To sum up my Coachella Week 2 experience: 100+ degree heat, high waisted shorts, crochet tanks, bandeau bikinis, Indian headdresses, straw hats, palm trees, mountains, Tupac hologram, guest collabos, margaritas, dehydration, bourgeois boheme types, college students, walking the length of several football fields daily and of course awesome JAMS. Most of the acts I came to see totally met or passed my expectations, with the exception of a few (for instance the Weeknd), so I’m not going to talk about how they were awesome, because obviously Radiohead and Girl Talk and Feist and M83 and the Black Keys and Bon Iver and Snoop/Dre/Eminem/50/Tupac’s ghost were awesome.
So instead, here are the pleasant surprises:
This wunderkind also known as Donald Glover of Community had so much stage presence, and all of his songs were fun fun fun and smart smart smart. The most memorable being “You See Me” which features a chorus about Asian girls at UCLA. As a California-educated Asian girl, I approve.
I’ve always had positive feelings toward Sweden’s garage rockers. They are like a higher BPM version of the Strokes, and less terribly sad lyrically. The Hives frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist was probably one of the most energetic and hilarious people to take the main stage. He engaged with the crowd saying things like (Mitch Hedberg voice) “We’re going to prove what Hollywood already knows… that the sequel… is always better than the first!” and as a result got everyone dancing. At that point I was lying in the grass in the beer tent (the effect of alcohol, food and hot sun) but the Hives really perked me up.
I don’t know why I’m saying this is a surprise because I saw Justice at the SF Design Concourse back in 2008 and it was sooo much sweaty fun, but for some reason I did not expect an Audio, Video, Disco -heavy show to be so amazingly dance-able. I actually did not catch the whole show because I ran off to Calvin Harris, who did more of a DJ set than playing of his own hits, but what I did see was simply–there is no other word to describe it–epic. Imagine the opening with the giant BRAHHHHHMMM of “Genesis” and the famous Justice cross on a massive field sprinkled with glowsticks. Lights, lights, lights, everyone starts dancing to the familiar and then it builds into “Civilization.” Suddenly the prog rockiness of AVD made sense in all of its bass-heavy power, aggression and ease of mixing! The French duo blended their two LPs together seamlessly, creating a banging mash of redonkulous guitar work and pop hooks. It’s really like nothing else out there at the moment. To give an idea of the Justice effect: on the way home while barreling down the highway listening to AVD in the desert, we got a speeding ticket.