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Coachella, Queen of the Desert



    Saturday is typically the rough day of the Coachella weekend for me. I wake up feeling the effects of Friday, my feet hurt, and I know that I've got to ask them to do it all over again, and it's the one day of the odyssey that doesn't have any extra packing or planning, so you have no excuse to not go large.

    I told myself as I was passing the Chicken and Waffle House (yup, that's right) that now holds down the entrance to the festival -- at least from where I parked -- that I was going to take it easy. Of course I didn't, but I had a momentary flash of common sense early on.

    But Saturday was all about the music. There was so much to see, and it was pretty much nonstop. I started off with Minnesota's Trampled By Turtles, the one band that would have had no problem making an appearance at the Stagecoach Festival in two weeks. It was nice to hear the mandolin/violin combination float over the early crowd.

    Next was NYC internet sensation Cults. Singer Madeline Follin gave it up, and the band proved that they are more than just a passing fancy. Then it was a wild international whirlwind of the electro-political funk of Columbia's Bomba Estereo, the acoustic intricacy of Sweden's the Tallest Man on Earth (who's actually pretty short), and the sprawling rock loveliness of England's Foals -- complete with guitarist Jimmy Smith looking like a poolside Angus Young.

    Following that was a high-energy set from gypsy punks Gogol Bordello, mellow vibes from Sweden's the Radio Department and a quick rush back to the main stage -- as fast as my flip-flops would take me -- to catch Erykah Badu's set. She was amazing and cranked out a '80s inspired take on "Apple Tree" and the sexy slink of "Didn't Cha Know" - -which she claimed was "[her] very favorite song to play live."

    Next it was off to Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice's lovers project, Jenny and Johnny, and a Danny-DeVito-watched set by the Neko Case-fronted New Pornographers. Then I was off to a welcome slew of comebacks, as I jumped from Conor Oberst back as Bright Eyes to Alison Mosshart back with the Kills to Zach de le Rocha back on the stage raging as One Day as a Lion.

    Finally, it was time to end the night with a couple of veterans. Seventies punks Wire seemed like the never missed a beat, and Mick Jones' Big Audio Dynamite was as tight as the first time I saw them as a fresh-faced high school graduate back when they played the MTV tour with Blind Melon and were known as Big Audio Dynamite II. Whew. It makes me tired just writing it all down.

    Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of