MTV Review: Coachella - Weekend 1
Muse, Arcade Fire and Haim were joined by surprise guests galore at the California super fest...
From the hugely hyped OutKast set to a Saturday night sandstorm, the first weekend of the desert-situated festival got off to an explosive start.
Set in the spectacular surroundings of Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert, it was appropriate that Haim, the hottest band to come out of California in recent years, took to the stage as the mercury hit a face-melting 100 ºF.
Home state heroes, super sisters and future festival headliners, Haim were brilliant in the brutal sunshine. As confident as ever chatting to the sweltering crowd between tracks, hilarious bassist Este revealed she had been sneaking in since 2004 and called for “booty claps” from Coachella’s dudes and dudettes who then danced their asses off at the Outdoor Theatre.
Meanwhile peroxide pop princess Ellie Goulding admitted the huge crowd she attracted to Coachella – the festival’s main stage – made her feel the shyest she had ever been, while EDM’s rising stars Martin Garrix and Zedd sent the Sahara crazy with their chart bangers Animals and Stay the Night.
But the mightiest crowd of all on Friday was reserved for reunited rappers Andre 3000 and Big Boi, who were reunited as OutKast to begin their 40 festival shows around the globe. With much anticipation about performing in the US for the first time in 12 years, it was unfortunately an underwhelming set from the Atlanta duo as Coachella-goers gradually deserted in their thousands.
Hey Ya! and Ms. Jackson were obvious highlights but sadly there were not enough, with bizarre props such as a stuffed polar bear and guest slots from Janelle Monáe and Future (doing their own songs Tightrope and Benz Friendz) being particularly unnecessary in what should have been a celebration of one of hip hop's greatest reunions.
Day two was way windier but one DJ who created a hurricane of beats in the Sahara was Fatboy Slim, who visually paid tribute to late house pioneer Frankie Knuckles. Over on the Coachella Stage, California indie trio Foster the People brought their feel-good tunes as early evening became night.
It was guests galore for Happy chappy Pharrell who performed on the Outdoor Theatre – Snoop Dogg, P Diddy, Diplo, Tyler, the Creator, Busta Rhymes and Gwen Stefani all appeared with music’s man of the moment. After Pharrell, Jay Z joined fellow hip hop legend and former rival Nas on-stage for a rendition of Dead Presidents II.
There were screams for Beyoncé as she danced with sister Solange, while rockers Queens of the Stone Age were awesome with their king, Josh Homme, absolutely unaffected by the intensifying sandstorm after decades of playing in nearby Palm Desert.
However, fellow guitar god Matt Bellamy – frontman of headliners Muse – suffered from the battering dust. Already unwell with a viral infection, Bellamy battled on by rocking out with his longer hair but songs such as Supermassive Black Hole and Supremacy (featuring some of his highest notes) were understandably axed.
Muse’s choices to replace them nodded at the sound of their next album as the stadium trio played quite possibly their heaviest set for years, including a cover of Nirvana’s Lithium in memory of Kurt Cobain and one of their oldest, rawest tracks in Agitated when an enraged Bellamy brilliantly threw his guitar around the stage and crashed it into his piano.
Rudimental and AlunaGeorge (Aluna performing without her producer George) proudly waved the flag for Britain’s breakthrough acts in the Mojave and Gobi tents, while on the Coachella Stage superstar DJ Calvin Harris made his fans Bounce to echo EDM’s recent Stateside explosion.
Fellow Brit talents John Newman – wearing all white with moves to rival Saturday Night Fever’s Tony Manero – and dance act Disclosure also impressed, with Sam Smith joining brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence to sing their smash Latch.
Closing Weekend 1 of Coachella 2014 were Canadian six-piece Arcade Fire, who were introduced by a man rocking a suit made of shattered mirrors. Fantastic frontman Win Butler delighted the crowd with this slam shortly into their superb set: “There’s a lot of fake VIP room bulls**t happening at this festival and sometimes people dream of being there. But it super sucks, so don’t worry about it.”
Butler got another huge cheer when, referring to Coachella’s increasing number of EDM performers, he gave a shout out to everyone “playing instruments this weekend”. Debbie Harry joined the group on-stage to sing Blondie classic Heart of Glass, before the band wonderfully brought down the curtain on their show with their anthemic Wake Up and spraying coloured confetti.
If you are going to Coachella’s Weekend 2, you are in for a treat. It really is the hottest and coolest festival on the planet.
By Ben Lowe @MTVUK