What does it say about Chris Cornell that Zack de la Rocha can make these other three men seem so much cooler in just one night? All is forgiven as the festival closes with Rage Against the Machine’s reunion, one replete with some newish touches, like de la Rocha’s updated lyrics to “Killing in the Name Of”: “Some of those who hold office are the same that burn crosses.” An embattled and dusty attendee barks, “That was ridiculous! Unbelievable.” He could be saying this to himself, because he’s staring at the ground.
During “Bulls on Parade” a woman on one crutch stumbles by, clutching a vodka cranberry cocktail, red liquid splashing about at each clumsy step. You can see every sort of handheld device glowing a half-mile deep into the crowd, fans trying to capture something, anything. (Or, doing the unforgivable sin of “gloat-calling” an envious friend elsewhere just to give sonic proof of their elite whereabouts.)
It’s weird to feel like a cow in a horse field, but people are leaping fences to escape the herd. If the nearby voices are any indication, there is unanimous approval of Rage Against the Machine and the entire festival. Sighs and exaltations abound, as if we all pulled through it together and moved that impossible boulder up that impossible hill. And have a few tunes in our heads to boot.
“Dude, I got punched in the face,” says one of the exiting herd. His friend turns around and says, “No, I got punched in the face.” The first guy pauses and says, “Oh, yeah.” No one laughs. This is euphoric disorientation. Someone is selling water and beer from a red cooler propped up in a black wheelchair. The parking lot lights illuminating our cars make us feel like stars on our own stage as we compete with our stereos, still craving more music. More beer. Water, maybe. Something to come down.
“This is for the people of the sun.” When Zack pushed those words over the final mass of Coachella celebrants, it was hard not to say “thank you” out loud. GREGG LAGAMBINA / PHOTOS BY ERIC NOWELS