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Best of Coachella 2013: Vampire Weekend, RHCP, James Blake & More

Vampire Weekend's new songs. Puscifer's trailer park stage set. Bat for Lashes' flowing rainbow gown. Plus, RHCP, James Blake, Kurt Vile and more

1 / 10

Fuse Superlatives

Shannon Stewart for Fuse

Fuse already highlighted many of the best sets from Coachella's first weekend: Blur and Stone Roses' Brit-pop invasion, Postal Service and Major Lazer's polar-opposite brands of EDM, Janelle Monae's swingin' R&B setWu-Tang's ruckus, Father John Misty's country-rock comedy and Tame Impala's otherworldly sandstorm set. But the fun didn't end there. 

We delivered dozens of photos each day, and even focused on the fest's most surprising trends. But we also saw many, many more performances from Vampire Weekend, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr., Bat for Lashes, Puscifer and others. Who debuted the best new music? Who had the best audience? The best stage set? 

Here, Fuse awards the best of the rest from Coachella Weekend 1.

2 / 10

Best New Music: Vampire Weekend

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Ezra Koenig of the band Vampire Weekend performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Va
Kevin Winter

The New York quartet of preppy Ivy Leaguers hit the main Coachella stage with new tracks from their upcoming album, Modern Vampires of the City, and a different, less Tropicalia-tinged indie rock sound. On "Step," frontman Ezra Koenig's lyrics bounced around the U.S. (mentions of New York, L.A., San Francisco, Oakland) to a slow, sweet melody with harpsichord keys, sizzurp-slow warped vocal reminiscent of '90s rap tracks, and an interlude with enchantment-under-the-sea synths. 

"Unbelievers" swayed on another sweet, indie rock melody, sans their signature tropical bounce. And on the 1950s rock n' roller "Diane Young," Koenig delivered his best Elvis impersonation, “Thank you, Coachella. Thank you very much.”

3 / 10

Best Sunbathing Music: Kurt Vile

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Kurt Vile performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at
Frazer Harrison

The Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter brought the dreamy guitar tones to the Outdoor stage for an early afternoon session under the sun on Sunday, pre sandstorm. Vile wasn't much to watch; he stood still, his long hair concealing his face in the wind. But the sound was gorgeous and blissful, hence the many concertgoers laying in the grass soaking up rays. Hopefully the pasty Vile wore some 70 SPF.

4 / 10

Best Crowd Plaything: Inflatable Dinosaurs at Dinosaur Jr.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Murph of Dinosaur Jr. (R) performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & A
Frazer Harrison

Inflatable floaty toys, in the shape of dinosaurs, bounced around the crowd during the Massachusetts trio's Sunday set. "This next song, this next song, this next song is from very first hardcore band [frontman] J [Mascis] and I had," rambled bassist Lou Barlow. "It's about not going to college." It was a fast, gritty, in-your-face chug that had fans batting the dinosaurs harder than ever.

5 / 10

Best Cover: James Blake Doing Feist's "Limit To Your Love"

James Blake performs onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at The Empire Polo Club on Apr
Shannon Stewart for Fuse

The British digital-soul crooner delivered tracks from his new album, Overgrown, with a stripped-down band, but it was his cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love" that wowed, still. Released on his self-titled 2011 debut full-length, the cover is key-driven, but its melody and structure are true to form. It was the only sing-along during his set, and clearly the highlight for most as the crowd thinned afterwards.  

6 / 10

Best Appropriate Quote: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers perform onstage during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at The Empire Polo Cl
Shannon Stewart for Fuse

"I feel like I'm in Lawrence of Arabia," said bassist Flea during the L.A. funk band's festival-closing headlining set. "I feel like I'm in the Dust Bowl with Woody Guthrie. I feel like a child in a sandbox." Unprotected from the wind and barage of sand that filled eyes, ears, noses and throats, the rest of the crowd certainly felt worse than the Red Hot Chili Peppers did onstage. But they stuck it out, dancing to Californication hits in bandanas and ski goggles.

7 / 10

Best Triumphant Moments: Divine Fits

INDIO, CA - APRIL 12: Musicians Dan Boeckner and Alex Fischel of Divine Fits perform onstage during day 1 of the 2013 Coachel
Frazer Harrison

"I used to come here as a kid. I came seven years in a row," gushed keyboardist Alex Fischel. "I think I took ecstacy with someone right over there." The crowd erupted in laughter, then danced to A Thing Call Divine Fitsgems including "Like Ice Cream," "My Love Is Real" and the bass-groove "Would That Not Be Nice." Fischel's awestruck smile never wiped away.

8 / 10

Best Crowd: Alt-J

Alt-J perform onstage during day 1 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 12, 20
Shannon Stewart for Fuse

Well, the British buzz band can check "conquer American youth" off their career to-do list. The crowd at their Friday set was massive, spilling out of the Mohave tent. Girls posted up on their boyfriends' shoulders and sang along. And they didn't just know Alt-J's music, they'd memorized every word. Also, fans touted an array of festival toys: blow up cactuses, rainbow-colored unicorns, floaty toy geckos, a daisy flower, a stick with a bouquet of flowers attached, a stuffed-animal Yoda (of Star Wars fame) and even a crutch and a water noodle with a photo of frontman Joe Newman's face stapled to it. 

9 / 10

Best Outfit: Bat for Lashes

INDIO, CA - APRIL 13: Singer Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes performs onstage during day 2 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music
Jason Kempin

Otherworldly songstress Bat for Lashes, aka Natasha Khan, hit the stage in a shimmery, reflective kaleidoscopic skirt and top with skirt-shaped sleeves on each arm. She looked like a rainbow tornado strutting onstage during songs from her acclaimed 2012 album The Haunted Man. "Is anyone else sweating?" she asked. "Whew, it's a work out." She then removed the arms of her outfit and started another song. At Coachella it's fashion over function for Bat for Lashes.

10 / 10

Best Stage Set: Pusifer

INDIO, CA - APRIL 13: Maynard James Keenan of Puscifer performs onstage during day 2 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Art
Frazer Harrison

Trent Reznor's How to Destroy Angels owned the visual game on Friday, but his '90s hard rock peer Maynard James Keenan won Saturday with his comedy-rock project Puscifer. A small silver trailer with a white picket fence was set up onstage; Maynard dressed in tan suit with wig mullet and fake mustache. Bottles of wine, presumably Maynard's Caduceus brand from his Arizona winery, flowed freely onstage. It was a party up there. Then as Maynard sang "Balls to the Wall," a massive LED screen showed the small trailer shaking. Hey, if this trailer's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'. 

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