A constantly evolving, growing and developing party, Coachella is one of the top events of the year and a marker of the beginning of summer. Founded in 1999, Coachella takes place every spring in the Empire polo fields of Indio, California. What began as a two day festival, has turned into a three-day, two-weekend event with camping surrounding the venue for fans to be a part of an interactive music and art experience.
This was my sixth Coachella. Every year it gains momentum and becomes a bigger, more impressive and a more ritualistic event. There is a guarantee of phenomenal headliners with openers that you may never have heard of, but could very well blow your mind. Not only is it an audio experience it is a visual one; Coachella is intended to be the epitome of entertainment. So enjoy the visual rundown of my experience!
Thursday, campers start filling the polo fields surrounding the venue. Packed in tight, thousands of attendees love the camping experience and the freedom to induldge in a weekend full of old friends, new friends, bumping music and alcohol consumption (etc. *ahem*).
Friday morning yoga in the campgrounds felt fantastic!
Leaving the campgrounds; headed towards the festival entrance.
GOAT played psychedelic rock as weird as one could hope for.
Gorgeous singer/songwriter ZZ Ward seduced the audience with her lovely voice.
Davide Squillace spun electronic music in the cool-ish Yuma tent. He drew a crowd already ready to get their feet pumping away under the disco lights.
Couldn’t miss a little of Deorro’s progressive house in the Sahara tent.
Duke Dumont was in the Yuma tent. I am normally a fan, but he did too much fist pumping during his performance and it was a huge turn-off; especially since he kept dropping the beat. I feel torn about the whole experience; I hope he steps up his game for weekend two.
I’ve been dying to see the subtlty of Nicolas Jaar’s experimental electronic layering that veers from smooth to creepy to down right jaw-dropping. He was one of the top Friday artists.
Flume was insanely packed. The Gobi tent was too small for their obsessive fans. Their set verged on experimental proving their live set to be unexpected, but in a good way. This is an artist I would happily see in a more intimate setting. Weekend two-ers get there early; it’ll be worth it.
The Knife headlined the outdoor stage on Friday night. The rockers are notorious for creepy exaggerated vocals, lots of heavy beats and a ferocious intensity. Their live performance matched this description as they wore matching green body suits and had their eyes darkend with war paint. They choreographed a beautiful experimental performance that was designed to keep eyes hooked on the stunning instrumental and vocal showmanship.
Outkast headlined the mainstage Friday night; their first show in over a decade. Hardcore fans loved the experience as they played a string of deep cuts off their albums. Casual fans were bored because they didn’t play their radio ready hits until the end of the set taking too long to get the crowd motivated at the end of a long day. Janelle Monae came out as special guest and helped give the crowd a little fiest. Future also came out, but plugged his new album so frequently it felt obnoxious. I would’ve hoped for more for the comeback of a major artist, but perhaps the first performance is the hardest as they attempt to get back their groove.
Day two: Saturday!
MAKJ started my day off in the Sahara tent…for a few tracks at least.
Foxygen played at the outdoor stage in the middle of the blistering sun and still managed to keep energy high and wild making for a fantastic show. Sam France, lead singer, ran around the stage animatedly pouring his heart into the microphone while jumping, flailing and raging with his whole body. This indie rock group borders on experimental and psychedelic never leaving a moment for dullness.
White Lies made my top favorites for the entire weekend. This indie rock from the UK is played with such beautiful percision it’s hard not to fall in love.
Aeroplane brought dance beats and smiles.
CHVRCHES’s set was spot on. Lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, sweet delicate voice hit every note perfectly while emitting a sincerity in her awe at the fan love. She was sweet and gracious making her the most charming of all the performers. During “The Mother We Share” and “Recover” fans went absolutely nuts. This is a show worth catching.
Washed out played melodic indie rock perfect for swaying hips. Their set flowed naturally and was perfectly accompanied by a sunset in a dust storm.
Warpaint made waves with the release of their self-titled album earlier this year. This all female group rocked soft with their dreamy beats and whispery vocals.
Dillon Francis was a packed tent with ravers jumping and dancing their faces off. A little dubby/EDM never hurt anyone :)
The end of the night was a cluster of fantastic artists and I couldn’t sit through a full-set, but how can you blame me?
Future Islands were in the Gobi tent. Their synth pop gathered an impressive crowd and they few songs I caught came out clear and strong.
MGMT, I’ve seen a few times already, but managed to catch them perform “Kids” which made my heart happy.
Foster the people were surprisingly on point. They are more than just a one hit wonder proving that “Pumped Up Kicks” may be a bit over-rated compared to other funky and fun tracks. It was entirely dance-able as audience member skipped and pranced around in glee.
Sleigh Bells rocked hard. The lead singer Alexis Krauss was mesmerizing and sexy. She rocked hard and kept the audience engaged with intensity and some hardcore female swagger.
The Magician, I’ve seen several times, but managed to catch the last thirty minutes of his set. The audience in Yuma dug it as everyone danced in a beautiful sway. His deep house has a little edge that makes you wanna bite your lower lip in exitment.
Pharrell Williams was as sexy as ever making all the ladies in the audience swoon and dance and swoon and dance…you get it.
One of the big names that more than caught my curiosity was DARKSIDE. Nicolas Jaar and some funk guitar…this made my night. It was dark, creepy with slow builds and excellent beats. This musical experiment is addicting and perfect for the high-minded.
Tiga ended my night with some deep house in the Yuma tent…there is no such thing as too much dancing.
Day three: Sunday!
Sunday started amazing with Poolside at the Mojave tent. Their daytime disco was so groovy and sleek they made my list of favorites for the entire weekend. This is an artist I’d surely check out again.
Chance was on in the middle of the sun at the main stage and still managed to bust out some fancy foot work while getting the audience amped for every song. He mostly played tracks from Acid Rap but had a few throw backs off from his older work for hardcore fans. During his set he brought out Justin Bieber making the audience go wild. “Cocoa Butter Kisses” was the standout track getting the audience singing along with every chorus.
UK drum and bass band, Rudimental perform with intensity and high energy. Their positivity vibrated off the tent walls and brought everyone to a happy place.
Neutral Milk Hotel requested no photos. So, Sorry! However, the call for intimacy and being present in the moment is appreciated. Jeff Mangum formed the indie band in the 80s and hasn’t performed on this scale in years. Considering it’s been fifteen years since the last album, Neutral Milk Hotel still knows how to perform and connect with an audience.
Maceo Plex spun for two hours a fantastic deep house set with bumping, evolving bass lines perfect for gurning.
Disclosure, of course, was a huge hit. Their dance-ready hits make everyone bounce around from the first song to the last. Sam Smith came out to perfrom “Latch” making the audience go wild.
Arcade Fire headlined the last night of Coachella bringing the audience into a state of euphoria. Their energy during a live set is infectious and making fans out of causual listeners.
Coachella feels so good, you never want it to end. But the afterglow should last a few more weeks until I head to Detroit for Movement festival.
Epic pictures of the whole experience: