The Austin Chronicle


Rated R, 120 min. Directed by Drew Thomas.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 10, 2006

First things first. If you love – or even like, or are somewhat curious about – the contemporary musical spectrum and you haven't yet attended the annual Coachella Music and Arts Festival, you ought to think about attending this year. Every April, in the desert outside of Palm Springs, on the perfectly manicured pitch of the Indio Polo Grounds and beneath one of the most expansive and azure skies on Earth, some 80,000 music lovers, artists, freaks, geeks, stray KROQ deejays, and, occasionally, a drunken Liam Gallagher and sib Noel gather in this literal oasis for two days of music and revelry in what (forgive me, Austin City Limits) is the single most consistently entertaining and downright fun music festival in America. The perpetually festival-mad UK may have Glastonbury (too muddy), and Reading (eh …), and Scotland's T in the Park (no coffee, dammit!), but we Yanks have Coachella, and, speaking from experience, it rocks the proverbial house like no other. Where else can you see Iggy Pop & the Stooges back to back with Morrissey, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Belle & Sebastian, Bright Eyes, and Nine Inch Nails? Nowhere but in this rambling, celebratory documentary, which covers performances from all six years of the festival's history (though, annoyingly, doesn't bother to tell you which year you're actually watching at any particular time) but nonetheless manages to catch the laid-back, slow-fi charm of the actual event. Utilizing 16 HD cameras and focusing not only on the music but the attendees as well, it's a pretty accurate picture of the Coachella experience. "I lost my friend," says one young woman, wandering among the midday throng. "She's got all the money, she's got the schedule, I have nothing. And I'm lost. I have no idea where I'm going." And yet you've never seen anyone looking quite so charmingly beatific and untroubled. Such is the nature of the event. Coachella the movie nails it. "I am you!" shouts everyone's favorite dog Iggy Pop in a moment of blissful rock & roll abandon. And he's right. Especially at Coachella.

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