For a big swath of last year's
And in the hours leading to the fest, it really was the Dream — or at least the suggestion of the Dream. Walking into a mansion used by Lacoste and told you can take whatever high-end clothing you want, by virtue of being cool for that weekend. Being shuttled to radio station performances in your publicist's black convertible. Fashion-magazine photographers flagging you down for portraits. Splaying out by the pool of your borrowed mansion within earshot of the festival.
The one thing I kept thinking as their set time approached was that all of the perks of being a Coachella band are kind of destabilizing. A week before, they were subsisting on gas station snack food and sleeping on whatever floor would have them for the night. Between weekend sets, they had to haul off to Texas to play a slew of random shows outside the fest's radius clause because — as the adage goes — if you're not playing, you're paying.
But for now, they were tasting, in real time, the life that "Making It" affords you in pop music. The band didn't seem overly impressed by all the promo-junket glad-handing or the free stuff. I got the sense the six members really just enjoyed one another's company and the wobbly optimism that comes from being creative and adored for a living. But I suspected somewhere underneath they were beginning to ask the impossible question — is this all going to stay? Forget the clothes and booze and radio interviews. How long will the world want my songs enough to let me do just this, every day?
I don't suppose any musician this side of
A few months later, I'd heard that the band's guitarist Tony Smith and singer Alex Kandel got engaged. I can't imagine a more perfect young-rocker couple. The Coachella sun can make you fall in love. But it can also remind you that come Sunday, it ends. And then you have to see what you've built in the meantime.