A diverse lineup comprising Jack Johnson, the Verve, Serj Tankian, the Raconteurs, the Breeders, the National and Goldfrapp helped usher in the opening day (April 25) of the ninth annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif.
As many as 60,000 festival-goers were expected to attend yesterday's Goldenvoice-produced event, but organizers couldn't pin down an official number by the end of the day. Temperatures didn't move past the mid-90s, but the festival's two remaining days are expected to soar well beyond 100 degrees.
As the evening cooled, Johnson's closing set didn't draw an overwhelming crowd to Coachella's main stage, but the mellow acoustic rocker drew fans in with tracks like "Hope," "Staple It Together" and "Taylor." Following his appearance at Coachella, Johnson can check off one of many large-scale festivals he'll be playing, including Bonnaroo, All Points West and Outside Lands.
Prior to Johnson, reunited U.K. rock outfit the Verve commanded the main stage with such '90s favorites as "Sonnet," "Space and Time" and "Life's an Ocean." The group, fronted by Richard Ashcroft, scheduled its first U.S. shows in nearly a decade in conjunction with last night's Coachella performance. The group will play in Las Vegas tonight (April 26) and in New York on April 28-29.
Tankian's politically fueled appearance at the Outdoor Theatre sent a jolt into the late evening audience. Wearing a white top hat and matching jacket, the System Of A Down frontman ridiculed George Bush's leadership over America during the last eight years, while performing most of the hard-hitting rock offerings from his debut solo album, "Elect the Dead."
Also starring on day one were the Raconteurs, playing classic rock-inspired tracks from their most recent album, "Consolers of the Lonely"; beloved indie rock acts the National and Vampire Weekend, who drew huge crowds to the Outdoor Theatre; the recently reactivated Breeders, who delighted the Main Stage crowd with their '90s hit "Cannonball"; and Goldfrapp, whose slinky electro-pop was an early evening highlight in the Mojave Tent.
During a mid-afternoon set, San Diego-based Slightly Stoopid provided concertgoers with such reggae-rock songs as "Cally-Man," "Closer to the Sun" and "Officer." Later in the day, Slightly Stoopid's Miles Doughty exclusively revealed to Billboard.com that the band will headline a lengthy summer amphitheater tour with support acts Pepper and Sly & Robbie.
"It's going to be nuts," Doughty says, noting that Slightly Stoopid will likely perform onstage with the other acts. "It's going to be a good little tailgate party."
Without a doubt, yesterday's most entertaining set came from indie rock act Les Savy Fav, which whizzed through cuts like "the Equestrian," "Patty Lee" and "What Would Wolves Do?" -- all from the New York-based band's 2007 album "Let's Stay Friends."
Bearded Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington, who is known for his wild stage antics, entertained a bouncing crowd by dangerously climbing rafters, removing most of his clothing, moonwalking on speakers and planting a kiss on an unsuspecting male spectator who was watching from the side of the stage.
"Coachella in French means: 'A place where you have a party,'" declared Harrington.
For more Coachella coverage, visit the Billboard blog at JadedInsider.com .