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La Vie Boheme!

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Coachella Festival Day 3, April 15, 2012

Once Josh and I arrived for Day 3 of Coachella and reached the grounds, we tried to camp in the parking spot where we had been assigned. Car camping was apparent closed, so we were a 20 minute hop and a jog from the festival grounds-very annoying if you ask me. Security guards on bicycles were swarming the place, getting people to grab their stuff and leave their cars, because “camping”, (essentially “staying”) in front of your vehicle was strictly forbidden. So we gathered up our booze, food and necessities for the day and began trekking. I ran into a guy I met during a performance on the 1st day. “Hey it’s the photographer!” he said to his 3 friends, who were waiting near his car, rapping and drinking 40 oz. Mickey’s. I took pictures of them and kept keeping on. Next, we ran into a guy who was holding a glass jug of pure tequila, and offering free shots because he needed to dispose of the bottle (glass isn’t allowed onsite). He tells Josh that he MUST take a minimum of two shots if he wants some liquor, so being a total bad-ass, my BFF chugs down two shots worth of warm tequila without a chaser. WOW.




After that, is the daily pat down. I did not get in the first time because I had the body of the camera around my neck. The evil lady who was searching me, told me to go put it back in my car and was being facetious by saying, “do you just wear it around your neck for fashion?” I said, “sure do,” then exited the line, stuffed it in my pants and went through a different checkpoint. Pass.



We then met up with two of Josh’s friends, and sat under the lovely palm trees and socialized a little bit, then I copped Bon Iver swag in the form of red t-shirt that says “Minnesota, WI” and “Bon Iver” with the shape of Wisconsin outlined in the middle. 25 bucks. Ouch. Josh purchased a Florence shirt that depicted her album art. After saying goodbye to his friends (and aiding a completely incoherent/passed out drunk girl get water and reunite with her pals), we meandered over to the Outdoor Stage to see the lovely ladies of Wild Flag. They have ENERGY. Such infectious, intense, rock n’ roll, MOMENTUM.  Lead vocalist Carrie Brownstein, looked very Karen-O with a bright red t-shirt and choppy hair that was darker than midnight. I was completely enamored with the drummer, Janis Weiss, who hit the instruments crisply in the noon air. It was as if the atmosphere itself was amplifying the sound.



That rendezvous with Wild Flag was brief. We ambled over to the next act, but decided we were too lethargic to push through the crowd, so we sat on the outskirts of a main stage and listened to the DJ who was playing. It was by far the most scenic twilight of the entire weekend and the crowd of Coachella-goers seemed to be moving slower and gentler as they weaved through the grounds, which were emblazoned in golden yellow as the sun disappeared. A sense of calm settled over everything and it was absolutely magnificent to witness.






Once the evening sky turned a beautiful ultramarine, Josh and I went to stand in the crowd and wait for Florence + the Machine. GirlTalk was on first though, so we danced to their set and got a great spot in the audience. This was as close as we had been to any band the entire weekend. GirlTalk played hip-hop mixes for an hour, while throwing confetti, balloons and toilet paper at us; and then vanished into the same cloud of smoke in which they appeared in.



Florence’s stage crew set up fast and before we knew it, the Victorian-esque, ethereal pixie herself was before us. She twirled around like forest-nymph the entire time and we could not figure out how she was not dizzy by the end of it all. Florence engaged the spectators like a true professional, by running from each end of the stage to sing to the crowd from every angle. Her skintight, blue velvet cat suit was adorned with billowing sleeves that stretched to the ground: she was basically an opera singer dressed as a bat; and the shock of red-orange hair made her an even more interesting spectacle in which to ogle.  Florence + the Machine closed out the concert with her hit “No Light,” and even I had to sing along because her energy was so infectious.





Happily, Josh and I walked away from the Outdoor Stage and planned on exiting the venue, when we heard Snoop Dogg rapping in the distance. I shoved my way through the crowd of spectators which was comprised of mostly the entire festival and managed to get a few recordings. Him and Dr. Dre were half-way into their womanizing, disrespectful rap verses, when I decided I was not going to stand there and support such misogyny and certainly was not going to be around thousands of people boppin’ their heads to it like it was alright. So, we trekked on… then suddenly a whole gamut of rappers decided to make an appearance: Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, 50 Cent and even a hologram of Tupac. I stopped to record them for good measure and then we were off into the night.




The Coachella Music Festival was a success, although I am not saying I would rush and do it again anytime soon. If you don’t mind paying for a $500 dollar, hippy-fest that smells like marijuana and a petting zoo, then this is the concert to attend. But seriously… all-in-all, it was a mostly positive experience and a great place to meet interesting people while seeing amazing bands. The moral of the story is: dance the night away, wear good shoes, and always, always avoid the port-a-potties.




(for many more photos of this event in HQ resolution, check out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marjani-viola_hawkins/ they will be posted April 19th 2012!)

Coachella Music Festival Day 2, April 14, 2012

Day Two. I jumped out of the hotel bed and the first thing on my mind was BON IVER. Nothing else was of any importance. After a quick stop to acquire fuel for the car and fuel for myself (namely … Continue reading

Coachella Music Festival Day 1, April 13, 2012

This weekend was one to be reckoned with. Going hurdy-gurdy, 100 mph, on a beer–fueled 4 hour road trip into Inland Empire’s Coachella Valley in Indio, CA for three days of music. But let me tell you: you must go prepared.


My best friend Josh and I drove about 70 miles from our hotel to the fairgrounds, stop the car and immediately get searched by 2 yellow-clad, officials who rip through everything and feel us up. Protocol I suppose. Like the silly gooses that we are, we abandon our vehicle and get into the main line to be searched again unbeknownst to us; we didn’t have to do that.


In the main line, we were separate by gender and left to wilt in the sun as the line moves  at the speed of molasses. All the girls at Coachella look like Tumblr gobbled them up and shat them out. These girls were trying so hard to be hip and different but actually looked like clones with their billowy Forever 21-style tanks and frayed, dyed denim cut-offs that were pulled up so high that they almost touched their nipples.  Don’t even get me started on how many top-knot buns I saw, or floppy hats modeled straight from the 1970s. While in the midst of my observations, I was informed by one of the guards that we were not supposed to leave our car after the search; we had a camping pass, so we were supposed to drive right onto the festival grounds…oops, almost got the car towed within 15 minutes of arrival.



Despite this first snafu, I was more excited than a 10 year old in the middle of Disney land; I turned to look at everything that moved, and even the pigeons seemed interesting. The cars were lined side-by-side with an 8 by 10 foot space in front to erect a tent or put down a blanket. There where people everywhere chilling in front of their spaces, drinking beer, but Josh and I did not even bother with such things. We traipsed right into the festival like whimsical fairies on acid-camera clicking all the way home.

Our little party was swiftly interrupted once we got closer to the starting gates. Here is one warning for first-time Coachella-goers who bring digital SLR’S: be prepared to shove the camera body in places where it don’t belong. I popped of the lens, gave it Josh and shoved the $200 dollar base between my legs. Then I duck-walked to the line to be searched for the second time; I was beginning to think this was an airport. Also, no outside beverages were allowed in and the security fiends are serious about it. I had to pound 3 beers by the time I got in line, because once  you arrive at the second checkpoint, you cannot bring anything in except for a backpack, sunglasses, a small camera, iPod, etc. So, don’t show up with a backpack full of snacks and booze ‘cause you will have to throw it away. Along with my SLR, my video camera was not allowed in. Well, good thing I was hyped up on Budweiser and I am extremely clever, because I put that bad-boy right into my bra. They only pat down the outside parameter of your body, without fondling your goodies, so I got into the main festival area with my contraband intact. Suckers.


The crowd teemed in masses, just thousands of people were milling around everywhere. It was quite a dangerous place to be. We walked around the grounds, as the rain started to threaten us all. The weather alternated from grey and angry, to light sprinkling through the entirety of the first day. But I knew just the remedy for the cloudy weather: a beer. After standing in line for an identification check, I took my 21+ bracelet and my wallet into the Beer Garden for some watered-down liquor. The goddamn cup of beer was 7 dollars. Warning number two: don’t go into Coachella without 100 dollars to blow; money cannot be an object at this sort of event. I learned that, as I checked my steadily dwindling bank account (ATMs charge $4.00 to withdraw money, so tip number 3 is to take ALL of your cash off of your card because the fee is not worth it), and then trekked on over to the biggest obstacle of all: the port-a-potty’s.

I have never in my 21 years used a port-a-potty, and if you haven’t either, then get prepared because it is not for the faint of heart. The toilet facilities at Coachella are nothing short of disgusting, but I figure that is the best they can do for the amount of people there. My suggestion is to not drink too much water or beer. Seriously. Unless you don’t mind pissing every 30 minutes in the depths of hell. The worst part of the whole occurrence is when I was in a perfect spot to see a band I loved, I had to pee again. I made 5 different treks to those dreaded, mock-bathrooms in the 9 hours I was there that day.

After the restroom trauma, we went to listen to some music. People were dancing wildly in the crowd as the bands thrashed and played along. Joints burned freely and plentifully like a scene out of the Woodstock DVD. I couldn’t believe my eyes, or my nose, as I witnessed the passing of blunts and joints from person to person as the music pounded on. If you are not a fan of weed, then just be warned, because you will get a contact high no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Alcohol was everywhere also, even though it was not allowed on festival grounds; Tecate and Budweiser were the most popular beers that I saw folks drinking. Occasionally, I saw a bottle of hard liquor being passed around. The security guards lined the walls and stayed around the outskirts of the crowd but surprisingly, they never interrupted the boozing and smoking.



By the time 8:00 p.m. arrived, I felt like I had been pummeled with boulders and I was freezing. I was so exhausted from walking and standing and all I wanted was to be warm and dry, but the rain and my short-shorts were not going to allow that. I was wallowing in misery as we made the trek from our car (we went back mid-way through the day to eat and rest) and back onto the grounds to be viciously searched once again and shuffle our way to the front of the crowd to see the Black Keys.

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I love the Black Keys. I went through a 6 month phase of absolute obsession last year, so it was a wonderful moment when I shimmied my way in between the cloistered bodies and waited for them to start. Dan Aurebach, the ginger-haired, bearded lead singer, titillated the throngs of people with his Hendrix-esque crooning. His talent mingled beautifully with that of the drummer, the mousy, but kind-of adorable Patrick Carney. The thin, and willowy Aurebach, melted the crowd with heartfelt, bittersweet melodies. His voice issued from his throat, effortlessly, and the audience responded with admiration from the first chord to the flashing light show at the end. The words, “The Black Keys” were illuminated above the stage and blinked in white-hot unison as the band closed out the show with a song from their latest album, El Camino.  I managed to capture it all on film and video despite the security guards trying to knock my camera from my hands several times. I am dedicated.





By 11:30 p.m. , Josh and I went back to the car, humming and dragging our feet. We experienced the glory of the Black Keys and took our tired selves 70 miles back into a city between Indio called TwentyNine Palms, to rest for Day 2 where we would see the legendary Bon Iver…but we survived Coachella Day 1, bravo to us!