Coachella 2014 Kicks Off With Standout Performances From Alt-Rock Buzz Bands

Danielle Haim of Haim performs onstage during day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, California

Bastille, Haim, Grouplove and More heat up the first afternoon of the 3-day desert bash

The sun loomed high over the polo field by the mid-afternoon of the first day of this year's sold-out Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, which found attendees fist-pumping their way through a 1-2-3-4 punch from some of this year's most promising indie rock breakouts.


Jagwar Ma threw the first punch, delivering a deft, drumless Gobi tent set that brought to mind an atmospheric new-wave party brought to life by a trio equally influenced by Daft Punk and Tears For Fears. Following through on a SXSW-abetted hype-wave, the Australian imports nailed cuts from their debut, 'Howlin',’ with pint-sized singer Gabriel Winterfield clearly moved by the size of an audience they said they'd been excited to play for for a year.

Taking a much longer lead time were fest vets Grouplove, who commented onstage that this was their 10th Coachella-as fans, and eventually, performers. The ‘80s theme continued through, with bouncy, excitable singer Hannah Hooper wearing a bright-blue swimsuit/lace combo that wouldn't have fit right in at a jazzercise class. Instead of looking out of place, though, the L.A. band delivered a hit-heavy set that found fan unity for the first time today, with the crowd roaring back the chorus of 'Trippin on a Photograph' and a laid back cover of Beyoncé ' hit 'Drunk in Love.'

The sister act of Haim -- also a SoCal band -- followed with the fashion-friendly siblings starting 10 minutes late before crushing the chunky 'Falling' from the trio's debut album ‘Days Are Gone.’ They, too, waxed poetic about past Coachellas, claiming to have snuck in in the past. This year, though, they clearly belonged, with a set whose best songs called to mind influences as varied as the Go-Gos and Heart.

As the sun threatened to set, recent SNL musical guests Bastille attempted to prove they were more than its smash hit, ‘Pompeii.’ They nearly succeeded -- its cover of “Rhythm is Dancer,” which segued into their own “Of the Night,” was a definite afternoon highlight, but ultimately came off a bit too composed and ready for the sun. No matter, though: ‘Pompeii’ was unquestionably the crowd sing-along of the day, proving that even among Coachella’s taste maker set, familiarity rules the day.


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