We Are Music

2 05 2007

By Jill Ettinger

As I float 37,000 feet above this country, thinking all those thoughts that tend to find me when left to gaze out through the little plexi-glass pod to my left, I feel calm, incredibly prepared for something, anything…perhaps, everything. Reflecting on my last twelve days on the road, my head fogged with a flu trying to take me over, desert sand still embedded in my toes, acai thickly lining my fingernails, sparse sleep and hours of dancing in the sun, there’s almost no words that can do justice to these recent experiences, but they are simply too worthy for me not to make the attempt.

What sparked at the beginning of this journey at GreenFest in Chicago (well documented here on IC in pics & words by Derek) came to full expression at Coachella this last weekend. I’ve been wanting to get to this event for years, and at the urging of my good friends over at Sambazon to come out and share superfoods at their booth, my time had finally arrived.

Coachella is Burning Man meets Woodstock, and no doubt soon enough, meets GreenFest. But there’s a gap before that last part happens. Clearly. I found myself quite frustrated at the drunken stupor that somehow makes trash cans invisible. I’ve never seen so many accessible garbage and recycling bins at an event. They were conspicuously positioned every twenty feet, if not ten. Yet in between and all around, heaps of trash. The Mexicans-for-hire not even given trash sticks. They had to bend down, in the hot sun over and over and over again picking up bottles, half-eaten pieces of pizza and shoes (seriously, what was up with the shoes?),  while Paris Hilton cooled herself in the VIP lounge and the inebriated attendees flocked to the nacho booth. But all griping aside, this event is absolutely magical. I didn’t see one fight. I saw one guy raise his voice to his girlfriend, and he was grabbed immediately by a fellow attendee and told to cool it, which he did. Everyone danced. Everyone, including the underpaid workers, smiled and laughed. The organic consciousness was present even if only in a few of the food vendors, definitely in the art and music.

A big highlight kicked off Friday night: Stephen Marley with brother Damian. What this generation’s Marleys represent, in a bittersweet way, may be more important than their own music, as their father penned five out of the nine songs they performed. Stephen’s latest record Mind Control is easily one of the best to drop in 2007, but the crowded polo field of seekers needed a bigger message, one that only Nesta himself can deliver and Stephen’s raspy renditions turned back the clocks to set the tone. Other performances included the music festival god himself Perry Farrel’s latest project Satellite Party, Arcade Fire, Konono No 1, The Black Keys, Gotan Project, Bjork, Manu Chao, The Roots, Willie Nelson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine’s first performance in over seven years… and, the list goes on and on and on. Over 100 performances in 3 days, PLUS all the artist spaces, like the Do-Lab’s mushroom village that were going off day and night.  Coachella was a space out of time. I felt suspended in a bubble of goodness. Even the heat seemed to be off-set by the down right amazing time. Great music and great people (and of course tons of acai and goji berries) definitely make for great times.

Back to Rage for a few final thoughts. They were a critical band to emerge in the ’90s. Their powerful and urgent messages timely: think for yourself, question the powers that be, DO SOMETHING. While there were artists performing at this year’s event that touch the more sensual side and progression of our artistry, we are living in a world where just now as I type this, President Bush vetoes a war spending bill which includes a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Rage’s reunion performance couldn’t  be more appropriate. Like the organic acai booth amidst a sea of Heineken beer and Pepsi, times are indeed a changin’. Music is that other language, the one we use to understand things we don’t quite understand. We use it to define ourselves, both as artists and as fans, and either way, it tends to become the most powerful activator we have. Maybe, we are more than the message being conveyed in the songs we claim, maybe we are the music itself. And if that’s the case, then harmony is inevitable, even if it takes us a little while to get there.




4 responses

2 05 2007

that sounded like a wonderful time. i’d love to hit the road with you for a few days this summer.

2 05 2007
Chris Bottomley

Cool article Jill, i would love to play/attend that festival sometime…sounds like a fun-filled community event! Good to meet you in Guelph in March at Eccodeck/Brainfudge…let me know how you liked the Cd!


3 05 2007
Lucy Clero

“Music is in all of the sounds of nature and there never was a sound that was not music–the splash of an alligator, the rain dripping on dry leaves, a long and lonesome train whistling down, a truck horn blowing at a street corner speaker–kids squawling along the streets–the silent wail of wind and sky caressing the breasts of the desert … [The world] is the music and the people are the song”.

Woody Guthrie

8 06 2007

Wow, I gotta join up and do some of this kind of traveling.

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