Despite extreme heat and dust storms, attendees at the sold-out first weekend of Coachella got a great mix of first-time performers and seasoned veterans at the festival.
Rumors swirled all weekend about a surprise Daft Punk appearance, but excluding surprise guest R. Kelly during Phoenix’s set, there were no transcendent hologram Tupac moments. But there were still plenty of highlights:
Straight from last week’s sold-out show at the Fillmore, the British indie rock quartet Alt-J obviously has a strong and dedicated fan base at Coachella. The best overheard (and drunk) comment of the weekend goes to the ladies in the crowd who said: “Whoa. These guys sound so medieval!”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O took the stage in a tailored silver suit and metallic golden cape (complete with a gold pope-esque hat covering her blond hair early in the set) alongside a gospel choir. Within five minutes she was holding the mic in her mouth with no hands and shoving it down her pants.
2 Chainz, one of the artists with the most buzz around the campground and one of the few rap acts in the lineup, played to a massively overflowing crowd for his mid-afternoon set. Despite starting 20 minutes late, his high energy show and numerous hits from the past year got the crowd shakin’ their booties and singing along to all the lyrics.
The Violent Femmes, who hadn’t performed in six years, played as the sun set on Saturday. Concert-goers enjoyed the last few moments of sunshine and lazing about, but once the British electronic band Hot Chip took the main stage, the evening’s dance party started.
The Postal Service
Ben Gibbard and Rilo Kiley front-woman Jenny Lewis performed with the the Postal Service after nearly 10 years of silence from the original duo. The full crowd sing-a-long to “Such Great Heights” was one of the more magical moments of the weekend. For fans on the fence about checking out the group at the Greek Theater, Gibbard suggested that this run of tour dates might be the last for the Postal Service.
Phoenix ft. R. Kelly
Phoenix brought Saturday night to a close with a strong and tight set mostly comprised of tracks off their album Wolfgang Amadeus and a sprinkling of new songs. Despite rumors of a Daft Punk appearance during the set, the big surprise of the weekend was R. Kelly, who took the stage to perform a live mash-up of ‘Ignition (Remix)’ and ‘1901.’
As the weather took a turn for the worse on Sunday afternoon, Vampire Weekend kept spirits high. “We hope you brought sweaters!” shouted frontman Ezra Koenig as he launched into the opening riff of A-Punk. “No? Well this next song should help keep the blood flowing!”
There is something entirely surreal about singing along with “Ain’t Nothin’ Ta Fuck Wit” during a wind storm, but not even dust clouds could keep the crowd from throwing up their W’s during the set. The seminal hip-hop crew’s set also included a guest appearance from Redman who joined Method Man for “Da Rockwilder” off of the duo’s Blackout album. The set finished with strings and horns from the “Wu-Tang Orchestra” for “Triumph.” At the end of the set, RZA hinted that one more Wu-Tang album could be in the works.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Coachella veterans RHCP (they also played in 2003 and 2007) closed the weekend with a set comprised of mostly new material from their 1999 album Californication and beyond. During the high point of a dust storm that swept through the festival grounds, Anthony Kiedis shouted “I feel like I’m in Lawrence of Arabia.” Flea replied, “I feel like I’m in the Dust Bowl with Woody Guthrie!”
The Coachella Power Station Art Installation
Hippopotamuses + outdated technology = Art. WTF. Not exactly a highlight, but something that was entertaining in transit between sets.