Coachella 2016: Kanye & Seal Make Surprise Cameos, Taylor Swift Checks Out Borns & More Day 1 Highlights

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella
Kanye West performs with Jack U onstage during day 1 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2016 in Indio, Calif.

With surprise appearances that astounded and puzzled, a much touted reunion and celebrity concert-goers aplenty, Coachella's first day (Friday, April 15) was an eclectic, eventful one. Here are some of the highlights chronicled by the on-the-ground Billboard team.

2:00 p.m. "My name is Carla Morrison and I'm from Mexico," said the singer/songwriter to a cheering crowd that was ready to sing along with her on a hot Friday afternoon in the Indio, CA desert. Morrison, who made her Coachella debut at the Outdoor Theatre stage, sang heartfelt songs such as "Déjenme Llorar," "Vez Primera" and "Azucar Morena." "Dreams do come true," she told her fans as she left the stage. – Griselda Flores

2016 Coachella: Watch the Fest's Live Stream Here

3:40 p.m. Joey Bada$$ tips to his Pro Era crew by changing the Coachella logo to Prochella during his standout set. - Jeff Miller

4:23 p.m. While dozens wait in a packed VIP entrance line, security got in a verbal disagreement with a woman about cutting in line. When her tone became angry, security dropped a bombshell dismissal: "Will Smith's son is here and I told him to get to the back of the line, too." – Joe Lynch

4:43 p.m. On a day full of twee electro rock, British singer Olly Alexander of the upstart band Years & Years did his best to stand out. His chemistry was most palpable when he gazed at their larger-than-expected crowd and saw a man staring back while sitting on a friend's shoulders: the fan and Alexander traded verses to each other, a clearly spontaneous moment in a set full of manufactured ones. - Jeff Miller

5:00 p.m. French-Cuban duo Ibeyi took the Mojave stage just before the sun started setting. Breathtaking visuals accompanied the twins' powerful vocals and their unique rhythm and beats. The sounds ranged from reggae to R&B to their version of Silento's "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" -- an unexpected addition to their setlist that made everyone whip and nae nae with the twins. – Griselda Flores

5:15 p.m. Despite the sand-whipping winds, Vancouver live-electronic duo Bob Moses draw a respectable crowd at the Gobi Stage. Tom Howie and Jimmy Valance treat the intrepid early festival-goers to pensive vocal hooks and tribal house rhythms taken from their excellent debut album Days Gone By - Matt Medved

6:15 p.m. Foals were rocking hard through the last song of their Coachella Stage set when the sound cut out unexpectedly. It hardly mattered though, as frontman Yannis Philippakis came out into the crowd, and his bandmates made every last note hit home. – Chris Payne

Summer 2016 Festival Guide

6:42 p.m. The best moment of Day 1 very well may have been when Gallant -- already in the midst of an astounding set of synth-y R&B backed by a live band -- brought out Seal for not one but two songs. After Seal called him "the future," they duetted on the British crooner's hit "Crazy" and then traded vocals on Gallant's breakthrough song "Weight in Gold." While some festival cameos seem done for the sake of having 'a moment,' this felt like two guys doing it for the pure, magical love of music. – Joe Lynch

7:03 p.m. It's extraordinary that Of Monsters And Men -- seemingly an interloper in the great folk-pop scene of 2012 -- have so many songs that have become modern rock staples. Nearly every ohh-ohh-ohh in the Icelandic band's set was recognized even by passing fans, justifying their prime sunset placement even if it all felt a bit lightweight. – Jeff Miller

7:05 p.m. Backstage following his well-received Mojave Stage set, Gallant plays host to a horde of well-wishers. Numerous label execs, booking agents and artists like G-Eazy can be seen making their way over to the rising star to pay their respects. - Matt Medved

LCD Soundsystem Cover David Bowie, Guns N' Roses at Coachella

7:20 p.m. Wearing a tie-dye shirt (a far cry from Oscar chic or his recent Joker getup), Jared Leto watched Of Monsters and Men play "Little Talks" from VIP while talking with pals. He took a break from his chat to photobomb some ladies posing for a picture near him. – Joe Lynch

7:29 p.m. At the Mojave Stage, BØRNS was in good spirits. The mix wasn’t quite right for his first couple songs (his vocals were buried by the instruments) but he pushed through to shout about the “sonic pleasure” of his first Coachella performance and dive into “10,000 Emerald Pools.” – Chris Payne

7:30 p.m. French jazztronica band St Germain fared well in their first appearance on the Polo field since 2001. Their breezy, jammy songs -- including the smoky dorm classic "Rose Rouge" -- played with Senegalese musician Cheikh Lo seemingly live-soundtracked the swaying palm trees behind the stage. – Jeff Miller

Kanye West Joins Jack U and A$AP Rocky for Surprise Cameos

7:50 p.m. “Electric Love” was the biggest jam on BØRNS’ 2015 debut album Dopamine, and it was a pure rush of the good stuff when he busted it out to close his set. The crowd was all hands in the air, jumping along to the panoramic chorus. It was, by far, the best response to anything in his set, and Taylor Swift -- spotted with a group of friends including Lorde and Jack Antonoff -- was reportedly singing and dancing in approval.  – Chris Payne

8:04 p.m. As A$AP Rocky listed off a roll call of popular festival pastimes (weed, molly, LSD, booze) before dropping his psychedelic "LSD," festival security seemingly decided then was as good a time as any to make a surprise push through the crowd with flashlights, presumably looking for illicit substances. For the record, they didn't end up grabbing anyone or anything at that particular moment. - Joe Lynch

8:20 p.m. Kanye West made a surprise appearance during A$AP Rocky's set to perform The Life of Pablo's "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1." The crowd went crazy but cooled down a bit when it became clear West's mic was barely working. Despite performing the full song, the crowd only heard about a tenth of it. – Joe Lynch

8:31 p.m. When night fell, M83 delivered a life-affirming performance on the Coachella Stage. The crown jewel of the set was “Midnight City,” whose extended sax solo threw even the easily-distracted VIP area into a frenzy. It was a good relief from the tears brought on just a few minutes earlier by “Wait”; can anyone hear that song and not think of The Fault In Our Stars - Chris Payne

8:50 p.m. After opening his fairly riotous set with the quiet folk introspection of "Seven Swans," Sufjan Stevens -- wearing a goofy neon yellow outfit and giant angel wings, as if a Devo member suddenly turned into a Victoria's Secret model -- bashed his banjo against the ground. That was his way of letting the crowd know the rest of his stage show would be more Wayne Coyne, less Nick Drake. – Joe Lynch

9:15 p.m. "This is for Slash," Sufjan Stevens joked before playing a squealing, '80s-indebted guitar solo during his lengthy suite "Impossible Soul." Will Guns N' Roses return the favor Saturday night? (Answer: no.) – Joe Lynch

9:41 p.m. "I gotta shout somebody out," G-Eazy crows to the Sahara Tent crowd. "It's my momma's birthday today, she turn 60. On the count of three let's wish her happy birthday." The audience is happy to assist, hollering "Happy birthday mom!" as the black-clad rapper's countdown expires. - Matt Medved

9:43 p.m. Ellie Goulding’s Coachella Stage set was tightly packed with hits, with plenty of variety, too. Instead of performing “Lights” the same way it appeared on her album, Goulding delivered it as an intimate vocals-and-piano-only lullaby. – Chris Payne

9:47 p.m. U.K. all-female punk band Savages have the most apropos name at Coachella: their brutal, aggressive brand of rock is what you'd get if Kathleen Hanna somehow inserted the Blackhearts into the Mars Volta. Singer Jenny Beth stood atop the small audience's arms aloft and confident, but props for their power goes to the rest of the band, too, especially drummer Fay Milton, the day's bashy MVP. – Jeff Miller

9:51 p.m. Chants of “Ellie! Ellie!" erupted as the British singer took a generous gap of time after “I Need Your Love.” But the set wasn't over. She came back with a rocked-out rendition of her underrated 2012 song “Figure 8,” which boasted some of her own guitar riffage. Next, “Love Me Like You Do” closed out the set. – Chris Payne

10:55 p.m. After suffering sound issues during his A$AP Rocky cameo, it seemed like Kanye West had joined Jack U on stage to rectify the situation. But Kanye never ceases to surprise. As his "Power" played, West simply acknowledged the audience's applause with a nod and quickly left the stage. – Joe Lynch

11:10 p.m. Justin Bieber didn't make a surprise appearance during Jack U's set, but Skrillex made sure their performance of "Where Are U Now" was memorable nonetheless. He asked the crowd to hold their cell phones in the air in tribute "to someone who isn't there anymore…someone you loved, a friend, even someone you hated." The question "Where Are U Now" became especially poignant in that context, particularly when the cameras turned around to show the crowd holding up thousands of phones to make a glowing, cellular sea.  – Joe Lynch

11:50 a.m. Reuniting for their first run of your dates since 2011, LCD Soundsystem treats main stage attendees to an analog electronic throwdown. The band silences all side conversations with a seamless transition from somber gem "Someone Great" into their raw debut single "Losing My Edge," which frontman James Murphy updates to include bands trading their turntables for "Ableton setups." - Matt Medved

12: 23 a.m. "The last time we played here, Jay-Z played after us and we were honored because we really like him," Murphy tells the crowd. "But tonight he's not here and we're sorry." - Matt Medved

12:35 a.m. After singing a bit of Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" during "New York I Love You," LCD Soundsystem delivered a moving cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" in tribute to the lost musical icon. - Joe Lynch

 

Coachella 2016