The crowd screamed as the mass of people desperately pushed their way closer towards the stage. The force of thousands of people at my back inching their way towards the front of the stage in order to get a closer look of Thomas Mars of Phoenix. To get a simple touch of this man's skin. Inching closer, the sweaty bodies drenched from the Southern California gold sun closed in tighter and tighter. I was now one with the crowd. I look over at the big screen to see what was happening. With the microphone cord tightly gripped in his mouth, this man who has complete control off the crowd, climbed onto the first set of people directly in front of the stage. It was just like the show I saw them play at Coachella, move for move, I had seen this show before. I knew this would happen, but I somehow got talked back into seeing them again.
I had spent a most of my evening searching the nearest grocery store so I could buy more beer. The clock was ticking as bands were starting their sunset sets back at the festival grounds. It’s either this or pay $12 per beer in the designated beer gardens of Fuck Yeah Fest. The sun is setting into the golden hours and I can see off down a street lined with palm trees the glimmering windows of Downtown LA. I stop to take in this moment. I am still drunk. It has been a day of drinking in the crafts tent with the rest of the artist. More beer. The sun is almost fully set by the time I entered the festival grounds. The vendor pass allowed me to get back in through a side entrance, and the fatigued security guards that would have normally checked my bag to find it full of beer were easily paid off with leftover food I had bought from the Philly cheese steak place across the street. I was back in.
My first order of business was to pay back the vendors working the Stumptown tent. Earlier in the day before the festival started I had met the folks working the coffee mecca. It just so happens they live in Portland as well and had flown down to work the festival. To take it even further, one of the barista’s I had met the previous weekend at a local dive bar by my house in Portland. We hit it off and they gave me free coffee all day. It was now my turn to return the favor. Backpack full of beer, I dart through the crowds straight for their tent like a fish swimming up stream. As to not make a scene I use my vendor pass once again to make my way behind their tent. Without hesitating twice I walk into the back of their tent where one of the two Portlanders was working hard in the dark. I startled him as I emerge from the dark. “I have a present for you.” Immediately I reach in my backpack and pull out a good nights worth of drinking and hand it to him. I say thank you and walk back out to the festival.
Cell service is scarce and the service my phone is managing to gain is draining my battery like a ship with a hole in the bow. Nobody responds. I’m alone with a backpack full of beer that was intended for the other artist is now reserved strictly for myself. This wasn't part of the plan. Interpol is up soon; I've always wanted to see Interpol ever since I was in high school. A deep down piece of my younger self speaks up and demands to make my way to the main stage. The clock is ticking. Still buzzed, I zig-zag my way through the thousands of people moving in every direction as everyone manages to avoid running into each other. A well choreographed dance to the sounds of the festival. I make my way to the stage when all of a sudden somebody’s voice breaks the sound of the sweet melody by calling out my name. I stop. It was an LA friend I had inadvertently met at an instameet months ago in LA: FATE. “Matt!” She is with her boyfriend. They too were headed to Interpol. Now the three of us do our dance through the crowd together as we make our way to the main stage.
Through the dust filled air illuminated with the colorful lights of the festival, I get us on the center cables that run from the sound booth to the stage and pull out a beer. I offer one up to both of my new concert buddies. Only the boyfriend takes up my offer. She explains that she doesn't drink. I turn behind me and notice girl about half my size getting nothing but my backpack in her face. I give her a beer for being a good sport. The show starts. A man standing next to us lights up a joint. I tap him on the shoulder with a beer. He turns around smiles, takes the beer and hands me the joint. We watch Interpol in awe and drink cheap as my mind is flooded with memories of all those late night high school years listening to Interpol. During their set a girl a few slots up gets on somebody’s shoulders interrupts the moment. I reach down and pick up and empty water bottle to throw it at the girl. It’s too light and the bottle takes a dive before it reaches her back. I shrug my shoulders. Shortly after somebody taps me on the shoulder; I turn to my left and a hand from the crowd behind me emerges with another water bottle three quarters full. I make another attempt. Shit, I miss. Directly to my left a guy with his girlfriend picks up an empty beer can, looks at it, throws it back on the ground, crushes it and gives it one big heave at the girls back. It was right on target. She gets down and I hand the gentleman a beer. We watch the rest of the Interpol show and decide to stick around for Phoenix.
I was surely convinced that there would never be a memory that could top the experience of seeing Phoenix live in a sandstorm while the harsh desert storm wind blows over Thomas Mars singing his heart out standing 30 feet up on the sound booth, while I have a girl I’ve been dancing with all night on top of my shoulders as somebody swings over our head a giant red heart made entirely of smaller red balloons full of lights. All blowing in the wind. But now here I am seeing them for the third time because our positioning in the crowd after Interpol was too good to move. Like the show at Coachella, Thomas Mars climbs on top of the crowd and starts making his way towards the sound booth for his big finale. We are directly in his path. The crowd sways as people desperately push to get near the rock star. Inching over the crowd he struggles to keep on moving as the crowd grabs onto his body, ready to pull him down and devour his body like post apocalyptic zombies. I watch in amazement with a beer still in my hand trying to avoid spilling it. He gets closer. I drop the beer to brace for this person body I am about to send over my head. I grab him to keep him on his path, but something was different. He had other intentions. I could feel his body get extremely heavy. His body weight is shifting. He tightly grips my shoulder with his hand and digs his feet into my stomach and prepares to stand. I cup my hands together to give him a proper foot hold as you would for a childhood friend needing a boost onto the roof that looks over the city. I look over at the Instagram friend's boyfriend standing next to me and he does the same. Thomas Mars then takes the microphone from his mouth and starts to sing to the crowd as we stand holding him up. We were now one with the show. Like all things, repeated moments get better with experience.
For more of my photographic imagery recap of the FYF experience go visit the Coachella Valley Art Studio.