Well, Coachella 2014 Weekend One wrapped up last night, and the verdicts are pooling in. There were some surprising upsets, as well as some incredible performances, as well as appearances from some unexpected stars. Here’s some of the best and worst of what attendees saw this weekend.
Arcade Fire – The indie-rock icons enthralled an audience that wasn’t nearly as full as it could be, perhaps due to the fatigue of the audience that might have stayed up until 1am the night before for the amazing collaborations featured during the sets by Nas and Pharrell Williams. Regardless, the Montreal band gave an enthusiastic and solid performance through signature songs from “Rebellion (Lies)”, “No Cars Go” and “Neighborhood 3: Power Out”. In keeping with the amazing collborations of the weekend, Debbie Harry of Blondie came out to perform “Heart of Glass” and stuck around for “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains”. After the curfew of midnight hit, the band continued to play from within the audience with drums and trombone as lead singer, Win Butler, led the crowd via megaphone.
Nas released the album, “Illmatic” twenty years ago this year and honored the classic album by performing it in its entirety. This would be a rare treat for Coachella, but the rapper had surprise guest appearances from former rival Jay Z as well as P. Diddy.
Lorde – The 17 year old pop singer kept it minimal. Wearing plain white pants and a top to match, her stripped down set featured as much confidence as the weekend’s biggest musical veterans. Highlights of the set of course included her smash hit “Royals,” which was outdone only by her other big single “Team.” This girl is just getting started, and she proved to a whole desert of people that she’s ready for the long haul.
Pharrell Williams – Pharrell Williams is unstoppable at the moment. While he’s been in the industry for over a decade, 2013 was his year. His set was full of huge hits, and huge guests, including appearances from Nelly, Gwen Stefani, Busta Rhymes, P. Diddy, and Tyler the Creator. Pharrell had what may have been the liveliest set of the whole weekend, tearing through hits from his whole career, from N.E.R.D., to Daft Punk collaborations, to his Oscar nominated feel good hit, “Happy.” Had it not been for the high winds that created quite a sandstorm, affecting Williams’ ability to sing at times, his set would have been flawless.
Queens of the Stone Age – Josh Homme and company reminded everyone why rock n’ roll will never die. No strangers to the desert setting, they owned the night, tearing through cuts from their latest “…Like Clockwork,” as well as their back catalog. They slowed things down a bit towards the middle with “The Vampyre Of Time And Memory,” before finishing the night out with a burst of energetic songs.
Foster The People – Regardless of how you might feel about these guys and their radio friendly pop-rock, there’s no denying they put on a killer show. The band was in full force, led by Mark Foster’s great stage presence and spot-on vocal performance. They wowed for their whole performance, but the closer “Don’t Stop” had everybody in the crowd moving to the beat.
Outkast – In a heartbreaking turn of events, Outkast’s return to the stage proved to be a disappointment. While the blame is being shifted between an audience that didn’t know much other than their hits, and a phoned in performance from the duo, it was visibly clear both were disinterested by the end of the set. To be fair, it was their first time performing in close to ten years, so here’s to hoping Weekend Two fairs better for them. Regardless of who’s at fault.
Scheduling – It’s pretty much inevitable when you have such a stacked roster of artists, but that doesn’t make it suck any less. Concert goers were forced to chose between some pretty big names, such as Arcade Fire, Mötorhead, Disclosure, MGMT, Nas, Muse, Skrillex, and more all playing at the same time as some others. It’s not a bad problem to have, but if you make the wrong call, you could risk missing an epic performance. Such was the case with Mötorhead, whose crowd was sparse but even less so as Slash came out with the band for a good 30 minutes. If only the back to back weekends were affordable, music lovers could catch every single one of these truly special moments.