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2008 Coachella Music Festival - Day Three

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When the lineup for this year's Coachella Music Festival was first announced, many people scratched their heads and called the addition of Roger Waters at the top of the bill "a mistake" or a "boring" choice. I will admit that I may have fallen into this category when I first saw the lineup. While I love the work of Waters and Pink Floyd, it just seemed like an odd choice for a festival that has featured only the most cutting edge headliners. However, like many, I was one of the converted and now praise the people at Goldenvoice for their bold choices. This year, the shift in focus for the festival with veteran acts at the top of the bill such as Prince, Portishead and the Verve, was as dramatic as it was entertaining. Prince put on a clinic on how to command a crowd and put on a show on night two and Waters would follow that performance up with one equally as epic and entertaining.

From the moment he hit the stage, Waters stood poised with his band behind him, it was completely clear that he was in control of his music. Pyro went of behind and around him and he knew exactly how to play to the crowd. The show was separated into two halves, the first a mix of Floyd faves "Wish You Were Here" and "Mother" as well as his own work "Leaving Beruit" with an amazing conclusion during the song "Sheep" when the now infamous inflatable pig was paraded through the crowd and eventually let go into the Coachella night. After a short break, the second half consisted entirely of "The Dark Side Of The Moon." It truly was an epic performance and the perfect way to close the weekend.

The festival organizers stood by their lineup (minus the late and genius Prince addition) from the moment it was released and for good reason, as the outstanding undercard of bands filled the day with multiple choices and options for great music. The meat of the festival was chock full of newer acts and those mid-level bands what are just on the cusp of breaking out. While the hype wasn't as intense as it was for last year's festival the level of showmanship at the top of the bill took the festival to a new level. As the headliners are the main draw, nearly 75% of the bands on the bill were on indie labels. There was gold to be found on any stage at any time.

Sunday featured great performances from Metric, My Morning Jacket, Love and Rockets (another standout veteran band) and the always entertaining and memorable Gogol Bordello.

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Overall the festival was a much tamer affair than last year's blow out, but that did not lessen the experience. Coachella is as much about enjoying being in the middle of the desert, away from the city, as it is about the music. The festival is struggling to hold is spot as the premier festival in North America, but the experience alone sets it apart. The speculation has already begun as to who will be atop that poster next year, the 10th Anniversary of the festival, the only for sure thing is that I will be there, no matter what I think about the lineup as it is initially released.