Coachella Day 1 (So Far): Kiesza Enlists Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson Flies High & More
The first half of the Friday bill seemed like a prelude rather than an eventual highlight.
The first day of this year's two-weekend Coachella festival started in a typically promising way: The field was pre-watered, the crowd seemed pre-partied, and certainly the artists were pre-primed. After all, the day's not just the start of the weekend, but a veritable coming-out for many of the acts' summer tours.
That's exactly why it was disappointing that most of the afternoon felt like a passable plate of chips-and-salsa rather than an award-winning appetizer canapé, with many of the early artists coming off surprisingly flat.
There were exceptions, of course -- the electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso, for one, won over a bursting tent with Sneaker Pimps slinkiness and sex-filled grooves (a cover of Beyoncé's "Flawless" didn't hurt, either). Larger-than-life rapper Action Bronson, meanwhile, commanded the main stage with songs about weed, women and, uh, more weed, at one point saying, "I wish I could sing like one of the Isleys. But I can't," before seguing into an off-off-beat that puts him in the running as this generation's much higher Biz Markie.
The overall sense, though, was that no one had quite hit a fever pitch; it all seemed like a prelude rather than an eventual highlight.
Elsewhere on the field, Cleveland-based power trio cloud nothings punked it up, with a closing bout of '90s-era distortion, while Lil B confounded as many people as he charmed, with sung-to-track raps that often found the young rapper forgetting his own flow.
British singer/songwriter George Ezra canceled his mid-afternoon set, leaving Angus & Julia Stone the only afternoon artists to pick up the mellow mantle, which they did handily, playing folky ballads as teenagers in flower crowns laid wistfully on the grass. Pop singer Kiesza laid claim to the first major guest spot of the festival, welcoming rapper Joey Bada$$ onstage for two high-energy songs, to a glowing crowd clearly just starting their weekend-long party.