Experiencing Danny Elfman on Acid: A Coachella Story
Experiencing Danny Elfman on Acid: A Coachella Story

Faces were melting. Wind was raging. A grandmaster of musical wizardry was howling poetic obscenities into a microphone with an orchestra elevating every word: “Youth is wasted on the motherfucking/ Wasted on the motherfucking youth.” His fiery red hair danced with maniacal gusts that were strong enough to toss palm trees, but too weak to disturb this sorcerer’s power pose. Leaning into the mic, his lips spoke spells, surely summoning this supernatural force descending upon the ceremony by corporation called Coachella. 

This was Danny Elfman now. 

At 68, the composer of The Simpsons theme song was surfing through a wind storm, shirtless, with tattoos wiggling on his skin, while bellowing a blistering criticism of shallow, contemporary culture at the very youth swarming from all over the world to relish in it. And I, at 34, was on LSD at a concert for the first time in my life. I came to the stage expecting to hear Batman Returns and Nightmare Before Christmas scores, but instead, was pulled through a portal into another realm, ruled by a mad genius of melody and spectacle. I was mesmerized. And this LSD, allegedly among the purest available, was hitting me harder than I ever expected, and I felt the possibility that I might lose whatever was left of my mind by the end of this set. 

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I thought I was tripping an hour ago, when the effects first kicked in. A friend snuck in weed and acid gel tabs past two layers of security, so we could get high at a California music festival strongly catering to psychedelic culture in its visual splendor but strangely strict on psychedelic substances; even legal cannabis was banned. Organizers explained the decision on the website by stating “Sorry, bro”; an even stranger statement considering the festival’s demographic largely consists of the “bro” variety. But after some setbacks, my connection to the dream Coachella experience had finally arrived. Javi, an LA-based guitarist who looks exactly like what one would think an acid connection would look like, strolled past the festival’s iconic white ferris wheel with a cloud of dark hair floating above his head, a groovy green, silk shirt he borrowed from his mother, and black shades, resting on top of the satisfied grin of a lifelong stoner proudly pulling illicit, smuggled substances from his sneaker.

It was my first time at Coachella. I bought the tickets back in 2019 when Rage Against the Machine was set to headline. And then the pandemic hit, and Rage bailed. But I held onto the tickets, anyway. And then my best friend had to bail, too. So, I was going into this adventure alone, which I didn’t mind, either, because an excursion to see my favorite band had morphed into an excuse to eat my favorite psychedelics. Mushrooms gave me a beautiful, introspective night on Thursday; and MDMA provided a relaxing Friday watching an enchanting Phoebe Bridgers; but today was Saturday — the climax of the festival — and I was craving the quintessential festival acid trip.

Photo Credit: Coachella

The wind was picking up as the sun was preparing to settle behind the horizon. Javi was still suffering anxiety from his stressful trek through security, and desperately needed to smoke a joint. But first he needed to roll one, and it was a task finding an appropriate spot to do that. We weaved through crowds of TikTok models and influencers, dressed like they either stepped out of a rave, a strip club, or the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. If the women were wearing clothes, at all, the garments were colorful and flowery, or white and glittery, and their accompanying brohemians strolled shirtless, or decked out in some kind of mismatched, rainbow-bright sequence of questionable fashionability.

“Have you noticed how many dudes are dressed up like Hunter S. Thompson here?” Javi asked.

I looked around at the passing Caucasian clones, swarming the Empire Polo Club grounds wearing Kangol hats, khaki shorts, and tropical shirts. I noticed the trend for the first time. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but it can only ever be a diluted, empty tribute to the force of nature that inspired it. These fellas were no gonzos, and their costumes were just a trend in the shifting sands of time, not a genuine expression of the spirit lifting their bones. But then it clicked: We’re well beyond the psychedelic renaissance; the culture born in the mid-1960s has been fully integrated into our current mainstream, collective consciousness. This Euphoria generation is re-cycling through hippie style with a similar pull toward liberation of the flesh — except, now, skin is showcased in public mainly with the intention to upload it to Instagram. “Peace and love” has been updated to “good vibes.” But despite the public display of good will, there is a slathering of narcissism greasing the wheels of this very profitable ceremony. Most were here to be seen and to pose, but few, it seemed, were actually looking for genuine human connection, beyond those they were already connected with. The swarming youth kept their pupils focused on their clique or the next concert on their schedule. Eye contact was sparse, although, the eye candy was sweet and plentiful. 

And we were far from the only guests ready to roll tonight. Ketamine, a sedative that can be psychedelic in smaller doses, seemed to be — from my tiny ground perspective, at least — among the most popular drugs with other guests dancing with the devil this weekend. An EMT from Orange County, who I met earlier in the campground, was eager to tell me all about how much cocaine and ketamine he was doing at a celebrity-packed after party last night. “Calvin Klein,” or “CK,” is the fashionable slang for the upper-downer combo, and completely fitting for the gathered generations’ addiction to compulsive corporate consumption. Much like how social media feeds have become free billboards for companies manipulating the population into executing marketing campaigns on their behalf, the drug lingo, too, was engraving one of the world’s most iconic fashion brands deeper into the brain grooves inside this bunch, ecstatic to shell out a thousand-plus bucks for a weekend of communion with the current roster of pop-culture gods. 

Javi grew up in Indio, the desert town where the festival has been held since 1999, and has been attending almost every year since. He told me about Coachella’s humble, renegade rock roots at the Empire Polo Club, kicking off with headliners RATM, Tool, and Beck, a few months before Y2K fears were proven to be unfounded. The event used to offer a more welcoming, friendly community vibe, with smoke clouds hovering over those audiences, who were less focused on appearances and more content to simply exist without compulsively proving it to voyeurs on the internet. But that era is over. The 2022 iteration, after a two-year hiatus, is a finely tuned, corporate money machine; a massive, neon monument honoring our society’s true religion — capitalism — propped up by a pyramid scheme called “The American Dream,” dangling the golden carrot of fame and gain in every young person’s face as soon as they’re old enough to be indoctrinated into the hustle. 

As many took to Twitter to note the rare occurrence of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths sharing holy days this past Friday, I couldn’t help but feel Coachella should have been lumped into that religious eclipse as well. Indigenous cultures across North America used to converge for massive spiritual celebrations at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico before Europeans arrived for the slaughter, and now the descendants of those invaders are left with music festivals to fill a spiritual void, which is only growing wider, as atheist or agnostic youth continue to ditch the oppressive religious traditions that captured their parents in favor of whatever mishmash of wisdom and instruction they find through memes. And Coachella, which attracted 250,000 people in 2017, is one of the most popular public gatherings of our modern mecca. Why praise God this weekend when we can worship at the alter of 20-year-old pop queen Billie Eilish, in between feasting on $22 chicken fingers and $16 cans of Heineken? Not quite my idea of heaven, but it must be for others here, especially if they paid VIP prices to feel holy among the peasants, who could only afford to spend $549 (*plus fees) on a general admission wristband — which will cost an additional $40 to replace, if it happens to rip along the poor stitching.

Photo Credit: Coachella

With security crawling around every artfully constructed shade structure, Javi and I finally found refuge from the wind alongside a seven-story rainbow tower at the center of the festival. As he rolled our first joint, I noticed a faded young man leaning against the colorful glass, sitting next to another Hunter S. Thompson clone. “How’s it going, brother?” I asked. It took a few moments for the words to register and his eyes to meet mine. “Huh?” 

He sounded confused. And I didn’t blame him. Few strangers had even met my eyes in passing this weekend, and even fewer, with the exception of my block of newfound camping buddies, had said hello. The one dude that did a few hours ago was completely wasted, and tried to hook me into a $100 bet that he would sink an empty cup into a trash can at the beer garden. He missed. And when I asked for my Benjamin, he opted to pull a middle finger from his pocket instead. 

“Are you enjoying the festival?” I asked the faded young man again, while his distracted buddy was shouting into an iPhone. 

“Yeah, man,” he said, and mumbled some other incomprehensible words. “Hey, can you help me with something?” I noticed a cast on his right hand, and a tiny bag of white powder in his left. “I hurt my arm, and I can’t, like, open this, and get it to my nose. Can you help me get a bump?” 

He was more concerned about maintaining that delicate balance of coke and ketamine than conversation. Javi was quick to volunteer — in exchange for a complimentary bump, of course. The LSD started to kick in for me, so I was good, and quite frankly, have always been a little uncomfortable with powders and pills. I looked in another direction to start enjoying the wavy, bright visuals that accompany an acid trip, but was immediately interrupted by two 20-something bros charging toward our square. Perhaps the boys on the other end of that smart phone.

“Bro! You guys gotta come with us,” declared one of the two youthful, tanned and muscular brohemoths, who would be perfectly cast in an MTV Jersey Shore reboot. Then, he noticed Javi and I, two complete strangers, and leaned aggressively close to my face. “You guys, too! We’re going so hard tonight, and we’re not stopping! We’re getting pussy everywhere we go!”

“It’s true. We’ve been fuckin’ the hottest bitches all weekend,” his smaller lackey interjected, while the alpha continued to bark toxic masculinity in my face. 

“That’s cool, man,” I responded in calm. “I’m good on that, but you guys have a great night.” Their aggressive energy, matching the rising tides of a 20 MPH wind storm, was too much for me, and I had to walk away. 

Photo Credit: Coachella

I stood in the wind, and appreciated the cool breeze after a hot desert day. It’s very admirable that Coachella fosters an environment in which women feel safe enough to let it all hang out in front of thousands of respectful strangers. And this is far from the only event out there that manages the same, however, those yoked up young men reminded me that the heart of darkness is always on the prowl, underneath any glitter and gold. Men are taught from an early age by movies, television, video games, and music that their manhood is measured by the amount of women they have sex with, drugs they get fucked up with, and money they play with — or, these days, have invested in a diversified portfolio of cryptocurrency, stocks and NFTs. This system breeds insatiable desire, which in turn spawns delusion, and monsters inevitably emerge to wreak havoc on the meek and naive; all while remaining heroes in their own internal monologues. These monsters are ignorant of their own monstrosity, because brutes consider conquest by force, or more subtly, by manipulation, to be success; and success is the holy grail in our hustle culture. Get rich or die tryin’ has become a mantra for many, and a tragic amount of people absolutely do go down swinging for fool’s gold. Were those boys destined to mutate into something less than human this weekend? Maybe they already have. In any case, boys will be boys, for better or worse, until they wake up with enough awareness to be a dignified human being. 

This is samsara, and the eternal cycle can only be broken by a total awakening of collective consciousness. Moments here at Coachella make me think it’s possible; we really can all get along and progress toward that utopia, but those young men snorting CK to get amped for more sexual conquest are symbolic of the cracks in the shaky foundation we’ve been building this empire on. If the average civilian wants to make enough money to wear designer clothes while consuming designer drugs at designer experiences, when will enough ever be enough? Can fulfillment possibly exist for the people raised on these cultural norms? Ancient Taoist wisdom says the person who knows they have enough is truly wealthy. But if that is truth, we all may be fairly poor. 

A few minutes later, a freshly inebriated Javi sauntered over, and we embarked on another long walk toward the Outdoor Theatre stage, where acclaimed film composer and former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman was scheduled to take the stage at 9 PM. 

Photo Credit: Coachella

Traversing the 78-acre Coachella venue on its most heavily attended night was reminiscent of the Jurassic Park scene in which Dr. Grant is caught in a stampede of Gallimimus dinosaurs with two children by his side. Herds of people running from one stage to the next, chasing one Tyrannosaurus of artistry after another, and if you’re heading to where they’re coming from, you’re caught in a real-life game of Frogger. It was harder to play on Friday when I wasn’t so high. There were a lot of awkward pauses and apologies. Now, with LSD enhancing my sensory experience, I had found a flow state and effortlessly weaved in between the oncoming traffic. I marveled in wonder and awe at the size and scope of this pop-up American monument to excess, as waves of ecstasy pulsed through my body to the beat of the closest speaker. My throat felt like it was swelling, but not in alarming way; breathing was more pleasurable than ever before, and gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this ceremony by corporation filled my heart. An hour ago, walking felt like a chore, but in this here and now, I wasn’t even walking. Just moving. Floating. Two inches off the ground. 

The crowd that was gathered in front of our destination was relatively sparse compared to the dense sea of people that awaited most artists on the star-studded Weekend 1 bill. Which made sense. Danny Elfman was a nostalgic novelty for Gen Z, and most Millennials, more likely to be drawn to Coachella main stage performer Flume in the same time slot. But it was nice to take a seat in the grass and kick back while waiting for the show to begin. My body and mind was becoming more acclimated to the LSD now. The peak I thought I had reached was climbing higher. I turned to see a group of the gothic variety also waiting to watch the regular Tim Burton collaborator. The tallest gentleman of the group was wearing a jester hat, with a face painted black and white. As I watched him laugh with his buddies, that face began to morph into something more sinister, and some worry set in. Uh oh, I thought to myself. Am I about to be surrounded by a horde of devious harlequins that just stepped out of a Rob Zombie movie? This could go sideways if I let my deep-seated, childhood fear of circus clowns take over. Relax. Just breathe. 

I shifted my focus to the breeze rushing through my loose fitting shirt clinging to my torso with just a few buttons. It felt good. The desert heat from the sun had been replaced by whispering lunar winds. The black blanket of sky above was a great wide open, and the full moon watching the spectacle of mankind below was shining a magical shade of yellow. On Thursday, I spent the tail-end of my psilocybin trip staring up at that mystical space ball, and a portal of plasmic light extended toward me, inching only as close as my selective awareness could linger without break. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the psychedelic phenomenon, either. The other world we’re blind to exists in between these subtle rays of pure light, I thought in the moment; that’s real reality, and I’m looking at it from the world of shadow, shaped by conditions of the mind, deciding names of infinite forms that ego abstracts from a cosmic dance of particles.

Javi was talking to me, but at this point, it was hard to focus on his words, or find the will to respond. I had done enough talking today. I was ready to listen. Let go. Be. The feedback of an electric guitar signaled Elfman, his 20-something-piece orchestra, and rock band were ready to unleash a musical theatre experience for mad men only. Seconds later, he riffed into his 2021 Big Mess album opener Sorry. Black intestines took over the giant screen behind the musicians, and pulsated with the beat with the beat of Josh Freese’s kick drum. It was immediately clear: this would not just be a walk down memory lane through his 37-year career as one of Hollywood’s finest composers, which began by scoring Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985. No, this was something new. Something strange; perhaps even wicked. But most certainly better than whatever the hell I was expecting. This would be weird science, indeed. 

There isn’t time for revolution /There isn’t time to evolutionize or hide / Those things most precious / Our most precious / Things that got erased, corrupted, infiltrated / I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. Every word immediately resonated with me, and pulled all of my conscious, selective awareness to this pale, chiseled god amongst men. Digital lightning struck behind the master, working the stage with a clear intention to melt minds and loudly declare, It’s gonna break, it’s gotta break / It’s made of glass, it’s gonna break / And all the hate that you collected / And infused into protected piles of shit / Glass eyed devotees will flock to your gates / Your house is on fire, your house is on fire.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what it all meant, and could only catch a few phrases here and there, but I felt certain this man’s message countered the “good vibes only” club packed in these gates, and pointed directly to society’s inevitable collapse, because of our collective commitment to greed, anger, and delusion — what Buddha called the Three Poisons, and what advertising executives cater to in order to sell products that exist for the sole purpose of generating profit.Insects walking on two legs, insects fucking with our heads / Insects work is never done, they’ve all moved to Washington,” he sang in his second prog-rock number, Insects, which was a little more upbeat, but still, I imagined, a downer for any pop fans capable only of latching onto arrangements formulated to top the Billboard charts. Danny Elfman, however, wasn’t there to pander for applause. No, he was there to expand minds, and demonstrate his full range of an expressive medium, mastered over five decades of practice, performance and composition. 

“Hello Coachella. My name’s Danny Elfman and I’ve got a strange little show here,” he said in between playing most welcome Oingo Boingo songs Nothing to Fear (but Fear Itself) and Just Another Day.

For his next act, he would remind the audience that he not only scored The Nightmare Before Christmas, but that he was the singing voice of Jack Skellington, too. Elfman pivoted from hard rock, backed by famed Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, to his roots — musical theatre — with a splendid rendition of This Is Halloween, featuring the Pumpkin King himself, lip syncing on the big screen behind the voice.And I grow so weary of the sound of screams / And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King / have grown so tired of the same old thing,” he sang. Perhaps the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning composer, who was making his return to the stage as “Danny Elfman” for the first time in 27 years, could relate to that line. His red hair glowed like fire set against the backdrop of a Burton’s claymation vision of Halloween Town, and his face bore a confident smile that reminded me of Batman villain the Joker, in the best way possible. Elfman kept his stride as the orchestra transitioned to What’s This? from the same film. All of the great pop, rock, hip-hop, and EDM acts I’d seen at Coachella in the last two days suddenly felt subpar. This man before me, unfazed by record-high winds soaring through Coachella like the animated spirits being projected on screen, was a new standard of excellence. As Elfman sang a song he wrote about a Pumpkin King excitedly touching all things Christmas for the first time, I too felt like a little boy marveling what’s this? A new height of musical experience! And it seemed the subtext underneath every lyric pouring out of Elfman’s mouth was really saying,What’s this? I can do this really well. And what’s this? I can do that, too. And what’s this? Oh yes, kiddies, I can do it all, without breaking a sweat, and riding the wind in the process.

I pulled out of the tunnel vision consuming my awareness and took a look at the rest of the world around me. Javi was gone. The palm trees were no longer just swaying in the wind, they were head banging. It was no longer just Saturday night at Coachella; it was another dimension, where the Pumpkin King ruled with a delightful baritone. 

The rest of Elfman’s hour-long set alternated between his strange breed of operatic rock and the classic Hollywood scores he composed for blockbuster properties including The Simpsons, Spider-Man, Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Pee-Wee, a small sampling of his 132 composing credits. Fitting in with the psychedelic theme of Coachella, the visuals, alone, looked like the quintessential acid trip, only complimenting my actual acid trip. No crazy hallucinations struck me — I think. The interesting predicament of tripping in public is that you never quite know if you’re seeing what everyone else is seeing. (The footage I captured on my phone certainly does not compare to the experience.) But I was pretty sure everything I was seeing was, at least, close to what everyone else was seeing. But I was experiencing it differently; beyond watching, my consciousness was fully immersed in this feast for the senses, and I didn’t want it to end. He had something different to say than the rest of the artists here, and more experience on stage than Billie Eilish and her brother FINNEAS combined, and I was ready to receive. So receive I did, with a dropped jaw, regularly exclaiming Holy shit! throughout his rendition of 1994 Oingo Boingo single Insanity, off the new wave band’s final album and a sonic precursor to his new solo work, like Happy, my favorite from the set. 

I’m so happy,” Elfman sang over a circus-like, ironic composition with a music video featuring the artist’s CGI face melting between taunts that “youth is wasted on the motherfucking / wasted on the motherfucking youth,” leading to a punk rock crescendo: “Snapchat, rotting rats, Minecraft, Cheerios / Netflix, bag of tricks, soothe my soul / My anesthesiologist is fucking my psychiatrist / And I feel no pain, cover me with Lidocaine / I’m so happy, everything’s so great / In the world, an oyster on an appetizer plate / Happy / Happy / Happy / Happy, Happy, Happy.

And then, the lights came up, signaling the end of the most invigorating, inspiring live music performance that I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. The applause for the veteran rock star and composer lasted longer than that for most other acts I’d seen this weekend, but as soon as he walked off stage, the herd began stampeding for the next scheduled attraction: rap star Meghan Thee Stallion. I just stood there, staring at the stage, trying to make sense of what I had just seen, and savoring the notes that lingered in my mind. I sat down on the grass, and once again looked up at that big, beautiful space rock, that now looked more like a painted clay set piece in a Henry Selick film than a natural satellite reflecting the atomic energy of a golden goddess we call sun. What else at this festival can possible compete with that? I wondered, and even briefly pondered how I could sneak back stage to meet this man. But even if I could pull off such a feat, who was there for Danny Elfman to meet right now?

A slow, panoramic view of the giant, visual feast which is Coachella at night began to excite the nervous system, and the those aching thoughts were soothed by bright, neon lights, dancing to music exploding from all directions. The Joker smile seen on Elfman’s face earlier had taken shape on these cheek bones, too. Greg was gone; the music had melted the thinking mind down to bare senses, and perception was merely the Universe experiencing itself now. Beyond happy, this was a state of bliss; a state soon swirling effortlessly through crowds while riding high on the wind. 

Photo Credit: Coachella

The gusts carried this body to the middle of Meghan’s world — plump full of big, shiny asses shakin’ in silver, celebrating and empowering shapely female bodies with songs praising big titties and wet pussies, while owning the stage with the machismo and charisma of any male hip-hop star in the game dropping bars about the same subject matter. She was killing it, and may have had the biggest audience of the night watching her, but it wasn’t the right speed for this heart beat. The wind pulled this awareness up and over to the Gobi stage, more than a few football fields away, where Hot Chip, a synthpop band from London, was tearing it up, and speaking to this body’s pulse. Like a moth to flame, these eyes were sucked closer and closer through the crowd until they found a comfortable middle, and the body started to bounce. That bounce turned into full-on jumping when Beastie Boys keysman Money Mark joined the band on stage for an epic cover of Sabotage. And then, when the lights turned on, the herd once again stampeded past this bag of skin and bones, standing still and silent, like a glowing street lamp, still savoring the sights and sounds these eyes and ears had just consumed. The herd was eager to catch headliner Billie Eilish in action on the other side of the festival, but this figure, whose dilated pupils may have given off the impression of insanity, was content and fulfilled. Existence requires no rush. There is nothing to miss out on, and no one to miss it. FOMO is just the nasty trick of a manic mind, unaware its nature is thought, and that real bliss is only found in between those clouds of conception.

Breathing felt so good. Deep inhales and exhales carried this awareness outside, and back into the circus. But the energy had shifted. Coachella was getting tired after nearly 12 hours of operation, and most of the busy bodies were now rushing for the best vantage point to watch the main event. The Universe looking out of these eyes, however, was more interested in feeling grass against skin, and listening to whatever secrets the wind was whispering into those ears that would listen. This fixed point of awareness positioned itself on the ground and gazed up at that beautiful full moon, effortlessly sharing a light more profound and powerful than mankind will ever be able to muster. This world of men strives so hard to compete with the Universe, exploring, studying and mining every phenomenal resource, created by nature’s secret recipe for spontaneous perfection, in an insidious effort to control it, own it, and ration it for every other life form. But they’re really competing with themselves; and when these beings, ignorant of their own ecological fragility, use up the last bit of sustenance available on planet Earth, it will not be the world that ends, but mankind. As Elfman sang earlier, “Your house is on fire.” The very wind blowing through this festival will one day join with the flames and other elements in wiping this slate clean. The planet will be fine, and will acquire a new name when the next dominant species rises up to impose its brand of law, order, and mythology on particles shaped by whatever sensory abilities the next evolution is equipped with.  

If there were any gods up there looking down on this ceremony by corporation on Easter weekend, they were laughing, and maybe dancing. Millions of dollars, watts, and calories have been dumped into the making of this modern marvel to achieve the zenith of contemporary relevance: trending on Twitter for three days straight. Bravo! It’s a very successful, well managed, and spectacular event. There’s not much to criticize beyond the painful price gouging, and every guest can only ever get out of an experience what they put in, so there are as many stories unfolding here as there are bodies. But as the sense of being Greg returned to me, and I slowly re-emerged as the doer, walker, watcher, listener, and sitter, I couldn’t help but laugh, and surely looked like a mad man to anyone watching. Coachella’s sky-high spotlights, ferris wheel, rainbow tower, and massive LED screens paled in comparison to this stunning full moon, and the fulfillment one can obtain by quietly admiring it. But our moment together was interrupted by the Universe speaking through other vessels. Billie Eilish was singing in the distance, and my phone was vibrating in my pocket. Javi was ready to meet up, and since I was coming down from the psychedelic high of being absolutely nobody, I was ready to be somebody again, and that body was starting to yawn. And ache.

I met my friend by the restroom area — dozens of grey porta potties squeezed under a tent — and we were relieved to see a well-lit ghost town, decorated by stray sheets of toilet paper, and a security guard keeping watch over one poor fella who passed out by the shitter. After emptying a neglected bladder, I filled up my water bottle one last time, and we embarked on the trek back toward my campsite, where Javi would wait out the rest of the effects of the LSD before going home. I was still high, but no longer floating. I was walking on two feet again. And, to be honest, fairly bored by Eilish’s set, which seemed so simple and uninspired compared to Danny Elfman’s sorcery. His performance had lit my mind on fire, and opened up a door to a new musical direction that, as a songwriter myself, may be inspired to follow one day. While Eilish was busy taking long breaks between songs to tell everyone to be happy and nice to each other — or exclaiming “Fuck!” and “What am I doing here? I shouldn’t be headlining Coachella.” — Elfman let his music do the talking. Music makes everything make more sense, anyway. Melody breaks down the ego barrier, allowing the message to actually enter and, maybe, take root. This is why we sing; so we don’t have to talk, because talk is cheap. Yeah, man. That’s it, I thought to myself. Less talking, more singing. This is the Way. 

Danny Elfman’s transmission was absorbed by every pore in my body, and his prophetic poetry about the Big Mess awaiting mankind had been thoroughly etched into my waking consciousness. Or, maybe the nightmare already had been etched in, and that’s why his lyrics hit so hard. Either way, as Javi and I strolled back toward my DIY desert oasis just outside the festival grounds and shared another joint, I was sure of at least one thing: I’m so happy, everything’s so great. In the world, an oyster on an appetizer plate. Happy. Happy. Happy.”

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