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A Post-Modern, West Coast Woodstock?

Described as the "City of Eternal Sunshine-Gateway to the Salton Sea", the city of Coachella annually hosts a music festival including some of the most talented, eclectic, and diverse alternative musicians in the world. Director Drew Thomas captures much of the mood, energy, and feel of this unique musical congregation in the concert film, Coachella.

Thomas trains his camera on a plethora of remarkable performances for the various artists that have frequented the festival over the past six years. The list of artists reads like a "Who's Who" of alternative (however one defines this) musicians. Bjork, The Flaming Lips, The Crystal Method, The Chemical Brothers, and Belle and Sebastian are but a few of the artists Thomas captures on stage.

It's this diversity of musical tastes and styles that makes Coachella unique as a music festival and consequently, what makes Thomas' concert film unique as well. Rather than focus on one single band (e.g. Stop Making Sense, A Hard Day's Night), Thomas gives equal representation to many of the major headliners at Coachella.

There is an artist that will cater to just about any person's taste at Coachella, usually several performing simultaneously on multiple stages. While describing Coachella as a post-modern, west coast Woodstock may be overstating things slightly, there is a palpable air of peace, happiness, and love that you can feel even from the big screen.

But, ultimately watching a concert (or music festival) on film is an experience that pales in comparison to the real thing. Maybe it's the lack of wafting ganja smoke, the smell of sweat, or a combination of the two.

While it's not necessarily fair to criticize a concert film for not having a clearly defined narrative thread, Coachella is at the end of the day little more than a collection of performances (great ones for the most part) and musings (interesting ones for the most part) about exactly what Coachella represents to both the artists and audience.

Coachella manages to give viewers an opportunity to experience Coachella vicariously and it's not a bad experience. While you can't mosh with the masses, spend exorbitant amounts of cash on parking, and swill mediocre beer as you would at the festival, you get a comfortable seat and a close up view of some of the best performances ever put forth at Coachella.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars