Juxtapositions abounded on the first day of Coachella, reinforcing the idea of a pop culture splintered but joyously so.
Competing narratives ruled the day, the most striking of which early on involved a New York versus Los Angeles battle between the self-described "Trap Lord," ASAP Ferg, and the spirited Los Angeles pop/rock band Grouplove. The former, Ferg, is part of New York's ASAP crew. He appeared masked on the outdoor stage, with half a dozen veiled compadres offering big crawling beats and sibilant high hats.
The polar opposite of hot fun in the sunshine, the rapper offered bad vibe after bad vibe, lyrically speaking, the meanest of which involved bragging about stealing other peoples' lovers. The opposite sentiment spilled off the Coachella stage, when breakout Los Angeles band Grouplove sang of a more unifying brand of love and their devoted fans bellowed along.
In "Itchin' on a Photograph," lead singer/guitarist Christian Zucconi, donning blue hair, pitched non sequitur lines about rain and fire and mom and dad while keyboardist/singer Hannah Hooper bounced along, lost in the moment.
Harder and more electric was British singer Kate Nash, who delivered a wonderfully memorable set. Wearing a pattern of rhinestones on her face and with an all-female backing band donning matching beige dresses, Nash offered tangled guitar songs that showcase a performer filled with confidence and charm.
Best was "Fri-End?" It's a bitter song about fake friends, and it was a highlight amid one of the best sets of the day. As day gave way to night, singer Neko Case celebrated the passing on the Outdoor Stage: "It's about sundown," she said. "Everybody's about to get 100% sexier."