Coachella Festival 2003: Saturday

The Beastie Boys at Coachella 2003 by Craig Arthur
The Beastie Boys at Coachella 2003 by Craig Arthur

Day one of the festival featured The Beastie Boys, The Blue Man Group, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Queens of the Stone Age, Blur, The Hives, N*E*R*D*, Idlewild, The Donnas and The Mooney Suzuki, among others...

[r-zone1]With the gates opening promptly (on time) there was just time enough to stroll by the art exhibits (mostly being set up at the time) before Particle had the unenviable task of being the first band on the outdoor stage & kicking off the entire festival. The black clad New York City outfit, The Mooney Suzuki passed out foam rubber giant fingers to the sparse crowd, then took the stage putting on an entertaining show.

[l-zone2]The big stage is hard to fill, especially when the majority of the crowd is still outside as The Donnas discovered when they took the stage at 2:30pm. At one point lead singer Donna A (Brett Anderson), offered a Donna F guitar pick to the loudest fan… which she threw out, even though no one really deserved it!

Most of the neo “punk” crowd that caught The Donnas’ set then filled the Gobi tent where Ian MacKaye had a Q&A putting to rest any rumor of a Minor Threat reunion. “Why mess up what was a good thing, I couldn’t do that,” he said. He seemed to get annoyed that many of the questions revolved around his “straight edge” lifestyle. He also had the first anti-war message of the day stating that, “anyone who has a chance to get in front of a microphone and say they’re against the war, should do so.”

[r-zone3]Just next door to the Gobi tent, sound was spilling over from the swampy Mojave tent which was packed with curiosity seekers checking out Idlewild. Most of the predominantly American audience became aware of this band for the first time after purchasing Pearl Jam tickets & seeing them listed as the opening act for Eddie and company’s American summer tour. Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame was working the sound board for Idlewild somewhat anonomously.

[l-zone4]Next up on the main stage were N*E*R*D* who generously donated half of their alloted time to their backing band Spymob. Pharrel Williams and company made the most of their remaining time doing three songs, with Williams performing off the stage and in the crowd the majority of the time. For a finale of sorts, he introduced Kelly Osbourne and Black Eyed PeasWill.I.Am for a version of “Rock Star.” Osbourne passed on the rock star duties however, first summoning a friend to the stage, dancing for a minute then running off laughing, seemingly embarassed.

[r-zone5]Boasting that their performance alone would be worth the ticket price, lead singer Pelle Almqvist and the rest of the sharply dressed Hives provided the most fun set of the day. Almqvist goaded the crowd the entire time at one point asking, “Are you hot?”. When everyone, including the men responded with an enthusiastic, “yes,” he smiled sheepishly declaring, “So then, what you are saying is I make you hot… is that right?” The Hives drew the first big crowd of the day, playing the dinner time slot that The Strokes occupied last year.


[r-zone1]Blur used the first part of their sunset hour set to preview tracks from their forthcoming album Think Tank, at one point dedicating a song to the late Joe Strummer. A huge cheer erupted from the sun mellowed crowd when frontman Damon Albarn announced, “this is a song from 1994,” followed by the playing of the radio friendly hit “Girls and Boys.” Shortly afterwards, though, came “Song 2,”  which really woke up the crowd.

[l-zone2]Local favorites Queens of the Stone Age took the main stage next, (they played last year’s festival on the second stage), and as night sank over the Coachell!a Valley, it was no longer possible to get within the first 30 or so rows of people.  Their set however seemed somewhat uninspired, compared to last year when they had something to prove, (and a very famous guest drummer in Dave Grohl who was a one man show).

At this point, with the crowd becoming solidly packed, we were forced to make some tough decisions like: stay put and have a great position for Ben Harper and the Beastie Boys on the main stage, or become a roamer taking in more bands with a less favorable view?

[r-zone3]Those staying put for Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals were treated to a lively set which featured Harper doing many fan favorites including, “Steal My Kisses,” “My Own Two Hands” and, “Burn One Down,” which judging by the smell in the air… many did.

[l-zone4]The Blue Man Group, easily this year’s most intriguing act, started their weirdness on the Outdoor Theatre stage before Harper’s set ended on the main Coachella stage. Most known for their Pentium commercials and nightly act in Las Vegas, this was the debut show of the group’s touring production, which has to be seen to be believed. 

[r-zone5]Banging away on drums and plastic pipes their goal is to, “make people feel like they’re on drugs without drugs,” according to founding Blue Man, Chris Wink. And for those that “Burned One Down” during Ben Harper’s set and decided to see what all the noise was coming from the outdoor theatre… well, they really had an opportunity!


[r-zone1]On this night there was little doubt that the Beastie Boys were the main event. Taking the stage in street clothes (without instruments) at around 10:55pm the Beasties appeared to be in top form right from the start. More than anything though, it looked like they were there to have a good time (rather than change the world). At one point Mix Master Mike teased the crowd with the intro to Brass Monkey which seemed to catch everyone by surprise, including Ad Rock who started laughing, shaking his head, “no.”

[l-zone2]Adam Yauch finally got a chance to voice a few concerns after one of MMM’s records blew off of the turntable, “As long as we’re all here, we might as well talk about a few things… America is becoming the world’s bully, and I don’t see how that’s making the world any safer.”

[r-zone3]Yauch added, “If President Bush wants the oil that bad, he should go over (to Iraq) and fight for it himself–I don’t see him on the frontlines.” He also urged the crowd, “When this next election comes in 2004, please vote for anyone but Bush! Let’s make sure this guy doesn’t get re-elected.”

[l-zone4]Though, the Beasties were still able to keep it fun, at one point Ad Rock mixed up the verses in “Pass the Mic,” stopping the song cold while looking to MCA and Mike D for help. Mike D appeared to whisper the correct lyrics to him. Later, Ad Rock poked fun at those who take their “patriotism” to an extreme by changing a lyric, “I’m intercontinental when I eat ‘freedom’ toast.” (“Freedom” in place of “French” in the song, “The Move.”  The Beastie Boys certainly left festival goers in a good mood, and wanting more… closing the show with “Intergalactic” from, “Hello Nasty.”

[r-zone5]Beastie Boy’s Coachella Setlist:

Disco Breakin’
Sure Shot
Stand Together
Flute Loop
Root Down into Brass Monkey into Root Down
New Song
Shake Your Rump
Body Movin’
Pass the Mic
World Gone Mad (new)
The Move
So Watcha Want
3 MC’s