Beyond the headliners, Coachella's scene offers plenty to sample

Music remains the primary mission of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but for those who venture beyond the three top-billed headliners — Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar — there was plenty to see, do and hear. Below, just a few highlights from the 2017 edition of the fest.

Future and the modern sound of Coachella


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 how to handle the job.

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.

— August Brown

Make time for Tacocat

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.

— Mikael Wood

The Antarctic at Coachella.
The Antarctic at Coachella. (Patrick Fallon / For The Times)

Have your mind melted

The Antarctic is a planetarium-style dome near the main entrance. Outside, it just 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.

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.


Throughout the movie, fans shrieked with shock and glee.

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 pictures from the Indio ferstival, the totality of it all left her head spinning.

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

— August Brown

Get to know Sampha

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, however, it was already a love-in.

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.

— August Brown

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