This is one of my favorite stories, actually. I went to Coachella is 2010, and honestly while it was all one of the greatest experiences of my life, one set really stood out. It was the last year where the event was incredibly popular, but not to the levels it is last year and this year. Everyone we saw was astounding and segmented into each stage with a good group of people, but never seemingly too many.
Anyone the set that completely set apart from the rest was Jónsi from Sigur Rós. We had been standing in that group for almost an entire day, partly due to it having the best line up, and partly because the day ended with Thom Yorke with Atoms for Peace (Probably just a few weeks after they took on the name; they were still billed as '????' on the posters) and they wanted to be as close to the stage as possible for it.
We had a set from Sunny Day Real Estate first. They set the mood for everything. The sky was bright and vibrant with desert colors, and the lead singer in the middle of their incredible show said a fantastic quote: "it's a beautiful day to play sad songs." I've been a fan of them for a long time, and I knew what they'd all been through lately. He'd been fighting depression for a long time, and had found religion- a bit too strongly for his band mates for a few years- and had the band break up, their bassist had become very successful with the Foo Fighters, but this was the first time they'd played together for years, and you could see just how happy they were to be back together in their faces. It was wonderful.
They were followed by Deer Hunter, and then The xx (who, during their set I met Jay-Z from standing in front of me, as well having the stage next to us catch fire to give the sky an even better glow) before Jónsi took the stage and set up. At this point the sun was starting to go set behind the stage, the air was almost completely still, and I was in the front row of what was a crowd of 10,000 people, almost all of them there for Thom Yorke who came up next.
I have never seen so much energy or pure joy of music from another show before or since.
The drummer was completely into it. He had a huge grin the whole show, the percussionists were enjoying all the unique instruments they played back and forth, and the bassist was his boyfriend Alex Somers, who clearly loved just being there with him. Nearing the end of the set the crowd had grown substantially, and the focus was more on the set than before, but you could feel the energy of the crowd wasn't fully there as much as it was for my friends and me.
At this point he launched into the most emotional musical experience I have even had. He began playing a song from his album called "Grow Till Tall" (which, if you have not heard, I highly fucking suggest listening to it to fully understand this event.) The demeanor of the whole band was totally different when the song started. They were completely there for the music, as a set for Jón to release everything. He was in the jacket that he wore on the cover of the album and an extravagant Icelandic headdress. The song involves a lot of complex tonal shifts from foot pedals for the vocals and works in glorious harmony with the drums and some electronic percussion. Every piece fits together beautifully and grows to a massive crescendo towards the end.
Halfway through the song, every single person in the crowd (and I mean every person) is entirely transfixed on the stage. It literally felt like the world had completely faded outside that single solitary point. Jón was entirely lost inside the song, he was swaying back and forth, bent over the microphone in his hands, his feet working the pedals. The music grows and grows with sounds crashing around you, crackling feedback from the speakers, and by its peak, I don't think there was anyone that wasn't crying in the audience.
I was there for three days, and at every show there was the sounds of other stages, other people, and you could always see them walking around; but at this one, everything... stopped. Everyone was entirely taken over by the glory of music and sound and wonder. It was a transcendental experience for an age where finding and processing such a thing is nearly impossible, something beyond logic or reason that created a solitary moment in a fast-paced, multitasking world. It was purely something of emotion that we can't attempt to put to words properly because it's not meant for words to express, and that's the intention of music. If Schopenhauer could have used a piece to actually portray music, this is what I feel he would reference. It gave a profound sense of deep understanding of humanity and harmony. I rarely consider exact points in time as truly important or symbolic or meaningful as opposed to sweeping themes over time, but that certainly was something I would categorize as such. I doubt many other experiences will have such an impact on my understanding of art and the human condition as that did.