Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sly and the Family Stone @ Coachella: Worst Show Ever

Posted by shore On April - 19 - 2010

sly@ZackTeibloom “Fuck rehearsals. Fuck rehearsals.” These are the first words from Sly Stone as he finally musters the energy to appear on stage. He’s only 20 minutes late. Well, for their 10:45 start time. It’s currently a little after 11. Your schedule told you they should have gone on at 7. But Sly’s here now. Well, physically, he’s here now. For maybe the last time ever.

If your lead singer has gone off the deep end, there’s a couple ways to handle it as a member of his band. You can carry him. Play on even if he decides to ramble and mumble. It’s the recommended move: just play. Play fast and loud and motion to your sound guy to lower his mic. He won’t notice. Sly’s band didn’t do this. It’s like they collectively decided they’d rather watch Sly lie down on stage and lose his mind than try to carry him. I have a feeling they’ve had to do this before. For decades.

Sly came out mumbling. His rant was mostly indecipherable, but from what I could gather, it was a list of grievances over the last decade including a brief mention of being kidnapped. We didn’t know whether to laugh or boo, so we did both. At that point we were still hoping for music. He spent most of his first 15 minutes on stage laying down on it. When he ambled to his feet, a singer from his band made fun of him in the best possible way she could make fun of him.

“Give it up, for a preview, of some new Sly!” she said with her tongue firmly in cheek. That was the old Sly. We’ve been hearing that song for 40+ years. I mean, two days before the show, my dad e-mailed me:

Sly Stone is still performing? Sly and the Family Stone? The original guy? Once while at IU (in 1969!) we drove some where to see him, but no Sly. In an era of no cell phones or internet, we did somehow hear the concert had been canceled about an hour before. Anyway, glad you’re passing on Sly.”

So you could say we saw this coming. After the rant came to an end, Sly was sitting on what appeared to be an office chair with wheels and was in the vicinity of a keyboard, but he didn’t play it much. Nothing resembled a song. If they got any momentum, Sly would fuck it up by yelling instructions into the mic. He was incapable of the transition from keyboard to singing or, really, doing anything. At least 8 songs started and never made it more than two minutes. The band smirked. We booed and laughed. We cracked jokes.

Finally, we got a taste of what we wanted. Sly has so many great songs, he had to accidentally play at least one. “Stand!” was the choice. Sly even started singing in something that resembled the notes of the original. Then Sly said “This Fucking song” in the middle of the lyrics and any hope of nostalgia or enjoying the music was out the window. It was full-on meltdown time.

It was sad. It was pathetic. It was kind of funny. OK, it was really funny. I’m glad I saw it.


The rest I’ve gathered from Twitter:

“Ni**a’s and flys, Ni**a’s and flys, the more I see ni**ga’s, the more I like fly’s.” Sly Stone said at one point. I gotta say, I didn’t catch that part. After half hour, my phone was dead and I had to meet the rest of the crashers at the right wing of the crane by Gorillaz.

Relevant Tweets from @RFWriter

  1. SLY STONES band scared. Sly walks while security and no one touches him. Photographers avoid like plague in photo pit
  2. OH NO! SLY STONE jumped off the stage! CONFUSED! He doesn’t know where do go in the photo pit!
  4. Sly Stone just got this crazy JOLT of energy on this “Take You Higher” track. Dancing on stage? Is he on drugs?
  5. Did anyone remember Sly Stone on the GRAMMYs last decade? No one expected this mess at Coachella.
  6. Sly Stone will undoubtedly go out in rock history, burning out like a mad fighting meteor at Coachella 2010 

3 Responses

  1. BC Said,

    This is such a disappointment. I grew up on Sly and was hoping to see him live one day. Guess I’ll just keep listening to his records.

    Posted on April 19th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

  2. Mikki Said,

    so sad. i want to cry for the poor man. the best music ever written from those eras…..creative minds burn out like the meteor mentioned by festival reviewer.

    Posted on April 22nd, 2010 at 10:30 pm

  3. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Jeff Beck sets the bar sky high at Jazz Fest 2010 Said,

    […] I finally got the Sly redemption I desperately needed after this happened. A rousing “I Want to Take You Higher” was spot-on perfection. I never realized how […]

    Posted on May 2nd, 2010 at 10:54 am

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