My feet hurt more than I’d care to admit when Sunday rolled around. I almost forgot that weird pain you get in your toes when pressing forward after three days of walking for 12 hours straight. Did anyone wear a pedometer to Coachella this year?
It’s no surprise that Sunday was amazing, just as Friday and Saturday were. But I think Sunday was my favorite day of the fest because I not only saw several expectedly incredible acts, I also stumbled across a few that would prove to be amongst the more memorable performances I witnessed this year.
I love surprises. Stumbling upon a great band when no one you’re particularly interested in seeing is playing is just so much fun. This happened to me Sunday afternoon when I floated over to the Sahara tent to check out Chicago’s Krewella. This would be one of the higher energy sets I would see all weekend. Oh, and sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf are gorgeous.
The vocalists came on stage and thrashed around like it was a metal show, jumping all over the place and spinning their long hair around their heads. Each of the two took turns singing while the other would run tracks and DJ. One of them sported a “Hug me, I’m Paki” shirt with a few supporters in the crowd holding an Israeli flag, a nice little Coachella “aww” moment.
All weekend I had heard about how great Disclosure was and how I had to see them, which usually makes me want to do anything but. However, Disclosure put on a memorable live show on Sunday, featuring live percussion, bass, guitar, and live sampling — all with only two members.
Their visuals were stunning and kept the crowd moving uncontrollably the entire set. Given the overwhelmingly positive reviews of their debut album, Settle, and late time slot for newcomers, they had something to prove to the Coachella audience, and prove it they did. The duo will be playing festivals all summer long, and you can expect to continue hearing their name in the years to come.
One of the first CDs I bought with my own money was Beck’s Odelay, and the artist’s unique songwriting style and penchant to groove in the most unusual ways have always fascinated me, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to see him live until Sunday night.
He started off his set with “E-Pro,” getting the crowd’s attention with a heavy groove, after which he greeted the audience and mentioned how he wasn’t going to play much new stuff (his latest album got mixed reviews). He continued to play older classics, such as “Loser” and “Devils Haircut,” and even covered “Billie Jean,” which was a bit of a surprise, not that it’s never been done before, but hearing a classic covered like that in an environment dominated by new music put a smile on my face.
Little Dragon took the stage with funky neon lights positioned near each band member, giving them a subtle glow as they kicked off their set. Yukimi Nagano took the stage in an almost doll-like yellow skirt and red top as people in the audience kept screaming for them to start, excited to hear one of the festival’s most anticipated bands perform.
The night really started alongside Little Dragon’s set. They were one of the biggest parties of Sunday, and people knew it would be one of their last chances to get down…and down they got. The group might have been the statement band of the day, letting festival promoters Goldenvoice know that they are ready for the big leagues. Nagano controlled the audience as well as any headlining act’s front person, and I guarantee they will have a longer set on a larger stage within the next few years.
1. Arcade Fire
Before I left Los Angeles, I kind of already knew who would take the #1 spot for Sunday, and they also earn the distinction of being my favorite performance of the entire festival: Arcade Fire. The group’s members walked out on stage wearing the paper mache doppelgangers that they used for promo shots when their stellar double album, Reflektor, was released last year.
Shortly after, singer Win Butler came on stage and pulled the best prank I have ever seen and my official favorite rock & roll moment of the day. He stopped the music and introduced his very special guests. Just then, two men in white suits wearing Daft Punk helmets walked on stage. The audience shook with excitement as they played a slowed-down version of “Get Lucky.” It was shortly thereafter that everyone realized that those men weren’t the respected DJ duo; they were, according to Butler, “Paft Dunk.” The crowd was Daft Punk’d.
Arcade Fire then performed “Normal Person” from their new album, and the set never slowed down from there on. The group’s touring members, still some donning the paper mache heads, broke out pom-poms and jumped all over the stage while Butler left to join the audience as he swung his guitar around. The band’s version of “Flavor Flav,” who is a Butler brother and also plays a myriad of instruments, also fled the stage, wielding a duct-tapped drum over his head. He ended the band’s third song by smashing the drum on the stairs, which started the tempo to “Rebellion (Lies).”
Arcade Fire also injected a bit of social commentary into their set, explaining how the song “We Exist” is about the voices of oppressed groups like those seeking marriage regardless of their sexual preference. I was so impressed by their performance and how well they carried themselves as artists. They have incredible stage presence, loads of talent, respectable views, and even a sense of humor.
Courtney Barnett’s The Double EP: A Split Of The Peas got solid reviews, and I enjoyed the album quite a bit. I read that her live show was one to be revered, which was intriguing based on the album’s raw layers and smart orchestration. I almost expected an Iron & Wine style 12-person band to take the stage alongside her.
Barnett played fine, as did her band, but the performance featured just her and two guys. This simplistic approach worked, but it doesn’t quite live up to the level the album reaches. I guess I got my hopes too high.
I could go on forever about every band I saw and how awesome they were, but I have shit to do, so a quick summary of a few other artists whose performances I enjoyed are as follows:
Frank Turner rocked it. His simple folk-meets-pop writing style almost reminds you of Flogging Molly, but it doesn’t rely on culturally-based music. Turner and his band’s energy won over the crowd in a sweaty mess.
The Naked & Famous were perfect. The New Zealand outfit played like they have been performing together for years. Their singer is a perfect front woman, and their music was ideal for some afternoon dancing.
Escort was my last surprise of the festival. I admittedly don’t really care about Lana Del Rey — I know. I’m sorry. — so I found myself in the Heinekin tent when I heard Brooklyn’s Escort bringing the funkiest disco party I heard all weekend. Their flashy style and nearly 10-piece band kept up the energy for the final night.
My feet still hurt. I’m still tired. And I couldn’t be happier. Thanks, Coachella 2014.