great, the rest of their material played flat.  So all and all, not a bad show, and the black and white lighting effect that was employed throughout was a cool touch, but I can't see myself ever feeling the need to see them live again.  For me, this will always be a band built for the stereo, not the stage.

Here's the last few songs of their set.


19. Best Coast - 6:05 - 6:55 The Outdoor Theatre: I was never a huge fan of their debut album, liking a couple of tracks but finding the rest of the band's sugary/summery surf-pop melodies somewhat unengaging, but I came away even less impressed with the band live. Their sound was poor, and their music is just so rote.  The most unappealingly amateurish show I've seen at Coachella since catching Vivian Girls two years prior.

Here's Boyfriend.

20. Death From Above 1979 - 6:10 - 7:00 The Main Stage: An hour of my life I'd like to have back. I'm actually a big fan of this reunited Canadian drum & bass duo's lone release, 2004's Your A Women, I'm A Machine, but live the limitations of Sebastien Grainger's voice, coupled with the band's monolithic sound, led to a set that wore out its welcome by the ten minute mark. Worst scheduling choice of the festival...Goldenvoice always likes to put a lively ass-kicker on the Main Stage in the 6:00 pm slot to amp up the evening arrivals, but The National, who had already played the Outdoor Theatre sunset slot in 2008, and who will go on to be judged a vastly superior band when all is said and done, should have either been given this slot or Duran Durans's, with DFA 1979 moved to The Mojave or the Outdoor Theatre.

Here's their opening number.

21. Angus And Julia Stone - 3:50 - 4:35 The Gobi Tent: After Miguel, this Delaney & Bonnie-styled brother and sister hippie folk act out of Australia may have been the lamest band I caught all weekend, and I love Delaney & it wasn't genre or influences that was turning me off here, but rather straight up quality.  Just a dud of a set from a couple of minor league talents.  There's a reason the All Music Guide hasn't bothered to write a review of their last three releases...surprised they were put on the bill at all, and even more surprised they were given a later time slot than way stronger acts like Phosphorescent, Menomena, and Twin Shadow...the Aussie contingent in the audience this day must have been huge.

Here's For You.


I also caught tiny portions of fun, MEN, CSS, Whiz Khalifia, Jack Beats, Jimmy Eat World, and Health during that weak 3:00 - 6:00 pm run, but none of these acts made enough of an impression, either positive or negative, to warrant comment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coachella 2011 Day 3 Live Updates Part 1

9:00 am - Uggh, These earlier start times for opening acts are killers!

1:00 pm - Loving these early sets. Good Old War excellent Simon & Garfunkel vibe and had totally endearing moment when one band member brought his Dad out to sing vocals for final song.

Eliza Doolittle trying to muscle the Amy Winehouse slot minus the substance issues. Felt American Idolizh but girl is drop dead gorgeous in Mila Kunis way. She'll probably end up being huge.

Phosphorescent looked like they rolled out of bed five minutes before set but were fantastic. The sound of Byrds Sweetheart Of The Rodeo given a contemporary lyrical spin!

3:30 - Delorean, Jack's Mannequin, hardcore punk outfit OFF higlights of last couple hours.

Menomena gave it a solid go, and destroyed on TAOS and Dirty Cartoons, but overall their very tricky recording style create difficulties in translation.

Only caught three songs of Twin Shadow but he's a very compelling presence live. Even though their sound was all over place, his song played stronger live.

Also caught some on MEN and Fun. Didn't care in slightest for either.

Coachella 2011 Day 2 Part 2

As I was trying to say, E=mc2 cool moment.

Animal Collective one of most bizarre sets I've ever seen. After getting sucked in by a wild light showing people were literally fleeing for their lives once band started working it's often inscrutable brand off experimental pop. I hated the opening twenty minutes, found rest of set interesting but look to see it called out as a huge fail in press other than at Pitchfork, which has it's identity too.tied to AC to give an honest review.

Arcade Fire lived up to it's headliner status. Maybe not as strong as Foals or Elbow overall, but damn close. Fine end to an excellent day. Even brought a gimmick I've never seen before, dropping hundreds of huge remote controled beach balls onto crowd late in set that the changed colors with rest of lighting design for rest of show.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Coachella Day 2 Live Updates

3:00 pm - amazing start to day. Just one great young indie act after another, playing their hearts out. DAy opener The Love Language with their Walkman like vibe best of day, but Freelance Whales and Thao with the Get Down Stay Down also great, as is TAllest Man On Earth, whom I'm catching now.

5:00 pm - just keeps getting better today! Tallest Man wonderful in opening four tracks I caught, and the Foals - Holy shit can those boys play! Set of the weekend so far, an absolute Monster.

After that Radio Dept. Sounded sweet, though as navel-gazing live as one would expect given their music, and Delta Spirit just closed their set with rollicking renditions of Trashcan and Children. Grabbing a Beer a chilling to Erykah Badu then on to Glasser!

9:25 - things finally losing steam, but not before three other excellent sets. Glasser was a let down. Lead Singer Cameron Mesirow has a voice and arty vibe to justify comparisons to Florence, but not a fourth of her personality. Still very cool how the band routes 90 percent of it's sound through a midi pickup on guitar. Apply and Home, their debut's best two tracks were excellent, but overall a pretty one note show.

After that Both Broken Social Scene and Elbow both killed. Surprisingly, the tracks off BSS's maligned latest played best, though Shoreline off their '05 self- titled was fantastic as well. Band just exudes a great communal vibe live.

Elbow was eager to play material off their ballad heavy new release, but managed to turn them into epic anthems. Rest of setlist was fantastic and set closer One Day Like This probably my favorite single song of fest so far.

Caughts just a smidge of Bright Eyes, not enough to comment, but Kills have definitely up their game from their already solid '09 set.

Wire sounded solid, but band was exuding the excitement of a band there to collect a paycheck rather than a band with a new album to promote.

BAD up no so far and have been hit and miss. Great opener, and E=mc2 playing as I Type

Friday, April 15, 2011


Hey Everyone,

Not sure this is going to work, but going to try to update this page from my iphone over the weekend with brief comments on various sets.  It's 5:45 am...quick shower, make breakfast for the kiddos, then hitting the road.  Should be in Indio by 10-10:30.  Will see what kind of delays enhanced road security has caused when I get there.  Hopefully not so bad that I miss Miguel at noon.

Not nearly as good a start as last year. Miguel cheese ball mix of Usher / Journey.

Tokimonster strong, as was Rural Alberta Advantage. Hurts kinda flat. But Japans New Pant surprise great set of early afternoon! Black Joe ripping now!

5:50 pm - Black Joe Lewis set of day 1 so far by a mile. Titus andronicus and Warpaint also really strong. Cee Lo came out 25 minutes late playing the Diva, but the man won in the end pulling power on him after just 4-5 songs ( good ones though... Bright lights, crazy, F--- You!). Cee Lo not a happy Camper. Tame Impala up next.

1:00 AM Saturday - Friday Evening collection of huge hits and almost misses round out Friday into a solid but hardly most memorable day in event's history.

On positive side Cut Copy and Robyn killed. Haven't seen a crowd as balls-out into as as Cut Copy since Beirut in '09. Just overall great set list, good sound, great energy. Robyn got most of her weaker more techno tracks out of the way early, closing with a rush of some of her best earnest, ridiculouly hooky popsongs. I think Indestructible, Be Mine, Hang With Me, And With Every Heartbeat too close.

Of other evening acts, Tame Impala did a great job translating their very tricky songs live , and their closing track, a new song, was Awesome, buy overal set was a little sleepy and their live drummer not nearly as string as that on their debut album.

Crystal Castles not nearly as bad live as anticipated, but not great either. Definitely and album artist.

Chemical Brothers were decent, with some very interesting coordinated lights/video to go with show, but didn't really pull me in.

Like Cee Lo, Lauren Hill went on way late, but handled her reduced time much better, and was surprisingly excellent.

Interpol and Kings Of Leon were straight-up bores.

Think biggest theme of Day 1 is Goldenvoice got control back of the crowds, now if they can just get control of the artists. More late starts and meltdowns (Ariel Pink supposedly really lost it) than I've ever experienced in a single day before. Now on to day two!

Keep checking back!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

McQ's Down And Dirty Coachella 2011 Preview

Hey Rock 'n' Roll Fans,

With set times arriving late Tuesday night, we can now finally get down to business making some serious Coachella recommendations. 

I'll be scrambling to get this up over the next two days and posting partials as I go, but before getting to the lineup, my ten commandments on how to best experience the festival.

1) WATER, LOTION, HATS, CHAPSTICK, EARPLUGS - Coachella is hot, hot, hot and loud, loud, loud.  This weekend's forecast is clear skies on all three days with temps in the mid-to-high 90s.  Coachella is a gouge when it comes to it's better-than-you'd-expect food, but they are relatively class acts when it comes to water, charging only two dollars a bottle and making it available everywhere.  Keep a water with you at all times during the day and stay hydrated.  Equally important is to protect your skin.  A lot of the best daytime action this year, especially Friday, is on the outdoor're going to want to make sure you are well lotioned and I strongly encourage regular applications of lip balm and the wearing of hats...your hair will look like shit by the end of the day, but it's worth the sacrifice.  Finally, one of the best aspects of Coachella is how close you will get to the stage for some of the shows...but that all puts you just feet away from the speakers of some very powerful sound systems.  Be sure to have a couple of sets of earplugs readily some point you are going to need them.

2) REST THOSE WEARY DOGS  - There is no adequate description for how destroyed your feet are going to be by the end of day three (and with PJ Harvey, Kanye West, and the Preset closing out the fest Sunday, I don't see many leaving early). So be smart, whenever you're catching a mellower act in an uncrowded set...sit and chill.  If there's a chunk of schedule where you're just not that interested in any of the acts...find a shady spot and take a quick nap.  Basically, Coachella is a marathon.  Pace yourself.

3) CASUALLY LATE ISN'T COOL, IT'S BALLS-OUT STUPID. I say this every year to friends I know who are going for the first time, and every year one or two of them doesn't listen, and every year they get tragically burned, so know this...the longer you wait in the day to arrive at Coachella, the longer it takes to get in, especially Friday.  If you're coming from L.A. and leave at 9 am, you'll probably be on the grounds by noon.  Leave at noon, you may not get in until 4 or 5 pm, leave from LA after 2pm, you run the risk of only catching one or two closing acts.  With added Security around the perimeter and cars being checked for wrist bands a mile away from the grounds, my guess is the initial delays will be even worse.  Besides, this year more than ever, the early hours are loaded with some of the best acts of the entire festival...Black Joe Lewis, !!!, and Titus Andronicus are all on before 3:30 Friday, The Joy Formidable, Freelance Whales, Tallest Man On Earth and Foals are all early Saturday, and then Phosphorescent, Twin Shadow, Menomena, Delorean and OFF! Sunday.  So don't be a chump, go for the whole day, everyday.

4) LESS IS USUALLY MORE. Coachella involves a number of staggered overlapping sets, which creates the possibility of seeing up to maybe 70% of the acts on the bill if you just want to run around and catch 2-4 songs from each act...but while their are times during the day when I like stage surfing, I don't recommend it as a consistent approach.  Over the last three years I found most of my fondest memories come from complete sets, so my suggestion is this...know who your must sees are and try to commit to them in full. Save the partial sets for your lower priority acts.  If you've got two heavy hitters that are square up against each other with little overlap, as I do with The National and Duran Duran on Sunday night...bite the bullet and just go with one.  There's no worse feeling at Coachella than trying to split sets between two favorite acts, leaving the first early, only to find you can't get a good vantage point for the second.  If you do want to split between heavy hitters...I strongly recommend starting with acts in the's much easier to walk in late on the outdoor stages than it is in the Gobi, Mojave, and Sahara (though supposedly they've enlarged all three this year).

5) KNOW WHO THE HOT TENT ACTS ARE. Having a sense of which buzz acts are going to draw a big crowd can be a life saver, especially in the tents after 3pm, which do occasionally fill past capacity.  I can't speak to the DJ acts, as I don't track them...but the tent acts I'd consider showing up early for this year are Cut Copy and Robyn in the Mojave Friday, Glasser and Yelle in the Gobi and Foals, Elbow, The London Suede and Scissor Sisters in the Mojave Saturday, and Lightning Bolt in Gobi, and Trentemoller, Ratatat, Leftfield, and The Presets in the Mojave Sunday.

7) LOT 16, LOT 16, LOT 16 - For those without preferred VIP parking or camping permits, I cannot overstate how superior Lot 16 on the far south east corner of 52nd and Monroe is compared to the other lots in terms of ease of exit at the end of the night. Try to avoid lots 4 and 7 at all costs. 

9) DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE - Generally, CoachellaCoachella's

10) ENJOY - Coachella, except for last year's fiasco, is the best run, best organized, best designed festival I've ever experienced.  Cherish every moment, take in the cool artwork, make some new friends, and have a spectacular time.  It's a truly special event.

Okay, now that that's done, the good stuff...the lineup. 

I'm not going to call out every act, but instead break the day down into chunks to highlight my personal favs and the most difficult conflicts.  For those with a DJ lean, know that I gravitate heavily towards the live band experience...if you're looking for the best Sahara or Oasis Dome recs, other sites are probably a better source.  For those with more of an rock and indie lean, you've come to the right place.


This year's Friday line-up is insane.  There's no one band this day that screams have to see like a few of the acts on Saturday and Sunday, but it is without question the densest overall day in the lineup.  Brutal conflicts abound...but here's how I'd tackle it.

11:30 - 1:55 - For those that arrive for the very start of the day, I have no strong preferences in this window.  My night assistant editor is an up-and-coming DJ in LA, hip to all the Sahara/Oasis Dome acts, and he swears by Tokimonsta who's playing 12:30 - 1:30 in the Sahara, and also 2:00 - 3:00 in the Oasis Dome on Sunday.  She's up against much stronger acts Sunday, so if your so inclined, I'd definitely try to catch her here today so you can grab Delorean, Men, Fun, or Jack Mannequin without reservation Sunday.  As for the other acts in this time span, I'm most interested in Latin Soul singer Miquel 12:00 - 12:30 in the Mojave and roots rockers the Rural Alberta Advantage 1:15 - 1:55 on the Outdoor Theater, but again, none of these acts are must sees in my book.

1:55 - 3:10 - Black Joe Lewis/!!! Split Sets - Only one way to play this chunk of time in my opinion...Get to Mojave for very start of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears at 1:55 and sometime between 2:10 - 2:40 leave for !!! on the Outdoor, whose set runs from 2:20 - 3:10.  Black Joe Lewis is another relatively young soul revival band, but unlike Sharon Jones, Mayer Hawthorne, and many others that have come to the fore recently, the Honeybears aren't totally beholden to past soul tradition, and incorporate tons of straight rock 'n' roll elements into their sound.  I guarantee you this set will be a blast, and can say the exact same for !!! (who have a stellar live rep) and their dance-rock by way of the Clash sound.  This stretch here is possiblely the most impressive 1-2 pre-3pm punch I've ever seen at Coachella.

3:30 - 4:15 - Titus Andronicus (Outdoor Theater) - Again, I feel only way to go in this time slot.  Ozamatli (3:35 - 4:25 Main Stage) is a fabulous live act, but Titus Andronicus is arriving on the heels of their amazing 2010 release The Monitor.  An uber-ambitious mix of Punk and Springsteen influences, played with stellar passion, it's songs scream to be seen live, and I think that's what any attendee with half a brain will be doing at this point, so expect your first massive crowd...and stay til the end, as it's highly likely they will close with 14 minute epic The Battle Of Hampton Roads, one of the very best songs of last year.

4:15 - 5:50 - The Overwhelming between Titus and Tame Impala Clusterfuck - Between these two sets, I feel every act stepping up on the Main Stage, Outdoor Theater, Gobi, and Mojave is well worth checking out...but you're probably best off cutting it down to two or three.  Of these acts, Ariel Pink (5:45 - 6:35 Gobi) probably has the best last album out of this group but the worst live rep. Cee Lo Green of "Fuck You" (4:50 - 5:40 Main Stage) should be tons of fun and I can't wait to see what silly costume he wears, but his band, all woman chosen first for being shorter than Cee Lo, second for chops, is notoriously mediocre, so I doubt a full set is warranted.  The Drums (4:10 - 4:55 Mojave) do short, catchy, early-Cure style singles, but with an endearing, sweet, dated lyrical innocence that reflects songs of the 50s and early 60s (think Surfer Girl/In My Room level innocence), and have a decent live rep, if not a particularly varied sound catalog. Again, a band I'd catch for part of a set, but not all.  The Morning Benders (4:30 - 5:20 Gobi)  have a Shin's/Surfy vibe and a couple really nice songs but overall don't blow me away.  I'm not a big fan of female art-rock collective Warpaint's (4:40 - 5:25 Outdoor) moody new album The Fool at all aside from the song Undertow, but their live rep is phenomenal, so if you do some research before Friday and they agree with you, they may be the band to focus on in this time slot.  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (5:20 - 6:05) are a really upbeat, jangly C86 shoegaze act.  I love some of their songs, but again, another band where after hearing 3-4 of their tracks I'd probably want to move on.  And then there's Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All, rap's hottest new act, over at the Sahara from 4:30 - 5:25.  I'm intrigued, but know that they recently walked out two songs into a recent South By Southwest show.  It's my intent to really stage surf this time period, probably skipping Ariel who I caught a bit of two years ago, and Odd Future, since death rap songs glorifying rape aren't really my cup of tea no matter how good the beats, but trying to catch a taste of all the others.

5:50 - 6:35 - Tame Impala on the Outdoor - Another no-brainer for me, especially given how mediocre reviews of Lauren Hill's recent comeback shows have been.   This young Australian act is possibly the only legitimate old school psychedelic jam band in the 2011 lineup, and has just an unbelievable core sound utilizing over a dozen guitar distortion pedals.  Their songs aren't always great themselves, but the band is such a force sonically, it's hard to imagine this set being anything other than dazzling.

6:35 - 7:25- Take A Break.  I'm going to catch the end of Lauryn Hill (6:05 - 6:55 Main Stage), but after that I'm just not big on any of the acts playing this hour, which includes generic dance rock act Yacht (6:25 - 7:10 Mojave), the very mainstream Cold War Kids (7:00 - 7:50 Outdoor), and lead singer Kele of Bloc Party (7:00 - 7:50 Gobi), another band I've never much cared for.  This might be a good time to check out the Sahara or Oasis Dome.

7:25 - 8:15 Interpol or Sleigh Bells -  I've already seen Sleigh Bells (7:30 - 8:10 Mojave), so I'm going Interpol (7:25 - 8:15), for which the Creator's Project has designed a special light show, but for those that have never caught either act, I'd go Sleigh Bells.  Interpol to me is a once solid band that's best days are clearly behind it, where as Sleigh Bells are just coming off their first classic, the highly original mix of noise and girl group pop that is Treats. It should also be a far livelier show than Interpol.  But if you do go Sleigh Bells, be sure to bring your earplugs.  They are loud, loud, loud.

8:35 - 9:30 The Black Keys or Cut Copy - My vote for the most brutal either/or conflict of the night.  Both bands have put out great recent albums and have super live reps.  Can't go wrong with either.  If you're determined to split, definitely start with Australian Dance act Cut Copy (8:35 - 9:25 Mojave) they are certain to fill the Mojave to capacity, and then catch back half of American blue revivalists The Black Keys (8:40 - 9:30 Main Stage) . Should also note that very popular DJ acts, Magnetic Man and Beardyman are playing in Sahara and Oasis Dome at same time, and would both be worthy of seeing if not scheduled against these two top draws. I've seen the Keys before, so I'm going with Cut Copy, but I'm going to hate it the next day when I hear how the Keys slayed Ten Cent Pistol with their new full band lineup. 

9:30 - 10:20 Crystal Castles - An easy choice for other band out there packages pure electronica into vintage tasty singles like this Canadian act.  They don't have a particularly good live reputation (lead vocalist Alice Glass's singing can be quite shrill and grating), but I have yet to see them and they have been so good on their last two records, I've got to give them a shot.

10:20 - 10:45 - Catch a bit of Kings Of Leon (9:55 - 11:15 Mainstage) if you want to rock or Sasha (10:15 - 11:30 Sahara) if you want to dance, then leave early to get a decent spot for the World's Greatest Madonnabe.

10:50 - 11:40 Robyn - So psyched for this set, even though am Madonnaesque dance pop isn't normally my sweet spot...but Robyn makes it my sweet spot, because over the last ten years, including her three Body Talk releases of 2010, she's been making it my sweet spot with her insanely catchy melodies.  A supposed spitfire force-of-nature live, this should be a blast, but as with Cut Copy, get here a good five/ten minutes before the start of the set or you might get squeezed out altogether.

11:40 - End The Chemical Brothers/Flogging Molly/Scala & The Kolacny Bros/Gayngs/Boyz Noize Megaconflict - pick your poison here and don't look back on the harshest last hour conflict batch of the entire weekend.  Not as rough for me, I'm going Chemical Bros and then checking out the Justin Vernon lead soul act Gayngs if I get antsy, but you are not going to go wrong with any of these acts here.  Flogging is an Irish Punk act, Chemical Bros and Boyz Noize both DJ acts, though Chems playing on Main Stage this nigh with a full band.  Scala & The Kolacny Bros is a bit of a novelty, the female choir that sung that cool version of Radiohead's Creep for THE SOCIAL NETWORK trailer.


After Friday's epic dance-athon, Saturday looks to be much more of a rock n' roll day.

All but one or tow of my top recs for today...Elbow, Foals, The Tallest Man On Earth, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Big Audio Dynamite, Wire, Broken Social Scene, Phosphorescent, Delta Spirit, The New Pornographers, Glasser and The Kills...have their sensibilities firmly rooted in some form of classic rock foundation no matter how cutting-edge contemporary they may be.  Saturday doesn't have the density of top tier acts as Friday does, and it doesn't have the knock-out close that Sunday's final acts portend...but I personally feel it's the strongest lineup overall, and aside from two very painful conflict blocks at 3:00 pm and then from 6:00 - 8:00 pm, the schedule breaks quite favorably.

So here's my recs on what to see on day 2.

11:30 - 12:55 - Whatever Floats Your Boat - Again, I've got no stake in any of these early acts. I'll probably go with EE (11:50 - 12:25 Gobi) and The Love Language (12:00 - 12:30 Outdoor).

12:55 - 1:45 Split Sets for The Joy Formidable and The Henry Clay People - The Joy Formidable, and epic rocking, female fronted trio out of Wales with a Keith Moon caliber drummer starts and ends 10 minutes earlier in the Gobi, I'd definitely begin with them, but be sure to catch at least a portion of Henry Clay (1:05 - 1:45 Mojave), a very likable young garage act.

2:10 - 2:50 Freelance Whales in the Mojave - This very unique rootsy/indiesque act incorporates all manner of highly unusual instrumentation into their songs.  Be sure to catch at least a portion of their set, it's bound to be one of the most original you see all weekend.

3:00 - 4:05 The Weekend's Number One Worst Conflict: The Tallest Man On Earth or The Foals - This conflict breaks my heart like no other.  From a scheduling standpoint it makes sense...they are tremendously different acts...but I've also got them listed as #2 and #3 on my overall must see list for the day.  And unfortunately, I think the crowd for Foals is going to be past capacity, meaning if you want to see them, you'll need to get there a good five-ten minutes before start.  I'm going with Foals, their staccato harmonic dominated Radioheadish second album Total Life Forever was one of 2010's very best and portends to an amazing live translation given it's captivating sonics and anthemic nature, but Tallest Man, with his gorgeous, simple, acoustic Dylan-styled songs, is one of the best songwriters working today.   If Friday suggests that Goldenvoice has indeed addressed the gatecrashing that plagued 2010 and gotten crowd sizes under control, then I'll take a chance and catch the opening 10 minutes of Tallest Man on Earth's set and pray for Burden Of Tomorrow, but if crowds do indeed prove to be as much of an issue as last year, then people are going to want to get straight to the Mojave before the start of Foals set.

4:05 - 5:10 Stage surf between The Radio Dept./Delta Spirit/Erykah Badu - Three very different but equally interesting acts of note during this hour.  The Radio Dept. (4:05 - 4:50 Gobi) out of Sweden is another chimey, soothing shoegaze act very much in the vein of The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart, though a little less uptempo.  They've got a great sound and a few fantastic song, but such a samey feel I wouldn't give them a full set.  Delta Spirit (4:05 -4:55 Outdoor) is a rollicking indie/roots rock act very similar in sensibility to Deer Tick (with whom they collaborate), though a touch more indie, a touch less rootsy.  They too have a solid overall sound and a few knockout tracks (Trashcan, Children, Streetwalker), but again, not sure you want to give them a full set.  Then you'll have time to check out contemporary soul great Erykah Badu, assuming she doesn't pull a diva act like she did at last year's Lollopalooza and come out half an hour late ready to get combative with the crowd.  Assuming she's on her best behavior you can either ride her set out to the end, or leave early as I intend to for...

5:15 - 6:00 Glasser in the Gobi - For those looking for this year's Florence and the Machine-styled breakout, this is the place, right here.  Fronted by monster-voiced Los Angelo Cameron Mesirow, Glasser dabbles in exactly the same kind of epic, emotive, moody art-rock that's made Florence and Bat For Lashes such popular names in recent years, and tends to play wonderfully in festival settings such as these.  If you're going to go to this set, you'll want to be sure to get there for the opening number, which is almost certainly going to be Apply...a track which has the potential to be one the most memorable single song performances of the entire weekend.

6:05 - 8:10 What To Do With The Dreadful Broken Social Scene/New Pornographers/Elbow/Bright Eyes Overlap - This is a two hour conflict block that is bumming just about everyone out.  Starting out is the easy part, Broken Social Scene (6:05 -7:00 Main Stage) is one of the premiere live acts of the last decade, but does one then leave halfway through for The New Pornographers (6:35 - 7:25 Outdoor) bright, buoyant power pop, or full set BSS right into Gabriel-led Genesis clone Elbow (7:00 - 7:50 Mojave), and then catch the end of Bright Eyes (7:20 - 8:10 Mainstage).  Personally, I'm of the mindset to skip Bright Eyes altogether (their new album isn't very good), and favor BSS and Elbow, traditionally the two strongest live acts of the batch, but try to catching a song or two of New Pornographers along the way.  Elbow's the real wild card here.  One, if crowds are a problem, theirs is another set that could fill beyond capacity.  Second, they just dropped an new album this week, and while quite good, it consists almost entirely of ballads...meaning if the band is favoring this new material and the many truly stunning softer entries off 08's The Seldom Seen Kid, this could be a very moving but sleepy set.  So I think a game time decision is required here...If you're in the mood to chill around 6:50...definitely go with Elbow, they do gorgeous, nuanced art-rock ballads as well as anyone today, but if you want to adrenalize, go New Pornographers and Bright Eyes.

7:50 - 8:40 The Kills at the Outdoor - Originally, I wasn't going to recommend minimalist blues/punkers The Kills, I caught half off their '09 Coachella set (which was solid, not great), and also got my fill of Alison Mosshart last year with The Dead Weather.  But two things happened.  First, the schedule opened up for them like the Red Sea...they are the best thing going in this time frame by a mile, and two, I love their just released new album Blood's gotten somewhat mixed reviews, but I think it's their best album yet.  Much like The Black Keys with Brothers, they really developed a feel for greater textural complexity this time out, and I'm just excited to hear the new material live.

8:40 - 9:45 Honor Your 80s Forebears by splitting time between Wire and Big Audio Dynamite - This is the way I'm planning on going for this hour, starting with Wire (8:40 - 9:30 Gobi) but probably ditching at 9:00 sharp to catch the first forty minutes of Clash Founder BAD (9:05 - 10:00 Outdoor).  But I do want to note that two other fine bands I've already seen multiple times are playing in this time slot.  For folk with an energetic, populist, mainstream feel, you've got Mumford & Sons (8:30 - 9:20 Main Stage), and over in the Mojave you've got the entertaining, Van Morrison-ish, Oscar winning The Swell Season, fronted by the motor-mouthed, hysterical, hyperactive, genuinely spontaneous Glen Hansard...stage banter/crowd interaction is rarely as much fun as it is with this band.  If you haven't seen them, and your not a huge BAD or Animal Collective fan, then I strongly encourage going with The Swell Season, every show of theirs is an entirely different experience.

9:45 - 10:55 - Animal Collective On The Mainstage - Like Interpol the night before, Animal Collective will be working with The Creator's Project on a unique light show for this set, but unlike Interpol, Animal Collective's bizarre cutting-edge psychedelic pop seems a natural fit for such a collaboration.  This could be the head-trip set of the entire festival, and in my opinion, even though I'm not the biggest fan of their music, one of the weekend's absolute "I don't care who they are up against" must see sets.

11:00 - 11:30 - Catch the end of either Empire Of The Sun or The London Suede - not a huge fan of either act, but both are worth checking out, and Empire of the Sun (10:25 - 11:20 Outdoor) has a reputation for really bringing live with costume changes and all many of additional gimmickry.

11:30 - End Arcade Fire -I loved The Suburbs, Arcade Fire's recent grammy winning album, but I'm not sure its subtler, flatter material is going to translate live as well as that from the band's first two, more anthemic albums, so as popular as they are, and as great as they were last time I saw them live in 2007, I'm not sure this is going to be the knock-out show most are anticipating.  Still, when they hit it on numbers like Wake Up, Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion, or No Cars Go, they are a force to behold, so definitely the act to run with to close out the night.  If it's not working for you, I'd try either Daedalus (12:05 - End Gobi) or gay-camp oriented dance outfit Scissor Sisters (11:55 - End Mojave).


Sunday has a very weird flow to has a very strong rock opening with Phosphorescent, Twin Shadow, Menomena and OFF!, but then from 3:30 - 6:00 is as weak a 2 hour late afternoon lineup as I've ever seen.  Thankfully, some of the week's top draws in the Sahara and at the Oasis dome are up in this timeframe.  Sunday night is loaded, and has the potential to end up flat-out legendary if acts like DFA 1979, The National, Lightning Bolt, Trentemoller, Ratatat, Chromeo, The Strokes PJ Harvey, Leftfield, Kanye West and the Presets all bring their A-Game.

Here's how I'd attack Day 3.

11:30 - 12:15 Go With The Flow - I've got no strong leanings towards any act in this time range, though I anticipate I will  go with soft rockers Good Old War (Outdoor 11:30 - Noon) and a touch of the Amy Winehouse like Eliza Doolittle (12:00 - 12:40 Gobi) over the other options.

12:15 - 12:45  Phosphorescent at the Mojave - Huge recommend for this alt-country act, my favorite Americana/Roots act in the entire 2011 line-up (and yes, I'm factoring Bright Eyes and England's Mumford and Sons in that equation).  Basically a one man recording project, I'll be interested to see how many able bodies leader Matthew Houck brings in for assistance, but with his warm, early 70s country-rock vibe and clever lyrics, this is one early in the day set you definitely don't want to miss.

12:45 - 1:10 Riva Starr in the Sahara - Not a huge fan, but the best option in this time frame for sure.

1:10 - 2:00 Twin Shadow or Menomena - Another pick your poison and be happy about it conflict.  Twin Shadow (Mojave 1:10 - 1:55), the oft-called Black Morrissey, dabbles in a highly romanticized, synth-heavy brand of 80s flavored chillwave.  Menomena (1:20 - 2:00 Outdoor) is one of the better art-rock bands in the present indie landscape, with an electric, unpredictable cut and paste style, wonderfully idiosyncratic vocals, and a deep catalog of strong, slightly Peter Gabrielesque material to pull from, including cuts from 2010's excellent release Mines.  One of their key members, Brent Knopf,  recently left to pursue his solo side project Ramona Falls full time, which is why I think Goldenvoice gave Menomena this surprisingly early time slot.  But Menomena was and is very much a collective effort, and Knopf was the band's least engaging lead vocalist (though he will definitely be missed on tracks like Wet and Rusting and Killemall) so despite the recent lineup turmoil, I think the band will do just fine.  I plan on catching Twin Shadow's opening two songs, and then watching Menomena in full, but both sets are well worth checking out.

2:00 - 2:45 Delorean in the Gobi - This assumes you already caught Tokimonsta in the Sahara on Friday, if not, you may want to catch her at the Oasis dome (2:00 - 3:00), but otherwise, I feel this popular contemporary electronica act is the way to go.

3:00 - 3:30 OFF! - OFF! is Black Flag lead singer/Circle Jerks founder Keith Morris's new punk outfit. They crank out blazing traditional punk tracks that tend to clock in under a minute.  This is your best punk offering of the entire weekend...don't miss it, and be sure to get there for the start...if you're ten minutes late, this set may already be over.

3:35 - 4:35 Take Your pick of City And Colour, Wiz Khalifa, or Angus and Julia Stone - None of these acts thrill me, though Wiz (3:45 - 4:35 Main Stage) is huge comer on the rap scene...but all are worth giving a few minutes before heading over to the Sahara/Oasis Dome for one of the best DJ stretches of the festival.

4:35 - 4:55 Jack Beats at the Sahara - I'd go for the middle portion of this DJ acts hour and a half set.  They've got a hard-hitting crunchy vibe sometime reminiscent of early Prodigy.

5:00 - 5:30 High Contrast at the Oasis Dome - Without question, this will be the biggest draw of the weekend at the Oasis Dome, when glorified Welsh drums n' bass producer Lincoln Barrett makes a very rare stateside appearance.  Get to this set early.  I'm leaving halfway through to catch another top DJ.

5:30 - 6:00 Sven Vath in the Sahara - Known from the beginning of his trance-techno heydays in the 90s for his epic length sets, German DJ Sven Vath has been given an unheard of full two hours for his mid-day set.  I'm eager to check out his first half hour before moving on for Sunday evening's epic close.

6:10 - 7:00 Death From Above 1979 on the Main Stage - This time slot should have gone to the vastly superior National, but DFA 1979, with there hard-hitting mix of dance and metal, is the easy choice in this time slot.  If you're not up for heavy, the either surfy girl group duo Best Coast (6:05 - 6:55 Outdoor) or the Joseph Arthur, Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison folksy acoustic supergroup Fistful Of Mercy (5:55 - 6:45 Mojave) are both decent alternatives.

7:10 - 7:20 Trentemoller in the Mojave - I know nothing about this French act, but their video which was playing a few months ago on the Coachella website home page floored me, so got to give this act a few minutes.

7:25 - 8:25 Choose between The National or Duran Duran - Outside of Kanye West, no one at Coachella 2011 is coming in on the heels of a better last release than The National are with High Violet, and it's their third knock-out LP in a row.  On top of that, though almost all of their material falls into a very consistent brooding, mid-to-slow tempo 80s niche, they are a phenomenal live band capable of generating massive emotional crescendos on a almost U2ish level.  If you haven't seen them before and can get over the nostalgia blast of seeing a reunited Duran Duran, they are definitely the better act of the two.  That said, I've seen The National three times already, so while I'll start with them at the Outdoor at 7:25, I'll be scooting over to catch Duran Duran on the Main Stage as soon as their set starts.  Sad, as I said before, this is the biggest scheduling fuck up of the weekend...The National and Duran Duran should have followed one another with DFA 1979 taking the counter programming slot rather than having these two acts battle it out.

8:25 - 8:35 Run like the wind to catch the closing moments of Lightning Bolt in the Gobi - For a blast of sheer noise, no one does it better than this drums n' bass monster.  If Duran Duran isn't nailing it, I'm heading over even earlier.  Expect a big crowd despite the assaulting nature of this act's music.

8:40 - 8:55 Catch a Touch of Ratatat in the Mojave or Chromeo on the Outdoor before The Strokes.

8:55 - 9:40 Grab first two-thirds of The Strokes - Liking their new album well enough, this should be a lot of straight up fun, but you need to be ready to leave early for...

9:45 - 10:35 PJ Harvey on the Outdoor - It's taken Goldenvoice over a decade to get Harvey, a seeming natural fit for the festival, to play Coachella.  As such, this is going to be the number one must see act of the entire weekend for a boatload of attendees including myself.  I'm not saying it's going to be the best show, just the number one show you don't want to miss.  Whether she's emphasizing material from her killer new protest LP Let England Shake, our pulling out older bad-ass classics like Long Snake Moan doesn't matter...this set is required viewing...and don't leave early for Kanye...even money says he's at least twenty minutes late taking the Main Stage.

??? - End - Kanye West...coming on the heels of the unbelievable genre-smashing 2010 release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, imho already a given as one of the 5-10 best rap albums of all-time, this set is an absolute must see...but I wouldn't worry about getting to the main stage for the start of the set.  First, despite Sunday night's awesome lineup, by this time the crowd's will have significantly thinned as people, exhausted to the bone and having to be at work first thing Monday, head for home, so your going to get a decent vantage point no matter when you walk up.  Second, as I alluded to before, I think it's inevitable that Kanye makes the crowd wait so my suggestion is don't waste that time.  Head over to the Mojave or Sahara and catch some of Leftfield/Bloody Beetroots/maybe even the Presets and don't return to the Main stage until you can see Kanye's show has actually started.  Yes you'll probably miss likely opener Dark Fantasy,  but the trade-off of catching two - three top dance/DJ acts is worth it...but once Kanye starts, get your ass over, because I think this show is going to be wild...don't know if it will be good, but I definitely think it will be highly memorable.

And that's it folks.

If you make it this far, all that's left is that excruciating 20 minute death march back to your car, a long drive home, and another 363 day wait for it to start all over again.

I hope you all have a phenomenal time! 

Readers, especially DJ/Dance fans, would love to get your thoughts, please feel free to comment.