On Sunday, December 16, the inaugural voyage of the S.S. Coachella, the mega-fest’s first trip to the Atlantic Ocean, left Ft. Lauderdale, Florida en route to the Bahamas. Pulp, Sleigh Bells, Girl Talk, El-P, Hot Chip, Black Lips, and a host of other bands are along for the ride. Ever intrepid, SPIN is documenting the entire experiment bit by waterlogged bit. Impossible fun abounds as the threat of total annihilation looms ever present. Ahoy, and see photos of the whole trip here!
Day Three: Like sharks to the chum
Today’s stowaways: Hot Chip, Girl Talk, the Rapture, James Murphy, Warpaint
10:00 a.m.: A word about hygiene. On Sunday, when we sealed our fate by crossing the gangway from Florida to Floatchella, we were immediately confronted by a serious man holding a wholesale-sized squeeze-bag of hand sanitizer. Inside we found signs asking guests use paper towels to open bathroom doors. And, not for nothing, the fine print of the “Guest Conduct Policy” regarding the Cruise crew implores that we “please do not misinterpret their friendliness.” Despite our adherence to these precautions, we awake with exactly the kind of stomach sitch one does not want on a boat. We opt not to report our condition, as strongly advised, to boat authorities.
10:10 a.m.: We realize that the ship is no longer moving and bravely open the cabin curtains right in the face of our 36-hour hangover. Outside is swaying palm trees, turquoise water, picturesque piers and a building that looks like we always thought Atlantis would. It is, in fact, is a famous Bahamas resort called Atlantis. Go figure.
2:00 p.m.: Nassau will break your heart even as it charms you with elaborate hair-braiding options and straw tchotchkes. For every authentic-ish experience offered, there are at least two designer shops or jewelry outlets blaring their duty-free status to the recently disembarked. We are among those, in search of Wi-Fi, so we file our Day One report from a place called Conch Fritters that serves conch fritters (go figure), drinking Bahama Mamas while island remakes of Christmas classics play over the P.A.
6:00 p.m.: Like the wealthy capitalist yacht-rock swine we Shipsters have now become, we are back on the S.S. Coachella in a fancy little vinoteca, about 20 of us, delicately gripping stemware as LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy pours from his hand-picked selection of natural wines. Hate if you must, but this is lovely. “When I was a kid getting into punk rock when I lived in New Jersey,” he says, “you’d look at the label, you’d find out who the producer is. A lot of [wine selection] is having this tiny bit of knowledge, being out at a restaurant [and] speaking to a sommelier… Unlike the record store clerks of my youth, they’re not embittered and angry.” Frank Cornelissen’s Contadino 9 is totally the post-hardcore of viticulture.
7:15 p.m.: In seeking further tipsiness, things right themselves. Black Lips are at the other end of Deck 4, halfway through the Gilligan’s Island-themed bar crawl they are hosting. Cole Alexander has ditched his usual cowpunk attire for a brunette wig that is half as long as he is tall (hello, Mary Ann). Joe Bradley is wearing a sparkly dress and fake Ginger tresses, Ian Saint Pé is dapper as millionaire Thurston Howell III, and Jared Swilley could stand in for Bob Denver in the show’s titular role. The boys clink glasses with their fans, and lead the charge up to Deck 5 when the speakers start to play Linkin Park’s “In the End.” Next stop: ice bar.
8:30 p.m.: Yes, we are supposed to be diligently reporting Simian Mobile Disco’s no doubt, um, seat-rattling performance in the Silhouette Theatre, but instead we are eating escargot and sipping Malbec with Black Lips upon their invitation. Saint Pé promised we’d get something out of it. Does “drunker” count?
9:00 p.m.: Regarding Warpaint’s second Sky Lounge gig, our notes reveal only: Morepaint!
9:45 p.m.: As the once-clear delineations between Broaters, Seapunks and Shipsters blur along with our vision, so too does the dichotomy between band and fan. At !!!’s well-attended Lounge redux (they also did Day One), during the disco-punk band’s beloved “Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard,” Nic Offer hands the microphone to an audience member for a couple of bars and is so impressed that he grabs a new mike so they can duet. “Get up here!” he shouts at the young, mustachioed fella — a Freddie Mercury lookalike also wearing tiny Offer-style shorts (boxers or swim, we may never know) — and they close the show literally swinging from the rafters.
10:30 p.m.: “I haven’t seen shows like this since college,” a dude shouts at us as we surge downstairs to the next one. We assume he’s referencing the intimacy, though it could be the binge drinking, random hookups, and ocean-sized buffer from reality.
11:15 p.m.: Hot Chip impress us wildly by breaking from their otherwise ceaseless mix of propulsive seven-member alt-dance insanity (it’s as if the “Apache” break came to life, bought synths and formed a band) in order to play the Cruise’s most fitting cover: the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B,” an upbeat song about a boat of notorious revelers that came to sink in the Bahamas. For all of the fun we’re having, we’re certain the chorus — “I feel so broke up, I wanna go home” — strikes a chord.
12:30 a.m.: We are doing underwater somersaults as the Rapture DJ house music at the Pool Deck and, like, 13 people dance. This is how chillwave was invented.
1:00 a.m.: If you’ve ever been to a Girl Talk show, than you know what happens next. Greg Gillis has pushed his DJ booth to the front of the Silhouette Theatre stage and is flanked by what looks like a thousand exuberant, beautiful fans very clearly having the time of their respective lives. Every color in the crayon pack is beamed around the vast room via lasers, and amplified in areas where the fog is thick, while confetti rains down, balloons rise up, and all of the bodies move from side to side as they are wont to do whilst in the throes of mashup-inspired mania. It is a perfectly indulgent way to bring this experiment to a close — and the only method that doesn’t involve pirates or maelstroms — and sensing this, Gillis announces that he’ll keep the party going until 2:30 in the morning.
2:15 a.m. Once again seeking context, we wander outside and find the Atlantic Ocean strikingly indifferent to our cause. Tuning our ears from the breakers below to the tinny sounds emanating from a speaker nearby, we misinterpret the lyrics of a Les Savy Fav song: “We swell up like dicks on the high of the night.” It was actually “ticks” and “hide,” but the flub seems fitting, and so we offer this parting chantey:
Each night we come like sharks to the chum,
But the ladder’s succumbed to all but gristle and crumbs.
The stakes are so low that we eat off the floor,
That’s what we got long tongues for.
Show us your teeth and show us your tits
and show us the scars from all the shit that you did.
And we swell up like dicks on the high of the night,
Yeah, we swell up like dicks on the high of the night.