Plus James Blake, Rodriguez, Grimes and more onstage and backstage highlights from day 3 of Coachella's first weekend
In addition to the 61 bands on the bill, high winds and choking degrees of dust were on the menu for every attendee of the final day of Coachella 2013’s first weekend. By late afternoon, the balmy rays that delighted sun-worshippers on the festival’s previous days gave way to chilly temperatures and non-stop sandstorms that brought an eerie haze over the Empire Polo Field. But rather than being put-off by the less-than-ideal conditions, the Coachella diehards simply donned hoodies, popped on the dust masks, and dove into the diverse assortment of bands that closed out the weekend. Here are some highlights from Coachella’s windswept weekend-one finale.
-- "I feel like I'm going to go home and fill up a sandbox for my small child," Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis deadpanned during the group's headlining set on Sunday. The heavy winds that had resulted in sand being blown in every which way on the grounds didn't hamper the veteran funk-rock act, who took the stage like the hometown heroes they are and sent Coachella home with a set-list of songs that including recent material, as well as tried-and-true staples like "Californication," "Ethiopia" and "Under The Bridge." Although RHCP have played the festival twice before, Sunday night marked the Coachella debut of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer as a Chili Pepper, and the 33-year-old rose to the lofty occasion.
-- The Wu-Tang Clan doesn't need any guest MC's -- with the veteran crew almost reaching double digits in members, featured artists are difficult to mix into the fold. But Redman was recruited as a special guest during the collective's Coachella set, joining his "How High" co-star Method Man for "Da Rockwilder," from their "Blackout!" joint LP. After the song ended, Redman high-fived his way down the line of Wu members like he was a football star on his way into the arena. Redman might not be an official Wu-Tang Clan member, but he felt like family when he arrived onstage on Sunday night.
-- Coachella was a magical experience for fans of Detroit’s Rodriguez, who finally got to see the elusive "Sugarman" perform live. Sixto took the stage in the Gobi Tent around 6:40pm, where he treated fans (including Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Keidis, who watched sidestage) to a collection of folky, thought-provoking gems from his early-‘70s albums, including "I Wonder," "Sugarman," and "Lucille." Though the subtitles of Rodriguez’s set were often drowned out the by the barrage of psychedelic rock coming from Tame Impala’s set on the Outdoor Stage, fans huddled in close stood in rapt attention and soaked up every word and melody from his remarkable tunes.
-- Both James Blake and Grimes are electronic-based wunderkinds who create strange sensations with synth beds and unique vocals, but on Sunday, both artists opted for something that was a bit more festival-friendly. Blake brought on the sunset with his moody and romantic 6pm set that drew one of the Mojave tent’s largest crowd of the day. Known mostly for crafting downbeat bliss, James raised pulses in the tent when he morphed his EP highlight "CMYK" into a song that would not have sounded out of place in the Sahara tent. Although he did not conform his entire set into dance mixes, the U.K. artist was more than game to feature something a bit more uptempo in between songs like "Limit To Your Love" and "Retrograde."
Grimes (a.k.a. Claire Boucher), who played Mojave prior to Blake, turned songs like "Genesis" and "Oblivion" into offbeat anthems, as a pair of personal cheerleaders flanked singer-songwriter throughout the set. Backstage, Grimes told us that Coachella marked the first show that she ever performed with a wireless microphone, which allowed her to move more freely and get a larger party going onstage. She also revealed that she is “probably like 2/5 done” with her new album: “I know that’s a weird number. I’m more than 1/3, but less than 2/3 but I’m not ½, I’m more than ¼.”
-- U.K. superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold is a Coachella veteran, making his fourth appearance on the polo field Sunday night. Prior to his 6:20 set in the Sahara Tent, Oakenfold lounged backstage and told us he was really bummed that Rodriguez – the ‘70s folk musician whose rediscovery was chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” -- was performing at the exact same time as him, as he was really hoping to catch his set. Oakenfold also said that his new album, “Pop Killer,” is still in the works and will likely include a track he recently recorded with Will.i.am.
-- Colorado’s Derek Vincent Smith lived up to his Pretty Lights moniker during his evening set on Coachella’s outdoor stage. The dust particles swirling through the air might have been a nuisance, but the haze helped to accentuate Smith’s dazzling new light show: the brilliant beams accompanying Smith’s funky electro and hip-hop grooves could be seen cascading across the field. Before the gig, we caught up with Smith, who said that he had planned something drastically different from his first Coachella experience in 2010. "For this new record, I evolved my performance style as well,” he said. “I built a system with the software where I can deconstruct the song and actually really play my tracks like I'm playing a guitar and it’s fun. It makes it a lot more fun for me.”
|Top 10 Coachella Artists Tweeted About Sunday (4/14)
Some of the artists most-buzzed about on Sunday performed late on Saturday. Phoenix, who garnered 14.59% of the total volume of artists mentioned in Sunday Twitter activity pertaining to Coachella, had an especially overwhelming jump in volume due to the surprise appearance of R. Kelly.
|Rank||Artist||% of Tweets|
|3||Red Hot Chili Peppers||4.78%|
-- La Roux ended its set with "Bulletproof," their biggest U.S. hit and most immediate cut in their discography. Before that elated performance, however, the group -- led by the demure Elly Jackson and her perfectly coiffed red hair -- unveiled a host of new songs for the first time to U.S. audiences: "Kiss and Not Tell" was a delightful piece of throwback pop, while "Tropical Chancer" provoked awkward dance moves from the packed crowd in the Mojave Tent. After La Roux canceled on Coachella last year, the group proved to be worth the wait -- and these new tracks, presumably on the follow-up to 2009's "La Roux," sound like they are as well.
-- Coachella’s ever-growing contingent of EDM fans got a special treat this year with the addition of the Yuma tent, a fully-enclosed, night-club-like indoor space complete with hard-wood floors, numerous disco balls, a booming system and .one of the festival’s most elusive offerings: air conditioning. An army of noteworthy DJs and a handful of bona fide marquee stars (Richie Hawtin, Four Tet, Luciano) were assembled to christen the cool new space. But latecomers to the party often had a wait a while before getting their groove on, as lines the see Yuma’s biggest talents rolled long and deep throughout the weekend.
-- Music is indeed the driving force behind Coachella, but between bands, festival goers are also treated to some of the most eye-catching and innovative art installations this side of the Guggenheim. One of this year’s most elaborate additions to the grounds was “Mirage,” a 40-ft tall, 100-foot wide structure made to resemble a mid-century Palm Springs mansion. By day, the piece simply provided shelter from the beaming sun. By night, it transformed into a dazzling, 360-degree 3D spectacle that used 21 HD cameras to project ever-changing images on its walls. The icing on Mirage’s magnificent cake was a virtual swimming pool that projected images of backstroking beauties that looked so real, many attendees couldn’t resist the urge to dive in themselves.