Apologies for being MIA for a few days, as you may have guessed I have had a bad case of separation anxiety following my 4 day vacation in Indio. Coachella gets better every year, but after seeing this year’s lineup I was pretty skeptical about how this one would pan out. But I must say, with the repetitive electro acts in the Sahara Tent, along with the increase in indie and British rock acts on the bill, this year was the best I have attended yet. Even with the infamous sandstorm that enclosed the Empire Polo Grounds on Sunday afternoon.
Goldenvoice really stepped it up this year in terms of organization. The taxi and shuttle drops were much more efficient, campgrounds seemed to have expanded a bit to accommodate even more people, and security was thorough but quick, unlike years past where the process of getting into the grounds was literally painful. In addition to making some of the logistics of the outergrounds smoother, adding the Yuma tent – an indoor, airconditioned, wood-floored dance tent to catch the expected overflow of EDM kids that have marked a large portion of the attending crowds for the past few years- and the RedBull Speakeasy really alleviated pressure from otherwise problematic areas. But the most awesome addition to the festival grounds this year was the mobile art that took form of a giant snail on wheels, offering lots of shade to the crowd as it slowly crept from stage to stage. The most practical, on the other hand, were the medical stands that urged festival goers to “ask me anything”!
Some features of the festival, however, were implemented before this year and came through once again. The device charging station, recycle program [10 empties for 1 full water bottle] and filling station for those who bring reusable water bottles all were lifesavers for many heat stroke induced, dry mouthed, sweaty people. The amnesty box, again, received a lot of awkward stares and sideways glances, and the art installations in between stages were perplexing as usual. There was an increase in food varieties, and for the first time in my five years in attendance, the beer garden closed its gates due to being dry.
Performance wise, there were a lot of highs, and a few noticeable lows. The Gobi tent really failed to deliver for me, with their sound being completely drowned out by the womping of the larger tents and the spacious and unconfined blaring of the outdoor stages. The Sahara Tent completely morphed into a giant dome that was imported from Ultra in Miami, and really brought the electro performances up to a whole other level. Below are my picks for the best and worst of the weekend, with some honorable mentions and photos from the weekend as well. Til next year Coachella!
Best: Yeah Yeah Yeah’s absolutely killed it. Infamously crazy front woman Karen O. lived up to her reputation and proceeded to stuff her pants – and later her mouth – with the microphone, and danced around the stage like a spastic fairy – complete with a new platinum colored bob, metallic floral cape and silver paper crown. Honorable mention to the highly anticipated Jurassic 5 for showcasing a super funky set for their first show in over seven years.
Biggest Disappointment: Purity Ring. Not sure who was responsible for their late arrival, but I feel pretty bad for them since no one could really hear them while Blur and Infected Mushroom were blasting to either side.
Best: Simian Mobile Disco! These guys really know how to jam and they played everything from their older underground hits to more mainstream songs like “Audacity of Huge” (a personal highlight from the weekend) and “I Believe”. Honorable mention to Portugal. the Man for the most pleasantly surprising set and Benny Benassi for one of the top Sahara performances I have seen to date.
Most Disappointing: 2 Chainz, hands down. This show lacked what everyone expected to be the best surprise guests of the weekend [A$AP Rocky, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Juicy J or Lil Wayne]. Instead, the crowd was full of mainstream rap fans that were so obnoxious and sweaty that I almost had a panic attack trying to leave early.
Best: Total tie between closers the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eric Prydz. Both had perfect performances, the only problem being that they were at the exact same time. What I saw of both was simply amazing [albeit what the LA Times had to say], and the perfect way to wrap up an incredible weekend. BIGGEST honorable mention to the epic Wu-Tang Clan, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of theit 36 Chambers album with a jam-packed performance that proved Wu-Tang clan still ain’t nothing to fuck with. From young hip hop aficionados to old white guys long retired from the game, this crowd had it all. And they got it all, with hits like “C.R.E.A.M.”, “You’re All I Need” and “Triumph” rocking the crowd like a hurricane [no pun intended].
Most Disappointing: Tame Impala, believe it or not. I was really looking forward to seeing them, but for some reason the vibe they set was pretty slow and almost sung me to sleep.
Biggest WTF?! Moment: Phoenix bringing out R. Kelly as their surprise guest to sing a mash up of “Remix to Ignition” and “1901”. To say this was a disappointment from the rumors of having Daft Punk join them on stage would be a gross understatement.
Biggest Buzzkill: The sandstorm that swept the festival grounds late Sunday afternoon. It made it impossible to breathe, let alone sing along to, some of the best sets of the weekend. Oh, and not to mention I am still coughing up dirt. Hot.