As the Indio dust is finally settling from two weeks of wind, heat and wild spirits across the polo fields, we look back at our favorite moments of this years Coachella Music Festival. With a staggering artist lineup each day making it almost impossible to catch every set we wanted to see, the most memorable performances are all that stand alone from such an incredible experience in the desert. Here are the “best of the fest” we have to give royalty to…
5.) JAMES BLAKE
photo credit: Brandon Bowlby
With CMYK being one of the ultimate songs that got me infintely deep into the sort of low-end UK stylings of music, and FOMOing everyone raving about his performance the first weekend, I pretty much demanded everyone tagging along with me to the festival that we arrive with ample time to make his set on Sunday. I was sort of shocked that it took me so long to finally see him perform live.
Opening with one of his earliest tracks, “Air & Lack Thereof” James Blake, armed with a drummer and another guy working various keyboards and instruments, grabbed the attention of the entire Mojave tent in the most sort of unaggressive and extrasensory way possible. Even though Blake sat behind a multitude of keyboards in a corner of the stage for the entirety of his set, he kept the audience engaged with his seemingly effortless combination of haunting vocals and bone-rattling sub-bass. There were several moments where I was nearly reduced to tears (his even more achingly-sad live rendition of “I Never Learnt To Share” and “The WIlheim Scream”) and overcome with excitement (bouncing around to “CMYK” and none other than the RZA coming out to perform “Take A Fall For Me”). But mostly, I was unabashedly shocked at how often my entire body was covered in goosebumps for most of the set… in the middle of 95F heat. I’ve never witnessed anything quite like that, so James Blake I give you a whole-hearted and appreciative five stars. Bravo. - Laura D
4.) TAME IMPALA
photo credit: Andrew Swartz
I felt a bit guilty as we blew West with the dust storm out of Indio and back to LA. The Yuma Tent was the siren beckoning me away from the nostalgic bands and beer gardens, the sunsets and silhouetted palm-trees. She drew me in with her hypnotic techno and hard-wood floors. She offered a respite from the dusty eyes and crusty nostrils, but she wasn’t the girl I was meant to fall in love with in the desert.
I broke free of her grasp and raced towards the Outdoor Theatre as the sun slipped behind the mountains and provided everyone with an iPhone the chance to nail that one Instagram picture that says, “I’m here and I’m happy. I’m listening to music that I find enjoyable with strangers who feel like friends. I’m at Coachella.” Scour the lineup and you’d be hard pressed to find an act that doesn’t encapsulate that vibe more than the psychedelic Australian outfit known as Tame Impala. They catapulted themselves from Internet fame in 2008 via Myspace to mainstream hysteria with 2012′s Lonerism, an album that sounds like it should’ve charted between Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane instead of Kendrick Lamar and Grimes. Towards the end of their euphoric set, lead-singer Kevin Parker asked the sea of faces how we were feeling. “Really fucking great, man,” I thought to myself as I wore a stupid smile across my face. As if on cue, he read my mind and encouraged me to party a bit more as they tore into ‘Elephant.’ Possibly the mightiest track on Lonerism, the guitar riffs carry more weight than the title. In that blissful moment, I was a fanboy again. I took off the elitist cloak that had been weighing me down with Ms. Yuma and I danced like an idiot in the desert, just like we’re meant to. - Troy Kurtz
3.) DOG BLOOD
photo credit: Caesar Sebastian
The excitement of arriving to Coachella the Friday night of the festival always draws butterflies in your stomach (before the other reason they start flapping)… For our first night, the anticipation for Boys Noize and Skrillex‘s franken-project DOG BLOOD was riding high above the warm april air as the the sun began to sink behind the desert palms. With over 40,000 swarming into the mega-structure evolved Sahara tent, passions were high. The GDD crew quickly pounded several drinks in the nearby beer garden (a staple rendezvous haven) and rushed out and across the grass towards the right side front archways.
Quickly finding more of our friends in almost fortuitous gathering, we watched as the massive sound system began to tease vocal samples of Dog Blood’s single “Middle Finger.” All of a sudden the giant “DB” flag covering the stage fell from the sky, revealing Alex Ridha and Sonny Moore atop a towering altar-like booth with incredible cube like visual transformations all around them. The crowd erupted as the duo unleashed some of their new productions as well as huge favorites “Bring In The Katz”, Tujamo’s “Who” and even Disclosure’s “Latch.” The turn up was real, and the hype was proven. Dog Blood set the energy bar on the first night far above what we we’re ready for. - BONES
2.) LOCO DICE
photo credit: Barbara Klein
The addition of the Yuma Tent at Coachella this year was a huge success overall. With a system provided by Sound Nightclub in Hollywood, the new, fully-covered stage truly felt like a detached reality in the midst of the desert festival. Hardwood floors, air conditioning, and a curated lineup consisting of some of the world’s best underground dance music characterized the anomaly, and our favorite set of the weekend within the oasis came from a man I like to call The Beast — Loco Dice.
Nestled in between a late-addition set from Richie Hawtin and a closing set from Jamie Jones, Dice brought a relentless House & Techno offering to an adoring Sunday night crowd. Lights reflected gracefully off of the handfuls of disco balls adorning the ceiling space, while momentary glimpses of renaissance art was visible on the walls in between bright LED flashes. At one moment, I glanced up to the façade stone DJ booth just before The Beast finished an escalating transition into Jesse Rose & Thee Mike B’s new jacking jam “Shuffle The Paper,” and as he gave a side-smile I knew that there was nowhere else in the festival I’d rather be. With rave reviews racking up for multiple artists within the new tent, we’re curious to see the next iteration of Yuma next April… - jonah berry
photo credit: Karl Walter
The final set you see during your long, 3-day Coachella weekend should always be one to remember. Whether it’s Main Stage mayhem from the likes of Rage Against the Machine or Dr. Dre & Snoop or Sahara Tent madness served up by Justice, Prodigy or The Chemical Brothers, the last set of the weekend should always be BIG. One of the most memorable closing Coachella sets of all time was The Presets back in 2011, which, up until this year, was the only non-Main Stage, non-Sahara Tent act to close out a Coachella weekend with such reverence. Cue in 2013. Disclosure stepped up to the challenge of closing out the 3-day weekend & did so with style & pure energy in the 2nd smallest tent at the venue. Like the people who skipped The Presets in 2011 to see Kanye, anyone who was at Red Hot Chili Peppers or Eric Prydz to close out the 2013 weekend missed out on Disclosure’s monumental, hidden-gem-of-a-set in the Gobi Tent.
The Disclosure boys have come a long way in a short time & proved that the hype behind their name was no fluke. They commanded their setup with confidence & made sure that the Coachella festival crowd left the 3-day festival with something special to remember. From the opening track “Infected” to the new track “You & Me” all the way through crowd favorites “White Noise” & “What’s in Your Head”, the Gobi Tent was NON-STOP GET DOWN. By the time the final two tracks rolled around, everyone was ready to lose their minds twice more. Jessie Ware, who had performed a solo set earlier that day, came out and blew the crowd away on a blistering version of “Running”. As Disclosure thanked the crowd and announced that they had one final song, a quick sample of the vocal – “OH OH”, was all it took to send the crowd into an uproar. To top it all off, Sam Smith himself came out to supply the vocals on a rousing rendition of the absolute perfect track to close out Coachella 2013: “Latch” (see below). - aRod