"This is fantastic, we've done cruises in Scandinavia before but this is so much nicer," said the Black Lips' Cole Alexander, on the opening leg, a "Gilligan's Island"-themed pub crawl. "It's really cool for the bands as well as fans, I really do feel like I'm on vacation. The 3 a.m. set was a little sloppy, but I think that's why they booked us for that slot."
The experience can even feel a little overwhelming for fans. One can never quite shake the sense that whatever you're doing, you're missing out on something more fun down the hall. Sometimes it can all make you want to dump a Heineken on someone. But if Coachella logic holds true, the transcendent parts are always soon at hand, which brings me to Tuesday morning.
We were off to Nassau for snorkeling, and a few dozen yellowtail snappers, angelfish and loggerhead turtles were gliding just a few feet below us in the gently-chilly water. After the last two days, it felt good to be in the company of creatures that came by their soggy, glazed-eyed look via DNA rather than Sex on the Ship cocktails.
Yet there is wildlife onboard the S.S. Coachella. Six hours ago I was watching a guy in full-body lemur costume raving his face off to the Gaslamp Killer by the rooftop pool.
The after-hours lounge turned out to be the 15th floor pool bar, where you could post up with a Campari and soda and watch the L.A. music-biz dauphins mingle.
Spotted were FYF's Sean Carlson, the Eastside's sound-tech czar Jordan Long, and promoter Franki Chan. Sometimes you'd catch Paul Tollett with his black baseball cap pulled low, surveying his domain.
By the wee hours of Wednesday, the Silhouette Theatre stage is a thrashing hive of bodies for mashup party-provost Girl Talk's set.
It's 1 a.m., many are five sheets to the wind. Next to me, a woman is making out with a random shirtless guy, and as if to apologize to his girlfriend standing nearby, she makes out with her next. Confetti is pouring from cannons, someone's pouring champagne down perfect strangers' throats like a mother bird feeding her chicks.
It capped a day of appropriately mashed-up absurdities. Hot Chip was a discophile's delight; Father John Misty's sci-fi tale of landing an apartment in hell had a touch of Ray Bradbury's dark comedy; the Black Lips' pub crawl was exactly what it sounded like (much drinking, with scattered cross-dressing and undressing), and of course we found the good 4 a.m. booze-sop buffet only on our last night at sea.
But this voyage was about throwing a crazy idea — Coachella on a boat — and hoping it could float. Goldenvoice will have to run the numbers to see if it did.
But by the 8 a.m. disembarking call Wednesday morning, the fact that so many looked like they'd been hit by a cement mixer the previous night implied that they might be onboard in the future.