Coachella 2011: There's the Chemical Brothers -- but there's also a roller rink at the campground
The Chemical Brothers rebounded in 2010 with "Further," an album that saw the act reach for greater electronic depths, rather than the bigger club beats, and Coachella promoters Goldenvoice rewarded the dance act with a headlining main stage set. It would close out the first night of the three-day, sold-out desert rock 'n' dance party, but for many Coachella attendees, the evening was far from over.
Over at the Coachella campgrounds a makeshift city was just springing to life. The Coachella campgrounds allot for 8,800 spots -- a 10-by-30 swatch of land in which ticket-buyers can cram as many people or tents as the space allows -- and it's filled with amenities and activities that outshine the Coachella VIP experience. There's an arcade, a farmer's market and even a roller rink.
Music manger Laurel Stearns helps organize pop-up skating rinks with Down & Derby, and oversees the 120-by-100 wooden rink constructed just for Coachella and the upcoming country-focused Stagecoach. On Thursday night/Friday morning, early camping arrivals flooded to the rink, said Stearns, who said she had 400 pairs of skates rented in one hour. All told, 700 Coachella campers came by to rent the $5 skates -- and some tried to make off with them (they were caught).
As the clock crawled toward 1 a.m., fans were still trickling into the roller rink. Some, like 18-year-old Ventura resident Lauren Emily Brown, had never really skated before. As Brown struggled to stay on her feet, Stearns noted that each night usually results in a sprained ankle or two, but there haven't been any major injuries -- "nothing fatal," Stearns said. For Brown, she had no intention on calling it a night. The rink, she said, "was here, and I like disco."
Yet the attraction, now in its second year, represents efforts by Goldenvoice to stretch beyond just a music festival. The Ferris wheel, also in its second year, has quickly become a Coachella staple, and each year brings more interactive art -- such as people-sized hamster wheels that dancers must run in to create energy to feed amplifiers.
"People can't just watch music for 10 hours," Stearns said.
Other lasting impressions from Coachella Night 1:
Welcome back, Caifanes: Mexico City's the Caifanes split in the mid-'90s, but the act returned without missing a beat. The Rock en Espanol band turned out to be one of the more adventurous acts to grace the stages on the first night of Coachella. Saúl Hernández sings as if he could be fronting a Latin soul outfit, but guitar riffs and solos alternate between punk ferocity and studious elegance. Just when the band picks up pace, the rhythms veer into folksy traditionalism. But don't get too comfortable, as a lengthy and warm guitar solo is just around the corner.
A mystery, or is it? European synth act Monarchy likes to keep things mysterious. The band -- a three piece for much of its Coachella performance -- sported "Phantom of the Opera"-like masks to obscure their faces. A dancer outfitted in brassy gold, looking like something that belonged in a homemade credit sequence to a Bond film, performed slinky moves at center stage. Yet musically, there's little mystery here: It's '80s-influenced pop, albeit done well. What Monarchy has going for it is a sense of gracefulness, as the songs, stripped of their electronics, could easily work as blue-eyed soul.
-- Todd Martens
Photo: A Ferris wheel lights the night sky Friday at the Coachellla Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times