‘I definitely didn’t see this one coming. Fuck’. Use that word, you can even choose others like ‘hell’, ‘oh my god’ or any other that doesn’t put religious beliefs on the spot. Whatever word you choose, it is going to be wrapped up in anger when music is the main cause of your desire to be at a certain place at a certain time, and when something as simple as traffic is what gets in the way.
This writer, the festival goers and the entire city should’ve seen this one coming. With no national acts or ‘small bands’ to kick start both days and only international artists in the line-up, why didn’t we all foresee a sea of people trying to get there before the first note was played?
Our familiar three hour road trip turned into a six hour long nightmare and our desire to see Palma Violets and Kurt Vile became an obstructed fantasy; jokes about not getting there on time turned into a desperate adventure through the city’s subway and a four year long tradition became a Russian roulette: which band do you want to see? and which band do you REALLY want to see? became the most important questions for the whole weekend. In order to properly see one band, you had to sacrifice the chance to see one or more in the process.
As the festival had already been running for four hours through its now well-known stages – Corona, Corona Light, Bizco Club and Capital – and with twelve bands out of the menu, decisions had to be made: do I really want to challenge my twenty something year old body in order to catch a glimpse of a lot of bands? Hell no! So I opened the lazy chapter – it is the best chapter from time to time – in the old festival goer manual and decided that, if I was going to push and pull through more than fifty thousand drunk human bodies wrapped up in tank shirts, ball-sack level shorts, neon wayfarers and flower crowns, it had to be for the right reasons: I was going to see those who I REALLY wanted to see, and I and a lot of us did. Which were the consequences? Each and everyone have their own version of what the 2013 Corona Capital had become.
White Lies’ “There Goes Our Love Again”
In this writer’s Corona Capital experience, White Lies came for the third time to the country after being a part of the festival’s first edition three years ago. And at six in the afternoon, at the Corona Stage packed with people willing to sing through ten years of their career, through ten songs under a dying sun. Getting Even, To Lose My Life, There Goes Our Love Again, and the lovely head banging Viagra that is Death and fifty minutes were enough to make the whole odyssey of the day worth it.
Band two and stage two led to a particularly good memory – maybe twelve memories – of many of the older looking people in the audience: Travis at the Corona Light Stage. Middle school and a couple of high school lost loves came to mind as Love Will Come Though born out of the speakers. I was eager to hear classics like Sing or Why Does It Always Rain On Me?, but time wasn’t on my side: something special was waiting and hiding a twenty minute walk away.
Right at the back of the whole thing, almost at eight o’clock, a huge stage had the smallest audience at the moment. While others were still singing along to Travis, feeding their inner sadness with The XX or dancing to The Presets, a tiny handful of the thousands at the festival were waiting at the Capital Stage for no other than Dinosaur Jr. It was their first time in the country after almost thirty years on the road and, though the audience was scarce, it didn’t matter: Mascis, Murph and Barlow played the best set – in this writer’s opinion – all-around. Twenty nine years into thirteen songs with sixty minutes at hand weren’t an easy task, but Start Choppin, Watch The Corners, Feel The Pain and The Cure’s Just Like Heaven proved that there’s no need for shenanigans and fireworks if the music has balls. Us, the lucky bastards that witnessed the whole thing, we were proud of our choice and the lack of an ocean of people made it even more special: it was our precious. It was even more appreciated when thousands of people were pushing in way before Dinosaur Jr. ended their set, for they were there to see Phoenix live.
Why not? Even though a lot of us had already seen them a few years ago during their last visit to México, we were already there, and it was almost impossible to try an escape without getting trampled underfoot. The mayhem began with the proper entitled Entertainment, only to be doubled as Lisztomania began and a fired-up Thomas Mars ran to the front row fence to be cheered and acclaimed with a roar of thousands. Sadly, as more were coming in to see them, many had to leave, since Blondie was the big ending for the first night for some and Deadmau5 for others.
Dinosaur Jr.’s “The Lung”
Another hard choice had to be made, and I find Debbie Harry sexier than a giant mouse head, so off we went to the Bizco Club Stage, this giant tend packed with people, so packed that, even though a lot of us arrived early, we saw the whole show from the back. I can’t tell you what I saw, because I couldn’t tell one tiny dot from another, but I can tell you this: those dots rocked the entire place. Beginning with One Way Or Another, covering The Nerves and The Paragons, mixing themselves with Beastie Boys mashing up Rapture and (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party, melting hearts with Maria, starting dance routines with Heart of Glass and sending everyone home with Dreaming, day one out of two was low in quantity but high in quality.
Aside from the music, the organizers took a few notes from past editions: more – and better tasting – food options were at hand, more bathrooms, better security and both wider and better planned paths between stages were to be had. Designers, tattoos, special treats from bigger and more numerous sponsors and more details here and there were evidence of just how big the Corona Capital had become. But did bigger mean better? We still had one more day to find out.
Traffic, that noise-enviromental-mood poisoning bastard had done it again: a twenty minute long drive turned into a two hour long headache, so Deap Vally, Perfume Genius and Jake Bugg got into my fantasy list of acts I couldn’t see. Sigh… Luckily, a toss of a coin between Portugal. The Man and Gary Clark Jr. became my second time watching the later live. Six songs didn’t make any justice of what this guy’s blues rock could’ve done with a larger set: Ain’t Messin ’Round and Don’t Owe You a Thang turned on a fire that didn’t want to be put off after forty minutes. Hands clapping, heads banging and skirts swinging to his guitar’s rhythm put hope into a second visit in the near future.
The day’s schedule only left us enough time for a couple of Jimmy Eat World tunes and a quick run for catching Stereophonics full set: Miles Kane and Fuck Buttons had to be saved up for another opportunity. We said goodbye to the sun with Catacomb, Indian Summer and Dakota as a soundtrack, having fun without Fun. – whom had to cancel their set at the festival – and waiting for the night to allow vampires to come out.
Sigur Ros’ “Olsen Olsen”
One of this writer’s – unexpected – top favorites of the festival: Vampire Weekend. Although I’m not a big fan, I stayed to see what the hype was all about, and, well, they killed it. With Indian and African inspired beats – bless them – they took a first bite and out spins Cousins, White Sky and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, only to induce our thirst after singing our sweet voices out loud with Horchata and dancing to A-Punk. Seventeen songs and some extra minutes from their set later, the Capital Stage was pouring with sweat and tears for the ones willing to see the Arctic Monkeys coming up next, but we had better plans expecting us at the Corona Light Stage.
With feet out of their respective shoes, the grass around the Corona Light Stage had become a giant green bed for the tranquilized and a war zone for the anxious ones: Sigur Rós was about to perform. With impossible to pronounce but also impossible to not feel songs, Sigur Rós made the best out of their situation. Music like this belongs to a close intimate venue, not at a festival with sellers yelling Cervezaaaaa! every other second and electronic music and Arctic Monkeys blasting through the air. It may have been the best set and performance of the festival, if it wasn’t for being within a festival itself. But many tears were properly dropping, kisses were given and hugs were felt through Hoppípolla, Olsen Olsen and Popplagio.
We said no to Grimes, no to Jamie XX and no to the legendary Giorgio Moroder: we had a date, a royal date. Queens of the Stone Age were, alongside Moroder, the final act of the festival. It was their first time around, but they played as the royalty they are named for. The biggest audience gathered for this, younglings and old fans alike, to raise their fists up for You Think I ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire, to shout and do air guitar to No One Knows, to go ape-shit locos with In The Fade and Go With the Flow, to try and kiss their respective festival-love with Make It With Chu in the background. The night died with A Song for the Dead, and the festival went back to sleep, waiting to come back to life just 364 days into the future.
Was the line-up better? I can’t tell. Was it bigger? Absolutely. Was it what this writer expected? Sadly and happily, no. Was this edition better than the others? I believe the thousands of attendees can give any of you thousands of different answers.
Oh man, but was it worth it? Hell, fucking, yes. After evolving into this, the Corona Capital turns into whatever you want it to be: it’s all up to you…
Written by Jorge A. López Mendicuti
OurVinyl | Senior Writer & Photographer