Coachella 2017: Kendrick Lamar closes out Coachella with a simple, yet powerful performance


Anchored on Saturday by Lady Gaga, who stepped in for expectant superstar Beyoncé, this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival featured headliner Radiohead on Friday and, to close the weekend, Kendrick Lamar as Sunday’s headliner. Lorde, DJ Khaled, Hans Zimmer also performed. Wait ... Hans Zimmer? Here are all the weekend one updates from the desert.

From Katy Perry’s Easter brunch to celebs lounging poolside, we went inside some of Coachella’s parties

Swiveling searchlights lit up the night sky a few miles away from where Coachella festivalgoers were jamming along to Lady Gaga’s Saturday night performance.

Down an unpaved street just off the desert highway, designer Jeremy Scott hosted his annual Coachella party, a brightly lit desert oasis that seemed as unreal as a mirage.

The Candy Crush-themed bash (in honor of Scott’s upcoming capsule collection inspired by the mobile app) featured performances by rappers Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert that were livestreamed by entertainment platform Tidal. At the end of the night, Katy Perry and Scott started a dance party onstage along to DJ Mia Moretti’s set.

Among the stars in attendance were Kylie Jenner, Kristen Stewart, rapper Travis Scott, model Emily Ratajkowski and singers Kehlani and Rita Ora.

Before Scott’s party, Levi’s hosted a brunch at Sparrows Lodge with Solange Knowles, Ratajkowski, model Poppy Delevingne and actress Jamie Chung, among others.

Virgil Abloh, creative designer of the fashion label Off-White, provided the music at the brunch, where guests were able to purchase and customize Levi’s denim jackets and jeans with onsite airbrushing and embroidery stations, plus pins and patches.

Media brand Popsugar also hosted a brunch Saturday afternoon, immediately followed by a Cabana Club pool party at the Colony Palms Hotel.

Actresses Victoria Justice, Yara Shahidi, Aja Naomi King, Chung and “Teen Wolf” star Tyler Posey attended the party, with guests treated to beauty swag from Nordstrom and Ulta. Grammy winner Daya performed at the event where hair styling and beauty DIY stations were also available.

On Sunday morning, Perry hosted her own Easter Sunday brunch, complete with an oxygen bar, facial and massage station, and Easter decorations including a tree covered in brightly painted eggs. There was even a cameo by a stumbling drunk Easter bunny carrying a half-full bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The “recovery” brunch was held in promotion of Perry’s footwear line and guests were treated to vitamin elixirs, an Easter egg hunt, kombucha on tap and a DJ set by Moretti.


Marshmello’s no longer a prank - so now he must be stopped

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

At what point does an EDM prank spiral out of control? And does that mean we really have to listen to it at every major festival now?

When the DJ/producer known as Marshmello debuted the project two years ago, he positioned it as a wink-nudge race to the bottom of American EDM gimmickry. He saw your 3-D-mapped mouse head, Deadmau5, and raised you a giant piece of grimacing fluffy candy in its stead.

The music was aggressively dumb -- corn-syrup synth lines atop same mid-tempo, almost-trap-music lurch the Chainsmokers took to the top of the charts, minus even a perfunctory stab at songwriting.

Something else had to be going on here. The first time he took off his mask at EDC, the Dutch superstar producer Tiesto was underneath it, and crowds knew they were being trolled hard. (The likeliest actual Marshmello culprit is a young DJ previously known as Dotcom)

As pokes in the eye to a decadent scene go, it might have been a good one-off. But then Marshmello got popular. Really popular. Closing out a full Sahara Tent even while Kendrick Lamar played his biggest hometown show yet. That kind of popular.

So what should have been a one-and-done in-joke about Vegas mega-rave vapidity turned into, well, the gold standard for profiting off that kind of nonsense.

Granted, while Marshmello’s music is entirely bereft of wit or even silly EDM populist pleasures, he had enough self-awareness to play in front of a graphic of his own head being roasted into a s’more.

But if you’re headlining the Sahara Tent and bringing out Travis Barker on a drum solo, at some point it’s not a prank. It’s your livelihood and creative outlet, one that we all now have to endure each festival season.

EDM has already been largely vanquished at Coachella by hip-hop (Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled, Lil Uzi Vert, Skepta, Tory Lanez and Mac Miller all played the formerly dance-oriented stage), and even the scene’s fans know that the genre needs a root canal.

So if you’re Marshmello (or one of his fans), it’s probably worth examining why your sweet tooth has to be our problem now.


Review: DJ Khaled brought plenty of surprises — and not much else

DJ Khaled performs on Day 3 of Coachella.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“When I’m done tonight, they are gonna have me headline,” DJ Khaled declared at the top of his Coachella set Saturday night.

That’s a rather cocky assertion when you’re playing among 150 acts, but the producer/DJ promised the tightly packed crowd in the Sahara (bodies spilled out of the sides with no visible end in sight) that he had the entire music industry waiting in the wings.

And did he deliver? No.

As has become Coachella custom, his set was jammed with special guests. But the problem with that is when you overpromise and overhype your guests.

That’s not to say Khaled didn’t come armed with surprises.

Rick Ross popped out for a mini-set, as did 2 Chainz. French Montana delivered his verse from the summer anthem “All the Way Up” (which was confounding because Khaled had played the song, like, 40 minutes earlier) before debuting a track with Swae Lee. There was Wale, ASAP Ferg and Migos — who reprised “Bad and Boujee” for what felt like the millionth time that weekend.

Granted these were great surprises, but when you promise your audience you were bringing the entire industry and you drone on about how you’re about to kill the evening, expectations are high..

The crowd got gassed with excitement when Khaled paid tribute to Jay Z with a flurry of songs, thinking it was building to a cameo. It didn’t. Same when Drake’s “For Free” rang out, as everyone there had seen him with Future (he too was a no-show).

As Khaled stood around his guests or hyped the crowd, it was hard to ignore the fact that he wasn’t contributing much at all to his own set. So if you’re not actually DJing during your DJ set, then what exactly are you doing?


No spectacle needed: Kendrick Lamar keeps it simple as he commands Coachella’s main stage

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

“Is there anyone out there?” Kendrick Lamar kept asking as he closed the first weekend of this year’s Coachella festival, and the answer was definitely yes.

But if he drew an enormous crowd on par with Lady Gaga’s the night before, the acclaimed Compton rapper did without most of Gaga’s pop spectacle.

Rapping largely by himself on a bare stage, Lamar performed a stripped-down set that combined staples such as “Money Trees” and “..., Don’t Kill My Vibe” with tunes from his brand-new album, “Damn,” which came out Friday.

The MC did bring out several surprise guests in Future, Schoolboy Q and Travis Scott, with whom he did their duet, “Goosebumps.”

And several dancers joined Lamar at various points in the show. But for a rapper who’s been hailed for his big ideas and intricate wordplay, this felt like a demonstration of skills over flash.


Lorde brings new song ‘Homemade Dynamite’ to Coachella

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Lorde opened her set on Coachella’s main stage Sunday night with an expert troll, blasting a recording of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” -- a winking reference, it seemed, to recent reports -- since refuted -- that the festival’s founder had refused to book Bush (a clear Lorde influence) because people wouldn’t understand her act.

Almost as soon as Lorde’s set got going, though, the young New Zealander cleaved to established Coachella tradition, promising she had some surprises in store.

Judging by the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction, many fans assumed that meant a guest star or two -- maybe her pal Taylor Swift?

In fact, the surprise turned out to be a performance of a new song from her upcoming album, “Melodrama,” which she said is about “the ups and downs of being a twentysomething.”

The track is called “Homemade Dynamite,” she added, and it appeared to tell the tale of an explosive night out.

PHOTOS: Lorde and other Day 3 Coachella performers


Hans Zimmer, Coachella star? Yes.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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.

But how would it play at Coachella? Would a millennial crowd more used to DJ Khaled’s Snapchat missives take to an orchestra playing instrumentals from movies they may not have seen?

Oh, lord, did they ever.

Maybe Zimmer had a hunch that Coachella rewards bigness of all stripes. That’s why he toted out a dozens-strong orchestra to bring his compositions to total, exacting fruition.

Nothing like it has ever happened at Coachella before, from the virtuosity of the players to the ambient, instrumental nature of the material. After a weekend in which a surprise Migos cameo was as expected as sunburns and flower crowns, Zimmer had the good fortune to be doing something both totally recognizable and completely new at Coachella.

It was a stroke of mad genius to put him out here at primetime, and the literal squeals of delight coming from teenage ravers when they recognized his film themes rivaled any reaction to anything else all weekend.

Even Williams’ cameo on “Freedom,” which would have been a highlight of any other set, felt more like alms-paying than spotlight-stealing. The two have worked together at length, but here, even a pop star like Williams couldn’t compete with the 59-year-old German composer willing this ridiculous leviathan of a set into existence.


Nao arrived at Coachella with a jubilant set

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times )

Nao was faced with a tough task for her debut showing at Coachella on Sunday afternoon.

She had to command a crowd that already had two days of the festival under its belt -- though it may be more accurate to say under its feet.

Audience weariness aside, playing anytime before 5 p.m. can be a toss-up, especially on the festival’s final day.

With the usually thinner crowd on Sunday afternoon -- people were likely waiting for nightfall, as the day proved to be the hottest of the weekend -- Nao wasted little time, kicking things off with her jubilant anthem “Happy.”

The bright and funky R&B that dominated her effervescent debut, “For All We Know,” was the core of her set.

Barefoot and ready to dance, she twisted and slithered, moving her body into a sweat that was matched by some serious dance moves from her audience.

Her shimmering single “Girlfriend” was the day’s most captivating sing-along, as the Gobi tent nearly vibrated as the audience attempted to match her high notes.

“I didn’t expect to see so many people, this is unreal,” she said gratefully before leading the crowd through a chant of her breakout sleeper hit, “Bad Blood.”


Visa issue prevents French duo PNL from performing at Coachella

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

At least one Coachella stage will be darker longer than usual after French rap duo PNL were forced to pull its gig in the 11th hour due to a visa issue.

The duo, comprising brothers Tarik and Nabil Andrieu, grew up in the French projects to immigrant parents.

Taking to social media, the group informed fans that Tarik had yet to be granted a visa in order to make Sunday’s performance, which would have marked the duo’s U.S. debut.

Below is a statement from the act. It’s translated from French and posted in full, and was sent over the act’s press representative:

“Hey family, we were supposed to be present at Coachella Sunday the 16 and 23 of April. Unfortunately that won’t be possible for the first weekend. After months of administrative procedures, one of the two of us still wasn’t authorized to come back to the United States for the reasons you are probably imagining. The other is already in place and we are trying to push things forward in hopes of having good news by next week. We will keep you posted. Thanks to all of you who came to California to bring us strength. We’re thinking of you!”

A rep for the group said there’s a chance Tarik could be granted a visa in time for weekend two of the festival but that “everything is still up in the air.”


Coachella returned bigger -- and more mainstream -- than ever

Lady Gaga.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

“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.

Yet for this year’s edition — which ran Friday to Sunday and will repeat this coming weekend — Coachella’s deep-pocketed promoter, the AEG-owned Goldenvoice, dramatically expanded the scale of its flagship event, adding 20 acres to the festival site and getting the OK from city officials to boost capacity from 99,000 to 125,000 people. (Tickets, which sold for a minimum of $399 each, sold out well in advance.)

As a result, perhaps organizers felt they needed an especially splashy name to meet the demands of those dimensions. Indeed, Saturday’s original headliner was to be the world’s most beloved pop star: Beyoncé, who after announcing she was pregnant pulled out of the show in February on the advice of her doctor.

So how did this supersize Coachella go down? There were some growing pains.

For starters, Radiohead encountered a serious technical difficulty — a rarity at this carefully executed production — when the sound system cut out repeatedly during the British art-rock band’s headlining set Friday night. (The festival’s third headliner, the acclaimed Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, was scheduled to perform late Sunday, past deadline for this article.)

After exiting the stage in frustration, frontman Thom Yorke returned and addressed the mishap with his signature deadpan humor.

“Can you actually hear me now?” he asked. “I’d love to tell you a joke, lighten the mood, something like that. But this is Radiohead.” Then he added an unprintable phrase reminding us that lightening the mood isn’t in the nature of a group whose music is haunted by thoughts of technology turning against its makers.

Though the sound system held out from then on, Radiohead never quite recovered from the distraction. The band’s performance, filled with oldies like “Creep” and “Paranoid Android,” felt deflated, as though Yorke and his mates had lost their nerve.

Lady Gaga had trouble too.

After starting very powerfully with a series of tunes — “John Wayne,” “Born This Way,” “Sexxx Dreams” — that vividly expressed her cartoon-rebel intensity, the singer’s concert slowed to a crawl when she sat down behind a keyboard and transformed her ecstatic “The Edge of Glory” into a dreary piano ballad.

Elsewhere, she took advantage of Coachella’s attention-getting platform by playing a new single, “The Cure,” for the first time in public. But if the song was intriguing — it leaves behind the rootsy vibe of last year’s “Joanne” album for a proudly synthetic ’80s-era sound — Lady Gaga cheapened the moment with her show-closing announcement that the track was available to buy on iTunes.

While Coachella isn’t allergic to marketing (see its branded beauty bar, among other accouterments), nobody should have to pay $399 to feel advertised to.

Coachella’s growth could be felt in more positive ways over the weekend. Never an easy event to summarize given the number of acts it hosts, it resisted even more the application of a single idea about Where Music Is Right Now.

Read the full story >


DJ Snake and the Belleville Three are the twin poles of dance music at Coachella

DJ Snake at Coachella.
(Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Coachella)

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.

If you were anywhere near the Outdoor Stage on Saturday night, the Frenchman was impossible to miss. His sound is still best summed up by his collaboration with Lil Jon -- “Turn Down for What” isn’t just a single; it’s a guiding philosophy that more-is-more-and-even-more-is-better. Was it tasteful? No, but that’s not the point.

Along with the lean-slurred wails of Future, it’s one of the defining sounds of Coachella now, and a challenge to other acts. How does anyone keep up with someone armed with so much heavy sonic machinery?

He can make hits -- see “Lean On” with Major Lazer. Other renowned acts respect his craft (he brought out Lauryn Hill and Migos, the latter of whom must have practically sprinted from Future’s set). But his real hit is his singular devotion to chaos. It’s rare to find an act so uncompromising on that goal, let alone one so popular here.

Meanwhile, the trio of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May commanded something DJ Snake never aspired to -- the hearts and minds of techno purists on Sunday afternoon. Each is a formative figure in dance music in his own right. Together, they named their group after their Detroit childhood neighborhood that laid the groundwork for a culture to come.

Their Yuma Tent set wasn’t quite a victory lap, as their sounds are too moody and mechanical to win over huge crowds here, even if their work laid the scaffolding for American EDM. But their peerless selections were even more compelling for the fact that it was all clearly done by human hands. Going b2b2b on a thrice-synced Pioneer rig means that, sometimes, things are going to clash.

But the few moments of discord only made the occasion seem more rare and interesting -- artists who invented a genre actively choosing not to avail themselves of glossy production or mixing tricks. Just true musicians turning tracks inside out to show the roots of a scene that came to dominate the world.


At Coachella, the Antarctic is melting (minds, that is)

(Patrick Fallon / For The Times)

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.

The film whips you around the cosmos, into DNA strands and through a cubist fantasia of light, color and heavy bass drones. A lot of it looked like ‘90s EDM fliers; some of it tried to match Joshua Tree’s eerie emptiness.

All throughout the movie, fans shrieked with shock and glee at each twist.

It looks to be a hit for the San Francisco creative studio Obscura Digital, to judge from the gee-whiz moods of the fans exiting.

“That was crazy! I didn’t expect that at all,” said 26-year-old Sammy Chung from Seattle.

This is her first Coachella, and though she knew a bit of what to expect from the annual flood of Coachella pictures, the totality of it all left her head spinning (in a good way).

“We thought [the Antarctic] would just be a visual experience, but it was everywhere. It was amazing.”


Lauryn Hill makes an unlikely cameo at Coachella

The setting sun casts a warm glow on festival-goers reflected in the "Lamp Beside the Golden Door" installation at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio on Saturday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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.

Sounding absolutely flawless, Hill tore through the key tracks from her days with the Fugees — “Ready Or Not” and “Killing Me Softly” — before delivering “Miseducation” standout “Lost Ones.”

It was a flash of brilliance that could be felt clear across the field.


Lady Gaga has a mostly triumphant Coachella performance

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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.

That’s when Lady Gaga, so close to greatness that even we in the audience could taste it, sadly stalled out, her momentum undone by poor song choices and a coarse promotional plug that made the whole show feel like a mere inducement to buy something.

But, oh, those first 45 minutes!

Taking the stage in a floor-length leather coat out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Lady Gaga opened with a song whose title in German loosely translates as “Crap,” a relatively deep cut from her 2011 album “Born This Way.” It was a crazy selection, one nobody could have predicted, but the song’s pounding stadium-rave beat set the tone for the high-energy throwdown to come.

She remade “Just Dance” as a slamming hard-rock tune. She dropped a bit of Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” into “LoveGame.” She dedicated “John Wayne” to all the “dangerous men” who come to music festivals, then growled through the song in a manner that made it clear they were the ones with something to fear.

Before the title track from “Born This Way,” the empowerment anthem that’s made her a hero to many LGBTQ people, Lady Gaga said she’ll never forget when she put the song out because it “caused so much trouble.”

“And I love causing trouble,” she said, adding an unprintable word for emphasis.

Read the full review >


Lady Gaga will film ‘A Star is Born’ scenes at Coachella

Lady Gaga, Saturday's Coachella headliner.
( (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times))

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.

Shooting Tuesday and Wednesday, fans are asked to dress in denim and boots as the scene will portray a country western music concert.

“Leave those pink Joanne hats at home,” the announcement read, referring to the vibrant cowboy hat the singer donned on her latest album cover.

To be an extra, it’ll cost fans $10 a ticket, with all proceeds going to the singer’s Born This Way Foundation.


The looks of Coachella: from not-so-basic black to full floral maximalism

Chantal Mayo
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Despite the unrelenting desert heat, black was a popular hue at this year’s Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival, along with coordinated separates, rompers and florals.

Bandanas, of course, did double duty as both protection from the dust and eye-catching accessories, while 1970s-inspired sunglasses and face jewels proved their timeless factor.

Check out some of the best looks we’ve spotted on the polo grounds.

Butterflies are free

Angel Lotus
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Angel Lotus stands out from the crowd with butterfly wings, a sequined duster and an itty-bitty backpack. Blue lips and a face full of glitter completed the maximalist look.

Black is always the new black

Kaylee Bustamante, 19, of Saratoga
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Kaylee Bustamante, 19, of Saratoga went for not-so-basic black and adorned her already defined brow look with a swipe of shimmery blue liner underneath. Three small face stickers allow the daring brow look to take center stage.

Maddy Carlentine, 20, of Santa Barbara
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Maddy Carlentine, 20, of Santa Barbara, tempered an all-black outfit with a deep cut romper, a Western-inspired belt and temporary body tattoos. A black bandana and black Aviator shades complete the look.

Sophia Arbess, 18, of New York
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Sophia Arbess, 18, of New York, drew inspiration from everywhere with an old western-style belt buckle, huge ‘70s-inspired shades, a glamorous chandelier necklace and fire-printed shorts that call to mind the race track.

The flower bunch

Andrew Gill, 34, of New York City
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

“My friends laughed at me for wearing florals,” said Andrew Gill, 34, of New York City. “But now I can say it was photographed by the Los Angeles Times.”

Brittani Kooper, left, 32, and Haeven Prendergast, 32, of Chicago.
(Patrick Fallon/ Los Angeles Times)

Brittani Kooper, 32, and Haeven Prendergast, 32, both from Chicago, are friendship goals in coordinated printed separates and mismatching desert protection. Kooper protected her face from the sun with a floppy hat while Prendergast shielded her nose and mouth from the dust with a printed bandana.

Kylie Warren, 21, of Tucson
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Kylie Warren, 21, of Tucson, proves the off-the-shoulder trend is still thriving in a floral maxi dress and jewel-bedecked eyebrows.

Stripes and fringe

Chantel Mayo, 31, left, from Boston and Tawana Morris, 32
(Patrick Fallon / Los Angeles Times)

Chantel Mayo, 31, from Boston and Tawana Morris, 32, went for coordinating pink-accented outfits with a striped jumpsuit and a lace fringed poncho.



What was it like to be in the pit at Lady Gaga’s Coachella set?

Lady Gaga, Saturday's Coachella headliner.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Times music writer Gerrick Kennedy was in the pit Saturday night as Lady Gaga took the stage at Coachella. Here’s his real-time report of what he saw and heard:


Lady Gaga headlined Coachella on Saturday and here’s what it looked like

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

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Tory Lanez is not about that special guest life

Tory Lanez wanted to make one thing clear at the beginning of his debut at Coachella on Friday evening: Don’t expect him to be flanked with any surprise guests.

Though the festival has become particularly known for high-profile guest appearances -- with acts seemingly one-upping each other each year for buzziest moment -- the Canadian rapper had zero interest in playing along.

“I know a lot of artists come here with their props -- or special guests,” he told the sizable crowd he gathered at the Sahara Tent. “But I wanted my first time at Coachella to be about me and you.”

Backed by just a DJ, Lanez tore through the mind-numbing hybrid of trap hip-hop and R&B that informed his debut “I Told You So.”


Future is the sound of right now

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The only question going into Future’s main stage set was this — just how deep would he dip into his Rolodex for guests?

The answer: very deep.

Ty Dolla Sign, Migos and Drake all came to pay alms during his king-making set, which had one of the biggest and rowdiest crowds of the weekend.

Future’s whacked-out strip club jams are the perfect fit for the Coachella of the moment. Mind-warping vocal effects, sing-speak rapping, stark and heavy productions — that’s the way to churn crowds today. The kids want to party, not brood, and Future knew exactly how to handle the job.

To boot: He also had the best backing visuals of the day, digitally diced up erotica artfully pixelated just enough for the crowd out there. If you could film the inside of someone’s brain on a vat of GHB, it would look like this.

Even when Future surrenders the stage, he still commands it. It’s hard to overestimate just how nuts the crowd went for “Bad and Boujee” and “Jumpman.” Those songs define the sound of being young right now. Even though his surprise guests were obvious choices (hey, at least this time Drake finally looked like he was having fun on a Coachella main stage) they cemented the fact that at Coachella, Future is the sound of right now.

Across the field, L.A.’s Schoolboy Q had his own heaving, rapt crowd to stir. He’s not the highest-profile TDE artist playing this weekend (that would be label mate Kendrick Lamar), but he relishes his role as the party-riling foil to Lamar’s sage. On the Outdoor Stage, it worked — every path in and out was full of grinding fans.

With Gucci Mane still to come in the Sahara Tent, it’s clear that this is the year Coachella got hip-hop right on its biggest stages, and while other art-rock and pop acts are at the top of the bill, this is the sound that young fans want and need here.


Bon Iver, 1. Radiohead, 0.

Balloons are sent aloft at sunset at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio on Saturday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

On Saturday night, less than 24 hours after Radiohead encountered a rare technical difficulty with the high-level sound system at Coachella, Bon Iver gave a knockout of a main-stage performance that showed how powerful that system can be when it’s working.

Frontman Justin Vernon’s processed vocals, thunderous bass tones, the massed textures of a five-person saxophone section — each hit your ears as though you were wearing headphones.

But it wasn’t just Bon Iver’s good luck that made its performance more satisfying than Radiohead’s. Playing songs from last year’s “22, A Million” album, Vernon and his bandmates seemed engaged — stimulated is the word — in a way the British group didn’t.

They earned their perfect sound.


Beer pong not politics: The outrage at Coachella so far is limited to crowd size and technical glitches

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

When Radiohead’s sound cut out a few songs into its Friday night headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one fan watching the performance on the main lawn was spotted putting her head in her hands and wincing.

“This feels like the election,” she was overheard saying, alluding to the sense of sudden shock at an unexpected result.

Radiohead played off the sound system woes with good humor, but the comment was indicative of our increasingly politicized era. Now in its 18th year — and its largest ever — the fest has long positioned itself as a resort-like escape rather than aligning with music’s more rebellious tendencies.

Yet amid a tumultuous cultural climate that followed a divisive election season, Coachella’s stakes couldn’t help but feel a little raised. The festival, produced by AEG-owned Goldenvoice, this year swelled in size by about 20 acres and added a new punk- and Latin-driven stage. This all after a last-minute pop-star lineup switch that saw Beyoncé having to step down due to pregnancy and cede the spotlight to Lady Gaga.

But some fans felt a little overwhelmed.

“It’s too crowded, you can’t enjoy yourself and it’s not as fun,” said Jane Gaje of San Francisco. She’d been to four Coachellas and loved each one, but this year she had trouble settling into the broader layout and bigger crowds.

The fest received a permit for an estimated 25,000 additional fans this year, up from 99,000 in 2016. “We only saw the intros to everything,” Gaje said.

But on the first two days of Coachella, any grumblings were notably apolitical. There were no significant onstage protests or sense of Trump-driven discord from a typically liberal crowd. Fans were more inclined to play beer pong in the sunny campgrounds or feast on vegan tacos than spend energy on political outrage.

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Future brings out former Coachella headliner Drake

Drake, who headlined Coachella in 2015, returned to the fest this weekend — this time courtesy of his touring mate and collaborator, Future.

The Times’ Gerrick Kennedy was on the scene:

“Can we have a real Coachella moment and sing one song together,” Drake asked after popping up at the tail end of Future’s set for the pair’s collaboration, “Jumpman.”

He then launched into his smash hit “Fake Love,” from his recently issued collection of music titled “More Life,” which he’s promoting as a “playlist.”


Fans find ways to keep cool amid the heat

How to stay cool at Coachella? The misters help.

No, the misters aren’t some new underground band you haven’t heard about. They’re the things that spray water on overheated attendees.

It’s one way to beat the legendary heat of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Another way? An air-conditioned Ferris wheel.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)



Thundercat brings Michael McDonald to the Mojave stage

Michael McDonald acknowledges the crowd onstage with Thundercat.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

So far this year’s Coachella has been light on the kind of surprise drop-ins that have defined previous editions of the festival.

But Thundercat couldn’t resist calling in a cameo by one welcome figure: blue-eyed soul great Michael McDonald, who appeared on the L.A. electro-funk bassist’s recent “Drunk” album and turned up here to perform their silky-smooth duet “Show You the Way.” (On “Drunk” the song is actually a trio piece with Kenny Loggins, but Loggins didn’t show Saturday. Hey, we can’t have everything.)

McDonald, who received a very warm reception from the crowd, stuck around to do one of his signature tunes, the Doobie Brothers’ deathless “What a Fool Believes,” as well as Thundercat’s “Them Changes.”


For Kehlani, Coachella is a well-earned celebration

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Kehlani has been to Coachella only once, and that was a few years ago.

Now the fast-rising R&B-pop singer-songwriter is one of the bigger draws in her genre on this year’s bill.

As anxious as she is to make her Coachella debut, Kehlani is equally excited about being a part of this year’s lineup.

“This year is so black,” she said while chatting with the Times earlier this year about her long-awaited major-label debut, “SweetSexySavage.”

“As a fan, if I wasn’t performing I’d be doing everything in my power to get tickets because I want to be there and experience it — especially in 2017 when Donald Trump [is] our president … and Kendrick is performing,” she said. “That’s going to save my life.”

Coachella is also going to be a celebration for the singer, who turns 22 the day after weekend two wraps.

“I’m excited to be with my girls on stage,” said Kehlani, who performs Sunday evening. “It’s going to be my birthday thing to myself.”


An early Coachella standout, Sampha didn’t think he was ready for the festival

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

One of the highlights of the opening day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on Friday was a ravishing showing from Sampha.

His still-fresh debut album, “Process,” is a sweet, heartfelt listen that sees the British singer tenderly navigating love, loss, loneliness and even a battle with sleep paralysis (the condition inspired his throbbing hit “Blood on Me”).

It’s heavy terrain, and the crowd — which spilled out of all sides of the Mojave tent — sang every word back to him during a set that was exhilarating as it was moving.

In the midst of a world tour in support of “Process,” we caught up with the crooner the morning after he played a sold-out show at the El Rey in Los Angeles. Surprisingly, the singer wasn’t feeling confident about his Coachella gig.

“I don’t know if we’ll be where we need to be, to be honest,” he said. “The place where we … can be a little more experimental or see how things work and different orders and stuff like that.”

An admitted perfectionist, Sampha very much likes to tinker, and he appeared weary when we discussed balancing headlining shows with festival sets, which are often truncated versions of an artist’s current production.

“We don’t have that much time to kind of tweak to perfect [for] the festival, with the tour,” he said, his voice trailing off.

On Friday, his fears proved to be unfounded.


Do LaB’s founders want to ‘Help change things and not run away’

People come to Coachella for the escapism. But what if you need an escape from Coachella?

Dede and Jesse Flemming, the co-founders of Coachella’s Do LaB Stage, have been providing a refuge within Coachella since its inception. The Burner-inspired mini-stage has grown up, from a welcome spritz of water and techno in the middle of the Coachella field to its own little universe in the upper terrace.

This weekend, it’s been a popular refuge for the Coachellans who want to stay in one place and avoid the maw at the main stages.

“When we were in the middle of the field, we were kind of a nuisance. At any given moment ten thousand people would roll through,” said Jesse Flemming. “Now people have to want to come here. Since we moved up to terrace, we have freedom to do whatever we want.”

This year, more and more fans seem to want in on it, too. As their stage grew up inside Coachella, the music became a must-see for dance fans — Gaslamp Killer, Monolink and Shiba San all play this weekend — and its indoor/outdoor vibes are proving especially appealing in this heat and crowd.

The duo’s Lightning In A Bottle festival has always been a fixture for L.A. ravers. For people who come to Coachella to get away from the news and normal life, their vision is looking more enticing than ever.

“When you’re here, you’re not checking the news every day. You can live in the now,” said Dede Flemming. “For me at least, l think people are craving that now.”

But as Lightning in a Bottle takes a turn toward political activism, and as the brothers’ influence grows within Coachella, they’re exploring how to use their platform to do more than flee the daily stream of rough news.

“People do want to escape, but as we get older we’re realizing that escape is not right thing to do, you have to help change things and not run away,” Jesse said. “After couple decades of throwing parties, we’re great at it, but we also have the power to reach people and put it to better use.”


Shura knew what time it was — well, in a sense

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

“Good morning, Coachella!” the British singer Shura said as she came onstage to begin her 2 p.m. set in the Mojave tent.

She was commenting on the hour — daybreak-early by festival standards — but quickly revised her thinking: More people had shown up to see her than she’d expected, she noted happily, adding that she’d feared only her twin brother would turn up.

Shura’s music was equally knowing about time, borrowing glossy textures from 1980s pop to soundtrack nuanced thoughts on modern love.

“This song’s called ‘Indecision,’” she said. “It’s not about a boy.”


No Beyoncé? No problem

Beyoncé performs at the 59th Grammy Awards on Feb. 12 in Los Angeles.
(Matt Sayles/Associated Press)

When Beyoncé announced she was sitting out Coachella per doctor’s orders, there were lots of tears and no doubt a disinterest from members of the Beyhive in attending this year’s fest.

At least that was this writer’s overly dramatic way of coping with the pop diva getting sidelined. Ultimately, she was replaced by Lady Gaga, who headlines tonight. After all, Beyoncé is probably the only human on the planet who could have slayed Coachella while being pregnant with twins.

But the cancelation didn’t damper everyone’s festival experience — definitely not repeat attendee Michael Hernandez, who admittedly didn’t plan on catching the year’s most highly anticipated set.

“Honestly I was kind of OK with it,” the 26-year-old Long Beach native said. “Me and a few friends had a plan to venture off and see the rest of the festival while she was playing.”

Hernandez has been coming to Coachella for the last three years and said he was fascinated with the idea of seeing one of the smaller acts counter-programmed to such a huge act — something he’s yet to experience.

“The lineup is really well without her, it was well-rounded,” he said. “It’s a big hit that she’s not here … but it leaves a little more dancing room for me.”


What Hans Zimmer is doing at Coachella

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Hans Zimmer’s natural habitat is a dark, windowless room.

As one of Hollywood’s most successful film composers — with scores for dozens of movies stretching from “Interstellar” and “The Dark Knight” to “The Lion King” and “Driving Miss Daisy” — the 59-year-old Oscar winner spends untold hours in screening rooms and recording studios, including his own private space tucked into a larger complex on a quiet industrial street in Santa Monica.

Filled with polished woodwork and red velvet furniture, it has proved to be an inspiring spot for the man whose music combines lush orchestral arrangements with unconventional electronic textures.

But that didn’t keep Zimmer’s friends from pushing him to try a change of scenery.

“This whole thing started with Johnny Marr and Pharrell Williams sitting me down and going, ‘You’ve got to get out of here and look your audience in the eye,’ ” the composer said the other day, referring to the Smiths guitarist (whom Zimmer drafted to play on “Inception”) and the hip-hop producer-turned-pop star (with whom Zimmer worked on “Hidden Figures”).

“And they’re right,” he added. “At some point, you have to see if any of the stuff you’ve been doing while hiding behind a screen actually resonates with people.”



Scenes from the first day of Coachella

Coachella visitors ride the new air-conditioned ferris wheel at the first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio on Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
British singer-songwriter Sampha Sisay performs on the Mojave stage.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Fans take in Stormzy on the Outdoor Stage at Coachella on Friday.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Barbara Huynh of San Jose takes a selfie while atop the shoulders of Anthony Seto of Los Angeles on Friday at Coachella.
Barbara Huynh of San Jose takes a selfie while atop the shoulders of Anthony Seto of Los Angeles on Friday at Coachella.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
Festival-goers pass the art project "Is this what brings things into focus?" by Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan.
Festival-goers pass the art project “Is this what brings things into focus?” by Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

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Up close and personal with Coachella fans

Gabriella Giogianni enjoys a frozen treat at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Kristofer Barins, 41, of San Francisco, at Coachella.
Kristofer Barins, 41, of San Francisco, at Coachella.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Maymunah Rasheed, 24, of Oakland, at Coachella.
Maymunah Rasheed, 24, of Oakland, at Coachella.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Larayia Gaston, 29, of Los Angeles, with her Maltipoo pups, Mali, left, and Nugget, at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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Radiohead fought the machines -- and the machines won

(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

A rare technical difficulty struck the typically smooth-running Coachella festival Friday night when the main-stage sound system failed only a few songs into Radiohead’s headlining set.

Initially the band played on, evidently unaware that it couldn’t be heard. A stagehand appeared to tell frontman Thom Yorke of the situation, after which the band left the stage for several minutes before returning to resume its performance.

Roughly 20 minutes into the band’s set, a loud popping sound emitted from the console at the front of house, silencing the group. The sound quickly came back, but then went out again. And again. And again. And again. Each time a jarring “pop” coming from the front of house.


— Times staff writer Gerrick D. Kennedy contributed to this report.


Father John Misty makes existential dread feel almost inviting

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

After his sundown set, it’s finally time to admit that Father John Misty isn’t joking anymore — he’s maybe the finest rock act L.A. has going for it right now.

Misty, of course, is the wiseacre former folkie Josh Tillman, whose first two LP’s as Misty tweaked L.A. life while trying to find some real romance underneath. It was a character, but one we needed to hang out in the corner of the party shooting spitballs at the scene.

His third, however, “Pure Comedy,” is more harrowing. It’s bummed about the present, terrified about the future and funny in the way that the inevitability of death is a cosmic joke.

At the sundown set on the Main Stage, Misty proved that the act is up, and he has found his voice. It’s a gorgeous one.

Backed by a small orchestra and a trim-suited live band, Misty looked looked like he had just got out of the shower after surviving a three-day bender in a luxury hotel. Snakeskin moccasins, sunglasses at night, windswept long hair — every detail was spot-on.

But let’s be clear — he’s not kidding anymore. He never was, really, but now he’s devoted all his wit and psychedelic musings into writing the best songs of his life, and playing them beautifully.

“Ballad of the Dying Man” and “When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay” were immaculate ballads, sung with soul and precision, and managed to sneak some relatable existential dread onto the main stage. They’re tales with no punchlines, setups with no redemption — Misty knows we’re all gonna die, and maybe soon. Best thing to do is sing about it, maybe.

He closed with the title track from “I Love You, Honeybear,” his album of drunk-sincere devotion to his wife. If you had a partner in the crowd, you held them for a few minutes while the sun went down. It’ll go down for all of us eventually, but for tonight, at least we had some good company.


Coachella brings in the drones

Shortly after the xx wrapped its set on Saturday, hundreds of tiny speckles of light filled the sky.

Like lightening bugs, they floated higher in the sky. And then they took focus, forming themselves into a myriad of shapes and objects -- a ribbon, a cube and the famous carousel that frames the Empire Polo Field.

That’s when it became clear this wasn’t your father’s light show but a dazzling display of programmed drones.

The bug-like objects quickly zipped up and down, with flashes of red and blue and yellow rapidly emitting from its orbs.


Braving the crowds to try to catch Banks and Mac Miller

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The wistful refrain of Banks’ haunting jam “Waiting Game” was just alluring enough to make you want to get a closer look.

At least until one met the crush of bodies filing into the Gobi tent to catch her set Friday night.

Welcome to nightfall at Coachella.

Anyone who’s a frequent flyer here knows how chill the afternoon experience can be. It’s hot, and traffic can be a bear. That usually keeps a sizable portion of the festival’s constituents at bay for much of the day.

But as the sun sets, the crowd swells — and by dark, crossing across the field to stage-hop becomes a game of human Tetris.

It paid off after gaining entry into Mac Miller’s ridiculously fun showing in the Sahara Tent.

This year again sees the typically dance-centric stage programmed with a large dosage of hip-hop, and Miller’s acerbic raps played nicely against a smattering of lights and lasers that send the kids rolling.

Though he confided to a crowd stacked well beyond the massive tent’s frame that he was incredibly nervous (he used much more colorful phrasing) he didn’t look it.

Backed with a tight band and DJ, Miller aggressively worked to move the crowd. And the sight of thousands of bodies bouncing and snapping in unison made the incredibly tight squeeze worth it.


The Avalanches make a grand entrance in U.S.

Not many acts can use Coachella’s gigantic platform to make their debut in the U.S.

But that’s just what the Avalanches did Friday evening when the reclusive Australian outfit — which reunited last year to release “Wildflower,” its first album in more than 15 years — brought its jubilant disco-pop to a tightly packed Mojave tent.

“First U.S.A. show ever!” one of the band’s vocalists crowed, and he may have been more pumped than the audience.

On record, the Avalanches are known for stitching together hundreds of tiny samples to create lush new tracks — basically a shinier, happier version of what DJ Shadow (who’s also on this year’s Coachella bill) perfected on his landmark 1996 album “Endtroducing.....”

Here, though, the Australian group bulked up its careful studio productions with two vocalists, two guitarists and a live drummer.

They were beginners in a sense, but they didn’t sound like it.


Coachella has a new ‘secret’ tiki bar

PDT bartenders Christian Hurtado, left, and Adam Schmidt work behind the bar at PDTiki at the Coachella festival.
(Patrick Fallon / For The Times)

There’s a new, secret tiki bar at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, you just have to find it.

Goldenvoice food and beverage director Nic Adler teamed with the bartenders at PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in Manhattan, New York, to open a 35-person bar in the general admission area. Its name: PDTiki.

Drinks run about $15 and are the type of libations you’ll want to sip in 85-degree weather. The Indian Summer is made with Jameson whiskey, rum, Giffard creme de banana, lemon, lustau palo cortado sherry, pineapple gum syrup and nocino.

“It’s like the fun police,” said Jeff Bell, general manager at PTD. “We want people to have delicious drinks.”

Bell and part of his team traveled to the desert to mix drinks during the two-weekend festival. The bar is complete with tiki mugs, nautical rope, blowfish and coconuts. Adler also blanketed the bar with vintage tiki postcards and world maps he collected.

The bar has also started collecting signed dollar bills on the ceiling. If you need a break from the body swaying and the heat, head to the Beer Barn... it’s in there somewhere.

“It’s not how big we can make Sahara,” said Adler, referring to Coachella’s large dance-focused tent. “It’s the little things that are going to matter going forward.”


Guess who’s a big fan of Francis and the Lights? Tommy Lee

On Friday afternoon, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee enthusiastically took in a performance by Francis and the Lights, the mysterious pop eccentric known for his collaborations with Kanye West and Bon Iver. (A short version of Francis’ very appealing act: The herky-jerk dance moves of David Byrne combined with Steve Winwood’s white-soul vocals.)

Next to Lee in the Gobi tent: Benny Blanco, the in-demand producer and songwriter who’s worked with Maroon 5 and Ed Sheeran.

The two didn’t appear to recognize each other.


Mac DeMarco keeps it smooth, and the Yuma tent gets tough

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

One great thing about getting to Coachella early: You can be lazy as heck or as lit as you like, and there will be music to accompany it.

On the Outdoor Stage, Mac DeMarco was genial and goofy as he played a suave set of hipster-Steve-Miller-lite rock. But don’t be fooled by his banter — there’s plenty of rock-solid songwriting underneath, as his big, devoted crowd would certainly attest to.

His new album “This Old Dog” finds him growing up a bit — or at least, getting wizened and laughing about it with his longtime fans.

On the other hand, you could also hit the Yuma tent and get battered by a full day of strong house acts.

L.A. scene staples Alison Swing, Bicep and Dixon take different approaches to the underground — rough and tumble, sleek or as sweaty as a summer city night — but they made Coachella’s proto-warehouse one of the most consistent, rewarding places to post up for the day.

Up next in there: New York’s Martinez Brothers, whose humid, history-minded house is as good a party as you’ll get tonight. Be there if you can.


Coachella 2017: Taqueria La Veganza is some of the best vegan food the fest has ever seen

Anybody with access to the Rose Garden VIP area and a hankering for the best vegan food I’ve ever had at Coachella should -- nay, needs to -- get to Taqueria La Veganza with a quickness.

The Oakland restaurant’s vegan taco platter turns finely shredded tofu skins into the best approximation of slow-cooked carnitas and al pastor a vegan can imagine.

Get it with the hottest sauce they have, a house recipe from chef Raul Medina that’s scalding and zippy and the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer and a warm-up for Father John Misty.


Sampha makes peace with stardom

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

When Sampha walked on stage for his set in the Mojave tent, he wore a green quilted jacket with “Peacemaker” written on the back. One could question the wisdom of wearing a coat in the Coachella afternoon heat, but the message was welcome — these are divisive times, and we could all use a little peacemaking.

For the packed house in the tent, however, it was already a love-in. Sampha’s new LP, “Process,” is the culmination of years of work, as he has slowly built a reputation as one of the most inventive yet emotionally meaningful singer-songwriter-arrangers working today. The Drake co-signs certainly helped, but by now his voice clearly stands alone.

Songs like “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Under” have a heartfelt sincerity, but Sampha never lets it rest at that. He dices up electronics, live percussion and his fleet piano playing into a sound that’s completely modern but would be recognizable to ‘60s soul heroes as a kindred spirit. With hard-kicking drums and smooth synths from Chicago house, slow-swaying balladry from Marvin Gaye and a quintessentially British loneliness, he pulled from everywhere and sounded like nothing else going today.

He closed, as he often does, with his biggest single to date — the paranoid but invigorating “Blood on Me.” The violent lyrics invoke a mugging, but to hear them coming from such a sensitive, virtuoso black artist, you can read a lot more into them about the state of the world right now. Sampha has found his peace as a performer. Would that we all could take his cue.


Scenes from the first day at Coachella

A crowd dances at the Do Lab on Friday at Coachella.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
A glitter-flecked fan watches Stormzy perform at the Outdoor Stage on Friday at Coachella.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The Chiaozza Garden at Coachella Music makes a prime place for picture-taking.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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Tacocat puts a savvy spin on pop-punk

Guitars aren’t as visible at Coachella as they once were, but the instrument plays a central role in the music of Seattle’s Tacocat, which brought its fuzzy-jangly pop-punk to the festival’s new (and gloriously air-conditioned) Sonora tent on Friday.

If the sound was old-fashioned, though, the songs weren’t, as singer Emily Nokes demonstrated when she introduced Tacocat’s song “The Internet” as one about “really sad dudes” who post creepy things about women online.


Sampha didn’t come to Coachella to chill

On his impressive 2017 debut, “Process,” this young British crooner known for his collaborations with Drake and Solange sings tenderly about art, romance and the pain of losing his late mother over gently undulating future-soul grooves.

But Friday afternoon in the Mojave tent, Sampha was a whirlwind of energy, alternately banging away at a keyboard and throwing himself across the stage as he performed for an overflow crowd.


Stormzy taken aback by his reception

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“This is going to go down as one of the best shows I’ve ever played,” Stormzy told the audience during his set at Coachella on Friday. “Before coming here, I didn’t know if it would be two people or 200 -- and there’s thousands.”

There’s maybe no worse time to hit a Coachella stage -- particularly one of the outdoor main stages -- than early afternoon on opening day. With the bustle to get inside sometimes sluggish on Day One, crowds can be anemic, not to mention the hot temperatures that send people to seek relief under shaded tents or wherever a cool breeze can be caught.

But the British grime rapper’s debut at the fest was packed, with the audience willing to break a sweat. And Stormzy, whose buzz has been growing stateside, took notice repeatedly during a frenetic set that left him drenched a few songs in.

Midway through his set, he wanted to take advantage of the thick crowd he had commanded and made one demand ahead of the ferocious stomper “Know Me From.”

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who the ... I am. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand anything I’m saying or the beat -- for the next three minutes I want you to [wreck] the place.”

The crowd, happily, obliged.


Watch the Coachella live stream here

Madelyn Maresca, 21, and Kaitlin Mason, 21, stroll through a work of art called "Chiaozza Garden" on Friday, Day One of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

With the start of Coachella, the summer festival season has begun. But if you’re not in Indio, don’t sweat it. Well, you definitely won’t sweat due to the heat, but there’s also plenty of the festival available for live-streaming.

YouTube is live streaming the first weekend of the festival, including performances from Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Lorde, Bon Iver, the xx, Future, ScHoolboy Q, Two Door Cinema Club, New Order and Gucci Mane.

The site’s Coachella feed features three always-on channels and will offer a live, 360 mode for select performances. An on-demand hub allows viewers to watch highlights and footage at their leisure. Check them out below.

Channel 1

Look for appearances on Friday from Radiohead, the xx, Father John Misty and more. On Saturday, Lady Gaga, Schoolboy Q and Bon Iver are among the artists streaming. On Sunday, Channel 1 will host Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Future Islands, among others.

Channel 2

Expect Sampha, Banks, Oh Wonder and Travis Scott on Friday, while the likes of Gucci Mane, Warpaint and Moderat will be shown on Saturday. On Sunday, New Order, Kehlani and Hans Zimmer will round out Channel 2.

Channel 3

Dillon Francis, Empire of the Sun and Steve Angello are among the artists who will grace Channel 3 on Friday. On Saturday, expect Classixx, Martin Garrix, Röyksopp and more. Finally, on Sunday, close out the fest with Justice, Marshmello and DJ Khaled.


Could Kendrick Lamar be releasing another album on Coachella’s Easter Sunday? The Internet says yes

Kendrick Lamar
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

As if one new Kendrick Lamar album weren’t enough, on Friday morning Twitter erupted with speculation that the Compton rapper would be issuing a companion to “Damn” on Easter Sunday called “Nation.” The theory arose on Reddit, where sleuths started connecting dots.

Whether it’s true or not, gathering tidbits of evidence certainly makes for a good parlor game. Below, five convincing clues.

1. “Damn” was released on Good Friday and opens and closes with Lamar getting shot, which detectives suggest mirrors Jesus’ death. Might the would-be companion piece, “Nation,” resurrect the fallen Lamar on Easter Sunday?

2. Lamar released the track “The Heart, Pt. IV” earlier this year, and it features what could be portentous lyrics. “I said it’s like that, dropped one classic, came right back / ‘Nother classic, right back/ My next album, the whole industry on a ice pack.” The theory? Five albums are acknowledged, but “Damn” is only Lamar’s fourth. Could the fifth be “Nation”?

3. On Thursday, Top Dawg Entertainment in-house producer Sounwave, who works closely with Lamar, posted a tweet that read, “But what if I told you... that’s not the official version.” He followed it with an image of Morpheus from the film “The Matrix.”

As the Verge points out, Morpheus reveals the reality of the Matrix by explaining, “You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

4. The lettering on the cover of “Damn” is red, and the first track on the album is called “Blood.” On the back cover of the album, Lamar is standing in front of red bricks. That’s what Lamar has been using as a profile photo on Spotify, but recently a new photo shows him standing in front of blue bricks.

5. The video for “Humble” shows Lamar sitting at a table surrounded by disciples that’s reflective of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.”

Could this story culminate when Lamar “rises” during Sunday’s Coachella gig?

The Magic 8 Ball says maybe.


Coachella 2017: Everything’s bigger, from the grounds to the crowds and bars

(August Brown / Los Angeles Times)

The first thing you notice when you walk onto the Coachella grounds in 2017? Everything is bigger. And it’s more striking a change than the fest has seen in years.

An extra 25,000 fans, naturally, are going to need the space. But for anyone with muscle memory about exactly how long it takes to stroll from the main stage to the Sahara Tent will find the compass a little wobbly.

The Gobi and Mojave are tucked deep in what used to be the backstage area. The new Sonora Tent and the return of the Yuma Tent now make the upper terrace feel like its own mini-festival. The pastel Seussian sculpture garden (the Chiaozza Garden, to be exact) in the main stage is a world unto itself.

One other upside -- there are bountiful new bars and beer gardens at every turn, including right in front of the side stages. Coachella is excellent at separating people from their beer money, and after all that new walking, it’s rarely been more deserved.


Get a peek at some of Coachella’s colorful art


Coachella hasn’t had a lot of Latin music. That changes this year

Thee Commons band members, from left, David Pacheco, Jose Rojas and Rene Pacheco. The Boyle Heights band is one of several Latino groups playing at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Since it emerged from the alternative rock scene in 1999, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has featured many acts spanning hip-hop, folk, EDM, pop, heavy metal and classic rock.

Yet one style of music has long been underrepresented on the grounds of the posh Empire Polo Club in Indio: Latin music. That changes this year.

Coachella’s 2017 roster includes the highest volume of Latino and Spanish-language bands in its 18-year history. Given Southern California’s demographics, some might say it’s been a long time coming, especially when one takes into account that the actual city of Coachella is more than 96% Latino or Hispanic.

“I thought we existed outside of what Coachella had to offer,” said Daniel Gomez of Inland Empire band Quitapenas. “But things are changing. The gatekeepers are looking more like us.”

With President Trump pledging to build a wall along the southern border and Latino communities being shaken by an uptick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, artists say that building bridges between the English-speaking Coachella crowd and Latino communities presents real-world opportunities.

Jorge Avila of the Los Angeles-based Qvole Collective, a booking and artist management company focused on what it calls “the black/brown avant-garde,” describes the climate as “the perfect storm of circumstances.”

“There’s an urgency for us to come together,” he said. “Our place here is literally being threatened. People are getting deported.”

The shift in direction at Coachella caught many by surprise — even U.S. immigration agents.

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Coachella 2017: Your survival guide

Though the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has become a spring tradition, there are still many questions for those preparing to attend the desert festival for the first time. The festival’s website has its list of tips as well as some do’s and don’ts, but here are a few of ours.

There’s a new stage

Everyone welcome the Sonora Stage to the family. Like the Despacio and Yuma tents of recent years, this one will have a genre focus — punk and garage rock — where super-fans can post up for the day or pass through when they need a bracing blast of guitar noise. It’s by the entrance, and worth a look for sets by Guided by Voices, Downtown Boys and T.S.O.L.

But there are more people

Last year the Indio City Council approved an expansion of Coachella’s capacity from 99,000 to 125,000, so expect to see a few more tanned, flower-crowned bodies on the grounds.

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How will festgoers greet Lady Gaga? Plus speculation on Lorde, Kendrick and more

Lady Gaga
(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)

As the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival approaches, devoted music fans have been in the midst of another rite of spring: speculating on what’s going to happen when the music starts.

In years past, after all, we’ve paid witness to Roger Waters’ flying pig and Arcade Fire’s glowing orbs. Tupac Shakur came back from the dead — in the form of a hologram-like concoction.

Chance the Rapper’s 2014 first-weekend debut saw Justin Bieber pop by for a cameo. In 2007, an unknown Amy Winehouse established a stateside presence during a sunset performance in the Gobi tent. Portishead followed by Prince in 2008? Epic.

These kinds of moments often arrive without notice but immediately become touchstones. What follows is a rundown of questions and story lines to watch during the annual Indio festival.

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Gaslamp Killer, Mr. Carmack headline the Do LaB stage

Sara Rose peeks through her bear mask while dancing on stage in the Do LaB at a recent Coachella.
(Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)

The Do LaB — the outsider dance music stage at the edge of the Coachella grounds — has announced its lineup for the 2017 festival, and it looks prepared to compete with the rest of the forward-thinking club music bills at the fest.

Mr. Carmack, L.A. beat-scene favorite Gaslamp Killer, Justin Martin and Dirtybird Records boss Barclay Crenshaw are among the headliners at the fan-favorite niche stage, which has its own ecosystem of Burner-style vibes (indebted to the same folks behind the Lightning in a Bottle festival, who curate it).

It’s been a 13-year fixture at Coachella, and its rowdy-hippy aesthetic has a life of its own there.

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