Coachella 2017: New Order

 

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By Leighton Ginn

It has befuddled me why Coachella has scheduled New Order against one of the headliners the last two time the groundbreaking English band has been at the Empire Polo Grounds.

As a fan, I would love to see them get more exposure to the younger generation as their sound, I believe, is a precursor for EDM and I think those who don’t know New Order would fall in love with them.

On the other hand, with the struggles of battling through the numerous people, it was actually nice to have some breathing room in the Mohave Tent while they played Sunday night against Kendrick Lamar.

And I don’t think there are more enthusiastic crowds than the ones for New Order.

Their music was the soundtrack of my college days.

They were cutting edge in the day and while I never got to see them live during those days, I’m sure their look was as edgy as their sound.

Today, they look middle-aged, like me. But they exude joy with their music. When lead singer Bernard Sumner breaks out in dance on hits like “Bizarre Love Triangle,” I kind of compare it to watching your father dance for the first time.

But it’s so endearing as well. He’s getting into his great music, and it makes me enjoy it more.

There are so many great songs from New Order that they are must see every time they are at Coachella. At least for me.

This year, their encore songs were two from Joy Division, which was New Order’s original incarnation, but they changed the name after Ian Curtis committed suicide.

I hadn’t known much of Joy Division, but the final song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” is definitely a favorite.

Coachella 2017: Bon Iver

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By Leighton Ginn

One of the acts I’ve wanted to see for a while has been Bon Iver, as I think Justin Vernon is one of the best vocalist out there.

Halocene is such a beautiful song, and his cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make you Love Me” is extraordinary.

But I hadn’t read much about Bon Iver before watching them at Coachella this year during the second weekend. So when I heard the auto tune and the altering of his vocals, it threw me off.

My initial reaction was, “with a beautiful voice like that, why mess with it?”

But I know artists like to branch out, so I tried to give it a chance. But to be honest, it was hard to really soak it in because it did throw me off. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I will have to listen more to his new CD, “22, A Million.” I want to listen to more of it and get an honest take on his new direction.

Yet, I think Bon Iver came up with the signature moment for Coachella 2017 for me when there was a surprise appearance by Bruce Hornsby and Jenny Lewis. They performed together on Hornsby hit, “The End of the Innocence.”

Bringing together three rich and beautiful voices together for that song just gave me goosebumps the whole song.

And it was cool because there was no introduction. I thought it was just a cover, but as I listened, “hey, isn’t that Bruce Hornsby?”

When I got home that night, I searched YouTube to see if anyone posted a video of it. Once I found it, I was sharing it with all my music friends.

Coachella can sometimes be a pain. With so many people, as they expanded to 120,000 this year, it’s can test your patience.

But “The End of the Innocence” is a moment that makes it all worth it.

 

Random advice for Coachella 2017

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By Leighton Ginn

Twice last year, just waiting in line to get into Coachella, I saw two girls passing out. Going in. During the day.

Now that’s a bummer way to start your Coachella. So here’s a few advice for Coachella from one long-time attendee.

Stay hydrated

This is a desert. And while the punch line is, “It’s a dry heat,” it can sneak up on people. Case in point, the girls who passed out waiting to get in. Drink a lot of water, Gatorade, coconut water, whatever. Chug a lot before you get in.

Beer does not count. If you want to drink, I’d advise doing it later in the day.

Wear lots of sunblock

I think this goes without saying, but the sun really does burn out here.

Late night food options

If you aren’t camping, and you’re starving after the headliners, this valley doesn’t have a lot of late night options. But there are two areas that have places to go and eat.

On the corner of Simon and Highway 111, you’ll find an In N Out, which last year was open until 3 a.m., giving you plenty of time to get there, even with the nightmare of trying to get out of the parking lots.

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I haven’t gone there lately, but the 5 Guys Burgers on Washington and Highway 111 was open late too during one Coachella.

If you go further up on Washington, past the I-10 bridge, hit a right on Varner. Between the Arco and Chevron gas stations, there’s a Castaneda Mexican Food restaurant that has a great variety of Mexican foods. A lot of my friends love the carne asada fries.

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Also on Washington, on the corner of Country Club, there’s a Subway that’s open 24 hours. You won’t exactly be able to see it off the street.

Back on Varner, next to Castaneda’s, there’s also a Winchell’s to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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And around the valley, you’ll find your typical fast food places.

Bring a bandana

Coachella gets dusty. I mean really dusty. And the valley can get really windy, so if you have allergies, this can be a nightmare.

Even if you don’t have allergies, the dust can really be a pain. And it gets worst if you’re Weekend 2. So remember to bring a bandana to cover your face.

Bring your own TP

Ladies, the porta-potty’s are a nightmare. Now, Coachella has added an actual bathroom facility between the food area and the tents. But those get really crowded. And let’s just say sometimes resources can run out in inopportune times. Better safe than sorry.

And I know people want to eat healthy, but easy on the fiber, especially on Sunday. Those porta-potty’s get bad. Save the fiber for after Coachella.

My Coachella 2017 playlist … so far

 

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By Leighton Ginn

I got the alert today that my Coachella wristbands are on the way.

To prepare for the 2017 edition, here is a playlist of some of the songs I’m looking forward to. This is in no way a complete list.

BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE

I love this band and it was a great performance when they played in 2013. They were actually on against Phoenix, who was the Saturday headliner and that was a tough decision.

But New Order represents my college days and I just love the band. And Bizarre Love Triangle was the soundtrack of those days.

Whenever I hear it, it just makes me happy.

WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE

So anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I love Grouplove. I especially love the song “Shark Attack” because it was written and inspired by their first appearance at Coachella, which I caught.

But they have an impressive catalog of songs that I love, including their latest.

The energy they bring to their performances is infectious. I’ve caught them numerous times and haven’t ever been disappointed.

ON HOLD

I know the XX has been around and I’ve followed them peripherally, but their latest CD, “I See You” has really hooked me in.

“On Hold” isn’t necessarily my favorite song on the CD, but the sampling of Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” that I didn’t recognize immediately … or actually until I Googled it.

HIGH AND LOW

One of the most visually dynamic bands out there. Again, I didn’t follow them closely, but the first song from their newest CD, “High and Low” hooked me in immediately.

These guys are a staple in the Sahara tent, but it will be interesting if they will be back there again, or on a bigger stage, which would also mean a more elaborate stage set.

That would be fun.

CHANGE OF SEASONS

Two Door Cinema Club’s last performance at Coachella was one of my favorites. The band has a dynamic sound, starting with Alex Tremble’s voice.

They’ve changed their sound for their latest CD, so it will be interesting to see how it will play out on stage. But their new stuff is solid, even if it is a bit of a departure.

“Bad Decisions” is my favorite from their latest CD, but since I featured it in a previous blog, I went back a few years for “Change of Seasons,” a really great song.

RIVER

A new voice that is big and bold, I’m really looking forward to seeing Bishop Briggs. She’s low on the lineup sheet, but feels like a chance to see a future star.

I think her song “River” really captures her dynamic range.

SAFE AND SOUND

Great sound and great energy. When I saw Capital Cities at Coachella, there was a moment when I thought this might be the best set I saw that year and was right up there with the best I saw.

That thought same when they played “Safe and Sound.”

I just remember I couldn’t sit still and I don’t think anyone else could.

And the trumpet player is killer.

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer claims fifth BNP Paribas Open title, gets called a name on court after beating Stan Wawrinka

 

By Leighton Ginn

At the BNP Paribas Open, Roger Federer beat Stan Wawrinka to tie for most titles at the Indian Wells event, never dropped a set and dominated like he did in his 20s in his 6-4, 7-5 victory Sunday.

But the thing people might remember most from Federer’s fifth title at the BNP Paribas Open is one word that Wawrinka uttered during his speech.

Wawrinka was overcome with emotions, trying to fight off tears, only to see Federer laughing. So during his speech, he jokingly called Federer an asshole, which drew a big laugh from the fans and Federer.

“There’s not always cameras around, so I get called that sometimes,” Federer joked. “Quite often, actually. On the court is the first time, but it felt good.”

Everything felt good for Federer. Coming into the 2017 season, Federer had low expectations. He had missed six months of 2016 with a knee injury, and he didn’t know what kind of level he would be able to produce on the court.

But things went better than expected when he won the Australian Open title for his record 18th Grand Slam title.

With his title at the BNP Paribas Open, he tied Novak Djokovic as the winningest player in the tournament’s history with five.

“I’m not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did,” said Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round and Jack Sock in the semifinals. “I mean, couldn’t be more happy.

“It’s an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Yeah, last year didn’t win any titles. I don’t think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year.  The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”

One of the tournaments Federer had to miss last year was the BNP Paribas Open. Before that, he had been in the finals the previous two years, losing to Djokovic both times.

With the victory, Federer will move up four spots in the rankings to No. 6. He is well ahead of where he thought he would be during the offseason.

“The goal was to be top-eight by after Wimbledon. Because if I would have lost early in Australia, I would have dropped to 35 in the world,” Federer said. ” It was a good approach, I thought, because it gave me time to get there. … It’s great, but you definitely have to reassess your goals maybe now and see, ‘Where do you go from here?’ Because this was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells, I can tell you that.

“Like I said before, I will make the plan for the remainder of the season after — especially for the clay after Miami, and then see also what the goals are, because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”

 

 

 

 

From losing in first round of qualifying a year ago, Elena Vesnina wins first BNP Paribas Open singles title

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A year ago at the BNP Paribas Open, Elena Vesnina lost in the first round of qualifying to wildcard Julia Boserup in straight sets.

This year, Vesnina defeated five seeded players, including three players who won a combined 11 Grand Slam singles titles.

One of those players was two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova as Vesnina rallied for a 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 victory Sunday in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open.

“Tennis is awesome, I can say,” Vesnina said. “I think that my example is the good kind of self-belief, good kind of vibe for all players. All other girls on the tour who think, ‘Oh, my God, this is the end of the world, end of my career,’ I lost first round of quallies, what can be worse than that?

“I think nobody could pick me at the beginning of the tournament that I could win this title. Me, also. I couldn’t pick myself.”

Vesnina was speaking with the BNP Paribas Open championship trophy during her press conference when she had a Oscars moment.  The men’s final between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka was coming to an end and officials had to interrupt the press conference to take the trophy away.

Because it’s the only trophy, and they needed for the awards ceremony, it had to by whisked away.

But things got off to a bad start as she dropped the first set. Set point was determined on a net cord.

“It was such a heartbreaking moment for me,” Vesnina said. “I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, I was fighting so much. We played set for more than an hour, This is how it’s gonna end?'”

Kuznetsova capitalized on the momentum shift as Vesnina struggled with unforced errors. By the fifth game, Kuznetsova had a 4-1 lead and appeared headed to her first BNP Paribas Open title after two previous runner-up appearances.

“I just thought that I had to stop doing so many mistakes,” Vesnina said. “I have to stay a bit longer on the center cour. I was not thinking that I will win this match in that moment, to be honest. I was just thinking that I want to stay longer. I just want to fight. I don’t want to give it back so easy.”

After losing at the BNP Paribas Open, Vesnina began to turn things around in Miami, as she went through qualifying and reached the third round, beating Venus Williams along the way.

Vesnina built up enough momentum, and at the All England Club, she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon.

At this year’s tournament, Vesnina had several tough matches, including Shelby Rogers in the second round. Vesnina was winless against Rogers in two meetings.

“I think the turnaround of my tournament was when I beat Shelby Rogers,” Vesnina said.

The wins would only get bigger. Vesnina would Timea Babos in the third round, and then stun Angelique Kerber, who will be the No. 1-ranked player in the world on Monday. She followed that up by beating Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Prior to Sunday, Vesnina had a different kind of success at Indian Wells as she was a five-time doubles finalist, winning the title in 2008, ’11 and ’13.

But Sunday’s win was special in its own right.

“This means a lot. This is the biggest title for me in singles. Biggest title and the biggest final I ever played,” Vesnina said. “It’s going to take the big part in my heart.”

 

The year Roger Federer is having, his preseason goals seem ridiculously low as a return to No. 1 seems possible

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By Leighton Ginn

When Roger Federer returned to the court to start the year, he didn’t know where his level would be following knee surgery and six months off the tour.

So the man many think is the greatest tennis player ever said he wanted to keep things simple — play well and enjoy himself.

After winning the Australian Open and reaching the finals of the BNP Paribas Open for the seventh time after beating American Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 in Saturday’s semifinals. If Federer beats fellow Swiss star Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final, he will become the tournament’s winningest player with his fifth title, breaking a tie with Novak Djokovic.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

Djokovic, the No. 2 player in the world, has  won the previous three titles before being upset in the fourth round.

But if you look around the men’s tour, no one is playing better than Federer, who won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open to start the year. He had a hiccup in Dubai, when he lost to No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. But in the two biggest tournaments of the year so far, he’s reached the finals.

Doppelganger 1: tennis player Jack Sock, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

And looking around the tour, Djokovic and No. 1 Andy Murray both failed to reach the quarterfinals of both the Australian Open and the BNP Paribas Open. Earlier on Saturday, Murray announced he will miss the Miami Open, another huge event, with an elbow injury. There is also speculation that Djokovic will also miss Miami with his own elbow injury.

No. 1 Andy Murray faces lots of questions, has few answers after another early loss at BNP Paribas Open

But Federer said he set a goal of seeing where he is at following Miami, and was judging on how well he’s playing and how he’s enjoying himself on the tour.

“(It’s about) how can I remain healthy and how can I keep the fire and the motivation for the tournaments that I will be playing,” Federer said. “What I don’t want to do is overplay and just get tired of traveling and tired of just playing tournaments and just entering and, I don’t know, just doing people a favor just to be there with no aspirations. That’s not why I’m playing.

“I want to play, if people see me, that they see the real me and a guy who is so excited that he’s there. So that’s a promise I made to myself that if I play tournaments that’s how my mindset has to be and will be.”

Nick Kyrgios doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, if you put it in perspective

But with the winning comes possibilities, such as Federer returning to the No. 1 ranking. Because Federer doesn’t anticipate playing a heavy schedule, so he knows there will be an even higher premium on wins and titles.

“Sure, I’d love to be world No. 1 again. But anything else other than world No. 1 for me is not interesting,” Federer said. “You would think I would need to win probably another Grand Slam for that to happen. Because I have one in the bag, I guess there is a possibility.”

 

 

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

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By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — With a kick serve that stayed out of Kei Nishikori’s sweet zone, Jack Sock advanced to his first ATP 1000 semifinal with his 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory Friday at the BNP Paribas Open.

“Kick serve especially on these courts is deadly for me,” Sock said. “So that was a big part of the game plan for me today going in. If Kei is hitting the ball in the strike zone, he is going to beat pretty much anyone in the world and can on any given day.

“For me, it was all about trying to get him out of that slot and let him not be taking balls at his hip and waist and dictating play. So the kick serve for me today was crucial, first and second serve, and that’s what I used it a lot.”

The Sock-Nishikori match started at 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day, and Sock said the conditions played into his strategy, based on what he saw from fellow American John Isner.

“I think every player knows, everyone that watches knows the day and night difference and how lively the ball is, how much it gets up on these courts,” Sock said. “There’s a tremendous difference. I saw when John was playing the other night, from day to night for him is an eight-inch difference on his serve.”

Sock will face four-time BNP Paribas Open champion Roger Federer in Saturday’s second semifinal. It is Sock’s best showing in singles, but he’s also had success in doubles at Indian Wells, having reached the finals the past two years.

He won the doubles title in 2015 with Vasek Pospisil. The duo combined to win the Wimbledon title as well.

Also in 2015, Sock reached the fourth round of singles at the BNP Paribas Open before getting knocked out by Federer in straight sets. In his previous three Indian Wells performances, Sock never won a singles match at the BNP Paribas Open.

But it was more than just the results that made 2015 a turning point for Sock.

Prior to Indian Wells, he had pelvic surgery that knocked him out of the start of the 2015 season, which turned out to be a blessing.

His brother Eric suffered pneumonia and Lemierre’s syndrome a bacterial infection in the throat. With complications, Eric had to move to ICU and was on a ventilator. He nearly died.

Eric survived, and Sock dedicated that 2015 run to him.

It also changed Sock in significant ways.

“There were definitely a lot of things going on outside of tennis,” Sock said. “I think it helped me grow outside of tennis, outside of the tennis court, which has helped me in these past few years.

“I think that’s why my results have trended in the right direction. I have realized, yeah, I love tennis, it’s my career, you know, it’s my job, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. But since his illness and everything, it’s kind of helped me take a step back and realize life is bigger than tennis, for sure. I think it’s helped me enjoy every moment out there, as well. It’s helped me relax on court a little bit.”

Doppelganger 1: tennis player Jack Sock, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

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By Leighton Ginn

This blog is done as sort of a public service announcement for people attending the BNP Paribas Open. If you are out and about and think you see American tennis star Jack Sock, don’t assume it’s him.

He has a resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age lead guitarist and singer Josh Homme, who was also grew up in nearby Palm Desert.

I had covered Sock a little more closely the last few years, and only hit me at this year’s tournament his resemblance. So I was wondering if he ever got that.

“I don’t know who that is, and I hope that’s a compliment,” Sock joked.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

So for the tennis fans who follow this blog, here’s a little background on Josh Homme:

He was originally in the band Kyuss before starting Queens of the Stone Age in 1997.

Their third album, 2002’s “Songs for the Deaf,” featured Foo Fighters front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The album produced the hits “No One Knows” and “Go With The Flow.”

Their hit song “Little Sister,” from their fourth album, “Lullabies to Paralyze,” features a driving cow bell. It helped inspire a classic moment on Saturday Night Live in 2005 with Will Ferrell.

 

Six of their albums have been nominated for Grammys.

In 2009, Homme was part of the super band Them Crooked Vultures, that also featured John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Grohl. Their hit “New Fang” won a Grammy for best hard rock performance.

Homme also founded Eagles of Death Metal with high school friend Jesse Hughes. In 2015, Eagles of Death Metal were playing the Bataclan in Paris, France when terrorist came in and killed 89 people. Colin Hanks directed an HBO documentary “Eagles of Death Metal, Nos Amis (Our Friends)” that premiered in February.

The year Roger Federer is having, his preseason goals seem ridiculously low as a return to No. 1 seems possible

For more on Jack Sock, read my blog on his quarterfinal victory over Kei Nishikori at the BNP Paribas Open.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

 

 

 

 

 

Venus Williams couldn’t turn it around, falls to Elena Vesnina in quarterfinals

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By Leighton Ginn

Elena Vesnina has been following Venus Williams closely, so she knew there could be trouble in that third set of the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinal on Thursday, based on history.

“I saw previous matches that she was down with match point with a set point, and I was like, ‘Uh-Oh, it’s coming back again. I’m going to be another victim of Venus,'” Vesnina said laughing. “I don’t want. I want to win this. I want this match.”

Vesnina was able to hold off Williams, despite down love-40 on her serve in the final game, holding on for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to advance to the semifinals. She will face Kristina Mladenovic, the lowest seed in the semifinals. No. 3 Karolina Pliskova will face No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the other semifinal.

In her post-match press conference, Williams alluded to having an injury issue that had slowed her up.

“I would just like to be healthy just like the next human being,” Williams said. “You beat your body up in sport, and I want to play these big events. I don’t want to be at home watching. It’s frustrating either way, not to be 100 percent or to watch at home. Which one do you choose?

“I chose to be here. That was my choice. I gave it my best today, and I’m looking forward to playing her again, hopefully healthy and 100 percent, and will have an opportunity to really show what I can do in these kind of matches.”

Vesnina noticed that Williams didn’t seem like herself early in the match.

“In the first set, it was a little bit unexpected,” Vesnina said. “When I was up 3-Love in the first set, she was missing some easy shots. She looked tired and slow on the court. Then, all of a sudden, she started moving around, hitting great shots, winners from all over the place.”

In Friday’s semifinal, Vesnina knows she’s got a tough match against one of the hottest players on tour. And after her quarterfinal win, Vesnina had a doubles match to play.

“It’s going to be difficult match, but on the other hand, it’s very exciting to play the semifinal match here in Indian Wells,” Vesnina said.