Pop & Hiss

Coachella 2015: Four parting thoughts from the first weekend

All in all, this year's Coachella was logistically near-perfect and better than we expected

Now that the dust has settled, the robot butterflies have bloomed and the anti-capitalist hippos have returned to their pond, we can take a look back at arc of Coachella 2015. All in all, it was better than we expected musically and generally in great spirits for the whole weekend. A few last notes before this tan wears off:

1. Coachella's barbed edge still exists. Even though Goldenvoice began as an L.A. punk booking outfit, they have almost no incentive in 2015 to keep booking loud, wiseacre punk bands at a fest that's turning into an EDM cake with a classic-rock frosting. But we're glad they do, and it's proof that the old weird, antagonistic Coachella still has some fighting spirit.

We loved Desaparecidos' set of smart, sarcastic punk (and especially Conor Oberst's "Deport Conor Oberst" T-shirt). The band's politics have worn well with age now that they're in their 30s, and their set featured a ton of new material from the forthcoming "Payola," which may be even more resonant in a time with fewer political villains but a lot more anxiety about our ability to fix things.

Touche Amore led a few hundred early risers in a churning set of lyrical post-hardcore that wore its antagonism and '80s-'90s influences proudly, at a fest when most bands aimed to please. Same goes for Off! and their sub-minute shards of brass-knuckled but song-centric punk, and Drive Like Jehu's imaginative, era-transitional rock. It's clear that Goldenvoice partnering on FYF has led to Sean Carlson's peculiar tastes running upstream as well. 

2. It's time for an EDM headliner. We knew Kaskade on the main stage would be a big event a la Calvin Harris last year. But there is something in the festival water that makes people crave a sundown rave set. The crowd for his Sunday show was as big as any I'd seen on the main stage, and he had a visuals rig that was up to the task. Musically, it was a pretty standard set for the L.A. producer, who has been working with ambient house tones and some more progressive influences. But it did prove that the vast majority of Coachelleans come to rave, and the fest should by now admit that and put a DJ in the biggest poster font its got.

The artists are living up to the task as well. Nero become a stomping, prog-dubstep leviathan with live vocals  on the Outdoor stage, and RAC turned his chirpy neo disco into a full, tight live band. There are more ways to get kids dancing than an LED rig, and it'll be fun to see what happens there next. 

3. Break the bottleneck. Speaking of rave tents, a tip for next year: The audience traffic jam between the back of the Sahara and the beer garden has become an untraversable. Either expand the tent, move it a few yards back or create a dedicated lane for walking because it locks up a whole third of the festival grounds and then you're stuck listening to Yellow Claw when all you wanted was a margarita.

4. Ease up on the class warfare. Kendall Jenner does not have to be a metaphor for all your Coachella class anxiety. Would that we all were 19-year-old supermodels in the prime of our youth and beauty and seeing a music festival with our best friends in the finest accommodations.

Tyler, the Creator's on-stage ribbing of her was pretty funny, but this whole conversation about how "everyone's talking more about celebrities than the music" is long outdated. Welcome to L.A., everyone! Celebs are an indigenous species and they like the same things we do. If you would like comprehensive Coachella music coverage, please consult the many stories immediately preceding this one.

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