Coachella Gone Country

0
Posted October 5, 2007 in Music

COUNTRY, ALT-COUNTRY AND THE WHOLE DAMN MESS

The Empire Polo Field in Indio, still recovering from the great freak-fest that was Coachella, hosted Stagecoach entirely different beast last weekend, as some of the nation’s top mainstream country and alt-country performers pulled in their wagon trains (or plush, air-conditioned Winnebagos) for a Marshall amp-powered hoedown. The mainstream country acts—Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, George Strait—attract a ton more fans, sell more albums, and generally make music with the empty bombast of a good truck commercial. The alt-country bands, with part of their mojo ingested from the DIY ethos of the punk movement, are more creative, vibrant, and have as much trouble maintaining recording contracts as George W. has of maintaining good grammar. (DP)

 

PARKING LOT SCENE

Lots of cars with Corona, Norco, Riverside, MoVal and Ontario license plate frames, suggesting that Stagecoach, in just its first year, was far more popular in the IE than Coachella was. The tent encampment that had been set up for Coachella was supplanted by huge, gas-chugging RVs, some of which had long poles protruding up from their rooftops, from which flew an amalgam of Confederate flags, POW/MIA banners and Dale Earnhardt’s #3. This isn’t a concert—it’s a NASCAR race. (RK)

 

DRESS CODE

Most of the mainstream country cowgirls wore a variation of extremely short skirts and thin halter tops, long bare legs planted in cowboy boots, and straw hats perched on their heads. The men-folk wore jeans, went shirtless, and were frequently branded with clichéd barbed-wire bicep tats. The alt-country dudes were a geeky, bespectacled bunch, with the girls more demure than their half-nude sisters—think knee-length dresses and conservative hair, more Nebraska 1930 than Girls Gone Wild 2007. (DP)

 

MERCH YOU NEVER WOULD’VE SEEN AT COACHELLA

Stagecoach shot glasses! And how about the stand that sold T-shirts with such Mensa-esque slogans as UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU TO SPEAK ENGLISH and I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR STARING AT YOUR TITS and—our favorite—TITTIES AND BEER, THANK GOD I AIN’T QUEER, which, besides making absolute zero sense (last time we checked, some gayfolk not only guzzle booze at redneck-quality levels, but they also have nipples), opens the door for next year’s Stagecoach, where we’re sure we’ll see shirts for sale spouting other such pleasantries. DALE JR. AND PABST BLUE RIBBON, THANK GOD I’M NOT A NIGGER/WETBACK/CHINK/KIKE, anybody? (RK)

 

BEST PERFORMANCES, PART 1

David Serby is terrific, someone who’s got the songs (tales-o’-heartache aplenty!) and personality to make a big bust-out into the mainstream (but, like Dwight Yoakam, we can see him keeping a foot in alt-country). Plus, he’s a graduate of the stage at the Press in Claremont, so we’re rooting for him. Then there was Lucinda Williams, who pretty much defined the Mason-Dixon line that runs between the country worlds with just one line in her song “Come On:” “You didn’t light my fire, so fuck off.” Had the elderly ladies and gents who had decamped at the Mane stage waiting for George Strait’s boy-next-door show heard that, they would’ve surely had coronaries. (RK)

 

BEST PERFORMANCES, PART 2

Saturday: The John Cowan Band did a version of Sam Cooke’s “Jesus Gave Me Water” that sent shivers down my spine and brought drunks up from their drooling slumber—unsurpassed. Neko Case’s entire set was spellbinding—her voice carries the swooping range of Patsy Cline, and her shadowy noir lyrics take country music down dark alleys it’s never been. Sunday: The Flatlanders, Alejandro Escovedo and the Drive By Truckers all rocked with equal fervor. More Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crazy Horse than Garth Brooks, and Indio was a better place for it. (DP)

 

MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I SAW

Tie: 1) A man with both legs missing up to the crotch, wheelchair-bound during a Sara Evans song, his wife jumped on the chair and they did a slow, sensuous grind as she kissed him passionately. It was both sexy and touching. 2) While the old master, Willie Nelson, crooned “Georgia On My Mind,” a trim mother in her thirties twirled and danced with her developmentally disabled child. (DP)

 

SOMEONE SCREWED UP

The organizers put Willie Nelson, the Red-Headed Stranger himself, out on the relatively small Palomino stage instead of the larger Mane stage where he belonged (and where he played from for his Coachella set). The country fans, still recognizing royalty when it’s offered to them, rushed the stage for Willie, and the formerly partially-attended corner of the Polo Field became as thick with humanity as Mecca at the end of Ramadan. (DP)

 

BUT AT LEAST. . .

Unlike Willie’s Coachella set, everybody who turned out for his Stagecoach appearance actually knew all the words to “Whiskey River.” (RK)


 

 


0 Comments



Be the first to comment!


You must be logged in to post a comment.