Dozens of moments stood out during Day 1 of Coachella 2015. In addition to Lil B’s afternoon weird-fest and AC/DC’s headlining head-smash, each stage held glory. Below, five that stick out for me (on four hours’ sleep).
Tame Impala on the Coachella Stage. Those not already tripping on the thrills of life’s many freedoms who landed at the Coachella stage for Tame Impala were feeling a little loopier after a few moments. The Australian guitar band, which quickly ascended to headliner status on the success of its debut album, “Lonerism,” presented a batch of psychedelically tinged rock tracks that wandered with a blissful, fluid sense of curiosity. The band reached Valhalla when it played its 2011 hit, “Elephant,” a song that pretty much everyone within earshot seemed to agree was worth running toward.
FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2015
As singer-guitarist Kevin Parker guided the band through those stutter-stepping structures, the dance floor maneuvers amid the acreage hit high gear. As though simultaneously infected by a bug, the perennially preoccupied fest-goers stopped, swiveled to face the stage and started moving. It confirmed the whole reason why we’re here.
Alabama Shakes on the Outdoor Stage. One of the purest dancing convergences occurred due to the Alabama Shakes’ way with rhythm, tension and release. Unlike most head-nodding Coachella rock crowds, the fans went all in on the dance floor (dance grass?) for the group’s set on the Outdoor stage, making space for maximum release, screaming along to the band’s exuberant “Gimme All Your Love.”
The band teased new tracks from its forthcoming album, “Sound and Color,” offering a shot of evidence to confirm the advance enthusiasm when lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard hit the climax to “Don’t Wanna Fight.” A slow-burning track with an insistent funk vibe, it presents a groovier sound for the band, one that drove couples, groups and random passers-by to full-on dance mode.
Flying Lotus in the Mojave Tent. The Los Angeles beat producer has been perfecting his “You’re Dead” live set for the past six months. Working from the center of a visual production that featured cubist screens and synchronized projections seeming to envelop him, the artist born Steven Ellison offered a visual feast to go with his sonic hallucinations. Between tracks from his recent album, he sampled and manipulated Drake’s shout-along gem “Know Yourself.” An hour earlier, beatmaker Ryan Hemsworth tackled the song from a different angle.
War on Drugs on the Coachella Stage. Angus Young may have had way, way, way (way, way) more guitar solos than the War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel, but what the former gave in volume, the latter offered in nuance and momentous drive. The Philadelphia band loves to rock but is confident enough in its prowess to open tracks not with pummel and bass-drum kicks but with gentler, 1980s-suggesting synth-drum rhythms. Only after establishing a groove in the band’s infectious jam “Red Eyes,” for example, did the band move into bottom-end live-drum momentum, rolling within it with a lubricated ease.
Caribou in the Mojave Tent. The dogleg angle upon which is the footprint of many Coachella stages can be seen as kind of continuum. One the near end, Coachella’s main stage plays host to a lot of big rock sounds. At the far end, the Sahara Tent is all EDM synthetics all the time. Somewhere in between, in the Mojave Tent, the group Caribou landed in the sweet spot. Merging wildly infectious instrumental prowess with a DJ’s love of relentless groove and shifting dynamics, Caribou filled the densely crowded tent with a confident fusion of house, beat-based rock and rhythmic party music. Best: The crowd was rapt, gushing with enthusiasm when the group hit peaks, roaring during the breaks.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit