[EVENT RECAP] Coachella 2014
Oh Coachella... Once named Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, now affectionately known as 'Brochella'. Three days of desert dust, scorching heat and great music, palm trees and sunsets, mountains and magic. At least, that's what it used to be....
We could rant all day about how Coachella has changed, go on a VICE-style rampage hating on people who attend the festival just to see Calvin Harris, but really, it should be about the music, so we are going to bite our tongues and talk solely about that.
We'd been out in the desert in Joshua Tree filming and camping under the stars on Friday, so our Coachella weekend didn't technically start until Saturday... Kicking off with the slightly dorky but entirely lovable sounds of London's Bombay Bicycle Club, the almost comical Rock'n'Roll antics of Julian Casablancas, followed by some much-needed soothing sounds from Washed Out to calm our mid-day heat. As always, Warpaint were effortless, cool and nonchalant - but displaying a more polished look than when we saw them last year. We rushed around to at least catch snippets of Lorde, Pixies, Sleigh Bells, and MUSE. Our night ended in a long-winded conundrum involving day parking, non-available camping passes, road closures, Walmart, and weird people that live in their RV and cook steak at 2am...
Sunday began with the sweet and soothing sounds of James Vincent McMorrow, who's sentiments almost brought us to tears, before him and his band brought out their novelty tropical glasses. Trombone Shorty was all high energy jazz and instrument swapping, Bombino from the Sahara desert probably couldn't be more perfectly selected for this festival, Poolside's Caribbean-heavy beats made us lust for the nearest body of water. Courtney Barnett's laid-back and 'too-cool' demeanour was perfectly suited alongside her spitfire tongue-and-cheek lyrics.
Blood Orange's Dev Hynes brought his best 90's dance moves to the Outdoor Stage and made vocalist/girlfriend Samantha Urbani a feature throughout the set. Guest performers included Ratking (whom we lost respect for after SXSW) and Adam Bainbridge (Kindness) with his adorably awkward dance moves, then an Outkast mash-up of ''It Is What It Is''.
As you do in any festival fashion, we frantically rushed around in attempt to catch everyone. Unfortunately, that wasn't humanly possible... although we managed to catch Naked and Famous, Little Dragon, met Angus & Julia Stone when trying to run away from the Calvin Harris crowd, and saw bits of John Newman and Beck.
Here are our top 5 moments from Coachella 2014:
There's something in the blood of the Knowles family. Although Beyoncé may have taken the world-domination (seriously, even if you barely listen to her music she is QUEEN) diva route, little sis Solange is her more down-to-earth counterpart. Making jokes on stage, pulling out phenomenal dance moves in an amazing two-piece yellow pant-suit, and shaking that mane of hair -- this girl is a baby mama, soul sister. We found it impossible not to grind along to her cover of Dirty Projectors "Stillness Is The Move", sampling Erykah Badu/Dr Dre. We may have missed her superstar sister's appearance during weekend one, but there was something about seeing her in her own light, not overshadowed by her big sis's status that made it all the more worthwhile. Plus, we can't help but love anyone who champions our current favourite - Moses Sumney.
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
QOTSA were nothing short of KILLER. I couldn't think of any other band to so perfectly complement the intense heat of the Palm Desert - sweaty, grimy, dirty f*cking Rock'n'Roll. Perhaps because they hadn't played this festival for over a decade (excluding the week before), or more likely because we were on their home turf, and who better than locals know how to blast their way through the hot, thick air. We ran over to main stage just in time for what was an absolute anthem of my teenage years "Millionaire", and suddenly that angst-filled tween within me was released once more. As well as a selection off their latest album …Like Clockwork, they transformed the crowd in to a churning mass for QOTSA classics like "No One Knows", "Go With The Flow" and "Make It Wit Chu". Side note - thank you Michael Shuman for making bass players sexy again.
There are times when battling throngs of drunk or substance-affected idiots, being elbowed in the face and repeatedly shoved for no reason (this isn't a punk concert) is totally worth it. This was one of those times. Regardless of where your musical tastes lie, you have to agree that Pharrell Williams is one of the great musical pioneers of our generation. This set was almost a portfolio of songs he has created, produced, or otherwise waved his magic on over the years, and not only was it a surprising array of genres, but it continually brought out the "WHAATTT I didn't know Pharrell worked on THIS song?!" reaction in all of us. From the N.E.R.D and Neptunes days, soooo many booty-grindingly-good hip-hop and R&B greats, to Diplo and Daft Punk, and then casually pulling Pusha-T, Usher and Jay-Z on stage (not bitter at all that he brought out Nelly and Snoop etc for weekend 1), this was one of those festival moments you wouldn't have wanted to miss for ANYTHING. (Sorry to rub it in Lex, who went to see Skrillex instead)
I went into the Mojave Tent on Sunday night knowing that it would be an emotional show. This was quickly reaffirmed when Elena Tonra's vocals reduced me to tears; her delicate, brooding and heartfelt rendition of "Youth" turned me into a babbling mess. Every song contains so much emotion, you can almost feel Tonra's heavy heart being poured out every time she sings - as if you are experiencing it all with her. Although this time slot hosted a lot of other great acts, the audience grew progressively larger throughout the set - which seemed to be a healthy mixture of old and new fans. Their set ranged from dark and bluesy to soft and intimate - showcasing their eclectic genre. To say that this performance was a form of therapy for me would be an understatement.
Since first seeing Arcade Fire perform at Coachella in 2007, their music has always held a special sentiment and nostalgia from that time. On the Sunday, I got to see the monstrous ensemble of musicians return to the Coachella stage to close out the festival. Win Butler took several moments throughout this set to talk to the audience and express how their 2007 appearance saw them new and naive to the festival circuit - so much so that they had just hired a manager and were using sleeping bags as guitar caes. Mcgyver or genius?
Each song was executed as if it were a dramatic play and we were just by-standards trying to get involved. The show started with a faux Daft Punk performance of "Get Lucky", featured elements of a dancing human-disco ball for "We Don't Exist", a confused and slightly bewildered appearance by Beck for "Controversy" and ended with a brass-bang, as Arcade Fire joined Preservation Hall Jazz Band, headed out into the crowd in true NOLA spirit playing "Wake Up" & "Iko Iko" as they wafted off into the night sky. This was an emotional and 'full-circle' moment to say the least.