A packed, totally enthralled crowd flooding the Outdoor Stage. Thundering drums, ethereal vocals, a surprise Pharrell Williams cameo.
A triumphant turn from an EDM superstar? Nope. Just film composer Hans Zimmer absolutely devastating a Coachella crowd that had no idea what it was in for.
When the Coachella lineup was announced this year, Zimmer's presence was the one chin-scratcher. His scores have, for three decades, set the tone for some of the biggest blockbuster films of our time. "The Dark Knight," "Inception," "The Lion King," for starters. The resume speaks for itself.
"Don’t be scared — I’ve done this before,” Lady Gaga told the massive crowd gathered for her Saturday night headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. And, sure, this was hardly the Super Bowl halftime veteran’s first experience before a live audience numbering in the tens of thousands.
But the performance did mark Lady Gaga’s debut at America’s highest-profile music festival, held every spring for nearly two decades on the sprawling grounds of the Empire Polo Club in Indio. It also opened a new chapter for Coachella, which has long hesitated to book a current pop superstar for its gigantic main stage.
Once known for presenting edgy alternative rock and dance music, the annual desert blowout has moved gradually toward the mainstream as its size, prestige and reputation as an upscale celebrity magnet have grown. Madonna famously performed in one of the festival’s tents in 2006, and last year Rihanna dropped in for a surprise appearance with the EDM star Calvin Harris.
At one show, a cheek-to-jowl crowd shuddering under peak-hour sub-bass so strong it could stop your pulse. At another, a daytime crowd of techno lifers trying to figure out the magic tricks of a supergroup making a rare appearance.
These were the scenes at DJ Snake and Belleville Three, each defining the twin poles of dance music at Coachella right now.
DJ Snake is the standard bearer for what EDM culture has become now -- an arms race of aggressive trap and dubstep, with occasional punctuation of high-velocity rave.
Coachella has never lacked for mind-altering things to look at, but a new digital art installation is meant to completely overwhelm you.
The Antarctic is a planetarium-style dome near the main entrance. Outside, it looks like a normal white tent, but the interior is rigged like a ravey James Turrell installation.
If you look up from one of the 500 or so bean-bag-like chairs during during each 15-minute session, your entire field of vision is consumed with cosmic images and drippy animations. If you already thought Coachella was loopy, you're in for quite a ride here.
It was the tip that felt entirely too good to be true: Lauryn Hill was planning on making a surprise appearance at Coachella late Saturday.
Anyone who has followed the rapper-singer in the nearly two decades since she released her classic debut, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," knows her propensity for perfection often leads to a frustrating, exhaustive experience when it comes to catching her live.
Her lateness has become legendary at this point, so when reps for DJ Snake teased an appearance by Ms. Hill to the news media ahead of his Saturday night set on the outdoor stage we initially brushed it off.
After a guest appearance from Migos, who popped up all over the place Saturday night, the French DJ brought out Hill in what has been the most left-center onstage pairing aside from Michael McDonald and Thundercat.
Lady Gaga, to quote one of her many hits, was on the edge of glory.
Headlining Coachella on Saturday night in front of the weekend’s biggest crowd so far, the pop superstar gave as thrilling and complex a performance as any I’ve ever seen at the annual desert festival. It was wild but controlled, funny but scary, deeply tender yet filled with aggression.
Or at least that’s how it felt for about 45 minutes.
Lady Gaga is pulling double duty at this year’s Coachella.
The headliner, who replaced Beyoncé on the festival bill, will also use her time in Indio to film scenes for her starring role in Warner Bros’ remake of “A Star Is Born” — and she’s inviting fans to participate.
On Sunday morning following the pop star’s headlining set, users of Coachella’s mobile app were notified of the opportunity to appear in a scene being filmed on the festival’s grounds with the singer and director/co-star Bradley Cooper.