There’s a reason Coachella has gained such a notable, nigh-legendary, reputation in the 15 years since its inception back in 1999. The festival gives fans of all genres a chance to view their favorite artists in an unbridled experience that’s hard to put into words. But that’s what blogs are for. This recap will shed some light on our personal experience at Coachella and express our feelings on who and what was worth seeing while we were there. For Weekend 1 festival goers, you can use this as a nostalgic trip down recent-memory lane. But, more importantly, Weekend 2 fans can use this as a primer for what to see while you’re at one of the best events you’ll ever attend.
*Over a period of three days, all of the set times of performers remain the same for both weekends
Flatbush Zombies– The Brooklyn rap trio was the first performance we got to see and they didn’t fail to deliver. Coming on at 12:15 at the Outdoor Theatre, Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Arc Elliot came out with high energy and their signature menacing sound. They had a pretty sizable turnout considering it was one of the first shows of the day, and the crowd rapped along with songs like the hypnotic “Mraz”, “Death”, and (my personal favorite) the eerily beating “Palm Trees”. Oh, and expect a crowd surf or too by Arc, which the crowd absolutely loved.
DJ Falcon & Deorro– While the two producers didn’t play their sets together, they might as well have since the transition between each’s set was so seamless. The French DJ Falcon is notable for his past work with Daft punk and played a few remixes of their songs, along with his own prominent title “My Name Is DJ Falcon”. Deorro would come on after at 3:50 with a relentless set that had almost all of the Sahara tent on their feet, clearly dehydrated but still ready to dance.
Haim– strolled onto the Outdoor Theatre stage at 4:40, claiming it was their first time legally attending Coachella, and quickly winning over the massive crowd that came to watch. Este’s “bass face” started almost immediately as the sister trio began to play “Falling”, the song that initially put them on everyone’s radar. Each of them was clearly excited to be out there, especially Danielle whose usually stoic manner was thrown out the window as her impassioned singing drove the performance. From the slower, sun-dipped hit “If I Could Change Your Mind” to the devilishly entertaining ballad “My Song 5”, to their biggest song to date “The Wire”, Haim proved why they’ve become so big in only a year’s time. The only disappointment of the show was that they were unable to finish their set with their signature closer “Let Me Go”, due to time constraints. Hopefully in Weekend 2 they’ll be able to work that out.
Duke Dumont– The British DJ had some serious competition by going up against Ellie Goulding at virtually the same time as his set at 6:15. While most would decide to go to Goulding, who has blown up over the past two years, we decided on the former. The Yuma Tent in general is this circular, completely covered area that reminded us of one of those European nightclubs you see depicted in countless action movies. Fully equipped with a legitimate dance floor, and dark ambiance only lit up by a colorful strobe light, it’s easy to lose yourself (and your friends) at the venue. Dumont played a similar set as what you can find on his Soundcloud, with certified club hits like the sensual and joyous “I Got U” and “Need U (100%)” littered throughout. Overall, it was pretty great, especially if you like house and dance music. Just don’t lose your friends, because if your phone’s dead you wont find them.
Flume– Harley Stretan, the 22-year-old Australian electronic wunderkind, has received nothing but critical acclaim for his debut project Flume. Because of this, you could clearly feel this giant cloud of anticipation going into his set at 9:30 underneath the Gobi Tent. But it’s hard to say if even Flume himself knew he was going to put out one of the best performances of the whole festival. With every song he played, the crowd (which had to be half Australian) could absolutely not contain itself. The soulful desperation of “Holdin’ On” was one of the earlier tracks played, causing onlookers to uncontrollably bob their heads to the beat, and look up at the impressive light show taking place on screen. The steadily-paced “Sleepless” was another crowd favorite that had individual fans swaying from side to side like they weren’t in the middle of an immense, near-suffocating throng of people. A pleasant surprise was when Flume debuted a euphoric remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Courts”, which attendees responded to with shock and delight. However, two of the concert’s biggest, most high-energy moments came when Flume played his remixes of “Slasherr” and “You & Me”. With “Slasherr” a Rustie original, it was hard to not immediately go dumb to the explosion of overwhelming synths and clap along until the bass dropped again and again. With Flume’s remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me”, the video of the song was played on screen, which caused nothing but joyous cheers and screams. If you’ve seen the video you’d know why. All of this is to say that Flume’s show was one that absolutely could not be missed.
Outkast– Maybe it was the fact that we’d been there since noon, or that a minor sandstorm was starting to kick up, or that we were way in the back, but what should’ve been a legendary occasion in music history will be looked at with mixed receptions at best. At 11 p.m. on the Coachella Main Stage, André and Big Boi came out reuniting for the first time in nearly 7 years. But instead of commencing with their massive hit Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (what many people were expecting) they chose to start with “B.O.B” and “Gasoline Dreams”, great songs in themselves but perhaps better saved for the middle part of the show. Like what was said before, it’s hard to pinpoint where and why Outkast lost some of the crowd, but by the time concert closers “Hey Ya” and “The Way You Move” came on, a lot of the crowd had begun to leave. Hopefully the rap titans will figure out a way during Weekend 2 to better engage the fans.
Chvrches– The Glasgow trio came out at 4 p.m. at the Outdoor Theatre, and with a few jokes about how she would’ve melted in Scotland if it were 95 degrees all the time, Lauren Mayberry charmingly won over the crowd. Chvrches didn’t deviate from The Bones of What You Believe In‘s track list, managing to fit all 11 of the album’s songs into their 50-minute time slot. Starting off with one of their most successful singles in “We Sink”, from there the excited crowd sang along to tracks such as “Gun” and the slow-buildup of classic synthpop that is “Tether”. Martin Doherty even came from behind the keys to take lead on the disarming “Under The Tide”. The group definitely knew what their bread and butter was though, as they saved what are arguably their two best tracks for last. The crowd couldn’t help but get excited and clap along to the striking arrangement of synths that makeup “By The Throat”. And during the closer, “The Mother We Share”, you could literally hear the massive crowd recite the song’s lyrics word for word. The set functioned as a showcase for Chvrches, that they killed, and it will undoubtedly gain them even more of a following.
Capital Cities– We saw Capital Cities at 7 at the Outdoor Theatre. That is it.
Lorde– We had recently become big fans of the trap star and EDM prodigy R.L. Grime but ultimately decided that the 17-year-old who set the charts on fire with “Royals” at least deserved our attention. While the former did put on an amazing show, Lorde was no slouch. She seemed legitimately humbled by the legions of fans that had come to see her at the festival. While her seemingly endless thank you’s and monologues about how much her life has changed over the past year grew somewhat tiresome, it was still nice to see someone so young retain such a sense of humility (Where are you justin Bieber? Oh that’s right you’re at the Chance concert). It was honestly a bit bone-chilling to hear the massive gathering of people chant along to even her earlier songs like “Biting Down”, and spoke to how big the young star has become. Songs like “Tennis Courts” and “Buzzcut Season” were met with elation, and “Team” was another one of those moments where you could sense that Lorde was a bonafide superstar. Obviously, the crowd went absolutely nuts when “Royals” was played, and you have to wonder at such a young age if and when she’ll be able to produce a bigger hit. But after seeing her unreal reception at Coachella, we’d bet on her doing that pretty soon.
Sleigh Bells– The Brooklyn noise pop duo came out for their set not long after Lorde at 9:05, also at the Outdoor Theatre, equipped with a full-fledged band. It might’ve just been that there were many Lorde leftovers (like us), but the crowd seemed even bigger than it had been just 30 minutes before. It was during this set that we witnessed the first legitimate “rockstar” moment as Sleigh Bells frontwoman Alexis Krauss grabbed the microphone and proceeded to immediately slay (pun fully intended) from that point on. With powerful, earth-shattering tracks on deck like “Crown On The Ground” and “Riot Rhythm” Krauss was in complete control of the show from beginning to end. The performance was very loud and very spirited, as Krauss almost never let up. It’s hard to imagine she had much of a voice after the set was over. But if you’re into adrenaline rushes, Alexis Krauss and Sleigh Bells are there to provide.
Pharrell– We missed Pharrell… *quietly cries to himself*
Skrillex– We weren’t huge fans of Skrillex going in (and by huge I mean not at all), but if you have a chance to see him at 11:20 underneath the Sahara Tent then you’re in for a great show. And that spaceship ‘doe.
Nas– It’s the 20th anniversary of Nas’s quintessential classic Illmatic, and the Queensbridge rapper sounded like he was still a young 20-something emcee hungry for the cheddar. At midnight at the Outdoor Theatre, Nas came out to thousands of cheers with plenty of nostalgia in the air. Over the 40-minute set, Nasty Nas delivered the goods with classics such as “N.Y. State of Mind”, “Memory Lane” and a perfect bridge from “The World Is Yours” to “Dead Presidents” with a surprise appearance by Jay-Z (who sounded equally as impressive). Overall, it was an amazing performance from one of rap’s biggest legends and deserves your attention for Weekend 2.
Chance The Rapper– One of hip-hop’s current favorite sons jumped onto the Coachella stage at 3:10 and didn’t stop jumping until his set was over. The performance was energetic and poignant, with songs played off his acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap like “Juice”, “Chain Smoker” and “Cocoa Butter Kisses” (with Vic Mensa). With cadences and a blistering flow that would make your head spin, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about surrounding the Chicago rapper. The show is a vibrant, jazz-infused set with an amazing live band, and even though he brought out Justin Bieber you should still go see him. He definitely showed a ton of love to his fans, thanking them for how much they’d supported him over the past couple of years, and that was what resonated most.
Blood Orange– Dev Hynes and company came out on stage at the Outdoor Theatre at 5:15 in the middle of a noticeably hot afternoon. But the tunes Blood Orange played off of his sensational album Cupid Deluxe were enough to ease the tension that the intense heat was causing. There were some audio issues, and Hynes’ shyness was very apparent as he was frequently reluctant to address the crowd. However, you couldn’t help but enjoy smooth cuts like “Chamakay” and “It Is What It Is” while the English music savant ripped out on his guitar. The highlight of the show was probably when he performed with his girlfriend, Samantha Urbani, for the amazingly depressing “You’re Not Good Enough”. It was so hot outside though.
AlunaGeorge– It was hard to tell, but we weren’t sure if George Reid was present for their set underneath the humid Gobi Tent at 6:25. But having the lovable, infectious Aluna Francis up on stage was all that the audience needed. Immediately starting the performance off right by playing hits like “White Noise” and “You Know You Like It”, the crowd was at Francis’s feet, practically drooling over her every move (or was that just me?). Where she got a lot of love was when she performed the group’s cover of Montel Jordan’s 1995 hit “This Is How We Do It”, as the whole crowd clapped along to the ambitious, but ultimately satisfying, rendition. Solo or not, Aluna Francis definitely has star power.
Little Dragon– The Swedish electronic band was anything but little during their mystifying performance underneath the Mojave Tent on Sunday night. Coming on at 7:15, lead singer Yukimi Nagano proclaimed it was good to be back at the festival since their last time in 2010. The captivating songstress led the way and ignited the crowd with songs like the mid-tempo’d “Please Turn” and one of their newer tracks, the vivacious “Klapp Klapp”. The jubilant crowd went crazy though for what probably is Little Dragon’s best song in “Ritual Union”. They played at virtually the same time as Calvin Harris, but still came out victorious as the underdog.
Lana Del Rey– 8:15. Outdoor Theatre. We went to LDR because she played at the same tent as
the gods Disclosure, and we wanted good seats. We were told she played a new song there, but who cares.
Disclosure– Wooh! The moment (9:35 p.m.) we’d been waiting for the entire festival had finally arrived, and the Brothers Lawrence put on one hell of a show at the Outdoor Theatre. They opted to go a different route for their setlist then what fans had become accustomed to, and it sounded great. Starting off with Settle opener “When A Fire Starts To Burn”, Howard showed off his instrumental flair on the bass as Guy stayed behind the boards. That led into “You & Me” and “Grab her!” but the crowd absolutely could not contain itself when the duo brought out Aluna Francis to perform the star-making “White Noise”. It was also pretty stellar to hear them go back to where it all started with “What’s In Your Head”, a track that’s still as infectious as when it first came out back in 2012. The previous track then smoothly transitioned into “Confess To Me”, Disclosure’s scintillating creation that’s probably best enjoyed when caught up in a massive throng of people. The party continued through the fast-paced remix of Jessie Ware’s “Running” and then slowed down quite a bit for the melancholic “Help Me Lose My Mind”. The UK wunderkinds surprised everyone when they brought out Mary J. Blige for “F For You” but that just couldn’t compare to Sam Smith’s reception when he waltzed out on stage for “Latch”. “Latch”, the song that lit the world on fire and the track that millions of future babies were conceived to. (We also met some seriously cool fans, and I also witnessed the most epic kiss I’d ever seen in my entire life there, shout out to Matty Ice #Allie). Overall, Disclosure demonstrated why they’ve slowly become a household name in the U.S. and why they already are one in England. Amazing.
Duck Sauce– 10:25, Sahara Tent. “The Big Bad Wolf” baby.
Arcade Fire– We got back to the Coachella Main Stage towards the tail end of Arcade Fire’s performance but from what we heard, it was pretty epic. Earlier the band had brought out Debbie Harry of Blondie for “Heart Of Glass”, to the delight of the fans who were old enough to realize who she was. Lead singer Win Butler perhaps led Arcade Fire into an iconic moment, however, after the band’s audio was cut off by the festival for going past curfew. In the middle of “Wake Up”, from the band’s debut album Funeral, Butler instructed the crowd, “If the power cuts off, just keep fucking singing.” Low and behold, the power did cut off and Butler proceeded to lead the band off stage and through the crowd in one of the coolest moments of the entire festival. The crowd kept their promise, singing along as if the music hadn’t just been abruptly taken from them. Butler proceeded to throw shots at certain artists there as well, giving a not-so-cryptic shout out to “all the bands playing instruments at this festival.” But hey, he’s the lead singer of Arcade Fire, he’s earned the right to say what he wants.
Other Cool Acts (That We Saw)
Nicholas Jaar, Aeroplane, Empire of The Sun, The 1975, Warpaint
Other Notable Acts (That We Missed)
Banks *sad face*, RL Grime, MGMT, Muse, Solange, Jhené Aiko, Chromeo, Beck, Kid CuDi, Bonobo, The Knife
Also: GO TO THE DO LAB FOR ENDLESS/MINDLESS FUN. THAT IS ALL