If the early part of yesterday’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival felt a bit like a slow start, it was more than made up for with Saturday’s installment, which had a series of knockout sets from up-and-coming bands looking to make a bigger name for themselves.
At the forefront of the charge was St. Paul & the Broken Bones, a Mussel Shoals- soulful band from Alabama (naturally), who played an early set in what started as a half-full, lackadaisical Mojave tent that ended in a rapturous, we-won-them-over revival-style set. “This is a dream come true,” powerhouse singer Paul Janeway said, after telling a story of how he came to Coachella in 2008 as a fan to see Prince. He repeated it, though, at the end of the set, where it felt as much an acknowledgement of their breakout performance as a we’re-just-happy-to-be-here status update.
Nearly as powerful was Royal Blood, the hard-rocking Brighton power-duo, who somehow manage to create raw rock armed only with an overdriven bass and power-hit drums. The Queens Of The Stone Age-ish “Little Monster” was a set highlight, with the crowd at the Outdoor Theater chanting the band’s name afterwards to egg them on.
Putting Ryn Weaver in a slot right before Clean Bandit (albeit on different stages) was a well-thought out move as well: the former hit millennial-angst notes in her relatable disco-rock, while the latter’s take on the same genre is more in shut-up-and-dance mode.