I have to tell you, I’m tired just reading Stephanie’s recap of weekend one of Coachella! Man.. Whew!
It sounds amazing though, and let’s give her a big MTF welcome! This is her first (And it better not be her last!) concert review and it’s a doozy! Clearly, this year was awesome and judging my the pictures and recap it’s something that people will be talking about until… Well… The next Coachella!
Check out Stephanie’s full recap below!
Special Guests, Strong Winds Whip Up Frenzy at Coachella 2014
You have probably already heard about Beyoncé joining sister Solange on stage, Debbie Harry singing “Heart of Glass” with Arcade Fire and Gwen Stefani surprising the hell out of everyone at Pharrell Williams’ set with a quick version of “Hollaback Girl.”
There’s so much I could say about Weekend One of Coachella 2014, and in fact even more I could say about how the experience has changed in the 10 Coachella festivals I attended. Most of what you’ve heard is probably true. Yes, it has become a little too pretentious, has attracted far too many people who are there to be seen, etc.
The worst thing I witnessed was the tagging of one of the art installations. Seriously? Why would you think it’s OK to add graffiti to these beautiful structures?
Overall, with something like 90,000 people attending each day, Coachella is different for everyone. You create the Coachella experience you want. My friend Brad and I get there soon after the gates open each day and stay until the headliners. We run ourselves ragged bouncing from set to set to see as much as we can. It’s exhausting but well worth it.
It was warm, not quite as hot as the typical sweat-through-your-bra kind of weather that usually meets Coachella-goers. But most people were dressed for the second ring of hell, meaning they were wearing next to nothing. Crocheted tops, sheer skirts, crowns of flowers and plenty of side boob; that’s how I’d wrap up the look of this year’s fest. But I’m not a fashion writer; I’m not even a fashionable person. On to the music.
Here’s the Coachella I experienced: (And this doesn’t include the amazing vegan food I devoured and the gorgeous art the festival always includes.)
Wye Oak – I like this band, and they sounded terrific. There was a pretty big crowd for such an early set time; in fact, it seemed a lot of people arrived early on Friday to take in as much Coachella as they could.
Anthony Green – We walked over to the main stage to catch the last part of his set – mostly because his photo on the Coachella website was hot, so we wanted to hear his music. Hey, whatever draws a crowd, right?
Dum Dum Girls – They sounded great, but I was completely distracted by the lead singer’s pasties and sheer top. She really doesn’t need that to attract attention.
MS MR – The band totally owned the main stage. I am sure they gained some new fans. Lead singer Lizzy Plapinger looked like she was living a dream, smiling and looking like she couldn’t believe where she was.
Jagwar Ma – Cool band, solid performance, crazy pants.
Grouplove – I really like what I’ve heard from this band. They had the main stage, and they worked it – great stuff!
HAIM – I was not a big fan of theirs, but they put on a tight, solid show. I was really impressed. Bassist Este Haim makes such painful faces while she’s playing, her expressions even have a name: Bassface.
Bastille – I honestly only caught two songs. The Mojave tent was ridiculously overflowing, and I figured I could get a better spot for Neko Case if I got there early.
Kate Nash – But on the way to see Neko, I passed the Gobi Tent and had to stop for a couple songs. Kate was all costumed up, and there appeared to be a découpaged vagina and heart on the stage. She sounded great, and I will definitely study up on her.
Neko Case – That voice! I wish I had more time to see her entire show. She has a voice like a woman who has lived. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear my favorite song of hers “Man” because I had to go see one of my favorite sex idols Greg Dulli.
The Afghan Whigs – They played “Somethin’ Hot” one of their sultry hits from the 90s, and lead singer Greg Dulli is still a sexy beast. But I have to admit, he didn’t look as confident as he used to. Maybe he was worried about sound issues or something behind the scenes plaguing him, but it just seemed like he didn’t bring his mojo to the desert. I would still eagerly pay to see them at their own show because I know the man still has it, and I can’t wait to hear their new album. They sounded terrific, but it just seemed like they were missing something.
Broken Bells – James Mercer, on the other hand, looked so confident onstage with Danger Mouse, you could say it reminded me of the time I had a crush on my college professor. He’s not your typical definition of sexy, web but those lyrics, those pipes and that confidence. Damn.
The Replacements – One of my favorite quotes of the weekend came frontman Paul Westerburg “I’m looking for a woman who has never used the word ‘awesome.’ (Pauses.) Still looking.” They were everything I wanted from this legendary band. I. never thought I would see them, so this was huge for me. They came out in tuxedos, and everything felt right. Westerburg appeared in a silly mood, and I wished they could perform for another hour.
The Knife – Not as spooky as I expected. The show included synchronized choreography with dancers who looked like former Up With People performers. Incredible vocals. Terrific show.
OutKast – Sorry, I’m just not a fan of most hip hop, and although I love “Hey Ya!” I was too worn out to wait around for it, especially knowing that it was going to be a bitch to get back to our car.
It took forever to get in that morning, and it was worse leaving because the scanners went down, and employees were telling people that if they didn’t scan out upon leaving, they would not be let in the next day. Unfortunately, only one scanner was working, so it was like a million sperm going for that one egg. This is how riots start.
Young and Sick – They had really good energy. I had not heard of them, but they seemed like a good pop band.
Laura Mvula – Gorgeous. Really strong vocals. She also seemed so appreciative of the audience that was already in love with her.
Syd Arthur – I caught the tail end of their set. They looked a little more hippie than I was expecting. I enjoyed their music, and they win for best band name.
Foxygen – I thought these guys would be shoe gazers. I couldn’t be more wrong. Lead singer was schooled in stage presence by Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison with a touch of flair from Father John Misty. Their song “Shuggie” is one of my favorites. They put on a great show, especially during the heat of the day.
Ty Segall – A little too hard for me among the mountains and palm trees. Instead, we want to see …
Banks – She has lots of hype surrounding her, and from what I saw, the audience really responded.
CHVRCHES – Terrific! They put on a great show, and they earned some adorable points for being yet another overseas band that was in awe of just how hot it was. And this on a day that was much cooler than the typical 100s that plagued the festival prior to going to two weekends.
The Head and the Heart – Lovely, and the crowd ate it up. Perfect music to lay down in the soft polo field grass and relax your muscles prior to a conflict-plagued early evening and what turned out to be another evening of high-wind advisories.
Washed Out – I like their tunes, but in the hysteria music lovers sometimes live in during Coachella (when you’re enjoying a set but still wondering if you’re missing something better on another stage), I found myself swaying to the music while looking at my schedule. Their vocals are sometimes just a little too even with the music, so much so that I wonder if my hearing is going.
Warpaint – I love their song “Undertow,” and I saw them perform it a few years ago are the Outdoor Stage. This time, they were in the Mojave Tent, and they played to an appreciative crowd. I think I was preoccupied with what I knew was coming next.
Future Islands – The hype this band is getting could have made this band the must-see act of this year’s festival. Lead singer Samuel T. Herring was a cross between Glen Danzig, Peter Murphy, and Henry Rollins. He totally worked for the huge reception the band received from the crowd, rolling his hips and apologizing that he couldn’t give us moe moves because the stage was slippery. My friend Brad had not heard of them, and this performance was one of his favorites of the whole fest. They are definitely one to see on tour.
Lorde – Unsurprisingly, Lorde drew a massive crowd to the Outdoor Stage. We were late because we stayed for all of Future Islands. We were so far back, I couldn’t see her. We heard a few songs that sounded really good, but during the part of the set we heard, she was mostly talking about being 16 and losing control of a house party she hosted while her parents were out of town and how she is really scared of growing up. We all are, sweetie. But we paid $375 to hear you sing.
I should mention that by this time, a crazy wind had taken hold of the polo fields, and the dust was harsh. It was hard to see, hard to breathe, and the fans at the main and Outdoor stages had to struggle to see what was happening onstage because the massive screens had to be lowered for safety, I suppose. These are the moments when I get so aggravated for being short and frustrated that I’m too heavy for anyone’s shoulders.
Solange – Here was another example of an artist I hadn’t paid much attention to prior to this weekend. Brad loves her, and he played some of her music for me prior to the fest, which convinced me I needed to be there. Good thing, because the woman owned the Gobi tent like she WAS Coachella. She was on fire! At one point, she was dancing and grinding, and the camera guy got a little too close. She told him, “Get that camera out of my crotch.” Two points for you, Solange. The crowd loved her, and she definitely did not need her big sister to come out and help turn her set into one of the most talked-about sets of use weekend. Solange had already accomplished that. But out came Beyoncé, and it was immediate pandemonium! Girls jumped on their boyfriends’ shoulders, and every camera went straight up, blocking most of the view for me, at least. But what I saw was complete sisterly love. Epic moment.
Pharrell Williams – Speaking of epic moments, Pharrell had an itinerary planned for his. Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Gwen, Snoop Dogg and P Diddy. It reminded me of mark Ronson’s appearance in 2005 or 2006 when he brought in special guests for nearly every song. It’s just so exciting because you’re there, and you have no idea what will happen next. But you know that it will be all over social media in a few moments, and you were there.
Muse – Brad is not a fan, and the wind was so bad that we listened to a couple of songs and just figured we’d call it a night. There were some hometown boys on the schedule early the next day.
James Vincent McMorrow – A crooner along the lines of James Blake, he deserved a later time slot. There was still a reasonably good crowd for early on the third day, and they were treated to soulful falsettos.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue – Who knew I would have to travel all the way to the Coachella Valley to see someone from my hometown of New Orleans? I’m probably biased, but I thought he out on an amazing performance. It was early and very hot on the mains stage, but theses guys all put in stellar, high-energy performances. The 504 was represented!!!
Preservation Hall Jazz Band – These guys are the gems of New Orleans. They looked a little in awe, and it made me wish I could talk to them backstage about all they experienced at this crazy festival. They are just so good! I wished everyone could hear them … And my wish kind of came true later in the day.
Courtney Barnett – Just like Kate Nash, Barnett pulled me in as I was walking to see STRFKR. I stayed for a couple songs, and I loved it. She played “Avant Gardner,” which I recognized. I would love to see her in an intimate venue. I love female folk singers like Ani DiFranco, and she reminded me of her a bit.
STRFKR – As I walked up to meet Brad in the audience, about 20 generously endowed white and black male blow-up dolls went flying into the air over the audience. Maybe it was the desert heat, but it was hilarious. On stage, there were aliens humping astronauts, and I had just missed the Sumo wrestlers. Crazy fun set, and the music was good, too.
Frank Turner – The punk folk singer sounded brilliant, as I am sure he is accustomed to playing in sweaty, smoky bars. Turner said he had the day’s first slot at Coachella four years ago, and said he was glad Che had something to. Show for his last four years. He made it to the p.m.!
The 1975 – they played pop rock to a pretty good crowd. I thought they sounded really good, but was hoping for a little more edge. I will say that I was distracted by the lead singer again. This time it was because he looked like Jeff Buckley and shared some of his mannerisms. Perhaps I only noticed because I’ve been obsessed with Buckley since 1995.
Blood Orange – They played to an adoring crowd. Honestly, I was really tired and was anticipating a long night, so I hung back and laid in the grass, tapping my foot to the beat. I love that feeling, and I needed to stretch my back.
Neutral Milk Hotel – I could tell there were a lot of big fans in the audience, ready for this monumental moment – probably how I felt about seeing The Replacements. I like their album The Aeroplane Over the Sea, but it didn’t impact me like it did most critics who called it the best album released in a YEAR. For not touring in however many years, they sounded like a well-oiled machine – a great fore the huge fans, I am sure,
Lana Del Rey – Lana and her Pepsi Cola pu$$y sincerely entranced the audience at the Outdoor Stage, the way she moves in slow motion is somewhat mesmerizing. The woman next to me said it is like she lives in a shampoo commercial. It’s true. She appears to have men and women happily wrapped around her little finger. I have to admit, she was on game Sunday night, purposefully moving from song to song, stopping once to smoke a cigarette because as she ask aid, she “can’t think if she’s not smoking.” Another good lesson for the kids.
Beck – I was so thrilled to see Beck. I saw him perform right after he released The Golden Age, and he was amazing. I was able to get a terrific spot just as Beck launched into “Devil’s Haircut.” With just over an hour to play, Beck mostly stuck to his hits. He told everyone to check the nearly full moon shining above the crowd and then played “Blue Moon” off his new album. I was hoping for more tunes from his terrific, latest album, but that was it. He did bring out his adorable son to help out on tambourine for his last couple of songs. Those wouldn’t have been his final tunes, but Beck’s microphone was turned off when he went over time. I know they have a specific time to keep, but it was a rude way to honor Beck, who headlined the first Coachella festival 15 years ago.
Arcade Fire – With easily the best set of the entire festival, Arcade Fire is an incredible live band who appear to have so much fun while they play. Lead singer Win Butler probably didn’t make any friends among the Coachella staff when he said there was a lot of fake shit going on in the VIP area backstage, and we shouldn’t feel like we’re missing out on anything. Then he seemingly called out some of those VIPs and maybe some DJs, too, when he complimented those performers “who play their own instruments.” Butler put his money where his mouth was when he paraded the band offstage at the end of the performance with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They went right into the audience and then backstage, where they continued to play. As we began to make the long trek back to our car, we could hear the brass band continue to play, a perfect soundtrack to the end of a wonderful weekend.
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