Saturday, April 19th
Saturday was slightly hotter, as Coachella hit its stride in true desert festival fashion. Young metal heads Unlocking the Truth started off the afternoon at the Coachella stage, and Odd Future members Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians, known as The Internet, got things going at the Gobi Tent. Following their set I caught English post-punkers White Lies, then headed over to the Outdoor Stage. Neil Hamburger, a slimy comedian in a black suit and big glasses, managed to get a few chuckles out of the crowd with his off-color jokes before Southern California guitarist Ty Segall took the stage. Joined by Mikal Cronin on bass, Segall and his live band blew through punk jams, long hair flying in the desert breeze. The band had a great turnout despite the heat, as did Cage the Elephant at the Coachella stage (more on the latter and a surprise pineapple in my Top Ten Moments post).
Scottish band Chvrches drew many fans back to the Outdoor Stage, and singer Lauren Mayberry sounded great despite the heat, delivering her powerful vocals on crowd favorites “Lies,” “Gun,” and “The Mother We Share.” Julian Casablancas debuted his solo project backup band The Voidz in the Mojave Tent to decent reception, Warpaint brought their psych-rock noodling and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg‘s swagger, and Future Islands blew my mind in the Gobi Tent.
Fatboy Slim commanded the EDM-centric Sahara Tent with massive beats and even more massive visuals. The tent was decked out this year with huge jumbo-trons spanning the entire length and height of the stage. Giant faces, painted strangely with “Juggalo” clown-style makeup, repeated the phrase, “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat,” and hundreds of digital smiley face bouncy balls cascaded down the screens. The sight was overwhelming, especially up front in the photo pit, and I ducked out early to make the first-three song limit for Solange.
Best known for being the younger sister of Beyoncé, Solange is fantastic in her own right. Jumping around stage and visibly having a blast, she belted out heartfelt lyrics to dance grooves like her single, “Losing You.” At one point she got down low in a squat and danced around, telling the crowd, “I wanna see you grindin’ Coachella. Will you grind with me?” A fashionista, actor, and model, Solange announced plans to release her third album on her own label, Saint Records. Despite her family’s success, Solange is blazing her own trail, and it’s one well worth following.
Up next were the Pixies, sans Kim Deal. New bassist Paz Lenchantin has played in bands like A Perfect Circle and Zwan, and singer Black Francis passionately cycled through old gems like “Bone Machine,” and “Where is my Mind?” Back at the Saraha Tent, Empire of the Sun took spectators on a visual journey through their galactic sea, as images of giant ships flashed behind dancers clad in purple jumpsuits and wild manes. The energetic drummer bashed away, looking like a roman solider with his giant black mowhawk and muscular uniform. Front man Luke Steele carries the burden of touring despite the band technically being a duo with fellow Australian producer Nick Littlemore. The band maintains that the two have not fallen out, and simply have trouble coordinating schedules for touring together.
Pharrell Williams brought the party at the Outdoor Stage, joined by T.I. and Usher, and had the whole packed crowd dancing and grinning from ear to ear. He opened with his Daft Punk collaboration, “Lose Yourself to Dance,” and played hits like “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” “Beautiful,” and Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines,” flanked on stage by gorgeous women in a rainbow of outfits.
Muse finished the night on the main stage, opening with “Hysteria” off of 2003’s Absolution, and an electrified cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They played great picks from their career like “Time is Running Out” and “Uprising,” and showcased relatively new tracks from their 2012 release The 2nd Law. “Unsustainable” is a highly political and environmental track, and featured visuals of a female announcer declaring, “An economy based on endless growth is unsustainable… A species set on endless growth is unsustainable.” Singer and guitarist Matthew Bellamy belted out high pitched vocals over gnashing bass from Christopher Wolstenholme and infectious beats from drummer Dominic Howard.
“Animals” was a grand spectacle, starting with video of a monopolistic C.E.O. yelling at his employees and clearly mistreating those around him. To the crowd’s surprise, the actor from the video appeared on stage under a spotlight, rushing around pointing his finger at people and yelling. The spotlight followed him as he made his way down the walkway in the middle of the crowd, throwing money at people and growing more and more animated. The music built up to a crescendo as the actor stopped in his tracks, as if having a heart attack, and collapsed as money exploded out of his suit into the air. The lights went black and the crowd roared. Muse concluded their amazing set with Bellamy and Wolstenholme riding out above the crowd on cherry pickers, while Nas, the Pet Shop Boys, and Skrillex closed the night on other stages. Day two had ended.