Through A Note Darkly: Being Loyal, Being Sweaty in the Coachella Valley

Through A Note Darkly is a weekly feature on in which contributor Chris Villalta searches for lessons in an album he's heard a lot about, but has never heard in full before

1. Coachella 2017

Personal Favorite Song Performance: Lorde's "Liability"

Personal Favorite Overall Performance: Radiohead

Summarizing Lyric: "I got loyalty" ("DNA")

“I got loyalty.” The lyrics, scattered throughout the record and kicking off the record’s first hook, define Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Being the headliner–the one people were willing to squeeze, step, sweat onto each other for an hour for–it makes sense his concern with loyalty leaked into the performances which came before his. Lady Gaga, after 90 minutes of performing with a troupe of dancers and musicians she’s been with for over a decade, dedicated an acoustic version of “Glory” to her friend with cancer–loyalty–Bon Iver, clad in white shirts with “PEOPLE” spread across the chest, brought out friends Bruce Hornsby, Amelia Meath, Nao, Jenny Lewis, to help him close with “Friends”–loyalty–Mac DeMarco and his band joked around like the knuckleheads you want them to be and closed with a song dedicated to DeMarco’s girlfriend–loyalty–Porter Robinson and Madeon poured their hearts out to the final performance of a show they had been been building together since they were children–loyalty–during Radiohead, I could look to my right and see my little sister, to my left and see a silver haired lady, behind me and see a fellow 20 year old, ahead and see the back of a dedicated middle aged fan, all over and know everyone that got this close to the stage will love this band til the end and beyond–loyalty–more than once Kendrick asked the crowd he had at the palm of his hands to raise their hands up if they were with a friend, cousin, sister, brother, uncle, girlfriend, boyfriend–“Put your hands up if you’re loyal!”


At a time as tumultuous as today, I expected more anger, more calls for revolt from these legends in progress, but the anger didn’t come. Kendrick smiled, Gaga said love each other, Bon Iver said connect, everyone said be loyal to your fellow human being. The camaraderie was certainly one of the most admirable things I witnessed at Coachella. Aside from a tear duct busting performance of “Liability” by Lorde, the most emotional moment of Coachella for me was seeing a teenage girl tap the shoulder of an Australian guy and ask if she could have a sip from his rigged-with-water backpack. Not only did he say yes, he said “Let me know if you need more.” There was also the man shaking the hands of everyone around him, learning names and looking to make that section of the crowd the “lit–est” (his words) in Coachella through friendship because friendship makes people comfortable with each other. Friendship is the closest one can get to equality in a relationship. Friendship is the relationship in which loyalty is expected from both sides. Friendship is what made Coachella beautiful, is what made the future seem a little brighter, all we have to do is figure out a way to get strangers to befriend each other without the aid of a high and the motivation spending way too much money can do in getting people to step out of their comfort zone and have fun with each other, love each other, rely on each other.