My Saturday at Coachella proved to be overwhelming, but that wasn’t a surprise given the amount of talent scheduled to perform. The temperature was also hotter than the day before, but thankfully still bearable (it’s kind of funny when you are grateful that it’s only 95 degrees outside, and yes, Mom, I was wearing sunscreen).
I managed to see about 20 bands on Saturday, and while I didn’t catch too many full sets, I saw enough to know that the lineup was pretty stacked. From the moment I got to the festival grounds, the bands continued to impress, making this a very difficult Top 5 to narrow down, so be prepared for a heavy dose of honorable mentions.
Saturday’s Top 5 Performances
I feel like an asshole saying this, but I expected Lorde to perform to tracks and not move the entire time. I almost didn’t go to her performance because I knew it would be one of the more crowded shows, and I really thought she might suck. She didn’t.
With a huge, velvety red backdrop behind large, golden picture frames, the overnight star’s performance was classy before she even sang her opening note. She commanded the stage from the second she took it, and when the first chorus of her opening song, “Glory and Gore,” kicked in, she began a constant roaming of the stage, spastically and aggressively contorting her body along with each track. She was my favorite surprise of the weekend and more than proved that she deserves all the attention she has gotten over the last year.
The first act I saw on Saturday was Cage The Elephant, and the Kentucky natives brought a genuine rock & roll energy to the main stage. From their first song to their last, they used every bit of the stage, getting in the crowd members’ faces and keeping them screaming.
The best part of the set was undoubtedly when lead singer Matt Shultz crowd surfed at the front of the audience and somehow came out of the crowd with a whole pineapple. I don’t know if someone was planted in the audience, waiting to give it to him, but he looked just as surprised as everyone else.
I think Pharrell’s album is…OK. It’s not amazing, but if you don’t admit that you like him singing with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky” or his massively overplayed “Happy,” then you are just lying to yourself. His latest singles have been infectious and make it impossible to sit still.
His performance at Coachella was…OK. So I guess I’m contradicting myself by putting it this high on my list, but the main reason it is here at #3 is because Pharrell has the most gangster way of saying he is the most popular kid in the class. He has been producing for years and has made quite a few famous friends, and if he wants them to perform at Coachella, they’re going to do it.
Apparently he made a few calls and brought out on stage some of the same artists that joined him during Coachella weekend one, plus a few new ones. Everyone has already heard about Snoop, Busta Rhymes, and Nelly, but this performance also included T.I., Usher, and four songs with Jay-Z. Top that, everyone else on the Coachella lineup!
I’ve wanted to see Queens Of The Stone Age since Rated R, and their performance on Saturday was everything I had hoped for. I would have loved to see them when they toured with Dave Grohl, but I’ll settle for one of the other best rock drummers on the planet, Jon Theodore, formerly of The Mars Volta. Seeing him play the drums is always a treat; it’s like watching Bonham play funk.
Josh Homme and company started guns-a-blazin’ with the opening two tracks of their breakthrough album, Songs For The Deaf. Midway through their biggest commercial hit, “No One Knows,” Homme greeted the audience with a genuine smile, and after a few songs, he asked for everyone to dance with them as they grooved through the heavy and funky “Smooth Sailing” (of course, the crowd obliged). The group’s fiery and gritty style of fuzz-driven rock shook the audience from the beginning of the set to the end, keeping everyone engaged and mesmerized in a dark and rhythmic trance.
I had a feeling I would love Capital Cities’ live show. I mean, those jackets! Even without the amazing, ’60s-inspired pastel jackets, however, it was clear I was watching another LA-based favorite that knows how to throw a party. We’re talking jazzy trumpet solos, sunglasses, and choreographed dances. That’s right, they introduced the audience to their “Capital Cities Shuffle,” which I guess you could call a hipster “Cupid Shuffle.” I’m sure the few thousand people crammed up front had trouble stepping like that, but everyone else was able and willing.
I do have to say that I was more than a little disappointed that Andre 3000, who appears on Capital Cities’ epic list of all things awesome, “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” didn’t show up to perform his 30-second verse. He must have been real busy trying to rework the Outkast set for the next show. However, Capital Cities still rocked it. Their set was even better than I could have imagined, and it featured some of the best musicianship of the weekend.
Don’t get all worked up over the fact that Muse disappointed me. Let me explain first! Muse is one of the most amazing live bands I have ever seen, including this show. It just got a little wanky. Anyone who questions Matt Bellamy’s stage presence or musical ability has no idea what they are talking about. That being said, Bellamy played as though someone was questioning his talent and legitimacy.
I’d like to apologize for complaining about someone rocking too hard, but we’re talking about five straight minutes of noisy outro to “Hysteria,” playing the “Star Spangled Banner,” and kicking over an amp. It seemed like they were saying, “We are the best band here and fuck your eardrums.” So I guess “disappointment” is not the best term for how I felt about Muse’s set; I think they were just too badass for me this time.
Most Rock & Roll Moment
Everyone is on Future Island’s jock right now, and they should be. I wasn’t blown away by their latest album, but their live show is something to behold. The band got huge praise for their performance on David Letterman, and rightfully so. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the band looks like they are bored and ill. Singer Samuel T. Herring makes up for them in spades.
First off, he sings like a mixture of Bryan Ferry and Tom Waits. Secondly, he is a human bobble head. And finally, he dances like a cocaine-fueled Bill Murray at Studio 54. The way the man moves is so over the top, it is almost comical, but it’s too cool to be so. The most rock & roll moment of the day for me is when I was in the photo pit, and Herring stepped onto the subwoofer. He then proceeded to grab me by the head and scream into my face. I thought I might have already died by the time I saw him standing back up, but when I realized what had happened, no moment could top that for me.
A few other notables were Empire Of The Sun, Solange, and The Head & The Heart. Empire Of The Sun was amazing to see in the Sahara tent. Their on-stage personas are unlike anything else out there, and the stunning lights didn’t hurt their performance either.
Stage presence must run in the Knowles family because Beyonce’s sister Solange held it down. Her limitless expressions, fantastic afro, and sexy movement made everyone’s heads turn.
The Head & The Heart have become one of my favorite bands. Their set was flawless. They have amazing chemistry on stage and a knack for nailing harmonies. It may not have been as visually exciting as some of the other performances, but seeing those songs performed live was a great experience.