ENTERTAINMENT MUSIC Pop & Hiss

The 2016 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is back for a second weekend, and it has Prince on its mind. Artists ranging from soul legend Mavis Staples to reunited dance rockers LCD Soundsystem performed stirring tributes to the late, genre-hopping artist on Friday. Additionally, the festival grounds were awash in a purple glow, courtesy of some well-placed lighting from promoter Goldenvoice. What did Day 2 bring? An appearance by Dr. Dre in reunion of the surviving members of N.W.A. during Ice Cube's set, for one. Our writers and photographers are there so stay with us for live coverage from the Empire Polo Field.

Coachella Day 3, in slow-motion

'Balloonatics' build floating art at Coachella

Avel Gonzalez, 5, holds a wire connected to 120 balloons while perched on the shoulders of his father, Gabriel Gonazalez. (Meredith Woerner / LA Times)
Avel Gonzalez, 5, holds a wire connected to 120 balloons while perched on the shoulders of his father, Gabriel Gonazalez. (Meredith Woerner / LA Times)

At the end of 1,200 feet of wire and 120 balloons was 5-year-old Avel Gonzalez. 

Official Coachella "balloonatic" Brandon Kuhens monitored the strand of floating spheres as concert-goers amid the endless string of white balloons draped across the grounds. 

The white balloon strings are strung together throughout the day. This particular strand has more than 120 balloons and a length of 1,200 feet. All the official "balloonatics," as Kuhens calls them, are connected via radio monitor. 

As for little Avel, holding the balloons seemed to captivate his attention for a little while, but he's not a newbie, as this was his second Coachella. His father, Gabriel Gonzalez, informed us that thus far his son has enjoyed the Armpit art installation along with a few shows. "We saw the Kills. That was a little loud but I think he liked it," Gabriel said. 

Finally: Dr. Dre joins Ice Cube, N.W.A onstage for Weekend 2 of Coachella

Ice Cube, left, onstage with Dr. Dre at Coachella (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Ice Cube, left, onstage with Dr. Dre at Coachella (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

What seemed like the impossible finally happened: The surviving members of N.W.A performed together for the first time in nearly 30 years.

After a partial reunion at Ice Cube’s main-stage slot during the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, it appeared the rapper would again keep the reunion limited to MC Ren and DJ Yella — and not Dr. Dre — when he brought them out midway through his set Saturday night.

The trio tore their fiery anthem, “Straight Outta Compton” before Cube introduced Lil Eazy-E, the son of late N.W.A founder Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, who the show was dedicated to along with Prince. (Cube even wore a purple bandana and purple sneakers in tribute.)

“Last week I brought out my son … it’s only right I bring out the son of the godfather of gangster rap,” Cube said before Lil Eazy performed his late father’s seminal debut, “Boyz-n-the-Hood.”

As N.W.A performed their once controversial "F— tha Police" it looked like Dre would, again, sit this one out, despite having just appeared with the group at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

But then Cube stopped the show.

Ice Cube dedicates Weekend 2 Coachella set to Prince

"I'd like to dedicate this show to my man: Prince. Rogers. Nelson," Ice Cube said from the stage.

How Coachella pulled off the Guns N' Roses reunion

Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses onstage at Coachella (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses onstage at Coachella (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

There were no surprise guests for the Guns N’ Roses’ Weekend 2 performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and none were needed.

The band seemed intent on proving it’s ready to embark on a summer tour with reunited members Axl Rose, Slash (Saul Hudson) and Duff McKagan, who adorned his bass with a purple Prince symbol in tribute to the artist, who died last week.

The hard rock outfit performed for more than two hours in a focused set that looked and sounded arena-ready. Guitarist Angus Young of AC/DC dropped in with the band for Weekend 1, but there were no shouts for “Angus” on Saturday night. Slash had the guitar pyrotechnics covered.

So how did it all come together? This was a reunion that few expected to happen and many thought would break apart in band drama before the group got out of the rehearsal studio.

One of the keys was Paul Tollett, the president and chief executive of Goldenvoice, who started Coachella in 1999. He launched his career as a rock promoter in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and one of the up-and-coming bands he promoted was Guns N’ Roses.

In an interview a few hours before Guns N’ Roses took the stage Saturday, Tollett said he didn’t want to be seen as taking credit for the group’s return. But when pressed on how came together, he replied, “I went to them.”

Pop quiz: Which had a bigger weekend at Coachella, the bands or the brands?

The Coachella crowd during weekend two. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
The Coachella crowd during weekend two. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A $1 pour of Prosecco may sound like a good deal, especially at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. But what if, in exchange, you had to participate in the winemaker’s social media marketing?

Indeed, a Cupcake Vineyards truck stationed amid this weekend’s festivities offered concert goers 2-ounce glasses of its wine for a dollar each, as long as the drinker posted on Twitter or Instagram with a certain hashtag.

That’s just one of the many examples of creative ways brands have tried to attach themselves to the popular music event that stretches over two weekends ending Sunday.

Dr. Dre joins Ice Cube for Coachella's second weekend

Dr. Dre, center, joins Ice Cube and members of N.W.A onstage during weekend two of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Dr. Dre, center, joins Ice Cube and members of N.W.A onstage during weekend two of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Dr. Dre was absent at Ice Cube's performance one week ago at Coachella, limiting a hoped-for reunion of N.W.A to Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella.

Things were different at Coachella's second weekend. "I'd like to dedicate this show to my man Prince. Rogers. Nelson," Cube said to open a set that featured a much-anticipated cameo from his onetime bandmate in N.W.A, Dr. Dre.  But when it came to his former group's greatest hits, Dr. Dre sat those tunes out. 

Dr. Dre, however, wasn't the only surprise guest Saturday night. 

Kendrick Lamar onstage at Coachella. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Coachella)
Kendrick Lamar onstage at Coachella. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Coachella)

Explore Coachella's 'Armpit,' one of this year's art installations

John Corrigan of the L.A. Times takes a tour of Coachella's "Armpit," an art installation at this year's music festival. The work comes from artists Katr¿na Neiburga and Andris Egli¿tis. 

The piece, according to the Coachella website, was made largely with discarded materials from houses and office buildings in Latvia. Its eight small rooms are said in the work's description to be "inspired by every man who eludes his family under the guise of fixing the car or working a project, when they’re usually tinkering and indulging in their hobbies."

One of these Coachella live streams is not like the other

Who do you trust to be in charge of the images on your concert live streams? You or an unseen director?

Coachella is once again offering fans who couldn't get tickets to the sold-out music and arts festival a chance to watch their favorite bands live. But those who checked out the live stream during Weekend One's performances and enjoyed the skillful camera work and direction that gave viewers the sense of watching on-the-spot documentary footage are getting a very different experience during Weekend Two.

First, instead of three streams allowing the viewer to choose from multiple stages and switch channels to watch bands playing simultaneously, there is just one channel this weekend with fewer bands -- but all the main stage names, including Saturday's performances by Chvrches, Ice Cube and Guns N'Roses.  

Second, this week's stream is a live 360 view of the action, which brings us to our original question. The 360 view puts you as the viewer in control of what you want to see during a band's performance. This means that while Killer Mike is dedicating Run the Jewels' song "Early" to good cops and singing powerful lyrics -- "Cause I respect the badge and the gun / And I pray today ain't the day that you drag me away / Right in front of my beautiful son” -- you could be spinning the camera around and paying attention to a guy in the front row of the crowd trying to make the moves on the cute girl next to him, or a guy in cargo shorts standing to the side of the stage. 

In this way, the 360 view may be closer to the live concert experience -- think of the times your attention has been diverted from the stage during a show's less engaging moments. But it also seems that something is lost by giving the viewer total control. Consider the video below of Gary Clark Jr.'s performance from Week One. Some unseen director has provided fans with gorgeous shots of Clark, his band, the crowd and the classic Coachella view of a singer, a drum set and the iconic ferris wheel in the background.

Which is better? Hard to say. I say offer both: Choose your own adventure.

Soberchella: Coachella minus the drinks and drugs

Tent in the shade terrace at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival where daily 12-step meetings are held for concert-goers who are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. (Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times)
Tent in the shade terrace at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival where daily 12-step meetings are held for concert-goers who are in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. (Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times)

Talk about classic oxymorons: It might be necessary to go back to classics such as “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence” to match the inherently contradictory ideas seemingly at work in the concept of Soberchella.

But there is a growing community of alcoholics and addicts in recovery who still yearn to experience the music and sense of community that is the annual Coachella music festival. Now they prefer to do so minus the intoxicants that often are considered part and parcel of this and other events.

“I was so glad to find this group, and to find out that out of 100,000 people who are here, I wasn’t the only who is doing Coachella sober,” said Rick, a pseudonym for one of two dozen festival-goers who met at noon Saturday to hold a 12-step meeting, based on Alcoholics Anonymous program ahead of their marathon day of music and revelry.

The group allowed a reporter to sit in on their meeting on the condition of respecting the partcipants’ anonymity.

One fan's long wait to see the classic lineup of Guns N' Roses

Axl Rose onstage during the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Axl Rose onstage during the first weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Martin Troisi from Montevideo, Uruguay (Meredith Woerner / Los Angeles Times)
Martin Troisi from Montevideo, Uruguay (Meredith Woerner / Los Angeles Times)

Chilling in one of the VIP tents at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is Martin Troisi from Montevideo, Uruguay. In the background, bluesman Gary Clark Jr. can be heard performing, but Troisi is only here to see one band: Guns N' Roses.

Though his pass grants him access to all three days of Coachella, Troisi is only here for today. 

"I'm only here for Guns N' Roses," he said. The band will close the second of Coachella's three nights, performing once again with a classic lineup featuring Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan and Dizzy Reed. It's been more than two decades since fans had been able to see Rose and Slash share a stage. 

When asked if he would check out a few other artists, he didn't seem completely against the idea, but his heart belongs to Axl and Co. "I will take a walk around, but I'm not interested," Troisi said.

So why fly all the way for GNR?

"Because I'm 36, and I stated to listen to them when I was 13," he said before referencing the final show of the "Use Your Illusion" tour. "The last show was in Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1993 in July. My parents wouldn't let me go. I was 13. I've had a chance to see them before but not all -- only Axl. I saw him in Puerto Rico 2006 and 2010. I had a chance to see Slash a couple of times as well."

Like many fans at Coachella, this will be the first time he's seen the classic lineup together.

"This is the whole reason I'm here, To be honest, I would like to see Sia, but I don't know, it's a two-hour drive."

The scene at Coachella's second weekend

Dancers cool off in the Do Lab at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Dancers cool off in the Do Lab at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A man wearing wings walks through the crowd Friday, the opening day of Weekend 2 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A man wearing wings walks through the crowd Friday, the opening day of Weekend 2 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Model and artist Chris De King walks the festival grounds Friday. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Model and artist Chris De King walks the festival grounds Friday. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Gallant performs during Weekend 2 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Gallant performs during Weekend 2 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A memorial to Prince is seen during the first day of Weekend 2 at Coachella. (Matt Cowan / Getty Images for Coachella)
A memorial to Prince is seen during the first day of Weekend 2 at Coachella. (Matt Cowan / Getty Images for Coachella)

Make your own kind of music -- and groove with an ultra-rare Moog synthesizer -- at a Coachella party

Only the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs could find a way to combine the obscure and extraordinary with a pool party. Folks around for the hotel's so-called "desert gold" program, which runs concurrently with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, can test drive the ultra-rare Moog System 55.

The Moog System 55 synthesizer is being housed at the Ace throughout the two-weekend Coachella bender. And the edgy-but-trendy hotel, known for keeping turntables in guest bedrooms and hosting Coachella braid stations, couldn't be more ripe for this installation.

The synth is one of only 55 (hence the name) and is comprised of originally sourced materials based on the official components of vintage 1973 instruments.

When asked if opening the opportunity for strangers, many of whom were quite possibly partaking in a pool party just a few steps below where the Moog is housed, made him nervous, Moog event producer Eli Welbourne didn't hesitate.

"[The installation] is rare and technical and it kind of has this aura of that. So people approach with caution. It's been awesome," he said.

And, of course, its scarcity is perhaps the reason it's housed a story above the pool.

The rarity is bringing in all sorts of specialized music aficionados. One non-Coachella-going guest drove two hours just to take it for a test drive.

And if the vintage-inspired synthesizer is too much for hotel revelers to handle, a host of musicians have been popping over to the Ace to give the Moog a go, including Com Truise, Dream Machines, Bell System, Gap Dream, The Gaslamp Killer and Daedalus.

Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem will perform at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ace. Shine on, you crazy obscure diamond of a synthesizer.

Get to know Coachella act Savages

Savages singer Jehnny Beth onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Savages singer Jehnny Beth onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

British punk band Savages has turned heads at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The Times' John Corrigan praised the "rare power and ferocity" present in the band's grooves. And last week, Coachella reveler John Chandler, 46, of Denver, had one answer when asked who impressed him most on Coachella's first day. "Savages," he said. "The raw fierceness of the band was really interesting."

Prior to the release earlier this year of the band's sophomore album, "Adore," writer Todd Martens spoke to the band about life, love and intensity. The band takes none of it lightly.

I'm a firm believer that love is something you build. Love is something you do. Love is an action. There is not a moment where love is just going to come from above and solve all your problems. That will never happen. So you have to accept that there's never a moment in life where you can rest. 

Jehnny Beth, Savages

Coachella opens its final weekend with Prince in mind

 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

As dusk fell on opening day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival’s second, and final, weekend on Friday, the dozens of palm trees that frame the Empire Polo Club began to glow purple.

Regardless of which act was playing on the festival stages, it was hard not to take in the sight of the purple trees blowing in the wind — one of many tributes to Prince, who died Thursday.

But the most poignant tribute came in the form of Prince himself.

Before LCD Soundsystem came on, the main stage went dark and Prince’s voice rang out before video of his seminal cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” from his 2008 headlining set at Coachella filled the massive video screens.

Between Prince’s voice echoing across the field and the purple palm trees swaying under the wind, revelers felt his presence. But soon his voice faded, and the lighted trees transformed into a myriad of colors, a reminder that the Purple One is indeed gone.

A first-timer jumps right into the Coachella vortex

The not-so-usual Coachella first-timer: Abdullah Al-Rifaie, an 18-year-old Iraqi Muslim who loves Guns N’ Roses, wearing his Coachella shirt. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
The not-so-usual Coachella first-timer: Abdullah Al-Rifaie, an 18-year-old Iraqi Muslim who loves Guns N’ Roses, wearing his Coachella shirt. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Ice Cube yelled obscenities from the stage. Drunken, shirtless dudes were cavorting in the beer gardens. Young women roamed the fields in various stages of undress.

Had I made a huge mistake bringing Abdullah to Coachella?

Born in Iraq, Abdullah Al-Rifaie is my cousin's son and the first of my extended Shiite family to make it to America since the fall of Baghdad in 2003. During the mass exodus of millions of Iraqis that followed, he and his family fled to Amman, Jordan, where they now live.

After years of waiting, my cousin finally got her firstborn son into the U.S. on a student visa; Abdullah arrived in Los Angeles in January. At 18, my nephew had never been to a concert before arriving here, never even seen the inside of a nightclub.

Now he was in the middle of the one of the biggest rock and electronic dance music festivals in North America.

"Don't worry, I'm fine," he yelled when I shouted, "Are You OK?" for the third or fourth time over the thumping club beats emanating from the Yuma tent. "It's just like I thought it would be — except bigger and better."

Coachella's Weekend 2 pays its respects to Prince

Coachella’s Weekend 2 got off to a hot and windy start Friday, with the same lineups but some new twists. We've rounded up five takeaways from the first day, including a moving tribute to Prince by Mavis Staples, Ayse Hassan of Savages wielding a bass with ferocity and LCD Soundsystem ending the night with its own rendition of Prince's "Controversy." 

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