Festival Recap: Coachella

Coachella, the music festival in Indio, CA wrapped up its two-weekend event on Easter Sunday. People look to Coachella as the premier music festival and for good reason. The fest has won the Pollstar Award for top outdoor music festival in North America for nine years running. And taking place in April, it is the unofficial kickoff of the summer festival season. 

I voyaged to the music mecca for weekend one. Being from Los Angeles, I was fortunate to attend every year during high school (2009-2012). I’ve seen the festival expand each year. Celebrating its 15-year anniversary, this year made for the biggest yet. 

My list of bands-to-see was a tad more ambitious than I was able to achieve. With a large medley of musical acts, set time conflicts abound. Heartbreaking but in the free atmosphere of the festival, there are no real time obligations. I adhered to the live-in-the-moment mindset and casually grooved between the six different stages. All in all, I still made it to 24 full sets.

With the opportunity to attend, I bestow my festival musings to you. Below I list the full sets I got to see and a few standout bands from each day. Perhaps you participated in “Couch-ella” and watched along to weekend one’s live webcast on Youtube. If not, you can check out some outtakes here.

Day 1MSMR, Grouplove, HAIM, Ellie Goulding, Broken Bells, Woodkid, Flume, Outkast

Grouplove: If there’s one band that encapsulates the essence of Coachella, it’s Grouplove. The band is festive and free-spirited. From the lead singer’s brilliant blue hairdo to their summery melodies, the band’s hippy eccentricity is prominent. Even the song, “Shark Attack” off their new album was admittedly written with Coachella in mind. The lyrics sing, “Break it down in that hot, hot desert, this is where I want to be.” They rocked their set with upbeat songs off their sophomore album, Spreading Rumors. Also, they covered Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” and yes, it was as epic as you’d imagine it. #surfboard

Ellie Goulding: The talented Brit delivered a high-energy performance, covering several of her chart-topping hits. My favorite parts of her set were her back-to-back covers of James Blake’s “Life Round Here” and Alt-J’s “Tessellate.” Absolutely brilliant.

Flume: This Aussie released his much-speculated about remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court,” sending the already hyped crowd into a cheering frenzy. Catch a preview of the new track here

Day 2: CHVRCHES, Julian Casablancas, Kid Cudi, Capital Cities, MGMT, Foster the People, Queens of the Stone Age, Empire of the Sun, Pharrell Williams, Lorde, Muse

Capital Cities: This duo put on a fun and upbeat performance. A highlight was their dubstep remix to their hit, “Safe and Sound.” They requested the crowd to take off one article of clothing and whirl it above our heads. A full-on dance party ensued. The sight was colorful and awesome.

Queens of the Stone Age: Flawless. If the opportunity ever presents itself to see this band live, GO! Even with Saturday night’s dust storm, these guys continued to shred their set and didn’t seem to take mind of it. 

Pharrell Williams: Pharrell reined supreme in the music industry this past year, casting his magic music-making talent and yielding chart-topping pop songs. However, when it came to his Coachella debut, he failed to successfully showcase himself as a singer. He claimed that he couldn’t sing because of the “damn dust.” Granted, there were winds up to 20 mph (ironic that one of his new tracks is titled “Gust of Wind”?) What he lacked in self-representation, he made up for in star-studded guest performers. He graciously opened the stage up to Busta Rhymes, Tyler the Creator, Gwen Stefani, and Snoop Dogg. Luckily, I hear weekend 2 was redemptive for Pharrell.

Day 3: Surfer Blood, Poolside, STRFKR, the 1975

Alas, on Sunday, I was only able to stay until the mid-afternoon (Monday classes beckoned). Still, I managed to squeeze in a few. The bands I saw were beachy, mellow and a perfect wind-down to a whirlwind of weekend.

Poolside: In case you haven’t heard of them, they’re a L.A.-based electro-pop band that describes its sound as “daytime disco.” The band is aptly named for the music they play. Their soft electronic groove is custom fit for chill, sunny days lounging by the pool. Definitely worth a listen this summer.

Click on the photo above to scroll through some shots from the festival.