Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Friday the 13th of this month proved a lucky day for the estimated 90,000 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attendees.  Music fans of all ages and backgrounds fled to the Empire Polo Fields of Indio, California to take part in the epic three day event featuring the likes of Frank Ocean, The Black Keys, Radiohead, The Shins, Bon Iver, and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg among countless other remarkable acts. The highly anticipated festival, which sold out in less than three hours this past January, was the first of a two weekend event, the latter held this past weekend, beginning April 20th.  While many Coachella veterans were skeptical of Goldenvoice’s ability to top last year’s unforgettable weekend, the festival promoters secured an outstanding lineup, generating large hype for this year’s event. This hype was in all ways deserved, as festival goers were witness to a weekend of outstanding and innovative musical performances that are sure to be remembered for years to come.     Fans were welcomed Friday afternoon with uncharacteristic weather, the temperature hovering around 70 degrees with rain making guest appearances throughout the day. The first few acts, which began at 11 in the morning, were mostly electronic and dubstep performances centered in the coveted Sahara tent. LA Riots, R3hab, and Breakbot were some of the more exceptional performers, but overall the day started slow with attendees slowly trickling into the polo fields around mid-afternoon. Sebastian, Grouplove, and Feed Me outshone their day time slots, playing to large crowds of enthusiastic fans. For the most part, the Friday line-up seemed inadvertently skewed towards the electronic genre.

Later in the day, as the sun began to set over Indio, the music picked up with the Artic Monkeys playing main stage, followed by Pulp. By that time however, the rain began to fall on the unprepared audience who were clad in high-waisted jean shorts and lace bandeaus. To combat the weather, fans rushed to the later shows of Frank Ocean, Afrojack, and headlining artist the Black Keys. Frank Ocean provided one of the more memorable sets, featuring guest artist Tyler, the Creator, the leader of the collective rap group OFWGKTA, better known as Odd Future. He sang his way into the hearts of a surprisingly gender mixed audience, preforming hits like “Swim Good,” “Thinking Bout You,” and “Novocane”.  The Black Keys gave fans an energetic show, showcasing songs from multiple albums. Their older style musical talent seemed to balance the many electronic acts of the day, forging a sense of equilibrium for those who needed it. M83, Explosions in the Sky, and Amon Tobin closed the night with later shows that returned the atmosphere to that of its previous electronic focus. However Swedish House Mafia was by far the most attended show, possibly outnumbering that of the headliner. Crowds gathered by the tens of thousands to jump, dance, and move to the electronic pulses of disc jockeys and producers Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso. Fans arrived noticeably later on Saturday, the second day of Coachella, reasonably tired after the previous twelve hours of nonstop music and movement. Once again the day time sets consisted mostly of electronic acts, the better of which were Mt Eden, Borgore, and Zeds Dead. Playing in the mi-afternoon, alternative band tUnE-yArDs gave a solid performance at the outdoor stage. Their vigor and vitality drew crowds from surrounding stages, and secured their spot as one of the better afternoon sets. Around dusk, fans were forced to choose which of their favorite bands they were to attend, as overlapping sets created problems for those with varied musical interests. Indie music fans of both Manchester Orchestra and Andrew Bird fans were treated to worthy shows, while those who remained at the Sahara tent were witness to a stellar performance by Sebastian Ingrosso. The night truly began when the Shins played for a grand audience at main stage. However their act was rivaled by that of Bon Iver and Flying Lotus, who were undoubtedly two of the best shows of the weekend thus far.  Opening before the British headlining act Radiohead, were the much anticipated Miike Snow at the outdoor theater,  and SBTRK at the Gobi tent. Fans sung along as these two alternative electronic acts played multiple hits and crowd pleasers. Attendees, who wore noticeably warmer attire on this Indio night, then fled to the main stage to catch headliner Radiohead. The show began with energy, but front man Thom Yorke failed to keep this energy alive throughout the entire performance, much to the dismay of fans. While musically, the set was stellar, it had an underlying dullness. However this could be attributed to the slower nature of Radiohead’s alternative electronic sound.

Following the headlining act were Kaskade, A$AP Rocky, and Sub Focus. Fans were revived for these electronic based shows, the latest of which ended around 12:45 am as festival goers slowly stumbled back to their campsites and hotels to sleep the day off before tomorrow’s antics.   Sunday was host to a variety of acts, beginning at an early 11:15 am with a performance by Alf Alpha in the Gobi tent. However, most festival attendees chose to sleep in for the third day of the music antics, commencing their ventures around two o’ clock with the likes of the electronic Zed or indie-based Band of Skulls. Sunday being the hottest day of the festival, around 80 degrees, it was common for groups to stop by the outdoor theater dubbed the Do Lab for a refreshing mist.  For many, Sunday centered upon the Sahara tent where masses of barely clad youngsters jumped, screamed, and moved to the sets of house music performers Flux Pavillion and Dr. P, Porter Robinson, Dada Life, and Nero. But around six o’clock the attention shifted away from the Sahara tent and instead to the outdoor stage, where up and coming Toronto-based hip hop, R&B artist the Weeknd was beginning a set that would mesmerize a large and enthusiastic crowd.  Playing to an estimated crowd of 10,000, this performance would be the artist’s first show in the US. It was an undisputed success, with the crowd singing along to the hits from all three of his recent mix tapes. As dusk approached, the music thus switched back to an electronic feel with Justice, Calvin Harris, Girl Talk, DJ Shadow and AVICII. Around the same time, Beirut, Florence and the Machine, and At The Drive-in drew fans who needed a break from repetitive bass drops and wob-wob-wobs. At 10:35, it was time for the last performance of the weekend—Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. A crowd of 90,000 gathered to hear the two legendary rap and hip hop icons perform together on one stage.

The last show was without a doubt the best of the entire festival, with guest performances galore. Fans were treated to appearances by 50 Cent, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Kurupt, Warren G, Nate Dogg (via montage tribute), a two-story LED projection of Frank Sinatra, and a Tupac Shakur hologram that stole the show with its eerie realistic quality. Every song was a crowd pleaser, as Dre and Snoop led the crowd through the hits of  “Gin and Juice,” “Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None,)” “In Da Club,” “Forgot About Dre,” “P.I.M.P,” “California Love” and “Still D.R.E” among others. Though the set only lasted one hour—without encore—Dre and Snoop wield an arsenal so deep that they could still play an entirely different set the following weekend. It was an energetic end to a weekend of nonstop musical bliss. Any doubts of Goldenvoice’s ability to put on a record worthy Coachella were gone, as fans reminisced of the golden past three days that would be forever in their memory. Though a lucky few had the opportunity to re-live the festival during its second round, the rest of us will have to wait till next year when the festival promoter will inevitably seek to top this year’s outstanding Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.