The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off its two-weekend long extravaganza this past Friday, April 11.
First premiering at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA in 1999, the event has evolved from a one-day program, to a three-day experience, then finally expanded to two-sold out-weekends.
This year marks the 14th incarnation of the annual affair which included headlining acts such as Muse, Arcade Fire, a much anticipated reunion of the rap-dup Outkast, and a celebration of the 20th anniversary of one of the most highly-regarded hip-hop albums, Illmatic, by Nas.
Though hip-hop and rap seemed to takeover Coachella’s weekend one, it was EDM acts that truly surged.
According to festival officials, Scottish producer and DJ Calvin Harris drew the second-largest crowd in Coachella history. Rivaled only by the record-breaking performance from last year’s event which included Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the infamous Tupac hologram.
Unfortunately, I was not among the roughly 99,000 daily attendees that passed through the festival gates each day. But thanks to the live Youtube stream and a convenient three-hour time difference, I was able to enjoy some late night performances from some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary as a musical act, Andre 3000 and Big Boi took to the Coachella stage and “what everybody witnessed provoked 90,000 tweets in 24 hours, and by Monday afternoon the recorded set had been viewed more than 1.7 million times.”
All full length recordings of the hour and a half performance have since been removed from Youtube, but short fan videos are still available for viewing.
When Saturday night rolled around, I was once again excited to be able to watch some late-night Coachella performances including Pharrell Williams, Nas, and Skrillex. Williams was the only set I watched for the full 60 minutes and for good reason.
Williams full setlist is below:
‘Lose Yourself to Dance’
‘Come Get It Bae’
‘Hot in Herre’ (with Nelly)
‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’
‘Pass the Courvoisier, Part II’ (with Busta Rhymes and Puff Daddy)
‘Lapdance’ (with Tyler, the Creator)
‘She Wants to Move’ (N*E*R*D song)
‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ (with Snoop Dogg)
‘Beautiful’ (with Snoop Dogg)
‘Aerosol Can’ (with Diplo)
‘Hollaback Girl’ (with Gwen Stefani)
Packed with special guest performances and a setlist that would make a grown man cry (I didn’t), the only thing that seemed to lack during the hour was Williams voice.
Throughout the set, Williams repeatedly apologized and blamed the dust storm for his poor vocal performance. Even yelling out at one point, “Fucking sand!” Still, the whole show could have been thought of as a homage to Williams ’00 hit-list, and I was locked in for the entirety.
I was only able to tune in for snippets of Nas’s set but just long enough to see Jay-Z show up to conjure up 90’s flashbacks with their performance of “Dead Presidents” and “Where I’m From”.
Skrillex treated his overflow crowd with an incredible stage setup that included a spaceship DJ booth, with billowing smoke machines, that actually appeared to blasted-off.
Throwback Skrillex jams such as “Bangarang” and his remix of “Cinema” blew the top off the Sahara tent. He even dropped a couple of my favorite cuts off his recent album release, Recess, like “Fuck That” and “Stranger”.
My weekend one review will come to a close on what I thought was the best overall performance (that I watched), Disclosure.
The Disclosure brothers (Guy and Howard Lawrence) played live keys, drums, and operated fx/sample controllers. OH YEA! They also provided their own, live vocals.
I was surprised the audience was digging the set as much as they appeared to be. At a peak-hour closing-timeslot, Disclosure played a lounge-esque set which included a string of fan favorites from their industry-acclaimed album, Settle. The crowd had their hands in the air and sang every lyric from start to finish.
AlunaGeorge would come out a few songs into the set to perform “White Noise”. It was difficult to hear her over the backtrack but I have a feeling that was the intention. She did give a lively performance utilizing the whole stage and interacting with fans.
The boys from the U.K. would wait until the end of their 60 minute performance to call on a couple of more their celebrity collaborators. About a minute into “F For You“ they would hop on the mic to announce, “Coachella, please welcome….Miss. Mary J. Blige!”
As expected, Miss. Blige brought a hurricane of sound that rocked your soul. Never lip-syncing, while jumping up and down she seemed to only sing with MORE fury and never missed a beat.
Just as the crowd would say goodbye to one special guest, Disclosure would tease them with a sample from “Latch”. It wasn’t long before singer Sam Smith strutted onto the stage, surprising some audience members when it turned out the emotionally sharp voice behind the song was not a woman or a black man, but instead a British man.
His unique vocalization of every note with strength and confidence would be a great way to conclude the night, and my Coachella 2014 weekend one viewing.
If you missed the stream, don’t worry, another weekend of madness is on the horizon. And get this, it will be LIVE broadcast on AXS TV. I have AT&T U-Verse and its actually included in my cable package. I have already set my DVR to record the 20 hours of Coachella 2014 weekend two.
To find out if your provider offers AXS TV, click (here).
Photo Cred: @Coachella / @Redbull / @MTV