Per usual, the third day of Coachella (April 16) got off to a slow start, the overpartied masses staying back ’til sundown while scads of hardcore fans sweated it out in the Easter Sunday sun. It felt like a day of discovery in the afternoon, with an eclectic set of upstarts gaining a new audience from among the fest’s most intense fans.
Ezra Furman, dressed in his best little black dress and lace leggings, played a sparsely attended but eminently joyful set, with Tom Waits-influenced accordion and horn sounds illuminating folksy queer-positive anthems. He was immediately followed on the outdoor stage by Whitney — not a woman, but a drummer-led band playing charming anthems that fall somewhere between Dawes and Edward Sharpe on the jam family tree.
Two emerging rappers played against each other, with Goldlink backpack-rapping to an enthusiastic crowd in Mojave at the same time British rapper Skepta tongue-twisted his way through overseas grime hits in Sahara, welcoming Younglord on stage for a guest spot.
For dance music enthusiasts looking for a little unpredictability with their pop untz, Sofi Tukker hit the spot, with the duo playing bass and guitar along with catchy, simple shout-alongs, a short mosey across the field from the main stage, where legendary reggae band Toots and the Maytals jammed their way through “54-46 Was My Number” looking like refugees from the Mad Max city of Valhalla. The big guns are coming out later, but no matter their taste, it’s clear the fans who hustled in early found what they were looking for — or, maybe, something even better.