Coachella Report

5.2.2006

By Matthew Breen

Queer house parties popped up all over town and in the large camping area near the polo fields. While my crew reunited to drink and swim at our rental condo pool Saturday evening, telling tales of sexy guys and bands we missed, others were having a wild time too. We missed a friend's party due to bad cell phone reception: It was 'L.A. gays getting drunk and misbehaving badly,' he told me the next day. 'There were quite a few hunky guys there. I left when they all decided to get naked and jump in the Jacuzzi. It was like sensory overload.'

I kicked day two off with a little Matisyahu on the Coachella Stage. He is pretty sexy for an orthodox reggae/hip-hop artist'not that there's really much of a pool to draw on for comparison. The scorching heat during Bloc Party's afternoon dance-punk set didn't slow the band down, but it did keep a few fans sitting or lying on the ground rather than shaking their butts.

Madonna fans, including throngs of sweaty shirtless homos, began arriving at the Sahara Tent several hours early for her 8:10 p.m.-scheduled start time. Though they got great sets from superstar DJs Kaskade and Paul Oakenfold in the meantime, the tent was impenetrable by 6:30 p.m. with an estimated 30,000 people crowding in by the start of the show. Madonna arrived by police escort about 30 minutes behind schedule. 'It's fucking hot in here!' she shouted as she emerged from a giant disco ball wearing a blue-violet jumpsuit and dark glasses. 'This is my first festival. Now who's going to share the drugs with me? Don't be selfish. Share the love!' She apparently took her festival-crashing gig very seriously, training tirelessly with her Le Parkour dancers prior to Coachella. Getting physically much closer to fans than she's likely ever been on tour, Madonna danced, writhed, and crawled to four tracks from Confessions on a Dance Floor ('Hung Up,' 'Get Together,' 'I Love New York,' and 'Let It Will Be'), 'Ray of Light,' and one of her very first hits, 'Everybody.' Naturally, she got in a few wisecracks, making a dig at George Bush and asking the audience, 'Does my ass look OK?' The set was a short one, under 30 minutes, and ended abruptly.

Queer powerhouse act Scissor Sisters closed out the festival's Outdoor Stage, unleashing a few new high-energy tracks from their much-anticipated sophomore album and a few familiar numbers. Out coverboy Jake Shears introduced 'Mary' with a somber tribute. 'I just lost her a few weeks ago,' he said, of the real-life Mary, his best friend and the song's inspiration, who died of an aneurysm.

Coachella is an overwhelming menu of music. If I could have been in two places at once, I'd have also seen some other great acts like Sleater-Kinney, Digable Planets, Mylo, My Morning Jacket, Phoenix, Editors, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Daft Punk, The Go! Team, Head Automatica, and Ladytron, but the laws of physics would not permit it. A Coachella virgin no more, I'm already planning my 2007 trip. And, yes, I made a mental note to plan my Jacuzzi party-hopping ahead of time next year.

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