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My Coachella

Cochella14 Grass

Coachella14 Okie Neil Mike Fest

The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival… holy @#$! shit, what an absolute amazing experience!

This was my second time attending the nation’s reigning mother supreme of music festivals (and the most-successful festival according to Billboard Box-Office).  For anyone with a hard on for live music of all genres, Coachella is the ultimate wet dream.  There truly is no other way to describe the magic that is everything Coachella.  My obsession with Coachella stems from the diverse line-up all in one setting, surprise superstar performances, and 100,000 music and art lovers dancing, singing, and getting their life in the California desert.

LA14 Dinner Group

LA15 Club Group

This year’s Coachella adventure kicked-off with a friends’ reunion in Los Angeles with my best friends Cheri and Harry a.k.a. Hit & Run (childhood friends from Tampa) and Kristin (who just so happened to be visiting California the same weekend).  I linked up with other former Tampons Jamal and Robert that evening, and received the ultimate surprise when I found out that my New York friends and family (sans Jason ::insert tears::) were in L.A. celebrating Gary’s birthday.

It was one big, fat, gigantic Tampa reunion in Los Angeles that just so happened to come together randomly.  The entire randomness of it all is best described by Nadia’s greeting to me when we first ran into one another that evening: “What the fuck are you doing here?  Are you real?  Is this night even real?”

Cochella14 Girls Group 1 Coachella14 Prom Girls

The weekend continued as we met up with Daddy Neil and Rusty, drove to Palm Springs and prepared for the onslaught of the next three days.  One of the weekend’s highlights was meeting Chloe and Erin, two fabulous (and quite hilarious) beauties from the UK.  We instantly clicked on night one during Outkast’s ho-hum reunion performance, and spent the rest of the Coachella weekend singing and dancing the nights away.

The music highlights of this year’s Coachella include:

  • Empire of the Sun…  I had been dying to see them live since I was first hypnotized by their “Walking on a Dream” single six years ago, and the boys certainly did not disappoint.  They were the perfect blend of pomp, flash and drama needed for the Sahara tent, and my pick for the best performance of the weekend.
  • Skrillex… Sonny Moore remains one of the few prominent on the EDM scene whose artistry and craft emanates from his every DJ set.  For those cynics who wrongly insinuate that there is no true talent or work in being a DJ, Skrillex’s thrilling set at Coachella is the receipt to silence them.
  • Rudimental…  It was a treat to finally see this British band perform, especially to witness how their music which encompasses drum and bass, R&B and soul, and pure funk came together in a live setting.
  • Calvin Harris…  Mr. Harris now boasts the second largest performance attendance in the history of Coachella, second only to 2012’s Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg Lion and the 2Pac holgram’s historic California Lovefest.  He played an effortless set of his greatest hits, from “Feel So Close” to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” to new single “Summer.”  No guest performances, no surprises.  And for those cynics who complained that his set played it safe, well why reinvent the wheel when it is still spinning?
  • Arcade Fire…  I will admit that I only knew a few handful of Arcade Fire songs.  I am not infatuated with Arcade Fire like their hardcore following of fans, nor am I one of their many detractors who simply do not understand their hype.  I have always stood on neutral ground with them, so  I was anticipating their headlining, closing performance to find out in which direction I would be swayed.  In the end, I enjoyed their performance, despite lead singer Win Butler’s misguided comments regarding us in the VIP section.
  • MGMT…  I forgot how much I loved MGMT until I woke up from my afternoon nap on the lawn and was greeted by the sounds of their music.
  • Lorde…  if only she could follow the rule of “less talking, less storytelling, more singing,” then she would have had an A+ set.
  • CHVRCHES…  when a band sounds as glorious as their studio recordings, it’s a win-win situation.  CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice sounded like heaven.

A random festival-goer summed up the entire weekend best, when he and I accidentally walked into one another.  I immediately apologized during our run-in, and he just laughed it off, smiled and remarked, “it’s all good man.  No need to apologize.  It’s the best weekend of the year.”

…and yes it was.

To my dear friend Mike Hammonds, thank you for being the best music festival partner in crime.  Daddy Neil, thank you for being you, for teaching me the music festival bunny ways, and for reminding me that this was “my Coachella.”  And lastly, dear Coachella, I’ll be missing you next year, but will return in 2016 to cash in on the best weekend of that year!  [READ: 2012’s Coachella Adventure post]


“Comfortable” by The Knocks featuring X Ambassadors:  I am pissed that I missed The Knocks at last year’s Governor’s Ball in New York City, because I become more and more enamored with their music each and every passing day.  “Comfortable” was this year’s unofficial Coachella anthem.  Perhaps because I demanded that this song be played on repeat at high decibels.  Or simply because this anthem ROCKS, and will serve as a reminder of this beautiful weekend in Coachella Valley.  :: sigh ::

Please click on thumbnail to enlarge / view photo: 

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Okie’s Favorite Albums of 2013

Halfway through the first month of 2014, and I am finally able to compile my annual list of my favorite albums of 2013.  So what was the holdup?  I simply forgot what music was actually released last year.  Last year more than any other, I jumped around from album to album, from song to song, from artist to artist.  No one album completely owned my eardrums the entire year.  Sure, there were a handful of albums that received their healthy rotation of spins, but nothing comparable to years before where I played an album from front to back, left to right and back again nearly the entire 365 days.  It wasn’t that last year’s crop of releases weren’t addictive, but moreso that there was way too much music to listen to!

So in alphabetical order, here are my favorite albums of 2013:

Anxiety by Autre Ne Veut
I was shocked to find out that Arthur Ashin, the voice behind Autre Ne Veut was American, born and raised.  I fail to give the U.S. its proper due when such a unique-sounding album is released by automatically assuming that the responsible artist MUST be from anywhere but here.  What genre do you classify the music on Anxiety?  I never once wondered until I started to write this entry. Alternative R&B?  Perhaps.  New Soul?  Maybe.  Great Music?  Most definitely.  And that is all you need to know.

 

 

BEYONCE‘ by Beyonce’
In the year of overhyped  and underwhelming releases from everyone’s pop diva faves, Queen Bey emerged overnight literally out of nowhere to prove that she’s the “Supreme” of the music industry: well respected, critically acclaimed, admired by the kids and still owning the popular music landscape.  BEYONCE’ finds Mrs. Carter channeling everyone from Madonna (“Haunted”) to Alicia Keys (“Heaven”) to Drake (“Mine”), but doing it so effortlessly and sometimes even better.

 

Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange
It was reported that British singer-songwriter Dev Hynes’ penned songs for Britney Spears’ most recent album failed to make the cut.  If any of them sounded half as vulnerable and personal yet utterly sweet as the tracks on the second album by Blood Orange, the electronic musical project of Hynes, than it’s surely Britney Jean’s loss.

 

 

The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches
Scottish synth-poppers Chvrches pick up where La Roux last left, yet simplify that sound with more refined vocals (courtesy of lead singer Lauren Mayberry) and an overall much crisper sound.  It’s the perfect album that can double as the one to pump out loudly in your car, or to play at a much lower volume while working at the office.  Try it either way.

 

 

Settle by Disclosure
Don’t get me wrong, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is a fine album.  It’s just that it didn’t do what Disclosure’s Settle accomplished: persuading you to join the dancefloor.  If Daft Punk’s album was the sound of disco and electronic music making love, Settle was full-on, hardcore audio penetration between 90s house and any lucky listener.

 

 

Ice On The Dune by Empire of the Sun
Their look?  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: The Atlantic City Musical directed by Bobby Trendy.  Their sound?  A meteor shower of frothy dream pop that I am head over metallic-baby blue stiletto heel in love with.

 

 

Days Are Gone by Haim
One moment: Fleetwood Mac.  Another: Expose’.  Chrissie Hynde’s un-biological daughters released one of the catchiest albums of the year filled with hooks that required dedicated effort to sing along to because of the oft-rapid fire singing.  Need proof?  Sing “Falling” or “Forever” during your next shower.

 

 

Overgrown by James Blake
One may have to be in a certain mood when listening to James Blake’s second studio album.  It’s that same mood one has to be in when pressing play on a Sade album, or more recently, anything by Frank Ocean.  I am in love with Mr. Blake’s voice: haunting, emotional and a few times androgynous, so I suppose that I am always in the mood to listen to his soulful album.

 

 

Yeezus by Kanye West
Love him or hate him, there is a reason why North West’s daddy is topping most year-end Critics’ Best Of list with his sixth studio album.  Never content staying within one defined genre of music, Yeezus finds Mr. West delving deeper into industrial and electronic music.   The result: an aggressive, frantic and maddening soundscape of vainglorious perfection.

 

 

Pure Heroine by Lorde
Lorde’s debut album is on this list?  Yes, the 17-year-old Kiwi responsible for releasing the song (“Royals”) that might cause my ears to bleed if I am ever subjected to hearing it again managed to put out the best pop album of the year.  (To prevent any potential BeyHive sting, BEYONCE‘ is an R&B album.)  In fact, “Royals” is my least favorite song on the entire album that sounds like the lovechild of Robyn and Lana Del Rey blessed by The xx.

 

 

Special Shout-Outs to Secondhand Rapture by MS MR, Bad Blood by Bastille, Dinner Will Be Served by Chasing Grace and the Twin Rivers EP by Big Scary who all received ample plays on my Spotify this year.

From last year’s post – My favorite albums of 2012:

  • King Con by Alex Winston
  • Kill for Love by Chromatics
  • Ten$ion by Die Antwoord
  • Halcyon by Ellie Goulding
  • Our Version of Events by Emeli Sande
  • A Joyful Noise by Gossip
  • Visions by Grimes
  • Rollerskater EP by Lindbergh Palace
  • Kaleidoscope Dream by Miguel
  • True EP by Solange
  • Confess by Twin Shadow
  • Nocturne by Wild Nothing

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view this year’s covers of my favorite albums of 2013:

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