Braving the elements for the love of music, the Telepictures Music Crew survived its maiden voyage to Coachella! And for those of you who have yet to attend the three-day-long music and arts festival hosted in Indio, California’s Empire Polo Fields every April, please consider in the years to come. It just might change your life.
The setting alone is astonishing. From our campsite (I told you we braved the elements!), we were plopped in a bowl-like valley rimmed with mountain ranges still capped with snow. In the venue, those same mountains framed a beautiful desert scene lined with palm trees. In typical Coachella years, waves of heat penetrate right in front of your eyes, with temperatures reaching 100+ degrees (this is not an exaggeration, check out Indio’s current forecast). But this year, Goldenvoice decided to span the festival between two weekends with identical lineups (a feat that had never been done before), and weekend one’s weather was a little atypical. Due to a looming storm blowing from the west, the first few days were far from scorching. Friday came with a bit of rain, a lot of wind, and temperatures that cut the expected three-digit degrees in half. This unfortunate (and unexpected) weather advisory not only took the festivalgoers by surprise, but the staff and musicians as well, resulting in one too many acts’ sound wavering due to speakers cutting out.
But we trudged along, unharmed by the weather and determined to hear some great music! Highlights of Friday included indie rockers Grouplove, GIRLS and M. Ward; dancing to The Rapture and The Black Keys; mellowing out to the instrumental awe of Explosions in the sky; moshing (yes, Katrina was in the mosh pit) to Refused’s reunion after 14 years of hiatus, and ending the night with The Horrors.
After huddling together in our large, six-man tent for body heat, we awoke to find sun shining through our mesh walls (hallelujah!), although wind and menacing clouds in the distance still threatened the chance of a second storm. Luckily, that never came, and we were able to spend Saturday dry, albeit still a little cold. We arrived in the venue in the afternoon to catch Black Lips’ rockin’ set followed by the 20-year-old female rap phenomenon Azealia Banks (the girl doesn’t even have an album out and is already playing Coachella!). Jeff Mangum wooed the crowd with bone-chilling acoustic renditions from his defunct band Neutral Milk Hotel’s critically acclaimed 1998 release, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea; The Shins played a nice mix of both new and old material flawlessly; Flying Lotus allowed us to dance our asses off without stepping foot in the ominous dance tent; Bon Iver showed us why he won Grammy awards for both “Best New Artist,” and “Best Alternative Music Album,” and Radiohead melted our brains with its spectacular performance and visual accompaniment.
With our brains turned to mush, we went back to our campsite and awoke dripping with sweat Sunday morning. The storm had passed! We were getting back to standard Coachella weather…and we didn’t like it. Although it only reached 80 degrees, we desperately tried to find shade while the sun blazed down on us. Lathered in sunscreen, we headed into the venue to watch Santigold, and a dance party ensued. Later in the evening, we rocked out to The Hives, were serenated by The Weeknd’s R&B skills, felt discouraged by Gotye’s overflowing audience (he was clearly booked on the wrong stage), danced some more to Justice, went crazy during At the Drive-In’s reunion performance (first in 11 years), were impressed with Florence + The Machine’s operatic-like spectacle, and ended the night, and the weekend, with Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, who played all their hits from the past twenty years, and were even accompanied by a eerily lifelike hologram of the late Tupac Shakur, who performed in tandem with Snoop.
Despite weather conditions, it was a euphoric weekend. There’s something to be said about attending the largest music festival in the world and spending three days with some 90,000 fellow music lovers. Coachella is truly an unforgettable experience.
Katrina’s Highlights: As a child of the ‘90s, I was most excited about the reunion shows; namely, Refused, At The Drive-In, and Jeff Mangum performing Neautral Milk Hotel songs. Out of these, Refused took the cake. Despite the band having been broken up for the past 14 years, every member played flawlessly, and front man Dennis Lyxzen possessed as much energy and raw charisma as he did a decade and a half ago. Radiohead also blew my mind (but that’s a given), and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg were the perfect festival closers.
Ryan’s Highlights: The highlight of the festival for me was Radiohead's performance. Though I fully expected them to be brilliant, I was still awed by their endless energy (they played for nearly 2 hours), Thom's perfect vocal delivery, and their unique and mesmerizing visual display. Refused's first show in 14 years was a close second on my list. They performed flawlessly and played as though they'd never broken up.
Richard’s Highlights: With the sensory overload provided by this bohemoth festival, I found myself drawn to the introspective and nervous performance by The Horrors. Somewhere off to the right boomed a dance beat that fueled my appreciation for this young groups dark and personal set. Their sound did not resonate with the same fidelity as the main acts but after a few hours dancing to the perfectly vacuous Alesso and the grandiose spectacle provided by M83, I was comforted by a band that seemed to honestly reflect on their own material.