The Real Coachella Brings Wu-Tang Clan and Grimes to Phoenix...Kinda
The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California is attended by thousands of music lovers who pilgrimage to the mountains each year for their fill of live performances from emerging and established acts, including Grimes, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Local Natives.
Benjamin Leatherman Hologram and Oates perform at The Real Coachella in 2012.
The Real Coachella is a local music festival mocking Coachella, and it celebrates its ninth anniversary this weekend. Here you won't see tables and tents with hordes of people trying to get their latest indie record signed. And although the event's flyer says Grimes, Wu-Tang Clan, and Local Natives are performing, it couldn't be farther from the truth.
Unless the truth is that the Wu-Tang Clan plays "surf rock," Grimes is "looping to the extreme," and Local Natives are "experimental for the meme generation."
Some would argue that the only similarities The Real Coachella and Coachella share is their name. I spoke with one of the organizers of the festival, Ryan Avery, and here's what he said about The Real Coachella's history, some memorable performances, and why you should stay in Phoenix to attend The Real Coachella, rather than drive to California to get heatstroke.
Up on the Sun: How did the festival start? What spurred it?
In 2005, my friends Andrew and Tristan Jemsek and I wanted to organize a festival happening at the same time as the other Coachella that happens in California. A friend, Sheila Bocchine, who ran Four White Walls at the time, was nice enough to let us use her space as a venue for it. We were originally going to call it "Crap Fest," but she didn't want anything at her venue or gallery called "Crap Fest." So we went with The Real Coachella because, at the time, we were really into stealing other people's names.
This year marks the ninth anniversary of The Real Coachella. What are the most memorable performances from the past?
There are always a few performances every year that really stick out. In 2009, we had Paul McCartney perform, and Paul McCartney ended up being a Sex Pistols trivia act that made lots of funny jokes about all the Beatles being dead. That was really incredible. That same year, The Slacker's Agenda performed with a full band, and there was this big fight -- big theatrical fight -- with the devil. Actually, 2009 is probably my favorite year so far.
In 2007, I think it was, there was this band from Los Angeles that performed called Fag Bashers and they threw an empty beer keg around at each other. Last year, Man-Cat brought out a Hologram and Oates, after Hall and Oates, and -- oh my gosh -- that was so good. I am so proud of them.
Up on the Sun: Based on the Tupac Hologram making an appearance at Coachella, right?
Yes. I'm so happy those Man-Cat guys are really involved in The Real Coachella now because they get the humor, they get the art, they get it all, and do it well. Two years ago, we had a Cookie Monster theme. That was a really big hit. A friend of ours had a Cookie Monster costume that they let us borrow, and so Cookie Monster was at The Real Coachella. That year, we also did a date in Tucson, and on the Tucson date, we put on the flyer that Cookie Monster would be there, and there were a few families that actually showed up. They got to meet Cookie Monster and that was really special. He was giving out cookies all night to everyone.
Next: What happens when somebody expects to see the real Wu-Tang Clan at Trunk Space for $5?