The 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival kicked off from Indio, Calif. on Friday (Apr. 10), and while a lot of the performances were live-streamed online, one can miss a whole lot of the festival’s unique vibe while experiencing the madness on their laptop. Check out 25 of the most unforgettable moments from Friday at Coachella — the coolest covers, best surprise guests, funniest stage banter. and weirdest fan interactions.
1:58 PM — After Vic Mensa performs “Wolves,” his Kanye West collaboration that has yet to be officially released, the rising hip-hop star dives into “U Mad”… another Kanye West collaboration that had yet to be officially released. Fortunately, the latter track is issued immediately after the electrifying main stage performance, and collected over 300,000 Soundcloud plays in half a day of released.
2:39 PM — The irascible Action Bronson has just pressed himself into the crowd, and is rewriting the “look but don’t touch” rules of fan interactions in real time. After one fan grabs his facial hair, he barks, “You wanna touch my beard you mothafuckin’ weirdo?” But almost just as immediately, he turns around and makes out with a random female fan for a few seconds.
3:19 PM — “Thank you, history, for everything,” Lil B declares in one of his signature ultra-positive non sequiturs. Sadly, the Based God was far from a deity during his afternoon slot. The rapper took a halfhearted approach to performing for the crowd, a slacker in knowing his own lyrics and generally not engaging. Not everything in history is worth celebrating.
— billboard (@billboard) April 10, 2015
3:24 PM — A twentysomething guy strolls through the Lil B crowd wearing a white t-shirt on which he’s scrawled, “REUNITE WEEN FOR 2016.” Hey, anything’s possible at Coachella, right?
4:04 PM — “Give it up for the screaming eagle himself… Charles Bradley!” It’s halfway through 66-year-old soul man Charles Bradley’s set, but he is reintroduced like a new man. Really, he’s just reemerging in a new outfit: a silver suit with a rhinestone skull on the back over a sequined tank top. It was the most ostentatious part of a set that was all muscle, movement and grit, punctuated by Bradley’s piercing J.B. primal screams.
4:07 PM — Tyler, The Creator laughs it up with a crew of friends in the VIP Rose Garden, as onlookers quietly snap photos and remark on the rapper’s banana yellow shorts.
4:46 PM — Coachella is barely five sets deep, and Kimbra is already the one to beat for best-dressed. Draped in a stunning white cloak emblazoned with an abstract sketch of a nude female body, Kimbra would later doff the garment to reveal a whole second ensemble — a metallic silver two-piece cocktail dress. It suggests the kind of outfit Judy Jetson would wear to the club, complete with silver platform heels.
4:58 PM — At the day’s golden hour, there are few stages that beat the Do Lab, which offers an alternative lineup of off-beat DJs and stage MC’s who use flower-covered water guns to drench the crowd. The Do Lab expanded again this year to a slightly larger footprint, but added a new layered, fabric roof giving the stage a more closed-in feel. On Friday afternoon, Jesse Wright takes over the turntables as the sun starts to set and spins a mix of tech house and bass music.
5:02 PM — Hundreds of festival goers rush to Azealia Banks’ main stage set to have their curiosity piqued and dance cravings satisfied. Banks delivers the most energetic hip-hop set of the day — from her sizzling raps and choreographed dance moves to a live band and diverse spectrum of sounds, her slot trumped that of her rap peers. When she picks up the mic, all the controversies slip away.
5:27 PM — “For this next song, I’ve got a friend named Joey who’d like to sing a song for you,” Kiesza says in the Gobi tent. “Is that okay?” Not only does Joey Bada$$ appear to bust out the funky “Teach Me,” a bonus track on his album B4.DA.$$, he sticks around to lend a verse to Kiesza’s Jack Ü collaboration “Take U There.” By the time Kiesza planks to the floor to do a full-on worm, the overflowing crowd has fully flipped out.
5:51 PM — Someone in the Raekwon and Ghostface Killah crowd is ready for Coachella’s Sunday night headliner:
— billboard (@billboard) April 11, 2015
6:30 PM — Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne is seen posing for selfies amid drink orders for him and a nubile blond friend in the VIP area, as the War On Drugs are providing the perfect music for Friday’s sunset. But the real sight is the back of his jeans, which are embroidered with what appeared to be gray felt from a plushie mouse costume. Perfect attire for lawn sitting — or space bubble walking, as Coyne has famously trotted out on the festival circuit.
7:21 PM — “There’s so many of you I just don’t know what to say,” Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard tells a massive crowd at the Outdoor Theatre Stage. Fortunately, the music spoke for itself: the band arm-wrestled vintage Southern rock and Midwestern funk into submission, while Howard’s voice floated up to the sky.
7:39 PM — Repaying Sunday headliner Drake for remixing her song “Little Bit” on his So Far Gone mixtape, Lykke Li covers “Hold On, We’re Goin’ On” during her entrancing set, turning his R&B jam into something sadder and more tribal. The Swedish indie-pop artist has been covering the song during her European tour, but her rendition sounded even more provocative at Coachella.
7:45 PM — For some, no Coachella is complete without seeing the Lucent Dossier Experience, a quirky mish-mash of DJs and circus characters who use off-the-wall acrobatics to bring music to life. This year is the group’s ninth time performing at the festival’s Do Lab stage, and sees tons of fans stripping down to their bathing suits, hurling beach balls at each other and jumping on stage with the performers.
8:01 PM — Justin Bieber, Bradley Cooper, Katy Perry, Amber Rose, Josh Duhamel — the VIP section at Coachella always brings out an impressively random smorgasboard of celebrities, and 2015 has been no different. Interpol is rocking the main stage, but the stars may just be in the vicinity for the jalapeno pizza.
8:23 PM — There are plenty of crowd-watching moments to soak in at Coachella, but the epitome of the experience comes while walking past a girl staring at a guy who is waving LED lights in front of her face. For minutes on end. When you finally give up, you realize you’re that girl. We’re all that girl.
8:48 PM — Jess Glynne is like 2015’s Sam Smith, toplining many of the year’s most memorable dance hits and using her unique voice to take them to soulful places. At Coachella, she gives British production duo Gorgon City a big boost by stepping onstage and performing “Right Here,” her flawless two-step hit. “Finally I’m where I wanna be,” she sang — apt lyrics for a winning Coachella debut.
9:01 PM — After Steely Dan’s Walter Becker admits, “We’re here for some financial considerations and I won’t deny that,” early in the group’s Coachella set, a rousing “Reeling In The Years” proves that The Dan does, in fact, still have it — no guest stars or oversized inflatable women necessary.
9:35 PM — Weeks after Tame Impala debuted the studio version of new seven-minute track “Let It Happen,” Kevin Parker and his psych-rock project eviscerated the Coachella main stage crowd with the extended dance groove — and then dropped “Elephant” to complete the one-two punch.
9:47 PM — Nero generally sticks to the script, but their Coachella set is ablaze with ribcage-rattling beats and delicate, yet forceful, on-point vocals from singer Alana Watson. The performance comes after they announced their new album Between II Words, dropping Aug. 28.
10:15 PM — OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder catches up with Coachella mainstay Aaron Paul (a.k.a. Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman) in VIP, saying hey to Billboard before heading to the Sahara Tent. “I’m doing something with Alesso tonight,” he teases.
10:21 PM — Norwegian DJ/mad dance scientist Todd Terje waves farewell as his small but dedicated audience feverishly applauds his crew of choreographed dancers, who had been prancing across the Gobi Tent stage wrapped in Christmas lights. The dancers also take their bows, and some show off their personalized dance moves before exiting.
10:44 PM — “Here’s a song you might recognize — from a few years back, I think,” quips Brian Johnson of AC/DC. Less than 10 minutes into the band’s headlining set, the rock legends undersell and then pummel the crowd with “Back In Black,” the first of many hits during the marathon performance.
12:30 AM — AC/DC’s headlining set was already a big deal: the kickoff to a new tour, their first show in six years, their first since founding rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young left the band due to dementia. There was a massive bell onstage, huge images of fire during “Highway to Hell” and Angus Young’s usual antics and outfits. How to top it off? Fireworks, of course. Look for a million write-ups that say AC/DC ended Day 1 of Coachella with a bang.