Skinny Lister (from L) Rosco Wuestewald, Daniel Heptinstall, Max Thomas, Lorna Thomas, Andy "slim" Black, Michael Camino
The backstage at Coachella had a convivial atmosphere on Friday, which's no wonder – all the acts on the bill had been in the same spot a week ago, so playing the huge field again was old hat. Even Skinny Lister – the festival's first mainstage band of both weekends – could feel a change in the air. “I didn't think last weekend could be topped – but this weekend was even better,” said singer Lorna Thomas. “We had a really good gig this week – we're excited.”
The band has found the key to making those early-day spots palatable to play. “Bring more booze than you can handle,” said bassist Michael Camino, with his tongue possibly in his cheek, “and drink it all!” They spent their time in between fests playing shows with bands like the Dropkick Murphys – and on the Thursday night before this one, instead of being glued to the TV watching coverage of Boston, they were actually watching their label head, Joe Sib, of Side One Dummy, do stand up at the Laugh Factory.
White Arrows from L: Christian Coffey, Mad Mac Ent., Mickey Church, Andrew Naeve, Jon Burlew (Tech), JP Caballero, Steven Vernet, Henry Church
We got to tell White Arrows they caught the suspect, but that was after the band and their manager Christian Coffey, from Mad Mac Ent., found themselves running late to their signing at the Zia tent due to a time-honored festival tradition: waiting backstage for a golf cart. When the band finally got there, they were treated with a long line... for the following act to sign autographs, Alt-J. White Arrows had just a few teenagers come out to see them, but they seemed genuinely psyched to hang with those fans, taking pictures and signing shirts, arms, and even an American flag.
Backstage afterwards, frontman Mickey Church admitted that while he hasn't played Coachella before, there are some people – namely, security guards – who thought that he had. “I've come to every single Coachella except the first one,” he told us. “I used to sneak into the festival. We got in a blue Jetta behind the Mojave tent, which used to be VIP parking. Myself and the older kids from our school rolled up. [We told security] we were supposed to be playing. 'Who are you?' 'Um...Devandra Banhart!' They totally let us in!”
That said, he didn't think that one day his band would actually rock a Coachella stage. “A few years ago when we started the band, it was a dream to play Coachella. The fact that it's actually happened is incredible.”
The second weekend seems to be when many of the artists are actually finding time to watch their colleagues: we spotted members of Passion Pit in the VIP corral at Purity Ring, and Polica watching Palma Violets (there was also a giant snail watching Divine Fits). Lisa Worden, the APD/MD at KROQ, stood to our left in the corral for Modest Mouse's redemptive set, while to our right was Sea Wolf guitarist Scott Leahy, who said he'd never played Coachella but was excited for his band's upcoming gigs at Bonnaroo and Sasquash. But for the Canadian band Stars, their unifying band-watching moment came last weekend.
Stars performing at Coachella: Torquil Campbell (left) and Amy Milan (Photo: Scott Dudelson)
“We all as a band watched Blur last weekend together. It's going to be one of the most special times of our career. We never do that – it's so hard when you're on the road to get together. We all met out in the pit and were jumping up and down together,” said singer Amy Milan, sitting in the same backstage trailer park where Jurassic 5 member Chali 2Na was warming up for his set later in the nights. “I don't know that I can top that this week.”
Member Pat McGee was psyched to run off to see Sparks, but before he did, he had to tell us about his majestic stage outfit – a one piece jumpsuit decorated to look like the universe. “This had been conceived for us by a friend Sean in Montreal. When she heard that I wanted to make a onesie, she jumped all over it.”