Earlier this month, I decided to join many of my American friends, both old and new, at the Coachella Valley Music Festival, which took place over the course of two weekends (one more than usual), from April 13-15 and April 20-22, 2012, in California’s Palm Desert. I had been only once before when my band, Fucked Up played in 2009.
This year’s event ended up becoming the best time I ever had at a music festival, tied with my Primavera 2011 experience, due to so many good friends being there with me, a fantastic selection of bands to see and hear, and tons of celebrity sightings.
Speaking of celebrity sightings… in my life, I have asked for my photo to be taken with a notable musician only three times: Tim Armstrong (Rancid) in 1996, Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) in 2009, and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) in 2011. I’m generally pretty shy and aloof and overly conscious of other people’s space and time and energy, so I tend not to ask strangers for their photograph, even when I’m playing dozens of festivals a year and seeing lots of admired musicians walking around. However, for Coachella, I thought it would be fun to have my photo taken with whomever I saw in the flesh that was “famous” and within ten feet from me. Here’s what I walked away with, in chronological order:
David Hasselhoff (actor) When I saw David, I was alone backstage and couldn’t help but break into laughter. Being from Toronto, where there aren’t any famous people milling about, I got starstruck when I saw David and his permasmile. I didn’t attempt any sort of conversation; I just wanted to shake his hand, get the photo to add to my brand new collection, and be done with it. If only I had a cheeseburger to give him as a token of my gratitude.
Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) In March 2011, both our bands were playing as part of “Soundwave”, an Australian hard-rock festival tour, so I used that as a way to break the ice to avoid being mistaken for a groupie. He seemed to have recognized the name, so I got my snap, told him that I look forward to playing with him again in the future (which is true), and off I went.
Bob Mould (Husker Du) I had met Bob a couple of times in the past, but we had never chatted at length until now. I used my band, again, to break the ice, and out of everyone I met, he seemed the most enthused by the news. We chatted about Fucked Up, music festivals, and his growing interest in electronic music and DJing. Definitely one of the most affable and level-headed punk legends I have ever met in my life.
A$AP Rocky I was at this amazing afterparty that designer Jeremy Scott was hosting at Frank Sinatra’s old house in Palm Springs. There was a naked guy swimming in the pool for what seemed like the entire time (I’m thinking he was possibly paid to be there), Chromeo was DJing, and big names were milling about all over the place. I saw A$AP kind of pacing about near the pool, asking everyone within earshot for weed, but none was coming through, so I packed a pipe, walked up to him with it, put it in his face and asked him if he was into punk rock (it was the only thing I could think of to talk about). He responded with, “Fuck yeah, I’m into punk! You ever heard of Trash Talk? I wanna do something with those guys.” I replied with enthusiasm that they were my boys and that we’ve played shows together for years, and when I revealed my band, he grew serious, asked if I was serious (haha), pulled me aside while still puffing on the pipe I had handed to him, and asked if we could play with him the following Saturday. I explained that my band was at home, five 5hr flights away, but imagine if they weren’t? Shit coulda gotten weird!!!
Jared Leto (actor) Jared was also at the Jeremy Scott party.
Chromeo Montreal’s Chromeo taking a break from DJing the Jeremy Scott party.
Snoop Dogg Meeting Snoop Dogg will go down as one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was at the Jeremy Scott party chatting with pals Justin Sullivan and Matt Kallman about meeting A$AP and Jared Leto, when Matt told me nonchalantly that Snoop Dogg was there. I called bullshit, but then he pointed to my left and, lo and behold, standing in the shadows in the garden was an entourage (which included Warren G, who I failed to get a photo with, although I did offer him a bowl), and at the center of the entourage was a tall looming figure wearing a purple fur coat. I looked back at Matt wide eyed, and then back at the garden, and then the adrenaline started to rush through my body. I took a few steps towards the crowd in the shadows and then I saw his face; it was Snoop! So I waited a few minutes for a spot to open up near him, and when it did, I hurried over with as much grace as I could muster at that moment and posited myself directly in front of him, watching him speak to a woman on my left with my mouth half open and hella dry. As he finished chatting with the woman, I rehearsed in my head what I was going to say amidst the sound of a choir of angels singing softly behind my head. And then, his attention turned to me, little ol’ me. I extended my hand with a big smile and said, “Hey Snoop, man, I just wanna say what’s up! Good to see you!” He smiles, says “Hey, nice to see you too,” and shakes my hand with the 1-2-3 punch. I then continued to speak as he looked at me in the eyes, puffin’ away on his endless J, but no sense came out of my mouth. Just a varying jumble of words: “I”, “am”, “fucked”, “up”, “um”, “hahahaha”, “shiiiit”, “fuuuck.” He grins and says, “it’s cool”. Then I got the picture, got a hug, and walked on what felt like silky clouds back to Justin and Matt. What a rush! The only thing I regret, aside from sounding like I had a pea for a brain (let’s be honest — I did that night), is not having an offering to share with the Man himself. Next time.
Earl Sweatshirt (Odd Future; OFWGKTA) I saw Earl walk into backstage as I was walking in the opposite direction to see The Weeknd play. Didn’t say much except for hello and if I could get a picture. I ended up meeting him officially through my friend Lee Spielman at an afterparty the following week, one that Snoop Dogg MC’d at, and he seemed chill. Kind of odd to know that he’s young enough to be my son.
Fred Armisen (comedian/actor/drummer) I was watching Girls play when I spotted Fred standing in front of me. After the set, I walked backstage and saw him looking at the schedule by himself, so I called at him to say hello. He walked over to chat so, as an icebreaker, I mentioned that about a year ago, a friend had sent me a picture of him holding one of my band’s records. I asked if he was actually a fan and it turns out, to my delight, that he was! He explained that our mutual friend Tom Sharpling, from WFMU’s The Best Show, had sent him a bunch of our recordings, which apparently he listened to! I got a photo with him, and he also got a photo of us on his iPhone, and I guess that’s when our friendship started because we spent the rest of the afternoon watching bands together. Fred is seriously one sweet dude! Such a pleasure it was to meet him. Getting a text from him the following afternoon, telling me that he was listening to my band while going for a jog that morning, also made me melt a little bit inside. Surreal!!
Dave Chappelle (comedian) It was the 5th day of Coachella when I was standing in the artist area and noticed that Dave was smoking cigarettes directly behind me. When I saw him, I was determined to say hello. After he finished chatting with a lady, I walked up to him, held out my hand and said, “Dave, I’m Sandy. How are you doing?” He shook my hand and said, “What’s up! Are you enjoying the festival?” We chatted for a minute until a lady approached him with an offering; chocolate magic mushrooms. She explained that they were a special recipe; she makes them only when there’s a full moon out. He seemed reluctant to take them, but I had heard of this lady before because my friend Ann had purchased a batch, so I knew they were legit. I said to Dave, “Dude! You’re at a music festival. When someone offers you mushrooms, you take them! They’re chocolate!!” Still, he didn’t seem so sure, so I said, “If you’re not going to take them, then I will,” to which he responded, with a laugh, “Be my guest!” So I took a bite, thanked the woman, wished Dave well, asked for a photo, which he took because he said he had long arms, and off I went, grinning ear to ear for the rest of the night. Oh yeah, and he said that he ‘liked my vibe’. Niiiice!
Matt Mondanile (Ducktails, Real Estate) Matt’s not really famous, but he’s fun.
Naked guy swimming at the Jeremy Scott party.
Watching Radiohead with pals Jackson Pollis, Matt Mondanile, and Alex Bleeker.
(Photo taken by unknown).
Losing our minds with Yael Greenberg, Seth Peterson, and Phil Hoelting.