Coachella: will Guns N’ Roses unite the generations?

The emphasis placed on groups reuniting means Coachella will never be just kids rolling in neon sunglasses – but can an aging Axl Rose impress the late-stage millennials as well as moms and dads?

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio walks through the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with friends. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

I’m about to make a very damning admission: I’ve never been to Coachella. Now, I’m not saying this is shameful because everyone should go to Coachella before they die or some other pretentious proclamation. I’m ashamed that I’ve never been because living in Los Angeles for a decade affords me such close proximity to Coachella’s Indio, California, location that I should have gone before I became so old that I was guaranteed to be miserable during the whole affair. I’ve zoomed past the age in which I can reasonably expect to appreciate the unique pleasures of the festival without needing my stomach pumped immediately afterwards.

I’m 31 years old, which is not the optimal time to be driving out to the desert to stand around in the sand all day while my back seizes up and I grind my feet into dust from walking all day. Festivals are a young person’s game, after all. The stamina required to schlep from stage to stage, swilling expensive booze, consuming various illicit substances and staying up all night to listen to ear-blasting music escapes those of advanced age. But the Coachella of never-ending raves and nubile flesh is giving way to another, far more lucrative experience: the nostalgia act.

Coachella 2014 featured Pet Shop Boys, Motorhead, Neutral Milk Hotel, Fatboy Slim, Bryan Ferry and Outkast amongst other performers who enjoyed their golden years some time before the invention of the iPhone ruined our attention spans. Last year’s festival went even further back, with sets from AC/DC andSteely Dan – artifacts of the Gerald Ford era. And previous years included appearances from baby boomer acts such as Paul McCartney and Sly Stone. But 2016 promises not one, but two highly anticipated, lucrative reunions from bands that represent very distinct generations: Guns N’ Roses and LCD Soundsystem. Both groups have performed packed warm-ups in small venues full of adoring fans, but it remains to be seen how well they will fare in the era of the candy-coated EDM laser show.

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Axl Rose in 2007: already injured. Photograph: LatinContent/Getty Images

Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N’ Roses – who headline Saturday night’s festivities – has already injured himself. Rose, 54 years old, fractured his fifth metatarsal in his left foot. I’m no doctor, but I’m certain the fifth metatarsal is a bone of some sort, probably necessary for not only hopping around and humping the mic stand, but also for simple tasks like walking to the bathroom to take a pee. Rose will wear a cast on his left foot during the two sets GNR will play at the festival on 16 and 23 April. This is not uncommon, as Pitchfork reported back in July of last year that Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performed in a cast after fracturing his leg when he fell off a stage in Sweden. At that show, Grohl performed the entire night from a giant throne. That strikes me as a rather acceptable solution, since the man isn’t known for his acrobatic stagecraft. Grohl could be lying prostrate on the ground with gerbils crawling up and down his pant legs as long as he was mic’d up. Actually, that might make for a more engaging show. Imagine Grohl screaming into the ground while rodents gnawed at his undercarriage. Where do I buy tickets?

Grohl does not have the reputation of one Axl Rose – a barely restrained, histrionic reprobate whose name is infamously derived from an anagram of “oral sex”. Isn’t part of the appeal of seeing Guns N’ Roses witnessing Axl physically seducing the audience with all manner of overblown stagecraft? Axl Rose warbling his way through Live and Let Die or Welcome to the Jungle from a comfy barcalounger is akin to watching Mick Jagger sing Start Me Up from inside an iron lung or Miles Davis playing Freddie Freeloader while slowly sinking into a tub of mayonnaise. The Guardian’s own Bryan Armen Graham attended GNR’s warm-up show in Las Vegas and reported that Axl performed from the same throne that Grohl used after his injury. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see someone sing Paradise City while thumbing through a copy of Golf Digest and sipping an iced tea, you’re in luck.

Read more at the Guardian


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