Thank You For The Music (Coachella, California)

Right, here’s my Coachella blog. The festival was amazing but it was so long ago it almost feels irrelevant! I’ve just broken it down into some main paragraphs to cover the most important areas. Thankfully Fish covered the behind-the-scenes parts because that was definitely the highlight for me. We’ve since done an amazing road trip through the South, and we’re in our last day of 4 in New York now. We fly to Colombia tomorrow to start our South America travels! So let’s start catching up on what the States showed us…

Here’s my Coachella summary:

The headliners:

Night one was ACDC. We all got far too excited and went too hard during the evening so after enjoying Interpol and Tame Impala it was all too hard for us to stay upright for a 2 hour ACDC set. We hung around long enough to hear Thunderstruck which was all we really needed anyway. The boys still managed to watch and commentate an entire Crows match back at the tent whilst Mary and I called everyone’s number we could think of. I’m sure everyone enjoyed that.


Night two was Jack White who I had no time for. I will gladly swallow my pride and admit that I was wrong on this one and I was glad that Fish had him down as a must-see. He did a really rad old-school-country version of Hotel Yorba which was one of my favourite songs for the whole festival.

Night three was Jimmy From Degrassi, or, as he likes to be called now, Drake. What a load of rubbish. You’ve probably all read about and seen pictures of Madonna’s guest appearance in his set where she randomly pashed him and he quite obviously was horrified? Yeah, well that was the most interesting thing about the whole freakin’ set. Yawn factor 10.

The guest appearances:

So, Coachella is known for guest appearances. Whether it’s a hologram of Tu-Pac or Kanye West performing a mini-set, you’re guaranteed a guest appearance during a headline act and can almost expect artists who’ve featured on a song to appear for that part of the set. Case in point – I dragged Fish along to see just a little bit of SBTRKT’s set before we hit the hay on night two. Lo and behold, Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend wandered out and delivered New Dorp, New York then trotted off again. It was amazing. I think even Fish was impressed despite hating that song (DIGRESSION: I love that song but Fish hates it because he thinks the lyrics are dumb. We’re in New York right now and we saw a sign today that listed New Dorp as a location! I was so excited that that wasn’t just a dumb lyric! I now just have to find a statue or something of gargoyles gargling oil…)


Zach De La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine featured in Run The Jewels set which we tragically missed due to unfortunate clashes. After complaining so much about how sparse the line-up was of good acts I managed to miss bands I would’ve liked to see and Day 2 was a corker for clashes of bands. I think you realistically can only watch up to 5 bands in one day of a festival by the time you factor in food, beverage, shade, and rest needs.

Jack White had a full band behind him which included the lead singer from the Dixie Chicks on fiddle and back-up vocals which was kinda cool.

Now, Madonna… Kiss, shmiss, whatever, that was the least of what was wrong with that appearance. The whole thing was confusing – why was she even there? When people make a guest appearance, especially during the headline set, they should have some connection to the people performing or at least be relevant. Honestly, when she appeared Fish and Mary where sitting down having a chat (because that’s how compelling Drake’s set was) and Kosta and I were standing there going:

“here we go…. Someone is going to appear…”

*opening strains of Hung Up start*

“ohhhhhh, is it Lady Gaga?!”

“Nah….. it’s…. ummmmm…….”

*Madonna comes out on stage*

“Who is that?!”


“Oh yeah it is! What’s she doing here?”

The whole thing just smacked of a publicity grab for Madonna.


Right! Enough whinging! Good stuffs!

Royal Blood. Woah. They were incredible. They’re a very unorthodox set up of one bass guitarist/vocalist and a drummer and they will blow your face off. I can’t believe the sounds those guys could produce just between the pair of them. The crowd loved it too.


My personal highlight was a recommendation from Jacob, Mary’s brother. It was a band I’d never heard of from Alabama called St Paul and The Broken Bones and they were on so early that they didn’t clash with anyone so we went to check them out. They were a suited and booted big band – brass; drums; keys; guitarists – fronted by a man who was as plain as an arrowroot biscuit but had amazing stage presence and had an incredible voice. The best thing I can compare them to is Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, but remove Sharon Jones and replace her with the body of Drew Carey and the voice of the chick from Alabama Shakes. Kaysie, you would love them and I think you need to get Tennis onto trying to get them out for Blenheim fest!


Interpol were great, as per usual; Milky Chance were excellent despite the lead singer being really sick and nearly losing his voice; St Lucia were fun; Parquet Courts; Kasabian, and Florence and The Machine. Florence was just wonderful and we later found out that she actually broke her foot during the set from running all over the stage!

Celeb spotting:

Guys, so many celebs! I got well excited. My favourite was Donna and Hyde from That 70s Show being right in front of us during Bad Religion (I was more excited about them than the band). We also saw the curly haired dude from Workaholics; a few Victoria’s Secret models; John and Yoko’s son; and some famous bloggers. Mary and Kosta knew all the actual names of these people, but whatever. We thought we saw Kahleesi from Game Of Thrones but it turned out to be another short chick with bleached hair and dark eyebrows; and there were about 8 incorrect Dave Grohl sightings within one hour. There were unconfirmed sightings of Justin Bieber and Iggy Azaelia. Oh and we saw Fitzy from Aussie radio/ Big Brother hahaha.


The best one, however, was when Fish and Kosta were standing right in front of Aaron Paul during The War On Drugs set. He’s Jesse from Breaking Bad. Mary and I were off watching Ghostface Killah and Raekwon and when we came back the boys had drunk all of the waterbottles of vodka we’d packed so were on another level. Kosta was preeeeeetty excited about seeing Aaron Paul and that name became his answer to anything, the best time being after Mary asked if he was ok: “Mary… A) Aaron Paul… B) Aaron Paul)”. That became the quote of the festival. Now if we list anything we have to start at C because we all know what A and B are.

"And just to my left here is Aaron Paul..."
“And just to my left here is Aaron Paul…”

At the end of the day:

So, we had a brilliant time. The line-up was definitely solid enough to keep me interested and there was the added bonus of not being torn between two bands due to clashes. Even that wouldn’t have been that much of a problem because of the Golden Ticket that is a Safari Pass – just jump back stage, get on a golf cart and get whisked to the next stage. It was freaking hot during the day so I don’t know how it must be if you camp and then have to walk a million miles into the festival grounds. I’d do it all over again but only with the Safari Pass. In summary:

A)     Aaron Paul

B)      Aaron Paul

C)      Safari Pass

D)     Coachella

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Jackson, Mississippi)

Guys, we’ve been so busy doing so much we haven’t had time to write about it. I’ll get around to doing my Coachella blog at some point (maybe) and at least one of us will write about this roadtrip that we’re currently on. But I’m writing this post as a bit of a public service announcement – Jackson, Mississippi, is a shit-hole.

Yesterday we drove from New Orleans, Louisiana, and drove north to Memphis, Nashville. This involves driving all the way through Mississippi and we were pretty excited to have a stop in Jackson. We were singing ‘We’re going to Jackson’ by Johnny Cash and June Carter for most of the morning, sometimes interspersed with a little “Hollywood, Harlem, Jackson Mississippi” from Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk. We got into town and shut up immediately. Why, Mark Ronson?! Why?!

We did not even get out of the car. I think the only person we saw was one guy on a park bench who started walking towards us when we paused too long at an intersection. I just asked Fish how he would describe the place and he just said ‘Caltowie’. Perfect.

Downtown Jackson

Mary googled some facts about the town as we quickly retreated – Jackson has a population of 175,000 people (the largest city in Mississippi) and the state ranks as the worst in the entire USA in education attainment; mean household income; and health. It’s also the most racist and most religious.

We just have no idea why the city gets sung about.

Title is from The Animals ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’. Kosta thinks the song is about the Vietnam War but I’m sure it’s another Jackson song.

Coachells bells

Coachella in my mind has always been a mythical place that I assumed I’d never see, just hear about every year because something huge happened that had every music-loving person in the world at half chub. When I realised it might fit into our US schedule I got a bit excited myself, but when Siz got me tix as a pressie, I was peaking. Little did I know…

We got going from LA early-ish Thursday morning thanks to Mary and Kosta weaselling another few days off, and it paid off. What can sometimes be a 5 hour trek was done in 2. I had noticed when packing the car that there was a severe lack of tent and sleeping gear, but I put that down to Coachella perhaps having a strict provided-tents-only policy. Things started to seem stranger when we pulled up to a country club in town instead of a paddock. ‘Should we tell Fish what’s happening?’ asked Siz. They decided not to. I thought I might be in for a late birthday lunch or something, but then we went inside and there was a Coachella check-in desk. We got handed a welcome pack and were instructed to follow a concierge in a car to the grounds. Now still at this point I just assumed this was standard operating procedure for Coachella goers and this was the most fucking mintly organised festival ever dreamed up by mankind.

We weren't the only fans on the way to Coachella haha FISHY
We weren’t the only fans on the way to Coachella haha FISHY

Things started to click when we arrived at the festival proper. We pulled up in a car park marked ‘Safari’ and 8 people spread over 4 golf carts rushed over to meet us. ‘Hey Fish, see these golf carts?’ Kosta asked, ‘they drive us to the stages’. We weren’t at Falls anymore. The carts took our bags and ourselves and drove from the car park into an Adelaide oval quality patch of turf with immaculately constructed white tents arranged in a bicycle spoke pattern around a central larger tent. They dropped us at a tent 3 from the centre, where our concierge unzipped the front flaps to display two friggin’ queen size beds, a bar fridge, air conditioner, full length mirror and the cutest little outdoor setting you’ve seen in your whole darned life. Fair to say I was a touch taken aback. ‘And guys if you want to book in for your massages just wander over to the front desk there and they’ll take care of you’. What the hell.

If this isn't 1000 thread count I swear to God I will end you
If this isn’t 1000 thread count I swear to God I will end you

So anyways on top of the most palatial tent on God’s green earth and daily rub-downs, we got;

  • Full buffet breakfasts and midnight snacks daily, as well free non-alcoholic beverages
  • Fancy pants shower and dunny blocks away from the plebs
  • The aforementioned shuttle service to the back of any stage we choose
  • An area at the front of each stage reserved for Safari campers and artists
  • Entry into the VIP and artist areas of the festival
  • A feeling of being better than everyone else
Central site tent outside
The mountains in the background were actually put there for the benefit of Safari pass holders

I was honestly a bit overawed by the whole thing, and it took a while to process the princely situation that we were going to be living. For a fella who hasn’t ever showered at a festival before and more often than not ends up with some sort of bodily fluid in his tent by the end, the thought that I could have the awesome times without the grimier times at Coachella was something else. Especially for the fact the average temperature for Coachella in April is around 40c.

So I decompressed in the car while we ducked out to Slab City from the movie Into The Wild. It’s a crazy hippie commune in the middle of the desert (an hour away from Coachella) that features a huge mound of dirt that a fella spent 28 years covering in papier mache and painting preachy religious slogans on. I can only assume his choice of ‘Jesus come upon my body’ didn’t quite have the connotations back in the 80s that it does today. Or maybe, as the info booth noted, he was just too hopped up on acid to notice.

Jesus would be heaps chuffed
Jesus would be heaps chuffed

Thursday night was enjoyed at our abode with a free feed put on for us high rollers with a DJ pumping out tunes in the central tent. I started to get the feeling the excesses were having an effect on me when I dropped a mountain of fried chicken on the floor and instead of being a normal dude and crying, I laughed and went and got more. Sorry starved African kiddies 😦

I’ll let Siz talk you through the festival proper but I will just say that the one band that I was drop dead keen on – Royal Blood – blew my face off and were by far and away my highlight of the festival. But there were so many hidden gems and stunning headliners that it would probably take the equivalent of a Bryce Courtenay novel to describe everyone/everything.

In summation, we done fun.

Havasu, Crushin’ Brews, Marry a Man

So on we went from San Fran. After 4 hours sleep and 0 cups of coffee we got picked up at 8am Friday by Mary and Kosta from John Wayne airport, heading straight to Lake Havasu for the Easter weekend. FUN FACT: All you have to do in America to get an airport named after you is be in a film.

All I’d heard from people about Havasu before getting there was that it’s a cradle of college filth. If you have a dip in the water you’ll either get pregnant or have the best skin in the world. The major trade along the shoreline is in Pastieez (cos how ELSE would you spell it) which are sticky nipple discs you can chuck on so as not to get locked up for indecent exposure when you’re saying G’day to someone with your chesticles.

All this and more was running through my head when the bomb was dropped that we are currently in the middle of SPRING BREAK for southern California. SPRING BREAK by all reports is exactly like what you see in the movies. Also SPRING BREAK has to be capitalised when written because SPRING BREAK.

What a shithole
What a shithole

We got to Havasu though and it seemed like a chilled out version of Renmark. It’s situated 4 hours inland from LA and it is legitimately in the middle of nowhere – the 4 hours drive was pure desert and apart from the servos that fed the freeway there was not a sign of humanity. Mary’s lovely mum Tina and stepdad Dave have an awesome pair of places that back on to a golf course 5 minutes drive from the lake. Us young pups set up camp at chateau #2 while the oldies held court at #1. The Friday night was spent beering and barbecuing around the Jacuzzi, and thanks to the early start had ended for us by 11pm.

Saturday was scheduled as lake time, and after a slow start by a few people we ended up getting out to the water by lunchtime. Mary’s extended family has teamed up to buy the sweet combo of a pontoon boat (floating bar that does 30kph) and a Nautica ski boat (the most mint ski boat I’ve ever seen). We drove around the lake until we found a nice little clearing, tied the two together and set about our business, which included and was limited to beers.

Two boats backwards is staob owt which means 'heck yeah' in dutch.
Two boats backwards is staob owt which means ‘heck yeah’ in dutch.

I did end up having a quick wakeboard at the end of the day but it wasn’t great because it was choppy and I’d had many beers and people were looking and my mustache was sore and the barometric pressure was way off and excuses. To mend the aches we had family burritos that night and watched the Crows start the season in style, explaining what the hell these lads were doing every 30 seconds to the Americans.

Drowning Siz proved harder when she got her hands on some pool noodles
Drowning Siz proved harder when she got her hands on some pool noodles

Sunday was just chill central. We got back on the pontoon boat for a few hours for a couple more drinks but there were some sore heads and a 4 hour drive to knock over back to LA, so everyone kept themselves in check. Havasu’s must see is London Bridge, which is a previous version of the actual London Bridge that they shipped into the middle of the friggin’ American desert brick by brick and recreated. Pointless, excessive and awesome. The words that come to mind for about 98% of the US that I’ve seen so far.

We got back at 11:30pm Sunday thanks to another marathon effort from Kosta behind the wheel. The poor bastard was the only one of us who needed to work in the morning as well. What a trooper.

For a slice of the Havasu life and to get the title reference, do yourself a favour and have a squiz –

She’s Got Legs, She Knows How To Use Them (San Francisco, California)

After our excessive weekend in Vegas Mary and Kosta went back to work and Fish and I flew up to San Francisco.

This was the first time we weren’t being shepherded around by friends or family and we were being total tourists. One of the draw cards to San Fran was that my friends, Danny and Alisha, were living in Berkeley. Let me digress for a moment and explain something critical about San Francisco that you probably don’t know until you get there: San Francisco itself is quite small but it’s situated on an enormous bay. Across the bay are the ‘cities’ of Berkeley and Oakland but in essence all three of these cities blend into one and form The Bay Area. We stayed in Oakland and it was only 15 minutes to downtown SF – the train system connects them all.

We couldn’t stay with Danny and Alisha because they’ve got a 2 month old baby, Ollie, so it wasn’t a good time for visitors for them. We still spent a glorious amount of time with them, but I’ll get to that later… Hostels in America are expensive. Like, $40 for a dorm bed per night. That does not work with our budget. So we Couchsurfed. (It’s probably necessary at this point to explain that is a website where travellers and hosts can put profiles up and people can request to stay with them. You leave reviews, it’s very legitimate, I’ve never heard of a bad experience such as robbery, only personality clashes. I’ve been on CS for about 5 years and have met amazing people through it. I’m a strong advocate of it.)

Our host, Danny (very confusing that 66% of the people we know in SF are called Danny), was actually the most accommodating man in the world. He picked us up from the airport and was all about us just having the best possible time in SF. We hardly saw him for the first two days and he was totally fine with that. The best thing was (and we didn’t plan this, it just worked out perfectly) that his place was in downtown Oakland, three blocks from the metro station, and it was one 15 minute train to Danny and Alisha’s stop; and one 15 minute train to downtown San Fran – we were so perfectly connected for our stay. We got in late at night from Vegas so after a short chat with Danny we hit the hay hard.

The first day we were in San Francisco we knocked over a LOT of the major touristy stuff. It was a brilliant day! We walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf via Lombard Street- the windiest (as in curved, not windy. Same word… weird…) street in the world. We then hired bikes and rode what ended up being 30kms – along the water (beautiful parks, beach, views of the Golden Gate Bridge, tourists, sunshine), over the Golden Gate Bridge (very windy, longer than you expect), back over the Bridge and along the water front, through town to Golden Gate Park, back through the Presidio (an area that was an old naval and army base but is now all museums and some houses) and back to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was the most exercise I’ve done in a long time but it was so much fun.


That evening we had dinner with Danny and Alisha. Danny and Alisha were some of the great friends that Lol, Kaysie and I made when we walked the Camino De Santiago in Spain in May of 2012. We have very fond memories of our time camining (definitely not a word, it’s a verb we made up) together and sharing stories. Danny and Alisha gave us a short course in appreciating wine from the Rioja region, and we taught them Peter Combe songs. When we met them they’d just quit their jobs in New York and were travelling around the world. Very inspiring. It was fun then to see them in their home with their 2 month old son. I think it’s a sign of a good friendship when a lot of time can pass but when you see each other again you can pick up where you left off and we definitely had that with Danny and Alisha. (Fish had also met them once before when they were staying with Kays in London).


The next day we had an easy morning and then met Alisha and Ollie in the afternoon. They took us on a fabulous little tour that we never would’ve been able to do without a local guide and a car. We drove up to the Sonoma Valley (just next to the more well-known Napa Valley) and we’re amazed at how quickly the city suburbs turn into beautiful countryside. At one point we drove past a little hill that was covered entirely with white crosses. When we asked about it Alisha said it was a memorial for all the people in the local area that had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. That blew our minds. Anyway! We went to a winery called Artesa which Alisha is a member of. We got tastings of lots of their wines- a chardonnay, pinot noir, cab sav, a sparkling, and some other grape varieties I didn’t know. They were all amazing and we sipped them while enjoying views all over the Valley and down to San Francisco.


We then cruised down to Muir Wood – a national park with a lot of coastal redwoods- some of the tallest trees in the world. There’s beautiful walks through there and we managed to wander about for an hour before it got dark. It was so beautiful and it reminded me of Tasmania. And once again it was amazing that it was so close to the city.

We went back to Danny and Alisha’s for a quick dinner to hang out with Danny one last time, then we bailed cos it’d been a big day for everyone and we needed some rest (especially little Ollie who had been a champ all day).

Our last day in SF we walked a million miles up and down hills (I swear our three days in the bay area made up for our sloth-like behaviour over the last week). We did a walking tour in the morning in the Castro which is the gay area of SF (well, everywhere is a gay area now, but it was where the LGBT rights movement started in the 70s). It was pretty interesting and it was cool to see the rainbow zebra crossings and other flamboyant things; but I spent a lot of time in Soho in London so it wasn’t that unusual to me. Also, we’d both seen the movie Milk so we knew a lot of the LGBT rights movement stuff too!

We then walked on to Haight Ashbury which was the area where the Summer of Love movement happened in 1967. My expectations were too high (mind the pun) I think, because it was just a bunch of homeless and/or high teenagers amidst a bunch of shitty shops selling tie-dye monstrosities. That’s a bit rough- it was actually quite pleasant to walk around (tangent: San Fran is absolutely stunning in terms of architecture. It’s probably my favourite city I’ve been to in terms of architecture. Poor Fish got pretty sick of me going “ohhhh! Look at that one!” to every second house we walked past. Better that than the usual which is pointing out every dog we walk past…) Anyway, we had a nice pub lunch (pubs are rare in the States, we were pretty stoked) while listening to a bum jam out some beats on a post box.

We then walked up to The Painted Ladies- a famous row of ornate Victorian houses- made most famous (in my 90s-child-eyes) by Full House. In the same way Fish was judging Vegas on Cops, everything I knew about San Fran was from the opening credits of Full House. There’s a really pretty view of the city from Alamo Square opposite the painted ladies which we enjoyed a bit longer before marching back down to The Mission District.


The Mission District is a hip neighborhood. It’s roots are as the Latin American immigrant neighborhood; it hosted a large punk scene in the 80s (I had Rancid songs in my head the whole time we were in SF, taking me back to my angsty teen years. It was cool being in the places that are referenced in songs that I was listening to as a 14 year old kid in the Mid North of SA) and started becoming gentrified in the 90s with the dotcom boom. Now its kinda a mix between the old and new. We almost felt unsafe of Mission St but one block over on Valencia it was hipster central. We didn’t spend much time in Mission, we walked through and sat in Dolores Park (great views of the city. That’s the pay off for trudging up these hills we’d call mountains at home) and then walked back to the metro via Clarion Alley. Clarion Alley is wall to wall street art. Amazing.


Our last night in SF we spent actually hanging out with our wonderful host, Danny. He was such a great dude. His couchsurfing profile didn’t list his age and we nearly fell over when he told us he was 53. I wouldn’t put him a day over 40; I guess that’s just a testament to remaining child-free. Danny drove us all over San Fran – dinner at a great Japanese place, then along the coast to some beautiful view points that overlooked the city and the Bridge, including Twin Peaks and over the Bridge itself.


We had dessert at a place in Castro where we each ordered a piece of cake but should’ve shared one between the three of us. They were enormous. We took the left overs home for Danny to give to the homeless guys who live on his block. He’s an humanitarian.

Then we had a short sleep before getting up for a 6 am flight. I swear that if I ever become super rich the first policy I’d put in place would be that I never take a flight earlier than 10am. I’m angry just thinking about it… But Mary and Kosta picked us up from John Wayne airport and we cruised on to the next adventure, which I’ll hand over to Fish to tell you about.

Sorry about the length of this post, but we done so much!

Title Time:

Legs by ZZ Top. Because my god did we use them.