Rolling Stone on Madonna @ Coachella
“This is my first festival,” Madonna said, looking out at thousands of fans on night two of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “Now who’s going to share their drugs with me?” No one threw any joints onstage, which was probably just as well, given the out-of-place diva’s reaction when another substance landed near her microphone: “Do not throw water on my stage, motherfuckers!” She then wiped up the mess herself with a towel and threw it into the audience.
Madonna’s brief set – confined, for reasons never explained, to a dance-music tent instead of one of the two outdoor stages – was the biggest anomaly in the seven-year history of the alternative-leaning Coachella festival, held each year in the Southern California desert town of Indio. And her presence on a diverse bill otherwise headlined by Tool, Depeche Mode, Franz Ferdinand and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs prompted some grumbling.
From the stage, Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein suggested she’d be skipping Madonna’s set, adding: “We’re more like Tool than we are like Madonna.” And a t-shirt worn by a few attendees read, “Madonna killed Coachella.” But backstage, Franz Ferdinand drummer and Madge fan Paul Thomson seemed to reflect the majority view: “Madonna in a tent? That’s insane!”
A tank-topped Madonna took the stage twenty minutes late Sunday night, prompting boos during the wait. Her performance was short, but had its share of thrills, even for haters – including a rocked-up version of “Ray of Light” that found her bashing out a chord or two on an electric guitar. The staging was stripped down by her standards – the only part of the show that felt completely out of place was a predictable bit where sweaty, shirtless back-up dudes ground themselves against her. Still, after two days filled with indie anti-frontmen, the showbiz polish was refreshing.
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