Over the last six years, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival has built a reputation as a forward-looking showcase for breaking waves in music. On multiple stages erected on the Empire Polo Field in Indio, California, the hottest music fest this side of Austin plays out annually. Drew Thomas' film Coachella
serves up a representative cross-section of artists, and though the acts don't have the heft required for concert-film greatness, they do comprise a sort of screen capture of the decade's musical movement (and a distinct advertisement for the fest). The White Stripes, Spearhead, Belle & Sebastian, The Mars Volta, The Polyphonic Spree, and Arcade Fire are among the breakout artists. Old hands turn up as well: Radiohead, Oasis, Iggy & the Stooges, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Flaming Lips. The "historic" reunion performance by the Pixies proves underwhelming in comparison to vital up-and-comers, while Morrissey takes the prize for most hysteria caused by any one individual. Thomas also takes care to take in the scene: hot and windy desert conditions, a free-living vacation mindset, and artsy spectacle that, at times, overshadows the music.