COACHELLA WEEK ONE: THE HIGHLIGHTSApril 18, 2012 —
I think we all can agree Coachella has become a sort of stock market for hipsters. It’s essentially the exact same every year— two weekends, almost identical lineups— yet it still seems to sell out in about an hour. I wouldn’t necessarily be jumping to pay $800 for a ticket but having flocked to the YouTube live steam this entire weekend, it’s difficult to deny the amplitude of the performances. There were some absolutely extraordinary moments (and some total let-downs) that will go down in festival-history…here they are:
Favorite Acts: Pulp, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Radiohead, and Azealia Banks.
What was perhaps the greatest thing about Coachella this year was the inclusion of artists like Frank Ocean, Azealia Banks, and the Weeknd, as they come from a pop-esque/R&B sector that Coachella has previously ignored. Ocean’s performance drew a crowd almost as large as that of The Black Keys! His performance of “Novacane” was absolutely perfect and the crowd absolutely lost their shit when Tyler, the Creator made a cameo to perform “Analog 2.”
Up and comer Azealia Banks proved on Saturday that she is clearly a star. Unfortunately she performed for less than half of her allotted 45 minutes, she certainly left an impression. Being a huge fan I still have to acknowledge that the Weeknd’s set was entertaining but had a huge disconnect. His performance sadly made it more clear that he should reamin in the studio. Unfortunately in a live-band setting, “High for This” and “D.D.” lost their sense of primacy. One of the most epic moments of Coachella was Pulp’s comeback performance- it is now evident that the band still has actual popularity in America amongst non-rock critics. Jarvis Cocker remains an absolutely compelling frontman. “This is Hardcore” and “Something Changed” were the best numbers and of course classics like “Do You Remember the First Time?” and “Common People” had the crowd raging.
M83, Bon Iver and The Black Keys made it clear that they can fill whatever space they’re in and had crowds jamming, obviously. Radiohead’s set leaned a bit to heavily on material from the past decade but it’s almost impossible to imagine someone walking away from their show disappointed. Thom Yorke’s ponytail also made a special appearance. Another unique thing about this year’s festival was that it was subject to an increasing shift in electronic music. Previously, artists like AVICII, and Swedish House Mafia were viewed as minor acts within Coachella’s rock heavy lineup yet this year, they were advertised as equals…of course there were a few “Skrillex sucks” t-shirts scattered among the crowd….
Another highlight was Flying Lotus’ debut of new material which suggested he’s gearing up to compete with electronic music heavies. AraabMuzik appeared on Sunday to solidify his credentials as an electronic producer. He’s quickly becoming dance music’s new star — you can stare at him in awe as he completely changes the game with his hands. SBTRKT mixed electronic and diva-led pop and put on one of the most flat-out entertaining performances of the weekend. Hip-hop was definitely present with Kendrick Lamar as the first rapper to appear at Coachella and he put on an intense 40-minute set where “A.D.H.D” and “F*** Yo Ethnicity” were treated like radio hits. A$AP Rocky grabbed an 11:30 p.m. Saturday appearance…which just so happened to run up against Radiohead…needless to say he performed “Purple Swag” under the glorious desert moon with the utmost skill.
Week One closed on Sunday with a proper bang as Snoop and Dre hit the stage, obvious that they just wanted the crowd to have a blast. Not to mention the mind-blowing appearances by Wiz, 50, Eminem and Tupac. The Tupac hologram is going down in history as the coolest thing I’ve ever seen (it quickly became the most searched phrase on the Internet and Dr. Dre has plans to go on tour with it). Despite Coachella’s reputation as being a soulless parade of people spending two-week’s income on something I saw from far better angels from the back of Olin Library, the festival truly marks the strides made by bands to break down listening barriers between indie rock and dance music of all stripes.