Forgive us, dear Lyynks readers, for the delay in posting Coachella coverage. There is so much talent packed into Weekend 1’s schedule – particularly in the early hours of each day – that plowing ahead with the Indio, Calif. fest’s unmatchably magical desert experience has become the priority over posting.
But who can blame us? The music comes first, and rest assured we have plenty to say plus a plethora of photos to share. Day 1 (Friday) in was a whirlwind (Day 2 saw an actual dust storm – more on that later) starting at early as 1:25 p.m. with Goat at the Outdoor Theatre. We made it in for that, then hit up a slew of other incredible acts throughout the star-studded day, concluding with the much anticipated reunion of Atlanta rap duo Outkast. Check out our rundown and photos of Friday’s top sets below.
Goat – Outdoor Theatre – 1:25 p.m.
Cursed with the unfortunate task of playing one of the day’s earliest sets, Goat proved it that, heat be damned, arriving early is an essential part of the Coachella task. The elaborately-clad Swedish collective energized the small crowd with a unique blend of afrobeat rhythms, indecipherable vocal chants and yelps, tribal beats and all-around psychedelia.
ZZ Ward – Mojave – 2 p.m.
There were so many ways one might have started off the first day of Coachella’s first weekend. Perhaps a dip into the more dark and melodic with Wye Oak – who have branched out from their shoegaze roots to incorporate some funkified tunes – or a journey through stranger approaches from Goat. But starting with the amped up grooves of ZZ Ward (born Zsuzsanna Eva Ward) would have set any Coachellan’s day off with a kick.
The singer-songwriter’s lusty material – still mostly from 2012 album Til’ the Casket Drops – presented something for anyone looking to begin the weekend dancing. She ran through sounds covering everything from soul, to blues to early ‘90s pop – a veritable Pu Pu Platter for the eclectic tastes of most fest-goers.
The Outdoor Theatre was stewing in the triple-digit heat by 2:30 p.m., but at least most of us weren’t clad in all-black outfits like Dum Dum Girls. Frontwoman Dee Dee Penny prepared for the extra heat by adapting some of the Sahara tent style in the form of black pasties, which were the subject of countless inappropriate exclamations from the bros in attendance. Although Dum Dum GIrls’ ’60s girl group, hazy dream-rock combo works best indoors, the quintet was a treat under the desert sun.
Jagwar Ma – Gobi – 3:20 p.m.
Here was one prime example (among many this weekend) of a Coachella debut fueling a truly stellar show. The young Australian experimental trio took the stage jumping and smiling and drew massive cheers when vocalist/guitarist Gabriel Winterfield said, “We’ve been waiting a year to play this thing.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if Goldenvoice had actually booked the trio that long ago, likely as soon as organizers got wind of top-notch full-length debut Howlin’ last June. Jagwar Ma‘s unique mix of psychedelia and heavy house beats proved a perfect smorgasbord for the pseudo-dazed desert crowd.
Coachella is a special occasion for most in attendance ,and Kate Nash made her return to the festival feel like one. Backed by a pink-clad band and technicians, Nash displayed her reinvention as a glamorous, feminist punk. Enthusiastic fans were feeling the #girlgang vibes and rushed to Nash whenever she leapt down to the rail for hugs and strolled through the crowd.
Broken Bells – Outdoor Theatre – 7:30 p.m.
When the duo comprising the Shins’ frontman James Mercer and producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) first emerged in 2010 with a self-titled, sonically sweeping, space-themed album, the material’s allure was heavy, but their live show lacked dynamism. It was almost the opposite with Broken Bells‘ February sophomore disc After the Disco, which sounded overly produced (a frequent pitfall for Burton) and lacked the suave feel of its predecessor despite a focus on – you guessed it – disco.
But here in Indio, all the duo’s material was infused with new life. Mercer in particular – who, back in the first days of the Shins, presented himself as almost non-participatory on stage – looked inspired. Never has he performed in such animated fashion, clearly channeling his inner John Travolta for the best possible case of Saturday … er, Friday Night Fever.
Woodkid – Gobi – 8:15
Here’s one of those where you think, “OK. I’ve gotta go see what a guy called ‘Woodkid’ does,” inevitably concluding that it is some bizarre, no-name Coachella choice. Yet nothing could’ve been further from the truth: the French musician born Yoanne Lemoine wears practically every hat in the music biz – singer-songwriter, music video producer and graphic designer. He’s created vids for an impressive roster of pop icons including Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams (for “Happy” and the production for the “Get Lucky” singer’s entire Saturday night set here).
Yet there was no trace of ego during his impressive U.S. festival debut this night. He moved and emoted like a hip-hop star, sang with all the passion of a seasoned R&B vocalist, and danced to an assortment of trip-hop and synth-infused beats with the grace of a carefree teenager. Expect to see Woodkid conquering more Stateside festivals in the near future.
Bryan Ferry – Mojave – 9:15 p.m.
Bryan Ferry was the most successful troll of Coachella 2014. Following a verse of beloved Roxy Music hit “More Than This,” Ferry and his band stopped and went right into “Avalon.” Unlike the embarrassingly low turnout for Sparks in 2013, the Mojave tent was surprisingly well-attended, despite the baffling scheduling decision of the Replacements at the same time at the Outdoor Theatre. For an hour, Ferry charmed a crowd of predominantly older attendees with charismatic showmanship and a refreshingly sophisticated, but potent, vintage reworking of Roxy Music classics and more.
The Knife – Outdoor Theatre – 10:30 p.m.
Swedish electronic duo the Knife‘s long-awaited return to the stage was not without controversy. Following the first shows in Europe last year, some fans threatened to sue over what was more of a performance art piece than a live concert. At Coachella, people didn’t seem too worried about it and just enjoyed bright leotards and experimental synth woven into the spectacle of carefully choreographed and deliberately amateurish dances by Karin, Olof and friends.
Outkast – Coachella Stage – 11:05 p.m.
OK, OK – the reunited duo featuring Andre 3000 and Big Boi really started around 11:30 p.m., closer to their originally scheduled set time. The late start – intended to pack in more hits – was just one hiccup in a series at what essentially amounted as a dress rehearsal for what will undoubtedly be a better Weekend 2 performance. Most of the problems seemed to stem from nerves on Andre’s part, but when Prince and Paul McCartney are watching from side stage, who can blame him? And besides, a little rust didn’t overshadow awesome party-starting thrust of hits like the set-starting “B.O.B.” and “Gasoline Dreams,” the booming beat of “Roses,” or the infectiously catchy clap-along of “Hey Ya” to close.
There was supposed to be an encore of “The Whole World” with collaborator Killer Mike, but the initial delay meant that, when the clock struck 1 a.m. (sound ordinance cutoff), the duo was done. An awkward moment followed when their mics got cut off as the beat for the missing hit kicked in. Regardless, it was elating to witness the return of one of hip-hop’s most formidable forces.
Photos of the Knife and Goat by Frank Mojica
All other photos by David Brendan Hall