In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, I was at the Coachella Music Festival over the weekend. That’s why you didn’t hear me whining about the horrible loss to Citeh on the weekend. What I did instead was watch dozens of acts (highlights of the weekend for me included Duck Sauce, Mumford & Sons, Black Keys, Freelance Whales, Suede and Duran Duran) and take dozens of pictures of people wearing soccer jerseys.
Precious Roy, who goes to South by Southwest every year, and I have discussed the hipster soccer jersey phenomenon. I wondered aloud if I would see more or less this year.
To describe my weekend at Coachella in a soccer context, I provide a photo gallery below, as well as two anecdotes:
On Friday, I stood in the Gobi tent, listening to Marina and the Diamonds. I knew them a little, and I wanted to see how they stood up live. Short answer: Better than on CD. I bounced to the music and marveled at Marina’s ability to wear a leather jacket on a night that still was in the 80s. She’s cuter up close than on videos.
After a few songs, it was time to head back over to the main stage for The Black Keys (a set that really sold me on the pair being awesome). I made my way to the edge of the tent and was grabbed by a group of four men.
“Are you a dirty f***ing Manc?” one asked in an unmistakable Liverpudlian accent, including drunken lisp.
“I’m not from there, no, but I’m a longtime supporter,” I said. Obviously, they noticed my 1994 Manchester United shirt (with Sharp on the front). My first proper United shirt.
“Since when?” Sousey Scousey spat in my face.
“Since 1989,” I responded with a smile. I knew I was winning him over.
“Right. Who’s your best winger ever?”
“Not David Beckham. I’d probably say Ronaldo, but Giggs has been a winger for a lot longer and is still a top player.”
Suddenly, we were friends. I gave them grief about Roy Hodgson, and they gave me grief and predicted (rightly, as it happens) that Citeh would beat us in the FA Cup semis. Such is the way with soccer and Coachella. Sure, they hated my team, but they loved that I wasn’t a poseur.
Which brings me to the second anecdote.
On Saturday, the group of us sat in the baking sun waiting for Erykah Badu to finish her random but engaging set. She, like Cee-Lo Green 24 hours earlier, was cut off for going past her scheduled time. I think it was a black thing. Seriously. But I digress.
My sister points out a yellow soccer jersey to me. I recognize it as an Arsenal away jersey from a couple years ago. I chase after the guy and stop him. At the time, I was wearing my 100th anniversary Celtic jersey from 2003. He stopped, looked at my shirt and said, “whoa, that’s green and white.”
Genius, this one. Can I take a picture of your shirt?
“Why?” says the bro in his best Jeff Spicoli.
Because I write for a soccer blog, and I’m trying to get as many soccer jersey pics as I can. This is the first Arsenal away shirt I’ve seen.
“Oh, really? I don’t even know who this is. A friend got it for me as a gift.”
Now you know why the Scousers took it so seriously.
I wear soccer jerseys quite a bit. I wore a different one each day at last year’s Coachella, and I opted to do the same again, but with the intent of putting together a photo gallery of hipsters and fans. What I learned was pretty interesting. If you actually are a fan, it’s a great bonding point. I met more English expats this weekend than I could in a year.
Two actual Mancs stopped me in my Ryan Giggs shirt and asked if I knew the Arsenal-Liverpool score. When I told them 1-1, we high fived, had a beer and talked about how awesome Ryan Giggs is. Yes, I got a semi.
Later, a man from Leeds chatted with me about how his club have fought back from the financial ills of the past and how United need to watch out or the same thing will happen to them.
A man wearing a Tevez Man City shirt refused to let me take a picture because I was wearing a United shirt. A girl kissed me because Giggs is also her favorite player. A group of Mexican guys wanted to spend the day talking Chicharito with me.
But for every real fan, there were 4 wearing a Real Madrid or Barcelona shirt (or United, I must admit) who didn’t know their ass from a backheel.
All of this is to say that I was surprised at how many real fans I met this weekend. It wasn’t just about being a hipster. It was about showing your pride. Unlike the NBA fans out there. Most seen jersey of the weekend? Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers.
Which leads me to a final anecdote that sums things up.
On Friday night, my sister told me that she saw a Coachella soccer jersey for sale at the merch tent. Intrigued, I went to see it. The pic is included in the photo gallery. It’s ugly as hell, it was $30 and it was only available in medium.
A group next to me was looking at it. One of the girls liked it and called it cool.
“It looks just like the one that Beckham guy wears.”
Exactly, baby. Enjoy the photo gallery.
USER TIP: Don’t click on “view as slideshow.” It’s a bit wonky. Either click on a particular pic and scroll through or click on the “PicLens” thing. Then click on the pause button and scroll at your leisure. That works well. Whatever, just enjoy. Oh, and NSFW-ish for gratuitous undergarments.