High Noon For FM ScienceThe curtain went up on music festival Coachella's first show outside Palm Springs on October 10th of 1999, just three months after the mayhem of an overrun, over-charged, over-dosed Woodstock's second and final revival.
The mood ahead of time was tense. "Coachella is the first major overnight rock festival to be held in the United States since Woodstock '99, and it is clear that the burning and looting that overshadowed that event have sent a message to rock concert promoters," the New York Times reported in September of that year.
Fear and anxiety about safety were no doubt fueled by the looming Millennium, the Mayan Apocalypse of its time. As the decade and century drew to a close, society at large was split between those who foresaw a brighter future and those who dreaded an industrialized dystopia. The future of that time was state-of-the-art, strange and a hybrid of light and dark ? and so too was the music.
The industrial rock of Rage Against the Machine and the electronic darkness ofLuke Vibert's surreal tracks sat side by side at the record store with indie pop bossa nova of Cibo Matto and the forward-looking mixes of the Chemical Brothers. Gil Scott-Heron was making a comeback and so too was Morrissey. And both men joined these and other acts at Coachella's inaugural event.
In the end, that first Coachella went off mostly without a hitch. The biggest problem was lack of revenue and for a moment it seemed the festival was a one-off event, a mere cultural spasm of a rocky, horrifying and promising century. But it returned in a smaller, shorter format in April of 2001 and then, in 2002, expanded back to a two-day affair days.
The next year was the biggest in its short history, and the event has only continued to grow, becoming an integral part of Palm Springs' cultural scene, luring performers such as Dre. Dre, Madonna, Kanye West, The White Stripes, The Cure and Bjork to California's Coachella Valley.
This year's line-up, taking the stage April 12 and 13, includes a traditionally eclectic crew, including Le Roux, Vampire Weekend, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phoenix, Wu-Tang, Grizzly Bear, the xx and many more.
Before all of that, get reacquainted with the sounds that started it all, and that helped change the face of Palm Springs forever.
Though these tracks are not from the actual Coachella 1999 performances ? the performances were not, truth be told, spectacular ? they are of that era, and help listeners envision what the music world was like as one century ended and another began.
If you don't have Spotify, visit their website and download it. It's free and has more longevity, one hopes, than Napster, Internet Explorer 5.0 and MySpace, all of which hit the web in 1999.