That Good Ol’ Fest

By Lynn Lieu

Posted April 17, 2012 in Music

Coachella Weekend 1 goes out with a bang

DoLab and Solitary Inflorescence (Photo by Lynn Lieu)

Every year another epic Coachella takes over the desert. Since its inception 13 years ago, the festival –that began as a two-day event has grown to three and now six days—has served music, arts and culture lovers alike. From its eclectic line up and large installations to the celebration that invades the Inland Empire, Coachella never disappoints.

Some of the most memorable moments in music history came to life at the fest. In 1999, Pavement nearly broke up on the Coachella stage. It was only a month later that the band officially ended.  There have been reunion shows from the Stooges in 2003 to Rage Against the Machine in 2007. Daytime acts have out shined headliners like last year’s LCD Soundsystem’s performance. Even the tents have exploded as massive crowds pushed in for the likes of Madonna, M.I.A. and Girl Talk. And it’s never a surprise when bands pull out all the stops from The Flaming Lip’s hamster ball and Daft Punk’s pyramid to last year’s Kanye entrance and Arcade Fire’s balls drop.

This year will be no different.

Gateway By Night (Photo by Lynn Lieu)

Rain hit the polo field mid-day on Friday at the kick off of the first weekend, and if that wasn’t enough Mother Nature kept on cooling the desert well on through Saturday night. While the rain didn’t deter fans Friday, the cold desert winds and night of Saturday brought on some major sniffles.  Nonetheless the Festival roared on.

When the rain started trickling in Other Lives took the Gobi tent in a surprisingly strong performance. The small band from Oklahoma got the crowd moving—er rather swaying to its orchestra rock tunes. Kendrick Lamar also got the festival off to a good start on the main stage.

Friday’s headliner The Black Keys finally got its turn. After numerous festival performances, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney got the premier time slot. Even Mother Nature gave the guys a break ending a down pour right before the duo took the stage.

Other Friday standouts included hardcore punk band Refused, guitarist Gary Clark Jr. and indie groups M83, GIVERS and Grouplove (with a guest appearance from Mark Foster of Foster the People).

Hotshot the Robot (Photo by Lynn Lieu)

Saturday too started off well with another appearance of Kendrick Lamar who performed during Childish Gambino’s set. Childish Gambino even spat a verse from Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” But no festival is without its disappointments. Azealia Bank’s 45 minute set at the Gobi ended up only lasting 20 minutes. While short, Bank’s debut U.S. performance was still a hit. The newcomer even handled the mishap with grace tweeting “We fucked up! My DJ skipped two songs by mistake!” Unlike someone at last year’s fest—but we’ll forget him.

AWOLNATION and the Kaiser Chiefs kept the stage warm for Noel Gallagher. When Paul McCartney performed his set in 2009, everyone expected a good round of Beatles tunes. Gallagher’s performance was no different. Taking the main stage with his new band the High Flying Birds, Gallagher dedicated “Half the World Away” to all the Brits, weaved in “Talk Tonight” and “Little by Little” then topped off his performance with “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” Meanwhile tUnE-yArDs and Andrew Bird drew crowds at the Outdoor Theatre. The night ended with cold winds and slew of notable performances from Feist and Miike Snow to SBTRKT, The Shins, Bon Iver and repeat headliner Radiohead.

Weekend 1 also saw the much anticipated reunion of At the Drive-In on Sunday. The El Paso, Texas band released its final album in 2000, and disbanded the following year at the peak of its tour. For over a decade fans have waited for the post-hardcore pioneer to resurface and that it did. At the Drive-In raged the stage on Sunday. Front man Cedric Bixler-Zavala even leapt into the photo pit and shouted random one-liners: “Urban Outfitters is the Costco of youth culture!”

Rihanna made an appearance during Calvin Harris’ set and even caught BFF Katy Perry in the audience. But the most talked about appearance this year was the rise of the late Tupac Shakur during the closing of the Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performances. As if the set wasn’t already jammed packed with guest all-stars (Kendrick Lamar—again—50 Cent, Eminem, Warren G and more), the hologram of the late rapper stole the show. Just goes to show that even after death Tupac still owns the stage.

All this plus some outrageous installations from the elusive Land Sharks and the roaming robot Hotshot to the returning DoLab and giant Solitary Inflorescence, a single ephemeral flower that overlooks the polo field. And we can’t forget all the parties. Whether you came for the music, to soak up some sun or simply chill in the beer gardens, Coachella is a celebration rain or shine.

What more can Weekend 2 bring?


Beer Gardens by Night (Photo by Lynn Lieu)


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