Coachella Festival 2003: Saturday

United States United States | by Craig Arthur | 22 May 2003

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.

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."

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.

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 Peas' Will.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.

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.

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