Author Topic: coachella music festival review by sage francis  (Read 34 times)

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coachella music festival review by sage francis
« on: May 08, 2004, 12:35:40 AM »
Coachella is a music festival that toook place in Califronia, which spanned 2 days.. here was the line up and also a long review of the event by sage francis

day 1
the (International) Noise Conspiracy
Desert Sessions
Laurent Garnier
The Rapture
...And You will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Death Cab for Cutie
LCD Soundsystem
Living Legends
Seb Fontaine
Sander Kleinenberg
The Black Keys
The Sounds
Howie Day
Junior Senior
The Evens
Danny Howells
Mark Farina
Moving Units
Sahara Hotnights
Electric Six
The Stills
Boozoo Bajou
Da Lata
Juana Molina
Phantom Planet
Mindless Self Indulgence
Q and not U
Savath & Savalas
Eyedea & Abilities
Erase Errata
The Section Quartet
DJ Icon

Day 2
The Cure
The Flaming Lips
Belle & Sebastian
Basement Jaxx
Paul Van Dyk
Bright Eyes
Le Tigre
The Crystal Method
Dizzee Rascal
Ferry Corsten
Adam Freeland
Danger Mouse
Donald Glaude
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
The Thrills
Broken Social Scene
Thelonious Monster
The Sleepy Jackson
Prefuse 73
Pretty Girls Make Graves
The Cooper Temple Clause
Sage Francis
T. Raumschmiere
The Killers
Home Town Hero
The Section Quartet


I had to wake up at 5:00 AM the morning after returning from Europe in order to drive to the Providence bus station and catch a bus that would get me to the Boston airport on time. The only thing I love more than waking up early is Boston. And sit-ups.

Holy fucking shit, I just realized that my van is still in the parking lot at the bus station. Good God, I guess this will give you an indication of what sort of state I am in right now. More important things have fallen onto my plate. How the hell could I forget about my van though. What the hell?

So I took the bus to Boston. While I was sitting on a bench, Carrot Top walked by me, carting his two rollaway bags. One piece of luggage in each finely tuned, chiseled, freckly arm of his. It was fucking CARROT TOP on steroids! I expected him to turn back around and giggle like a Krusty the Clown/Pennywise hybrid or some shit. This guy is BUILT. Seriously. These muscles cry for attention. I wonder if daddy loves him yet. The only people more insecure than slam poets and weight lifters are comedians, and no one receives more abuse in the comedian/weight lifting/slam poet world than this guy. I let him be.

Skip flight to Cali, skip ride to Olio, pick up Tom Inhaler at the bus station, skip the traffic on the way to the festival, enter the 34th canto of hell.


Coachella Festival is this huge music festival that takes place in Olio, a California desert which prides itself on the festivals it holds there. I brought just a backpack with me on this 3 day trip, and I soon learned that 1 backpack was too much. It was over 100 degrees before NOON. I saw a cat catch fire while crossing the street. At least it was a cat. The only conversations I held with 95% of the people I talked to there was about the sun. And that topic never got tiring. Ever. It actually makes you feel much cooler to talk about the sun in such blistering weather.

Upon entering the common grounds we caught a glimpse of the Black Keys but it was too hot inside their tent (which was to be my tent the next day) so we dipped. Walked around and looked for water. Can you believe that a festival that charged $150 for a two day long Battle of the Bands wouldn't let the people bring in WATER? Even if it was in a sealed bottle. No siree, the lowly crowd goers had to PURCHASE water from the festival vendors. $2 a pop, which almost seemed like a generous price at the time because the brain isn't able to function properly in death threatening temperatures.

Charging $2 for a small plastic bottle of water when the people need hydration in order to survive is intolerable. Water. WATER. The source of all life. Restricted at a festival in the desert that charged $150 to enter. Despicable. Call the head counselor of this concentration camp, Sage Francis has a complaint.

One thing that people were able to successfully smuggle into the festival was pot. When the Pixies took stage I may have caught a contact. Or maybe it was heatstroke. Or maybe the bass player was making me love sick. Whatever the case, the crowd couldn't possibly enjoy the reunion show of a legendary band without the aid of THC, because drugs aren't just good for moments of pure boredom...they also make a lot of sense during very exciting moments in music history.

The band looked reluctantly happy on stage. Glowing even. Sounded great. There was a big screen that the Pixies were projected onto for the dipshits standing too far away to actually see human bodies standing on stage. Like me. Francis Black looked amazingly comfortable in fat man pajamas. The camera adds ten pounds and, apparently, bad fashion sense.

I didn't feel like watching TV anymore, so I decided to walk around the festival and have the Pixies be my background music. I noticed two girls staring back at me after I passed them to talk to some RI homies (who DROVE all the way to this festival from the East coast. Egad.) Now, back to these girls scoping me out. I know I am not the eye catching the jig was up. I was spotted. Fat nerd rapper spottings are rare unless they happen when I am on stage or on the cover of a pussy magazine. Either they think I am someone I am not, or one of them is hip to the Strange Famous fantasy. No girl in the history of girls has ever turned their head to catch a second glance unless they are already familiar with my music...which makes me love myself and my music even more...OR they are confusing me for Insomniac's Dave Attell. "Where's your camera?"

While I took solace at the "Beverages You Need to Consume in Order to Survive so that You can Watch the Bands you Paid Way Too Much Money to See" vendor, these two ladies approached me looking completely embarrassed. "Are you Sage Francis?" Yes. They blushed. Told me they went to my show somewhere. I bought both of them a $4 lemonade drink and went on my way. They were nice. I was shy and all out of small talk.

Meandered the premises. Made my way back to the Pixies set in order to watch them perform "Where is My Mind." I was amazed to find out that the bass player is the one who does that eerie high pitched "Ahhhhh...ahhh" sound throughout the whole song. I don't know what the hell I thought it was. My retarded rap brain automatically assumed it was a sample of some sort. Don't ask why that makes sense.

While Radiohead took the main stage I bounced over to the E&A set. Because I needed something a little less grandiose and I wanted to see what I could expect from my crowd on the following day. In 2000 I did a 20 date tour with E&A in which, and I must repeat this fun-fact every time the topic is brought up, Eyedea only took two showers the entire time. The E&A show was the best performance of the whole festival for me. It was innovative. I didn't see anyone else do anything close to being innovative. No one else felt immediate or in the moment or brand new to me. Of course, I didn't see many of the bands. I was too busy looking for shade or water. But Abilities provided a soundscape for Eyedea with effects pedals, a mixer and two VINYL turntables in ways that no DJ has ever done before. It literally made all of the following acts look like amateurs. Both Eyedea and Abilities are technical show offs, which is fantastic, arrogant, and honest because no one else can do it quite like them. Not yet anyway.

Kool Keith was hanging out back stage. I looked over and saw him looking at me. I gave him googoo eyes. He didn't tell his friend about it. When they took to the stage he rapped over his recorded vocals. As I began walking away to check out the end of Radiohead I heard the infamous "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20" freestyle. I'm glad that whole thing wasn't just a legend.

The singer from Jane's Addiction was hanging out in the Artist Catering section with his Mom. He has never done any drugs and you can tell.

When the night's events were finished, the herd flocked to their vehicles in the dirt pit parking lot. Since it was free parking, no accommodations were made. No indicators of where you may or may not have parked. Thousands of broken hearts walking aimlessly through the dust bowl with one hand in the air clicking their car alarm button, listening intently for that familiar horn to beep. I was with Andy, the President of Epitaph Records, and we were doing that same dance of desperation. Car Alarm Blues. Many people were on the verge of tears?...hahahaa. How well can one operate after a full day of over-stimulation, loud music, dehydration and a sun that felt like a jack hammer on your skull. When we finally found the car, we sat in it for two full hours because traffic was at a standstill. Such is the way of the over-popularized bad idea that is music festivals. To pass the time I played Andy all of the beats I intend on using for my Epitaph album. "So I'm guessing we're not going to get this out in the fall."
"Oh yeah...nah...yeah yeah...I will be recording it as soon as I get home."


The next day, Tom and I woke up and decided to eat breakfast at Denny's. So did 1/4 of the festival apparently because it was an hour's wait to get seated. During that time I went to the supermarket and bought show props that I could use for my performance. A very attractive girl with multicolored hair recognized me fondling broccoli in the produce section (no joke) and asked if she could take my picture. Her brother is in love with me. Nice. Her and her friends had to sleep out in the street the night before because no more people were allowed in the camping area. We was unable to sleep because some tough guy on speed kept running up and down the street yelling, "What are you doing? We don't SLEEP on the East coast. Y'all are pussies!!!" Tom and I assured her that we actually do sleep on the East coast. It is essential to mental and physical health.

This day was much better for me, just because I was offered superstar accommodations at the festival. I was given a trailer that was stocked with water, food and it had air conditioning. Not only that, but I suddenly had golf cart drivers escorting me from place to place upon request. This is the life!!! But you know what?...that fucking sun was still pissing its VD burn all in my eyes. And my body was still adjusting from the 9 hour time change between Europe and California. To be perfectly honest, I was so out of it that it feels like a I am recollecting the memories of a fading dream. None of it really happened even while it was happening, and when I tried to explain this to people they were like, "Ya."

A golf cart drove me to the Gobi tent, where I was to perform at 5:30 PM. While I scurried around the stage searching for a place to hide my props, I heard, "Hey, Sage Francis...I am your biggest fan!" It was a grinning, beardless Saul Williams. "Ahhhh....NO BEARD!!! It's nice to see you, man." Beardless, manly, poet hugs were shared. Manly. While Saul took the stage I shared my posterboards and crayons with his 6 year old daughter, Saturn. I caught her eyeing my art supplies as soon as I broke 'em was the right thing to do. She drew a picture of her dad, which was nothing but a dark purple oval and a mouth. haha. Pretty accurate. I let her keep the crayons.

Saul put on a performance similar to the one I saw him do in Providence not too long ago. Strictly spoken word sprinkled with a plethora of golden era hiphop references, many of which are completely lost on a young, white, rock/electronica-rooted audience. He actually did a full Biz Markie verse and I wish I could read Joe Show Goer's mind when things like this go down. What kind of gears would I see turning inside of Mary Jane when her favorite poet says something like, "When it comes to rockin parties i-am-a-nympho-maniac, brainiac for doin my dance," with no citation?

Before my performance I was notified that a camera crew wanted to interview me for the Coachella DVD so I took a golf cart back to the trailer. No, they never let me drive the golf cart. Yes, that is upsetting.

When the camera crew arrived I greeted them in a mask and druid robe. It felt right. They felt wrong. The questions were so self-serving it was ridiculous.

"What makes Coachella so great? Why do you think Coachella is as special as it is? Have you ever been a part of something this magnificent?"

My nature works in complete harmony with this sort of situation.

"Coachella isn't special. This is just another place to play music. It is way too hot to be truly enjoyable. This kind of weather is not meant for humans. Why is the parking situation so bad? Did you know that people can't bring water onto the premises? I can't believe people paid so much money to sweat and suffer next to each other while their favorite bands lamp in the air conditioning."

I don't think that's the kind of promotion they were looking to use on their DVD. I should have just shut the fuck up and shimmied for the camera considering the amount of money they were paying me, but my social skills are as sharp as a spork. Spork. Haven't seen sporks in a very long time. Dangermouse entered my trailer and helped me become more personable, the good guy that he is, so this debacle ended on a fairly positive note.

Back to the stage. Big crowd gathered. Me in layers of clothing. Black hoody sweatshirt over a druid costume over a black shirt and mud encrusted camo pants. "We don't dress in summer clothes on the East coast!!!" Read about my show was the cat's pajamas. I broke stuff. I lost my voice. I pressed play and pause on my CD player. I told a fat kid to leave because I rationalized that I could have two fans instead of one in the exact place where he was standing.

I was proud of my set, although I shouldn't have made it longer than originally intended. The soundman told me to go as long as I wanted and that freedom resulted in a couple unnecessary lulls. Overall, I am happy with the show. It was low budget and effective. No larger than life bullshit. The crowd seemed appreciative and excited. Got off stage and signed autographs for anyone willing to wait for their turn. Sweating profusely. I learned later that Gwen Stefani's niece was waiting to meet me but she bounced after waiting too long. Tell auntie I said wussup, yo.

Brett G from Bad Religion told me he liked the show and introduced me to his son. This was the first performance Brett had seen of mine, and, according to Andy, a lot of people who've been on the fence about me were officially converted. That feels good to know, because that means the brain splitting migraine that ensued soon after was totally worth it.

Catching a golf cart ride back to the trailer turned difficult, so I began my trek across the common grounds. I am now recognizable. Half way across the field I plopped myself down next to the street punkiest looking folks I had seen my whole time there. They told me about their water issues. I thanked them for checking out my show and trudged on. Bumped into a couple more RI folks just before being denied access back stage, a place I needed to go in order to access my trailer. I didn't put up a fight. I turned around and walked back to where I had just performed at to hunt down a golf cart.

Ran into Slug there. We began talking and it was dusk at this time so that air was cooler. We hit up a secluded are to catch up on some things. That was the realest moment of this whole event. We talked about girls, girlfriends and bands. That same exact conversation could have happened anywhere at any time, and it has, but it was necessary for something like this to happen here at this very moment because it was absolutely incidental to anything that was taking place at Coachella. It grounded us.

He told me that the Atmosphere show went well except Dibbs had a rough time with skipping records. This meant that Dibbs was now abusing himself in a dark, dark corner somewhere. I'm sure it didn't help that the vinyl was melting into the turntables, needle swimming through toxic fumes. Later on Andy told me that it was refreshing to see Atmosphere maneuver through the set's obstacle course after having seen them put on so many flawless performances. It offers immediacy. Gotta have it. While walking to the catering area we met Ian Mckaye (pronounce Mick-EYE) for anyone trying to get on this man's good side. He was in a rush but it was nice meeting the man who helped create a culture full of social deviants.

After eating food and catching part of the Flaming Lips set, I parted ways with everyone and headed straight for my trailer. To hide. From sound. And light. And people. My skull was cracking. When the Cure hit the main stage I was startled by the roar of the crowd, but who I really wanted to see was Le Tigre, who were playing in a smaller tent at the same time. My night was finished though. These kind of headaches usually induce vomiting, so being by myself was the best idea. I hid from the world until Andy came knocking on my door and drove me to a hotel next to the airport so that I could wake up early the next morning and fly back home.


Arrived at the Boston airport at 11:30 PM, too late to catch a bus back home. Girlfriend picked me up.
Got home around 12:30 AM
"What time is my doctor's appointment tomorrow?"
"9 AM"
"Fucking SHIT! Fucking SHIT!!!!"
"I know, hon. I know."


Went to the throat specialist, an appointment I made 3 months prior to this visit. A visit I should have made years ago.
The doctor entered the room and shot some Novocain into my nose that went down my throat. He left. I went numb. He came back.
Shoved a metal scope into my left nostril that reached into my throat.
He looked into it and poked around for about 10 seconds.
Pulled it out, turned around and said, "This is not good."
He sat down.

"You have polyps on each vocal cord. Not only that, but due to excessive straining through the years you have developed a nodule on TOP of one of the polyps, which is rare. Polyps can usually be cured with lots of rest to your voice, but nodules can only be removed with surgery. Surgery will cause a distinguishable change to your voice. Without taking care of these things right now you risk losing your voice forever. How were you able to perform like this?"

"It's been like this for years."

"Well, you aren't going to last much longer. I am going to give you medication and for the next two weeks you can't speak. Not a single word. No sound. It is the only way to bring the swelling down. When you come back in 2 weeks and your throat is better I will have a better idea of what we need to do."

Went to the pharmacy and picked up the meds. Called everyone close to me and told them I can't speak for the next two weeks (which in all actuality could go on longer than two weeks.) Came home and said my last audible "I love you" before going to bed and waking up the next morning with notebook in hand.

I avoided the inevitable for too long, but there aren't any pit stops on the ladder I've been climbing. Now is the best time for me to deal with this issue, and I feel no sorrow about it. No regrets. I played through the pain to the point where it actually hurt my throat to hold a normal conversation. But if I didn't perform as frequently as I did or with the amount of intensity as I did, then no one would know who I was and my words would have been wasted with whispers. I played my hand and received my winnings. Now I can afford the surgery and treatment that I wouldn't have needed if I never raised my voice at all. It's a fair trade off.

Whatever happens, this Epitaph album will be recorded. It is half recorded already. While on silent treatment, I will be fine tuning the lyrics and when I am allowed to speak again I will be back in the vocal booth. I will be doing less shows. No two hour long marathons. I will say more with less words. It's the perfect situation for someone who doesn't really like to talk anyway.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.




p.s. here's a medical explanation of what I have:

Vocal cord polyps are noncancerous growths on the vocal cords that develop from abuse of the voice, chronic allergic reactions affecting the larynx, or chronic inhalation of irritants such as industrial fumes or cigarette smoke.

Symptoms include chronic hoarseness and a breathy voice.

The Diagnosis is made by examining the vocal cords with a mirror and performing a biopsy (removal of a small piece of tissue) to make sure the growth is not cancer.

A surgeon removes the polyp to restore the person's normal voice. The underlying cause is identified and treated to prevent the recurrence of polyps. If abuse of the voice is the cause, voice therapy may be needed.

Vocal cord nodules (singer's nodules) are noncancerous scar-like growths on the vocal cords, similar to vocal cord polyps but firmer, that do not disappear with rest.

Vocal cord nodules are caused by chronic voice abuse such as repeated yelling, shouting or strenuous singing. Symptoms consist of hoarseness and a breathy voice. A small sample of tissue is removed from the nodule to make sure the growth isn't cancer. Vocal cord nodules in children usually disappear with voice therapy alone. In adults, the nodules are surgically removed. The only way to prevent more nodules from forming is to stop abusing the voice.

Last edited by Sage Francis on Fri May 07, 2004 3:49 pm; edited 1 time in total