@AndyShore This was my second Coachella and third festival at the Indio Polo Grounds. I think I’m ready to call Coachella my favorite music festival. It’s the perfect setting. Camping is well organized. The grass is green and you can plop down and get some rest anywhere. The scenery is perfect. Palm trees and mountains are the backdrops to each stage. It’s not too far of a walk from camping to the festival grounds or from stage to stage. They are yet to put a lineup together in their history that I wouldn’t want to attend. Here’s my top 10 that helped solidify Coachella as the best of class.
10. Grace Potter & the Nocturnals: I saw the set designed to support their last self titled release more times than I can recall. This set was filled mostly with new tunes off their upcoming record. I loved what I heard.
9. Wild Flag: This set was exactly what needed to happen late Sunday afternoon. We sat back on the grass where we could still see the stage and screens well. These chicks rocked it. It was fun to see Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein performing onstage rather than clowning on my television.
8. tUnE-yArDs: Their worldly sound and looping make for a fun afternoon festival set. Merrill Garbus is a great front-woman and engages the crowd with her performance and banter.
7. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80: You need one of these per festival. This set was like nothing else I saw all weekend. I love afrobeat. It was great to see the son of its originator with his father’s backing band (of which Seun Kuti was also a member). Kuti has the most and best mic approach moves I’ve ever seen and is a delight to watch move around the stage. You couldn’t help but get footloose and fancy free during this Sunday afternoon set.
6. David Guetta: I wish I could have caught Calvin Harris, Kaskade, Afrojack and AVICII as well. Conflicts kept me from those sets. I made time for David Guetta and am so glad I did. LED screens and lighting trusses stretched front to back on the roof of the Sahara Tent making the entire structure the light show. Guetta played many hits, but it was the song he crafted especially for Coachella that stood out most to me. Plus: Usher.
5. The Shins: If I’m being honest, the Shins may have been the first indie band I was ever into. Thanks, Natalie Portman. This set was absolutely everything I hoped it would be. Several favorites off Port of Morrow dotted the set. Their excellent cover of “Breathe” was one of my festival highlights.
4. Black Keys: This was four years of seeing the Black Keys at festivals culminating in a headlining slot. They proved they deserved it. Adding the keys and bass for much of the set fills out the sound for the better. The hits flowed from El Camino and Brothers. Dan Auerbach wails on the guitar and you’re reminded of how much he does when it’s just him and Patrick Carney onstage. Happy birthday, Patrick!
3. Swedish House Mafia: This set matched an energy that I’ve seen so few times at a festival. Foo Fighters in the rain at Lollapalooza. Rage Against the Machine at the same fest just a few years prior. Phish’s Exile on Main St. set. The lights and pyrotechnics were incredible. So was the dance party. Read the fantastic Lefsetz Letter about it. Watch the whole set. I never thought I’d be as into EDM as I am. This festival solidified it. I was ready to shout it from the mountain tops after the Swedes.
2. Justice: This would be numero uno, if they hadn’t played 50% as long as they were supposed to. This set floored me. I had more fun during those 30 minutes than any other time during the three days at Coachella. The highlight was “Helix > Civilization.” These guys didn’t say a word to the crowd and rolled in late and it still wasn’t enough for me to sour on them after this set. See them ASAP.
1. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg: This was the favorite going in. It did not disappoint. It was the history of hip hop and Sunday’s (Smunday’s for those in the know) lesson was the Dr. Dre family tree. I’m not likely to see a show like it again. That’s why it belongs in the top spot. That group of artists probably won’t share the same stage again. Several days later and the Tupac hologram is still the water cooler topic. I’m sure you’ve seen the video. Here is another highlight:
The festival won on Saturday night. My poor sleep on Friday night in our wet tent and the cold weather zapped all my energy. I made it through an hour of Radiohead before succombing to my exhaustion. I missed most of what I’d want to hear. They deserve a place in this top ten. I just didn’t have it in me to enjoy it for how good it truly was. This will happen at a festival. Pulp was an unexpected highlight that just barely missed this list. I should also mention how great it was to see how Alex Turner has matured as the front-man of the Arctic Monkeys.