With 190 bands spread across six different stages, it was literally impossible to see every act that performed during Coachella 2013’s first weekend. But that didn’t stop us from trying. Here are our picks for the 10 sets that were not to be missed during Coachella 2013’s first weekend.
10. How To Destroy Angels (Friday, Mojave Tent, 12:00 a.m.)
Trent Reznor is already scheduled to headline Lollapalooza and Made In America later this summer as the leader of Nine Inch Nails, but for Coachella, the rock icon decided to cede the floor to his wife and showcase his new side project. The change-up paid off: How To Destroy Angels, which features longtime collaborator Atticus Ross and Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandig on vocals, played one of their first shows ever on Friday night at Coachella and exhibited themselves like they've been honing their show for years. With its dramatic stage show (which included a mesmerizing light curtain) and strong songs from it debut album, "Welcome Oblivion," the group proved to be far more than a tossed-off run-up to the return of Reznor's more high-profile band.
9. New Order (Saturday, Mojave Tent, 11:35 p.m.)
The departure of founding bassist Peter Hook (who played with New Order during their last Coachella appearance in 2005) could have easily spelled the end for the genre-defining post-punk band. Instead, the remaining members have breathed vibrant new life into the group – a fact that shone through during the group’s late-night Saturday set. Sticking to their arsenal of dancefloor-ready ‘80s and ‘90s hits, New Order delivered a non-stop dance party that even had teenagers rocking out with the same hand-raising enthusiasm as their chaperoning parents.
8. James Blake (Sunday, Mojave Tent, 6:00 p.m.)
Sunday afternoon is chillout time for many Coachella attendees, and no one serenaded the festival’s final sunset better than England’s James Blake. The buzz surrounding the 24-year-old musician was palpable, as his swaying crowd spilled out past far the tent on the dusty afternoon. Blake lived up to the lofty expectations and unleashed a stunning set of bass-heavy downbeat grooves that held the audience in rapt attention for most of his debut Coachella appearance.
7. Hot Chip (Saturday, Coachella stage, 7:35 p.m.)
Hot Chip is no stranger to Coachella; 2013 marks the British dance-rock band’s fourth appearance on the polo field. But for those who caught them on Saturday, Hot Chip’s main-stage debut felt like the first time. Coupling underground hits like “Over & Over” and “Ready for the Floor” with music from their excellent 2012 album “In Our Time,” the mad professors of indie dance helped ignite a party that lasted all night long.
6. Wu-Tang Clan (Sunday, Outdoor Theater, 9:15 p.m.)
When every living member of the Wu-Tang Clan is gathered onto a single stage, odds are high that a frenzied hip-hop showcase is about to occur. But when all the members look noticeably thrilled to be standing next to each other and shouting along to their cohorts' lyrical high points, that's when you know you're witnessing something special. While still-rising MCs like 2 Chainz, Action Bronson and Danny Brown all made impressions on Coachella crowds, the Clan was in the front for the largest rap audience of the weekend and delivered a loving tapestry of esoteric rhymes straight from the slums of Shaolin. Twenty years after the release of "Enter The 36 Chambers," Wu-Tang Clan is still nothing to f--k with.