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Coachella 2015: Ciara, DMX and more highlights from Day 1

Coachella 2015: New Ciara track, surprise DMX medley, Azealia Banks' redemption among Friday highlights

Day 2 of Weekend 2 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is slowly getting underway and it’s a rough morning out in Indio for those of us who forgot how punishing it is to dart around the Empire Polo Club for over 10 hours.

But now that we’ve gotten a good rest, ingested a surprisingly good hotel breakfast and poured a terrible, but life-altering, cup of coffee it’s time to look back at the past 24 hours and the moments that made us shake, shimmy and sweat.

COACHELLA 2015: Full coverage

Here are seven highlights from Friday:

Azealia Banks--Three years ago the brash, Harlem spitfire made her Coachella debut (it was actually her first gig in the U.S. too). She had much to prove, after being lobbied with so much hype due to her deliciously profane firecracker of an anthem, “212.” She stunned with an explosive, career defining performance that proved a star had arrived. But in the years since, her story has become a bit of a mess -- mostly due to label drama, stalled singles and an exhaustive list of Twitter beefs (many of which she started). By the time her fantastic debut, “Broke With Expensive Taste,” arrived late last year by surprise, those turned off by her knack for provocation had moved on. Banks’ Coachella return on Friday served as a reminder that her bawdy flair isn’t a bad thing. Her main stage set put the focus back on her music, with her intensely tearing through some of her debut’s more brilliant offerings alongside her trusty dancers who brought a little ballroom house to the desert.

Ciara--The R&B-pop diva has been working hard on her post-baby comeback and she was one of Friday’s surprise guests. Popping up during R3hab’s evening, she commanded the dance tent with the Dutch DJ’s remix of her new single “I Bet,”  turning the torch ballad -- a kiss-off toward a cheater (widely rumored to be about ex-fiance Future) -- into a heady thumper before debuting “Get Up!,” a new tune she recorded with R3hab that sent the crowd into overdrive with its sample of classic hip-house/house staple “It Takes Two” and the singer’s frenetic footwork. We can't think of a better way to show an ex what they are missing.  

COACHELLA 2015: Tell us your Weekend 2 schedule

Vic Mensa--The 21-year-old got on most of our radars after getting a co-sign from fellow Chicagoan Kanye West, but the rising rapper already won a cult following with his mixtapes. He proved a magnetic performer, with a charismatic set that previewed cuts from his forthcoming debut. “This is a new joint I made, like yesterday,” he told the crowd before unleashing a rock driven cut called “I Aint’ Trippin.” Mensa’s house-inspired single “Down On My Luck” was still our favorite dance moment of the day.

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaries--From the second the 66-year-old funk-soul singer walked out onstage in a studded blue cap we were won over. His voice -- that voice! -- is otherworldly, with its rich and meaty growl and gospel-tinged melody reminding me of my grandfather’s love of Otis Redding. There are lots of left field interpretations of R&B-soul music dotting this year’s bill (FKA Twigs, the Weeknd, Chet Faker), but Bradley’s simplistic approach to the genre brought some much needed purity.

George Ezra--The British singer-songwriter made his first impression after an illness sidelined him last weekend, and it was a solid one. Of the class of brooding soul men from across the pond -- James Blake, Hozier, James Bay -- hoping to take flight here, Ezra feels like the one with the strongest shot.

Ab-Soul--There wasn’t a shortage of hip-hop on Friday. Unfortunately for rap heads, a trio of emcees overlapped (Action Bronson and Lil B played nearby). I opted for the Top Dawg Entertainment rapper who won me over with 2012’s thoughtful and enlightening “Control System.” His set was an energetic kick, but it was hard not to think of what was being missed.

DMX--Yes, DMX. While the gravel-voiced rapper has become mostly known for his endless arrests, his surprise medley during DJ Snake took the thousands of fans inside the dance tent back to a time when the Yonkers rapper dominated the charts with records like “Party Up (Up In Here)” and “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” Now, if only he could stay out of trouble.

Surprises--Ciara and DMX weren't the only pop-up guests on Friday. Hip-hop sibling duo Rae Sremmurd and electronic act AlunaGeorge were also guests during DJ Snake's late-night set, and alternative R&B singer Tinashe dropped in during Ryan Hemsworth's afternoon slot. Sorry, none of the guests made out with their collaborator. 

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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