The Best of Coachella 2015, Weekend One

The first weekend of Coachella was ridiculous. Our backs are a little sore and we're definitely more than a little exhausted. But scrolling through the memories of this year's excitement is the perfect remedy to nurse a Coachella hangover. Here are best things we saw over the weekend.


When we weren't watching whoever was up on stage, one of our favorite things to do was scan the crowd for the various (and often hilarious) items people held up to try to find their friend – or just to rally; we saw a lot of head-banging stuffed animals this weekend. From the first sighting on Friday – Fresh Prince's Will and Carlton cut-outs – we knew this was going to be an extra creative and amusing year for totem-hunting. Though some were a little more questionable than others (Bill Cosby was just a tad too soon, guys), overall, the variety of Drake Tears, Wheelchair Jimmy, matching Mario and Luigi toys, a glowstick-wrapped Yoda, a pair of Beck and a very pissed off looking Kanye, a cutout of a Shih Tzu's face with the words “Pace yoself guuuuuuurl” printed on it….the list goes on an on. It's hard to top last years' Kanye and Crying Kim totems, but this years crowd sure gave them a run for their money.–Artemis Thomas-Hansard

Bonobo's Surprise DJ Set at the Do LaB
The Do LaB announced a surprise, secret guest on their lineup to close out the weekend, which of course set the rumor mill churning. Would it be a Do LaB-friendly artist like Flying Lotus or Gaslamp Killer, or someone more leftfield? The answer thrilled everyone: British DJ/producer Simon Green, aka Bonobo, a master of the kind of experimental, bass-driven music for which the Burning Man-inspired stage is known. His DJ set, full of glitchy bass drops and unpredictable moments of beauty, was the perfect end to an excellent weekend.–Andy Hermann

Air Guitar At Jack White 
Guys who'd normally be too self-conscious to dance much at all, girls who'd normally limit their gyrations to the “look how sexy I am” variety: for a few brief, shining moments, they all just dropped the charade and surrendered to White by picking up an air guitar. Throughout the crowd, people were forcefully strumming power chords, trying to feel a piece of what it must be like to be the last real rock star. It was a truly uniting experience: black and white, young and old, men and women — they all hoisted invisible axes to the desert skies, and shredded.–LJ Williamson

Run the Jewels
As far as positive critical reviews go, Run the Jewels already have an embarrassment of riches. Chances are if you know a hipster blogger who was at Coachella over the weekend, they were there watching El-P and Killer Mike swerve and spit bars around each other during one of the most transcendent hip-hop sets of the weekend. And that was before Zach De La Rocha surprised everyone by coming out to add his unmistakable acid tongue delivery of a verse on “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck).”Watching those three rock the stage together hopefully not only pleased the crowd, but perhaps even woke up something in the former Rage Against the Machine singer who will grace the stage again with his next big project. Or he could just join EL-P and Killer Mike and transform it into Rage the Jewels–just a thought.–Nate Jackson

The bathrooms 

Near the Sahara Tent, there were three rows of porto potties: one for men, one for women, and one for women. There were no lines, attendants stood ready to address any issues, they were in a shady tent, and the bathrooms were clean. Out back, there were a trailers with soap and running water (no foot pumping!) It was one of the most civilized porto potty experiences ever.–LJ Williamson

The Heart and Soul of Coachella
Coachella 2015 was the most soulful year yet. Shit, the whole weekend practically kicked off with soul legend Charles Bradley himself. The 66-year-old soulster stirred up the youngsters and got them grooving along. Then he did the smoothest move of the whole weekend, and during his last song, jumped off stage and into the photo pit with two dozen red and white roses and handed a rose to the ladies in the crowd–BALLER. Top that, Drake.

The weekend continued with other neo and soul fusion masters like seven piece buzz band out of Alabama, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, “Take Me to Church” mega hit maker Hozier, raw soul man Benjamin Booker, even to an extent Fitz and the Tantrums and Chicano Batman. But the ultimate embodiment of the neo-soul was the Alabama Shakes. Singer Brittany Howard is an absolute goddess. She takes control of the stage with her commanding voice, masterful stage presence. Her voice and raw emotion is the definition of soul. Here's hoping the Shakes bring it full circle and headline Coachella 2055, showing the young kids up just like Charles Bradley did this year.–Taylor Hamby

Craft Beer Garden
Heineken is one of the luckiest beer brands in the world two April weekends out of the year. That's because for a long time, they held the exclusive contract for the beer gardens at Coachella. The beer drinking attendees were not so lucky–you could only buy Heineken. But that problem is no more thanks to the new craft beer garden. The ever-growing movement has finally made its way to the Empire Polo Fields and we couldn't be happier. The dozen-plus rotating draft beer list offers IPAs and Hefeweizens and more from Golden Road, Lewis and Clark, Coronodo and more. The best part is it only costs $1 more than the regular garden but tastes better and gets you more buzz for your buck.–Taylor Hamby

Action Bronson takes a weed break
In the middle of a song, Action Bronson climbed down from the stage and walked across the front row to greet his fans– and to take hits of each of their blunts. The Queens rapper then continued to spit his rhymes to a guy in a wheelchair and give a shoutout to George Lopez in the VIP audience before climbing back up on the stage. “Bet you didn't think I could do that, did you?” the rapper said afterwards.–Aimee Murillo

More phone chargers
Coachella amped up the number of phone chargers this year so festival goers don't have to travel too far away from their next favorite act on the schedule. And if you think that's some sort of enabler for cell phone distraction, consider that even the slightest phone activity can drain your battery when signal sucks in the desert, and you'd definitely need your phone at some point during the day to coordinate your ride or Uber or so more cell phone chargers spread out throughout the campgrounds means less inconvenience in finding the closest one, and more available for everyone.–Aimee Murillo

The Corporate Headquarters, an art installation by Derek Doublin and Vanessa Bonet
Has any artwork at Coachella sparked as much conversation as Doublin and Bonet's The Corporate Headquarters? A tall, three-story replica of a corporate office features an ensemble of live actors in business suits and hippo masks trashing an office while security cameras pointed outwards to the festival record the actions of festival goers. And in front, a red phone allows you to (attempt to) talk to one of them, but the conversation will always be one-sided, as you'll only hear animal grunts on the other side. Pretty on point.–Aimee Murillo

FKA Twigs' set at the Gobi Tent
It might have been a hard decision to choose between the big headliner Jack White and FKA Twigs, but if you stood in the crowd for the latter, then likely you weren't disappointed. The beautiful London singer-dancer emanated an other-worldly presence as she preened onstage like a beautiful swan and vogued, gyrated, spun around and pelvic-thrusted through her set. “Last year I performed outside the festival and they wouldn't let me come here afterwards just to see the shows, so I'm so happy to be here today,” she confided to the audience. Last year's loss is this year's win.–Aimee Murillo

Charles Bradley's old school smoothness

During his Friday set, 66 year-old Soul singer extraordinaire Charles Bradley shimmied, seduced, fell to his knees and testified like a man one-third his age. His emotive voice, a powerful, lived-in instrument with traces of Otis Reading, James Brown and Wilson Pickett, dazzled. The crowd responded to his old school showmanship with shrieks and tears. Bradley reveled in their love and good vibes, ending his scorching set by handing out long-stemmed roses to clamoring fans. “I love Coahcella,” Bradley said in a post-set interview. “If you ask me from one to 10, I'd have to put it at 11. The people let me open my heart.” –Marc Ballon

Quest Love's short career as a DJ/Drummer
Playing drums is hard enough work on it's own. But imagine that someone also threw a laptop and a turn table at you and said “here, use this too.” Rarely since the days of Phil Collins to drummers seem to enjoy the idea of multi-tasking. Even Quest Love, thunder god of The Roots probably didn't quite know what he was getting into when he busted out a two-hour drum/DJ set at the Heiniken House on Saturday night. While hoards of the unwashed were crowding to Jack White on the main stage last night, there was just as much sweat and muscle-straining dexterity going on in Coachella's make-shift nightclub next inside the Terrace area of the festival.

Starting off busting out a mix of raw funk and vintage soul tossed with hip-hop seemed like a no brainer as people bobbed along with cell phones and beers in hand. Around 9:30 p.m., Root's frontman, the rapper Black Thought, came to the stage and produced a swell of people who showed up just in time to see the bearded rap wonder unleash a bluster of Roots tracks from the Tipping Point, Phrenology and more, remixed live courtesy of Quest Love's drum skills. At the end of it he said “you will never see this again, drumming and DJing is too much work!” So maybe Quest Love's muti-tasking thing isn't gonna work out forever, but it was fun while it lasted.–Nate Jackson

See also:
Funniest Craig's List Ads for People Bartering Coachella Wristbands
Seven Types of Douchebags You meet at Coachella
Coachella 2015 Band and Drug Pairings Guide

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