Coachella 2013

From psychedelic stunners on the Outdoor Theatre to heart-pounding turntablists in the Sahara Tent to unforgettable alternative on the Main Stage, Coachella Weekend 1 offered a little something for everyone. With the first weekend over and the second weekend fast approaching, there’s no time like the present to recap what were, in my opinion, the most memorable sets of the weekend.

5. C2C

Given that I’ve spent the last several months leading up to Coachella ranting and raving about C2C without having ever seen them live, I was admittedly slightly worried about eating my own praise when I made my way over to the Sahara Tent to catch their early afternoon set last Friday. It turns out my worry was unwarranted.

This Nantes-based turntablist quartet threw down a high-energy set rife with deft scratching, masterful mixing, and a wide variety of sounds ranging from hip-hop backbeats to jazzy breakdowns. They played heavily from their debut release, Tetra, but kept things interesting by throwing in numerous samples from other tracks. Unexpected surprise: the competitive madness that ensued when the members of C2C split into two groups to battle it out.

4. Tame Impala

Despite having minor issues with a MIDI keyboard, Perth natives Tame Impala managed to deliver a stunningly ethereal psychedelic rock set that entranced all in attendance at the Outdoor Theatre. Opening with “Solitude Is Bliss,” one of my favorite tracks from Innerspeaker, they tantalized the crowd with their more dreamy tracks before launching into the grinding guitar riffs of Lonerism’s “Elephant.”

Tame Impala provided healthy variety and completely filled the Outdoor Theatre’s stage with their sound, no small task considering the sheer massiveness of the neighboring Main Stage. Coupled with the faint breeze, which would later become an all-out sandstorm, Tame Impala’s set was pure magic.

3. Blur

Having waited a whopping 10 years to see my favorite ’90s band perform live, I went into Blur’s set with unreasonably high expectations, which were thoroughly shattered by their performance on the Main Stage.

Blur sounded absolutely incredible playing through their extensive catalog of hits, and the highlights of the group’s set included the undeniably catchy opener “Girls & Boys;” a deliciously extended outro during “Beetlebum;” the perfect picture of longing conveyed in my personal favorite Blur track, “Coffee & TV;” and of course, the mayhem that was their most well-known track, “Song 2.” From beginning to end, Blur wowed with variety and showmanship.

2. Phoenix

Saturday’s four-way conflict between Phoenix, Sigur Rós, Booka Shade, and New Order was undoubtedly the shittiest I’ve encountered in my five years of going to Coachella, but any apprehension I had about my choice going into Phoenix’s festival-closing set were quashed almost immediately.

“Lisztomania,” played early on in the set, had the impressively-sized crowd rocking out while mellower tunes like “Trying To Be Cool” allowed for everyone to take a breather and marvel at the band’s unquestionable musicianship. R. Kelly’s surprise appearance may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but I was floored by the “Ignition (Remix)”/”1901″ mash-up. Phoenix thoroughly proved they were more than worthy of closing out the Main Stage without any help from their compatriots, Daft Punk.

1. Hot Chip

I’ve been a fan of British indietronica maestros Hot Chip for some time now, but I simply was not anticipating the degree of unadulterated awesomeness they exuded at Coachella. Going into their Saturday evening set, I had resigned myself to sitting down and resting my aching legs, but I found that to be impossible the moment they played the first notes of their opening track, “How Do You Do?”

Hot Chip powered through their set with their widely beloved singles “Over and Over” and “Ready For The Floor” as well as newer tracks from 2012’s In Our Heads, my favorite of which had to be “Flutes.” Hot Chip single-handedly kickstarted a phenomenal, stage-wide dance party, and their set was undoubtedly the most fun I had at any performance the whole weekend (no small praise). The stunning sunset in the background was the icing on an already flawless cake.

Honorable Mention:

The Faint

A glitchy mic and malfunctioning visuals at what is arguably the country’s biggest music festival would be enough to take the wind out of the sails of even the most seasoned performers. Not so for The Faint. They forged through their performance like the consummate showmen they are and pulled out an unforgettably energetic set in the Mojave Tent.