Coachella Day 3, in slow-motion
— Jay L. Clendenin
‘Balloonatics’ build floating art at Coachella
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
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
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?
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 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.
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.
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 Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis.
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.
— Laurie Ochoa
Soberchella: Coachella minus the drinks and drugs
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
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
Coachella is for lovers
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
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
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
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: Never too old, never too young
— Jay L. Clendenin
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.”
Weekend 2: Sights and sounds of Coachella
The Empire Polo Club field is packed, shade is at a premium and music acts are paying tribute to Prince. Coachella’s Weekend 2 is in full swing. Check out the sights and sounds of Day 1.
LCD Soundsystem performs Prince’s ‘Controversy’
LCD Soundsystem did its own rendition of Prince’s song “Controversy” Friday night, lighting the stage purple in tribute. This wasn’t the first time a headlining act reimagined Prince’s “Controversy” at Coachella. Back in 2014, Canadian orchestral rock collective the Arcade Fire tackled the inclusive Prince anthem with an assist from Beck, bringing the song to an end with a rousing rhythmic charge.
Before LCD Soundsystem hit the stage, The Purple One’s 2008 Coachella performance of “Creep” was screened on the music festival’s main stage. Revelers gathered around and watched the performance, nodding their heads, looking somber. One fan in an off-the-shoulder Prince T-shirt raised her arms and screamed, “Prince, yeah!” before retreating back to the shelter of the Heineken VIP tent.
Coachella has a purple glow tonight
An impromptu memorial to Prince at the Coachella gates
It was just about eight years ago, on April 26, 2008. That was the night Portishead, Kraftwerk and Death Cab for Cutie played Coachella.
And the headliner? Prince.
At the entrance to the Empire Polo Grounds, banners display the lineups for every year’s Coachella festival. At the one for 2008, a small memorial has been set up. “RIP Prince. Nothing compares to you.”
The fans arriving on a late Friday afternoon were mostly interested in getting past the entry area into the stage, but a few stopped to take photos of an hoc tribute to the iconic rock star and his night at Coachella.
Someone posted Prince’s 2008 Coachella performance to Soundcloud, listen while you can
“You’re in the coolest place on Earth, right now,” Prince said, in some of his first words to the Coachella crowd. “Oh ya’ll ain’t heard me. You ain’t ready.”
And with that, Prince launched into “The Bird” with Morris Day and The Time, and continued through a flamethrowing set that touched on the Beatles, Radiohead, Santana and his own seemingly bottomless catalog. It was one of the festival’s most unforgettable performances, and you can listen to the whole set here.
Given the protective nature Prince and his camp held over his music --j ust try and find his music on YouTube -- who knows how long this will last. So enjoy while it lasts.
More on Mavis Staples, who, at 76, was ready to take Coachella’s ‘teeny-boppers’ to church
The Times’ Mikael Wood talked to Mavis Staples before her first-weekend set at Coachella, and she talked about playing for a festival crowd and remembered a youthful romance with Bob Dylan, as detailed in the documentary “Mavis!”
I often think about it. Had I married Bobby, we would’ve had some little crumb crushers, and they’d be singing now. We would’ve had us a family group: the Stap-Dylans, or the Dylan-Staps.
— Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples remembers Prince, sings a bit of ‘Purple Rain’ at Coachella
Mavis Staples took a break from a fiery set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday afternoon to pay tribute to Prince, saying she “lost an angel yesterday.”
“I was on Prince’s label, Paisley Park, for seven years,” she told a rapt audience. “During that seven years, I adopted him. He was the most beautiful spirit I ever met.”
Staples said she first met Prince when he attended a concert of her family’s group, the Staple Singers, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Everyone was excited that he was going to be at the show, she said, but she decided not to swoon.
“When I see him, I’m going to be really cool,” Staples said she told her family. “Then he got up on me, and I just screamed. Cool went out the window, y’all.
And I said, ‘Prince, let me kiss you for my mother.’ And he said, ‘Kiss me on this side too, Mavis.’ So I got two kisses for Mother.”
Staples noted that she recorded two albums with Prince, “The Voice” and “Time Waits for No One.” After sharing a few more thoughts, she called for a few moments of silence.
And then she sang a few bars of “Purple Rain,” a cappella.
Who gets to cover Prince? A primer going into this weekend’s Coachella
We’re still processing that we’re now a day into living in a world without Prince.
With a loss of this magnitude comes the inevitable, well-meaning tributes (keep your eye on the next Grammys, Oscars, the AMAs — basically anywhere there’s more than five musicians in the same room). Included in that is this weekend’s Coachella, which just went from absorbing idle speculation about which famous guest will turn up to which of the many acts will pay tribute to one of music’s true indelible icons.
In a sense, the Empire Polo Club remains Prince’s house since his unforgettable Coachella set from 2008. Here is a list of a few acts who could deliver a fitting and goose-bump-raising Prince cover this weekend if they desired, along with a few other artists who, while their heart may be in the right place, may want to think twice.
Can we all agree that nothing at Coachella will beat Prince covering Radiohead’s ‘Creep’?
Let’s face facts: Nothing that happens at the Empire Polo Club this weekend is likely to equal Prince’s own visit to Coachella in 2008, when he played a near-legendary set that included a stunning rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.”
Epik High brings rowdy, rap-driven K-Pop to Coachella’s Sahara Tent
A few days before Epik High’s Sunday performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the group’s three rappers and DJs knocked out some rounds of bowling at Shatto 39 Lanes in L.A.’s Koreatown. While doing their best to throw strikes, they heard something that suggested their upcoming Coachella debut would turn out just fine.
“They were playing Korean music in there, which was a great feeling, to see K-Pop getting so much love,” said the band’s leader, Tablo, inside the band’s wood-paneled artist trailer backstage at Coachella this past weekend. Even though he acknowledges that his group’s bawdy, hip-hop-driven sound was a world away from K-Pop’s glossy choreography (“We don’t fit into K-Pop too snugly,” he explained) it was another hint that the time was nigh for Epik High in Indio, Calif.
The trio (with Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz) is one of South Korea’s most popular and longstanding rap groups, regularly playing festivals and headlining dates to tens of thousands of people over a 13-year career. They’re no strangers to L.A., either -- Epik High has headlined the Wiltern and played other tours geared toward Korean American audiences. In 2010, they topped the U.S. iTunes hip-hop charts, becoming one of the first Korean artists to do so.
Major Lazer thinks globally, keeps the party moving locally with a massive crowd at Coachella
Sean Paul, DJ Snake, a marching band and a troop of dancers joined DJ mastermind Diplo on the main stage for Major Lazer’s Coachella set Sunday, drawing perhaps one of the biggest crowds in the festival’s history, according to an estimate from a Goldenvoice representative at the scene.
Given that big, thumpy club beats are at the base of Major Lazer’s DNA, it’s no surprise the EDM-centric audience gravitated to their set early in the evening on Sunday. Diplo, along with Jillionaire and Walshy Fire, infuse the EDM basics with dancehall, reggae, African hip-hop and more.
And it’s that worldly combination that makes Major Lazer stand out among contemporaries like Calvin Harris, who headlined the main stage Sunday.
What’s surprising -- and abundantly apparent at Coachella -- is that they appeal to an audience who likely have no idea where Trinidad is, let alone that dancehall is a style rather than a place where your great-grandparents met.
Diplo, who worked early on with M.I.A. before becoming an EDM crossover star, uses a lot of the same imagery as the Sri Lankan singer. Dancers onstage wore red berets and camouflage shirts in a show of militant chic. Onstage a flag that read “Peace is the Mission” was waved and the dancers twerked in the background (a shaking booty apparently equals world peace).
But unlike M.I.A., who often drops political references in her music, Diplo and company keep things dancefloor-neutral. “Bubblebutt” and “Light It Up” are Major Lazer song titles that tell you all you need to know.
Sunday they had the audience obeying every demand: jump, get low, swing T-shirts in the air, and even run at one point (a death-defying act in a packed crowd of thousands).
If Major Lazer truly wanted to launch a worldwide mission for peace, they certainly have the masses behind them. But then, would the masses follow if there were more than just a good time at the end of their mission?
Before Calvin Harris, Sunday was Anderson .Paak’s night
Coachella’s closeout Sunday night was all about Rihanna and Calvin Harris. But earlier in the evening? That was all Anderson .Paak.
The singer, arranger and drummer has been a fixture in L.A. hip-hop and R&B, and is finally getting his due after his great LP “Malibu.” His set at Coachella might have done just as much for his steady rise as his cosign from Dr. Dre.
Early in the afternoon, .Paak dropped by the Sahara tent to perform with his collaborator TokiMonsta, who played her own fine set of slow-crawling but ferocious beat music to a busy crowd. .Paak guests on her singles “Put It Down” and “Realla,” and his appearance instantly reignited the Sahara with his limber charisma and vocals that rerouted her spacey productions back into soulful R&B.
Kylie Jenner’s rainbow color Coachella hairdo
Calvin Harris closes out Coachella with beats, fireworks -- and, oh yeah, Rihanna
The most surprising thing about Calvin Harris’ show Sunday night at Coachella? That this efficiency-minded Scottish DJ — a festival pro so accustomed to the grind that his video display featured images of moving gears — went on nearly 20 minutes late, a delay even greater than the one put up by the bad boys in Guns N’ Roses.
Most everything else about Harris’ set, which closed Coachella’s first weekend, felt like business as usual, from the steady thump of his chest-caving EDM beats to the fireworks that punctuated some of his most dramatic drops.
Rihanna surprises Coachella fans and gets close with Leonardo DiCaprio
Beyond the headliners: Must-see acts for Coachella weekend 2
Here’s a tip for those heading to the desert city of Indio, Calif., for Coachella’s second weekend: Skip the reunions.
Guns N’ Roses, in trying to relive past glories, came across rather complacent and comfortable, while LCD Soundsystem, though one of the few dance acts at the fest with a penchant for self-doubt, opted not to offer hints of any new frontiers to explore. Nostalgia can be fun, but if you’re looking for a lasting impression, here are a few safer bets.
Savages. Question authority. Question love. Question your own desires. The British quartet delivered the rawest, most intense set of the weekend, as Jehnny Beth’s acerbic vocals dueled with Gemma Thompsons’ guitar as if they were two machetes. The band is definitely at odds with Coachella’s typically sunny disposition -- even a ballad comes off as predatory -- but it’s the hard rock band as sheer force of will.
Grimes. There’s plenty of dance music at Coachella, but none of it so devilishly toys with genre boundaries like Grimes. Vocally, she’s something of an alien, able to conjure a punk rock howl one moment and then immediately shift to a weightless upper register that effortlessly glides among the desert winds. Musically, an upbeat guitar will clash with frantic beats and bass-heavy synths that stutter, stop and aren’t afraid to get slippery. Her 50-minute set Saturday night, which was performed with the aid of three back-up dancers, was a kinetic, head-spinning workout.
Mavis Staples. A legend, the Chicago soul maven has never stopped fighting. Whether it was bringing fire to the civil rights-era songs she cut with her family band the Staples Singers (see “Freedom Highway”) or finding urgency in more recent interpretations of songs such as the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People,” Staples was all about topicality. Along with incendiary hip-hop act Run the Jewels, this was one of Coachella’s most politically minded sets, but also one of its most celebratory. Go, if for no other reason than to sing along to ‘70s anthem “I’ll Take You There,” which five decades on still feels improvisational.
Ex Hex. Though given a criminally early set on Saturday (wear sunscreen), Ex Hex kept it cool with highly melodic coming-of-age tales that show that old dramas never really go away. Led by Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag), each Ex Hex tune feels like a long lost ‘60s-era rock ‘n’ roll gem, only Timony delivers the sort of upbeat guitar wizardry that knows no time or place. Ex Hex may be fuzzy, psychedelic and fast, but also understands the value of some well-placed hand claps.
Vince Staples. The landscapes are murky, the images are jarring. As the Times’ August Brown wrote, the Long Beach rapper “delivered a bracing jolt of the reality behind Coachella’s traditional escapism.” That it all happened in the Sahara tent, Coachella’s giant multimedia room that’s a shrine to partying first and partying always, made Staples’ set feel like a wake-up call.
Melody’s Echo Chamber. One of Coachella’s best-kept secrets, at least judging by the relatively modest crowd in attendance, was the return of French artist Melody Prochet. A little dreamy and a little trippy, Melody’s Echo Chamber manipulated guitar tones and let them snake around the groove until they grew unsuspectingly loud. The act has been largely absent since releasing a debut in 2012, but arrived at Coachella with dizzying melodies to spare. See the act Sunday night, and then stay in the tent for the must-witness hip-hop soul of Anderson .Paak.
Courtney Barnett. At first, she can come off as off-handed, maybe even a bit of a slacker. But give Courtney Barnett an ear and she’ll never let it go with conversational but razor sharp lyrics. And that says nothing of the crunchy guitar riffs and casual DIY hooks. Barnett sings about daily life, but with an honest and wry sensibility -- the stress of shopping for a home, the desire to ditch work and just stare at rooftops, or the contradicting fears of staying at home versus actually going to the party. Whereas rock ‘n’ rollers of yore may have simply wanted to die before they got old, Barnett wants to die before she drowns in the debt of hospital bills.
Rihanna, Big Sean join Calvin Harris to close out Coachella, Taylor (and Twitter) celebrate
Ever-elusive Sia flips the script on Coachella cameos
“Is that a llama?” asked a woman next to me before the stage lights went up.
Nope -- it was just Sia, wearing her signature two-tone wig and a huge, fluffy dress under which the singer’s alter ego of a dancer, Maddie Ziegler, was hiding.
Or at least the dancer looked like Ziegler. It was almost impossible to tell.
At a Coachella defined by surprise pop-star cameos, Sia’s performance Sunday night cleverly flipped the script. As usual, the singer delivered songs such as “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” while standing off to the side of the stage, her face hidden beneath that wig.
Beside her, dancers including Ziegler (or her lookalike) acted out a series of vignettes that were also playing out on the main stage’s enormous video screens.
But instead of live close-ups from the stage, the video sequences were actually prerecorded studio versions of the same dances featuring well known actors such as Paul Dano, Tig Notaro and Kristen Wiig.
Which meant that the show’s guest stars were the folks onscreen, not in the flesh.
Or were they? Perhaps that was Wiig onstage after all, dancing her heart out right alongside Ziegler.
Led by French artist Melody Prochet, Melody’s Echo Chamber deserved better than their Coachella crowd
Melody’s Echo Chamber, essentially the project of French artist Melody Prochet, brought a trippy, dreamy glaze to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday evening.
Guitars were razor sharp one moment and watery the next, as Prochet’s vocals washed into the mix to further create a mystical atmosphere. Performing barefoot, the artist hopped from her keyboard to the microphone stand, occasionally dipping to the floor as if playing an imaginary harp. Vintage synths slithered around the fuzz-laden melodies like a caterpillar and guitars ebbed and flowed like a lava lamp, until they suddenly burned brighter -- and louder -- than anyone expected.
Melody’s Echo Chamber hasn’t released an album since 2012. The mid-size tent was grossly under-attended, but those who were there witnessed one of Coachella’s best-kept secrets.
Spurred by 2ManyDJs and James Murphy, Coachella’s Despacio tent offers another side to dance culture
Long lines at the Yuma tent got you panting? Calvin Harris a bit too celeb-tilted for your tastes? There’s another option for dance music at Coachella this year, and it’s one we’ve come to count on this weekend: Despacio.
The sound-design project from Friday headliner James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (with audio engineer John Klett and the duo 2ManyDJs), Despacio is essentially a cutting-edge speaker system designed specifically for Murphy’s genre wheelhouse: slow-simmering disco and vintage club music.
While the Sahara tent is constructed for maximum EDM mind-erasing, and the Yuma tent for hypnotic, bass-pulsing techno, Descpacio is meant for another mood entirely. Something more fun, funky and friendly. It’s inspired by Paradise Garage’s legendary system, and it hits all the same joyful notes.
Major Lazer can’t stop the country breakout Chris Stapleton at Coachella
Willie Nelson. Dwight Yoakam. Sturgill Simpson.
That’s a partial list of the country stars who’ve played both Coachella and its roots-music counterpart, Stagecoach, which is due to take over Indio’s Empire Polo Club after next weekend’s Coachella replay.
Now Chris Stapleton can add himself to the tally.
The bearded singer-guitarist, who’s won seemingly every major country-music award over the last year with his debut album “Traveller,” filled the Gobi tent Sunday evening, earning hearty cheers with his rough-hewn throwback sound even as Major Lazer’s thumping EDM beats threatened to drown him out from the neighboring main stage.
“Sounds like something else is going on,” Stapleton said at one point in his thick Southern drawl. But you got the sense he didn’t mind.
Time-lapse view from a steamy Coachella, Day 3: So long, sun, you won’t be missed
Beyond Spicy Pie: The dining options keep improving at Coachella (and have a local look)
Music isn’t the only thing about Coachella that’s eclectic.
Festival foodies had a list of fine-dining restaurants, casual eateries and health-oriented spots available, and some call Los Angeles home. Commissary, Pok Pok LA, Clover and The Church Key were set up to satisfy tastebuds. Here’s a peek at some of those food options.
Now, is it music -- or food -- that brings people together?
Based on the varied food selections at Coachella, including plant-based food, cold-pressed juice and organic flatbreads, the answer might be simple: both.
Is there room for jazz at Coachella? Kamasi Washington’s set offers a strong answer
After years of rock and R&B encroaching on jazz festival lineups, L.A. native Kamasi Washington was among the acts returning the favor at Coachella this year.
Washington’s three-disc debut album released on the L.A. label Brainfeeder was one of the most talked about jazz albums of 2015, but could his sprawling, funk-infused sound translate for a festival audience? Based on the YouTube livestream and the response generated on Twitter, his Sunday set under the hot midday sun delivered.
Read more about Washington and his album “The Epic” here.
Come to Coachella, buy some rare vinyl -- and some Bieber
Justin Bieber isn’t performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Festival. Reunited alt-rock band Lush couldn’t make it for the first weekend because of visa issues. But both artists still had successful Coachella weekends by at least one metric: the performance of their work at the on-site record store.
The shop, run by promoter Goldenvoice for the third consecutive year, is heavily-curated mix of oddities and rarities. Check, for instance, a section devoted to records with animals on the cover (see Steppenwolf’s “Sixteen Great Performances,” or the “Looney Tunes” collection “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Cat”), or browse a collection of vinyl devoted to “role models.”
What constitutes a “role model”? Albums from Bruce Willis and ‘70s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” made the cut.
“If you walk through there and can’t find something that you like, then I really question your musical tastes because there is something for everyone there,” said store manager Jon Halperin. “A kid came in earlier looking for Frank Sinatra. He’s young. He didn’t know Frank Sinatra’s music at all, and we found him two best-of records that were $3 each and were original pressings from the ‘60s.”
The store is vinyl and cassette only, but does stock works released specifically for Record Store Day, a marketing event designed to spur sales at indie retailers that coincides with Coachella’s second of three days. Most Record Store Day releases are limited -- a shop may get a dozen or so copies of a particular in-demand work, if it’s lucky -- and Halperin said he was surprised by some of what the Coachella crowd snapped up when the shop opened on Saturday.
“With Record Store Day, I have to think, ‘How many people are going to buy the Justin Bieber picture disc, and how many people are going to buy the ‘Star Wars’ soundtrack, and how many people are going to buy a Lush boxed set?’ Well, I don’t know how many people are going to buy Justin Bieber,” he said. “There’s no science to it, because our Justin Bieber’s sold out almost immediately after the Lush boxed set sold out.”
But current pop hits are not the store’s stock in trade. On display were works from classic garage rockers the Flamin’ Groovies, and in the bins were works from acts as varied as rock act Teddy and the Pandas, jazzy experimental act Embryo and prog rock act Popol Ace, whose “Stolen From Time” was in the rare records bin and going for $60.
The most expensive record in the shop? That would be The Velvet Underground & Nico’s 1967 debut, complete with its banana peel in tact. The work goes for $250. But most items in the store are relatively affordable. Halperin estimates he’s sold about 20 copies of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” for $3 apiece.
Arizona’s indie retail Zia Records used to make the trek to Indio for the festival, but the store parted ways with Coachella in 2014. Halperin says he’s learned some lessons about what the Coachella crowd is into in the shop’s third year.
“We go a little heavier on classic rock, and maybe a little lighter on metal and a little lighter on, say, reggae. That’s what people are buying,” he said.
Shopping early Sunday was Jonathan Briks, an agent at United Talent Agency. He was stoked to find a copy of Minnie Riperton’s “Come to My Garden” for $10. He said he had been looking for a vinyl copy of the jazzy rhythm & blues singer’s debut for years, having previously balked at spending $70 for it in Chicago.
The shop, Halperin says, is a borderline art installation rather than a big money-maker, as it’s designed to be a pop-up old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store for six days that allows fest-goers to escape the sun. Buyer Alex Rodriguez, Halperin says, canvases the country looking for works to sell in the shop, as the store aims to have a different selection every year.
“He literally travels across the country and buys up collections, but it has to be curated for Coachella,” Halperin says. “He doesn’t just buy anything, even if it’s something random like a 1960s “Jetsons” record from the cartoon. It has to be something he feels would pertain to the Coachella crowd. It can be goofy. It can be serious.”
Teen hit and killed by a vehicle near Coachella
A pedestrian was fatally struck by a car Friday night near the music festival, according to the Indio Police Department. The victim was identified by the Riverside County Coroner’s Office as Michala Freeland, 18, of Highland.
At 8:13 p.m., Indio police responded to the scene at Avenue 52 east of Monroe Street. Freeland was struck by a 1990s Jeep Grand Cherokee while she was crossing the street, police said in a statement.
The victim was transported to Eisenhower Medical Center, where she died.
The driver of the Jeep remained at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation, authorities said. Neither he nor his infant passenger were injured, officials said.
The cause of the accident remained under investigation and the name of the Jeep’s driver was not released. Police said he had a valid license and that it did not appear that drugs or alcohol were a factor.
Freeland was in town for the festival, but was not an attendee.
Courtney Barnett: She’s no goddess, and that’s good
Courtney Barnett both confused and entertained the crowd at Coachella’s second biggest stage Saturday with songs built on Nirvana-esque riffs drenched in stream-of-consciousness word play.
Concertgoers straight from the festival’s dance tents bounced along awkwardly to the wonderfully raw “Pedestrian at Best,” moved and repelled by the catchy barrage of noise. The Australian singer and guitarist’s far-from-airbrushed approach was at odds with the primped and fussy goddess aesthetic Coachella’s now infamous for, and clearly that tension made her sets one of the more interesting on the Empire polo field Saturday.
Barnett has played Coachella before, but on a smaller stage. With the spotlight on her this time, she dropped to her knees a la Hendrix at one point, revamping that classic rock god pose to fit her DIY style. Not exactly Woodstock, and that was kinda the point. Barnett is a master at making everything that came before her own.
Kesha joins Zedd for a powerful, poignant appearance
For a few minutes on Saturday night, Kesha was free.
The singer’s brief cameo with EDM producer Zedd was easily Coachella’s most dignified and poignant guest appearance. Though it came in the middle of a high-octane set of Zedd’s pop-friendly dance music, her one song with him spoke volumes about power structures in the music industry, and how music can still be a lifeline out of them.
Guns N’ Roses: Not quite glory years, but crowd didn’t mind
The first indication that this was not your parents’ Guns N’ Roses was when singer Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan started their headlining set at Coachella on time.
The second clue? No, it wasn’t that Rose performed the entire show sitting down. It was when, in all sincerity, he referred to the audience and evening as “lovely.”
The no-shows, temper tantrums, audience provocation and clear disdain for one another that made Guns N’ Roses one of the last dangerous rock bands were absent Saturday night in Indio as the L.A. band’s three original members plowed through a two-hour-plus set on Coachella’s main stage.
Vanessa Hudgens shows off her flashy dance moves during Run the Jewels show
Ice Cube insists he’s still a gangsta at Coachella
“Can I keep it gangsta tonight?” Ice Cube asked as he took the stage Saturday at Coachella.
Yes, please, the crowd responded. And so he did — for about half his show.
Going into the festival, the West Coast rap pioneer was widely expected to reunite the living members of his seminal late-’80s group, N.W.A, whose story was dramatized in last year’s hit biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” Earlier this month, the outfit — featuring Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella and the late Eazy-E (who died in 1995) — was even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As Ice Cube pointed out Saturday, N.W.A didn’t perform at the induction, the result of what he described as a disagreement with the Rock Hall over what that performance might look like.
It was Grimes vs. Guns N’ Roses -- and she did just fine
“I wanna peer over the edge,” Grimes sang in the opening number of her late Saturday evening set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Then for the next 50 minutes, she and three dancers ran through nine highly kinetic songs that toyed with pop’s boundaries.
While as thrillingly relentless as any of Coachella’s more traditional electronic-driven dance acts, Grimes’ songs never stop flirting with unpredictability. Her upper-register voice wafted in the Indio desert wind one moment, and then she’d fall to the ground to let out a hair-raising, punk-rock worthy howl the next. Meanwhile, an upbeat guitar clashed with frantic beats and placed an optimistic spin on her determined, don’t-back-down vocals.
Grimes also had a tough gig last night. She was Coachella’s main counter-programming to headliners Guns N’ Roses, performing with its classic lineup that paired vocalist Axl Rose with guitarist Slash for the first time in about two decades. Still, placed in Coachella’s mid-size dance tent, Grimes easily filled it and had an adoring crowd that was clearly ready for more. Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, even apologized for the set being so short.
But she made the most of the time she had, performing in front of a backdrop that at times flashed a drawing of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and bringing out like-minded genre-bending artist Janelle Monae for the wickedly off-kilter “Venus Fly,” where synthesizers stuttered and stopped and the voices of the two singers skidded around a bass that was equally as slippery. “Scream,” with a guest rap from young Taiwanese artist Aristophanes, was the rare Coachella moment that felt borderline dangerous. When Grimes wails, you stop and take notice, a skill she shares with the leader of the band that was over on the main stage.
Indeed, Grimes can not only dish out rock ‘n’ roll with the best of them, she also presents a vision where it could head. Closing number “Kill V. Maim,” which she said was her favorite song to perform live, is a punk versus EDM mash-up, with guitars, rhythms and a booming bass all fighting for control. It was a battle of live instruments against pre-recorded ones, all trading knock-out blows. Grimes snarled one moment, went slyly defensive in the next and capped it off with a demented, demonic cheerleading routine, in which she spelled out the word “behave” and then punctuated it with a mission statement: “Never more.”
The 1975 performs on the Coachella Stage this evening. Get to know them.
Today’s festival lineup includes The 1975 performing at 6:10 p.m. on the Coachella stage. Mikael Wood sat down with the band not long ago to talk about their new album.
Wood wrote: “it’s catchier but more varied than the debut. It’s raw in emotion but clinical in design. And though it feels as natural as could be, it’s also got polarizing energy in the pride with which it presents what (frontman Matthew) Healy calls ‘this effeminate, goth, ‘80s, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, modern art thing that we are.’”
Diplo’s mom and Axl Rose: Separated at birth?
Never too old: Daniel Moreno, 75, and other faces at Coachella
Guns N’ Roses rocks the stage at Coachella -- with Axl on his Guitar Throne
Guns N’ Roses storm Coachella (with Angus Young)
In case you missed it, AC/DC confirmed that Axl Rose will be joining them for an upcoming tour. Then, to underscore the point, Angus Young joined Guns N’ Roses onstage Saturday night during what began as an underwhelming comeback at Coachella.
Kesha joins Zedd onstage at Coachella on Saturday night
On another day of high-wattage guest appearances, the EDM producer Zedd brought out perhaps the most emotionally charged cameo of Coachella -- Kesha.
The singer, currently in the middle of a long and difficult series of allegations of sexual abuse and contract disputes with her onetime producer Dr. Luke, came out during Zedd’s set. She performed “True Colors,” the slow-burning but resilient title track from Zedd’s 2015 LP.
Dressed in all black and a wide black Panama hat, Kesha didn’t speak onstage, but forcefully sang lyrics of redemption and righteous anger. “I won’t apologize for the fire in my eyes,” she sang. “Let me show you my true colors.”
The crowd greeted her with broad, welcoming cheers, clearly acknowledging the potency of her appearance. It was just a song, but perhaps the start of Kesha’s return on her terms.
N.W.A comes together behind Ice Cube at Coachella (minus Dr. Dre, but plus Snoop)
Dr. Dre sat out Ice Cube’s performance Saturday night at Coachella, limiting a hoped-for reunion of N.W.A to Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella.
The three performed “Straight Outta Compton” as well as N.W.A’s unprintably titled song about the police, which Ice Cube said he’d been warned backstage against playing.
Perhaps to assuage a crowd pretty clearly disappointed in another of his guests -- Common, with whom he did a song from his new “Barbershop” film -- Ice Cube also brought out Dre’s one-time sidekick, Snoop Dogg.
After arriving onstage on a sparkly tricycle, Snoop rapped “Go to Church” with Cube, then did “Lodi Dodi.”
Run The Jewels, Vince Staples, SZA add to the day’s urgency with inspired hip-hop
In a Sahara tent known for sensory overload and cut-loose fun, the Long Beach rapper Vince Staples delivered a bracing jolt of the reality behind Coachella’s traditional escapism.
“See this weight is on my shoulders, pray Jehovah lift me up / And my pain is never over, pills and potions fix me up,” he rapped on “Lift Me Up,” one of the best songs from his breakthrough LP, “Summertime ’06.”
The kids understood the pills and potions part, but there was a lot of real pain underneath those lyrics that set the tone of the day so far: a sense that something is wrong in the world. And by naming it (or building giant sculptures about it) we can try to fix it.
The Eagles’ Joe Walsh joins Dan Auerbach’s the Arcs onstage in Indio
We’ve seen enough Coachella festivals to know that high-profile guest spots might as well be among all that text on the poster.
Last night’s cameo from Kanye West got things started nicely, and Saturday has continued the trend. Lorde and Sam Smith were among those joining Disclosure, and Dan Auerbach’s psychedelic-leaning Black Keys side project the Arcs took the Empire Polo Field to Ohio with the Eagles’ Joe Walsh joining his fellow former member of the James Gang Glenn Schwartz onstage for a three-guitar blues freakout.
Your movie, Ice Cube.
The cameos keep coming with Lorde and Sam Smith joining Disclosure onstage at Coachella
As soon as the sun went down, the stars began coming out at Coachella on Saturday night.
Disclosure kicked things off by welcoming Lorde onstage to sing “Magnets,” their sultry collaboration from last year’s “Caracal.” Later, Sam Smith emerged to do the recent “Omen,” as well as the track that arguably launched both his and Disclosure’s careers, “Latch.”
The British dance duo also brought out Kwebs and Lion Babe.
More guest spots are widely expected Saturday during Ice Cube’s performance, including his former bandmates in N.W.A.
Okay, so Axl Rose really is going on the road with AC/DC
Not to steal any thunder from that Guns N’ Roses reunion kicking off at Coachella in a few hours, but AC/DC’s representatives have confirmed that Axl Rose will be hitting the road with the band for the remainder of its “Rock or Bust” world tour.
The band’s statement includes an odd note of finality regarding AC/DC’s longtime vocalist Brian Johnson (that “future ventures” phrase below carries a lot of weight).
“AC/DC band members would like to thank Brian Johnson for his contributions and dedication to the band throughout the years. We wish him all the best with his hearing issues and future ventures. As much as we want this tour to end as it started, we understand, respect and support Brian’s decision to stop touring and save his hearing.
“We are dedicated to fulfilling the remainder of our touring commitments to everyone that has supported us over the years, and are fortunate that Axl Rose has kindly offered his support to help us fulfill this commitment.”
The run of dates with AC/DC + Axl fits between Guns N’ Roses tour plans, with dates beginning May 7 in Lisbon and continuing through June 12 in Aarhus, Denmark.
Guns N’ Roses’ U.S. tour kicks off in Detroit on June 23. Never let it be said that Axl Rose doesn’t like to stay busy.