INDIO, California It was not the Lollapalooza, but it was
definitely some kind of a lollapalooza. And what better way to top off
13 hours of music, art and freakish behavior than a classic set of songs from
a reunited Jane's Addiction?
Jane's said they were back and the 31,000 fans at Saturday's second Coachella Valley
Music and Arts Festival wildly embraced the arty rockers after a brutal
100-degree day that could have easily sapped their energy.
"How long has it been?" singer Perry Farrell wondered before the band
launched into the meandering "Three Days." Dressed like an alien disco
phantom, Farrell strutted onto the stage in a white, bedazzled jumpsuit, a
pimp-style feathered fedora and ghostly face paint. His outfit blended into a
stage set that looked like an underwater garden of delights.
Crashing across the front of the stage was a set of white waves. While pale
sea urchin sculptures sprouted in the background, masked phantoms shot
confetti cannons and a trio of white-thonged stripper/nymphs slithered around
Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro as the band wound its way through the
As strange as the scene was, though, it felt like just another mirage at a
sprawling festival that showered attendees with everything from robot wars to
live house music and the U.S. debut of enigmatic, intense Icelandic ambient
rockers Sigur Rós.
But at the end of the day, it was all about Jane's. With original drummer
Stephen Perkins along and Porno for Pyros' Martyn Le Noble filling in for original bassist Eric Avery, the band performed for only the second time on their current reunion
tour, the follow-up to their 1997 "Relapse" tour.
And although they showed signs of rust at times, Jane's seemed energized
while playing such nuggets as the pummeling "Mountain Song" and "Ocean Size,"
with Navarro's flighty solos seeming to bounce off the mountains and rows of
swaying palm trees surrounding the polo fields.
In the middle of the band's biggest hit, "Been Caught Stealing," performed
from a satellite stage in the middle of the crowd Red Hot Chili Peppers
bassist Flea emerged on the main stage to play an extended solo as the rest
of Jane's made their way back in a Mardi Gras-style procession through the
The set ended with a chaotic, furious take on "Ted, Just Admit It," for which
Farrell changed into a silver lamé suit and a bevy of dancers snaked around
the stage waving oversized, spinning pinwheels.
Farrell's face was frozen into a manic grin as he left the stage, perhaps a
combination of his joy at reuniting with Jane's and watching a day
of eclectic music and art unfold in a style U.S. audiences haven't seen since
the demise of his Lollapalooza festival.
With dozens of world-renowned DJs playing on all five stages, sets from
such rockers as the Dandy Warhols, punk icon Iggy Pop and rappers the Roots
and Gang Starr, the festival was akin to European events such as the famed
Reading festival, according to Roots drummer ?uestlove.
"I'll tell you one thing," said ?uestlove after his group's
improvisation-heavy set. "It was safer than frickin' Woodstock ['99]. Over in
Europe, this is a normal thing ... there's a festival every two seconds and
it's nice to see this here. It was beautiful. I thought it was going to be
hot and sticky and troublesome, but it was good." The drummer for the
hip-hop group said his highlights were seeing geek rockers Weezer and live
acid jazz/house collective St. Germain.
Free of the kind of aggro rock acts, sexually aggressive mosh pits and
violence that have marred U.S. festivals such as Woodstock '99 over the past
three years, Coachella had a peaceful, inclusive vibe that extended from the
all-day Insomniac rave tent to the Outdoor Theater stage. The latter featured
a lineup that ranged from Canadian live techno/house trio the New Deal to
next-big-thing singer Nikka Costa, whose Janis Joplin-meets-Teena Marie soul
rock wailing was enhanced by a band that played everything from blues to R&B,
dub and soul.
Underground rapper Mos Def matched Costa's eclecticism with his
hip-hop/rock/funk band Jack Johnson. Featuring Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know,
former Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Doug Wimbish and
Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell, the band ripped through a
set of songs Def aptly described as "heavy metal for the ghetto."
The grassy midway featured a dizzying array of diversions: 12 hours of
"tech-Mex" DJ sets from the Mexican Nortec DJ collective, a hip-hop tent that
featured everything from breakdancing to African high-life music, live mural
painting and a junk metal drum circle. One of the strangest sights was a
giant see-saw sound sculpture on which a keyboardist played improvisational
music piped into the headphones of a festival-goer suspended in a hammock on
the other end.
After DJ Paul Oakenfold brought the crowd to repeated peaks
during his high-energy pre-Jane's set, it was left to techno stars the
Chemical Brothers to deliver them into the dust-blown, pitch-black night
sweaty and satisfied.
The duo, which had flown in from England just for its Coachella DJ set, used
its show-closing spot to debut a handful of tracks from an album in progress. "It's nice to have a little holiday for the weekend,"
said Chemical Brother Tom Rowlands. "We've been in the studio for a long
time, so it's nice to get out and play, test out some new tracks."
Partner Ed Simons said one of the reasons the pair returned after playing the
first Coachella in October of 1999 was because of the positive mood of the
show. "It's a very different festival than the ones in America [we've played]
that have all the violent bands," he said. With its mix of big-name rock
bands, DJs and hip-hop, Rowlands said the pair was eager to support this
rare breed of U.S. gathering.
The Chemicals' amped-up set included a mix of their favorite techno classics, the new,
tentatively titled "It Began in Africa," and the set-closing, night-capping "here we go!" anthem "Hey Boy, Hey Girl."
The exhortation was similar to the one Farrell had left the crowd with before
he exited the stage. "Go get 'em kids!" he shouted.