Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stupid Girl's Revenge

[I'm writing this aboard a flight to Houston. Go figure that I'd written much of the entry below on the flight back from Coachella and left it languishing on my laptop. Man, I was seriously pissed at The Cure.]

This is what happens when you piss off karma, I guess. Coachella was loads of fun, as it always is. But it sputtered to a severely disappointing conclusion. Never thought I'd walk away from a Cure performance, but that's what we did on the last night of Coachella.

It's strange that I'd never seen The Cure live after being a fan for a couple of decades. Something always got in the way: ex-girlfriend's family trip, shifting taste in music, the general suckiness of their latter-day releases. There's no way I'd invest good money and a big chunk of time to see The Cure on tour now. But when they're part of the Coachella bundle, that's an ideal opportunity to see them finally.

It struck me as rather odd that The Cure was booked as a headliner. They don't fit the mold of a typical headliner because they, try as they might, don't sell many records these days. And they also don't really fit the mold of a throwback headliner because there's no mystique to seeing them live, given their incessant touring in support of their generally crappy new releases. It was special to see New Order at Coachella, because they sorta-kinda reunited after a sorta-kinda break-up. And they never were very big on touring even in their heyday. But what's so special about seeing a band that seems to be on tour every year, yet hasn't released a decent song in nearly two decades?

Going into Sunday, I didn't let the finer points of event booking get to me. I was in an exceedingly happy mood, and I fully expected to get into an even happier mood after The Cure ran through their collection of classics. But Robert Smith, in all his stubbornness, had other ideas.

I could sense that things likely weren't going to unfold in a pleasing manner when I couldn't recognize the first song they played. And I was virtually certain that the night would end on Disatisfaction Street when the first "classic" they played was "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea." Wasting precious performance slots on semi-relevant songs like that meant fewer slots available for true classics like "Friday I'm in Love," "Fascination Street," "Boys Don't Cry," "High" and "Close to Me." Sure enough, none of those were on the playlist. (Well, not the part we stayed for anyway.)

They did play "Just Like Heaven" and "In Between Days" -- my absolute favorite Cure songs. But those came midway through the set, leaving me to wonder what could be left for a satisfying encore. They droned on with one unrecognizable blob of a song after another, leaving me and my friends to look at each other with disgust and unspoken shouts of "what the hell is this?" We gave them every opportunity to redeem themselves, but redemption was far beyond their reach. We lingered after their official set concluded, but on the understanding that we'd leave if we couldn't recognize the first song they played during their encore. When they returned and launched into yet another unrecognizable blob of a song, my friends and I exchanged expressions of dismay, and we began the long march toward the parking lot.

As we got past the gates, I wondered aloud: "Maybe this is Stupid Girl's revenge?" Right away, my Dallas friend -- a big believer in karma, chimed in: "Hey, I was just thinking that!"

So who's Stupid Girl? She's the hapless, yet excruciatingly annoying, semi-friend of a friend who accompanied us on our very first day at Coachella in 2005. She was most excited abut seeing Coldplay, but we left as Coldplay began their set, in part to spite her for her annoying ways. As we rolled out of the parking lot, she looked so sad listening to the sounds of Coldplay grow fainter.

Her revenge actually started a couple of nights earlier, during Paul McCartney's set. My Houston and Dallas friends grew impatient and wanted to leave because Paul wasn't playing very many Beatles songs. My O.C. friend and I wanted to stay a bit longer, but we figured we'd relent because it was only the start of what was going to be a very long weekend. Lo and behold, right before we reached the gates, Paul started to play "Let It Be" -- my favorite Beatles song and go-to karaoke tune. (You really only need to know three words, after all.) And he followed that up with a slew of Beatles classics. Alas, we were relegated to listening from Siberia because we gave up too soon.

And her revenge continued the next day, when we got stuck in traffic and missed Glasvegas. (Then again, we wouldn't have seen them anyway, because they backed out.)

By Sunday night, her revenge seemed complete (or so we thought). As we strolled toward the parking lot, I joked about how funny it would be if we were to hear The Cure playing "Boy's Don't Cry" as we drove away. Well, it turns out that those bums finished off their set with "Boys Don't Cry." (They played 30 minutes past curfew, so the organizers cut off the sound system in the middle of the song. But the band and the crowd carried on merrily. Those bastards.)


And just when we thought that karma had wrapped up its handiwork, we were quickly reminded that it's difficult to slow the momentum of vengeance. While waiting in the security line at the airport, my Dallas friend noticed an Asian girl in line with her parents and noted that she kinda looked like one of his ex-girlfriends -- an ex-girlfriend with whom he'd rather not interact. We really didn't need to get closer to confirm, given the way our luck was going. And, yup. He was right. What are the chances of bumping into an ex-girlfriend while you're on vacation? Pretty high, I guess, when karma has it in for you.

Oh well. I have some regret, but not enough to justify the cost that would've been required to foreclose it. The Cure gets an automatic skip on the iPod for the next couple of months at least.

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