Round one of Coachella is over and damn, was it a good one! We're all sore, sunburned and smiling. Here's the best of what we saw during another memorable weekend in Indio.
The Evolution of the Bro This year's bigger and better Yuma Tent seemed to mark a advancement in the appreciation of EDM, as many bros defected from the dubstep haven of the Sahara and lost themselves to dance in the house and experimental electronic-heavy Yuma. There was far less fist pumping, and, blessedly much less of this. -Katie Bain
Nicolas Jaar He opened his Friday night DJ set in the Yuma Tent with Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain," and from there kept the packed dance tent on its toes with a set that at times seemed intentionally tuned to drive away fair weather fans with gaps of experimental noise. Those that stuck it out got an ever more thrilling set that included jungle, hip hop and house and induced one of the hottest, edgiest, least self aware dance parties of the festival. -Katie Bain
The new and improved Yuma Tent Last year's introduction of the Yuma tent brought a new disco tech vibe to the electronic scene at Coachella. This year's version of the Yuma tent, however, is new and improved. It's bigger, more organized and allows a place for electronic lovers to enjoy groovy music away from the Sahara tent. The tent's line up this year is another new and improved feature. Over all, the Yuma tent's improvements deserve a round of applause! - Mary Carreon
The Mexican Cantina Club The Polo Field's on site Mexican restaurant was never connected to the actual festival grounds before, but this year it was! (Attendees could enter through the new and improved --and very lovely-- Beer Barn.) Inside, the venue offered cheap (ish) beer and cocktails, clean bathrooms, air-conditioning, ample seating and loads of '90s era hip hop on the stereo. Basically, it was the GA VIP section. -Katie Bain
The Replacements playing "Androgynous" Several songs into the Replacements' set, singer Paul Westerberg invited the audience to sing along if they knew the words to this next song. "Androgynous" began and after a few times through the chorus he stopped singing, allowing the crowd to oblige by filling in, swaying, and singing loudly one of the (presumably) meaningful songs of their youth. It was a unifying experience, even if the crowd all split and dispersed just a couple songs later. The band launched into a cover of "Maybelline" right after. -Taylor Hamby
GZA at the Heineken House
One of the best cameos we saw on Saturday wasn't on a big stage eating an intro from one of the headliners. Watching GZA from three feet away at the Hieneken House at 8:30 p.m.--that was where you needed to be on Saturday. Most press folks got the notification he was headlining the new indoor lounge area 15 minutes before he took the stage. Hardly anybody had a clue he'd be following LA beat scene royalty Gas Lamp Killer and Thundercat, who gave some rad performances on their own. But there he was, The Genius--killing it Shoalin style for a 30-minute set that drawing heavily from Liquid Swords. And of course, he had to go ahead and drop a few verses of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," an obligatory ode to Ol' Dirty Bastard that felt just right--considering we all felt like dirty bastards any way at that point of the night. -Nate Jackson
Morning Yoga at the campground
There's a remedy for Friday night's pain and suffering thankfully. It's hidden deep in the car camping area in the activity tent--free yoga sessions on the hour every day between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. A North Carolina yogini named Elizabeth Cramond guided Saturday morning's vinyasa flow. After some chaturangas and spinal twists to exercise last night's demons, and serious pigeoning of the hips, 45 minutes later it was time to strut back into Coachella on a cloud of endorphins ready to throttle another night. -Adam Lovinus
The Energy of the Toy Dolls The Toy Dolls have always been a fun band. The 1980's English punk staples are beloved for their take on the lighter side of punk rock, but considering the sole original member, Olga, is 51, it was reasonable to be worried how this incarnation of the Toy Dolls would sound at Coachella. And you know what? These old guys had more energy than young Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Haim combined. We didn't realize until we saw them live that the band are the old punk version of ZZ Top with their choreographed bass and guitar moves and synchronized guitar twirling. Olga even asked the crowd, "Do you think I'm too old for this?" to which we yelled back a resounding "He'll no!" - Taylor Hamby
Finding 20 bucks on the ground. We spent it on a slice of Hot Lips Spicy Pie pizza and a cold beer. Thank you, Coachella gods. -Taylor Hamby
Calvin Harris We're not necessarily the biggest fan of Calvin Harris' music -- though that Rihanna song is perfect -- but he was absolutely the biggest thing going on Sunday. Upgraded from the Sahara tent to the main stage this year, he launched into "Feel So Close" and made the whole polo grounds go berserk. There was an exodus from every other stage; people were literally running. It was incredibly crowded and loud. We were all the way over by the Gobi stage, and could hear Harris much better than the band actually playing on that stage, the poor Toy Dolls, who were in front of a tiny crowd. -Ben Westhoff
Darkside The dust drove Saturday night Coachellans into the tents for shelter. Many in the Gobi hadn't heard of Darkside, the NYC dance-prog-blues (what?) duo, and like this West Coast writer who missed their Fonda show in January, weren't really sure what to expect. Someone said this would be a downtempo electro show, and kind of Pink Floyd-y. Well, no, this wasn't either. This was a mindbending forray of noisy synth, huge thumping bass, and incredible guitar that--fair enough--did sound at times like David Gilmour, but more so like a hellbent Don Caballero. The consensus in the tent was that Darkside will never be missed by anyone ever again. That might have been the molly talking, but hey, it was incredible. -Adam Lovinus
Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum has been playing shows again in recent years (presumably to finance his expensive ethnomusicology habit), and the last time he played Coachella was 2012 -- solo. But those who expected the same type of set this year were wrong; backed by the wild and woolly Neutral Milk Hotel players, Sunday's show at the outdoor stage was a whole different beast. Mangum came out alone for opener "Two-Headed Boy," but near the end of the song, right on cue, the brass came out. Before long there were tuba solos and a dude in a goofy blue sock hat playing the music saw. Oh, and by the way Magnum's beard is now growing out of his cheeks and has officially reached "fuck you, society" levels. Glorious. -Ben Westhoff
Motorhead at Mojave
We make no secret of our love for Lemmy Kilmister. The Motorhead front man is still the archetype of a rock-n-roll badass. But let's not forget how much guitarist Phil "Wizzo" Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee bring to the table behind Lemmy's gravelly voice and growling bass. Casual fans were definitely given a lesson last night as the band throttled hard through a setlist of brutal, classic riffs from throughout their discography. Both band members showcased their solo work at various points. Campbell's glowing green frets and snarling, classic band logo on his soloing axe guitar made his play seem almost extra terrestrial--which fits because the solo he delivered with it was other worldy. And Dee's dexterously pounding drum solo was priceless. And of course, Motorhead weren't immune from the celebrity guest star game. Slash, the ultimate cameo whore, joined him on stage to rip through "Ace of Spades." Between him and Lemmy, these guys still have the two greatest hats in rock'n'roll. -Nate Jackson
Arcade Fire's end "They're going to pull the plug on us at exactly midnight,' announced Arcade Fire's Win Butler towards the end of the band's festival closing main stage set. The curfew (the same one that preemptively cut off Outkast on Friday) didn't stop the band from carrying on, however, as the group each grabbed an instrument (with Butler on megaphone) and weaved through the audience as the crowd sang the "ooh, ooh, oh oh oh oh" portion of the show ending single "Wake Up." The singalong carried on until the band eventually slipped away behind the fence, and even then a sizable crowd kept on "ooh ooh-ing" as the festival shut down around them. That's the way you end a fucking show. -Katie Bain
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!