April 14, 2012


The 10 Best Moments of Coachella: Day 1

Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella
Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella

It's all about the music, man. Well, yes and no. Day 1 of Coachella's first weekend will be remembered as much for the unseasonably cold weather and perpetual threat—and occasional follow-through—of rain as for the artists themselves. Still, under a Palm Springs desert with music blaring everywhere, most soldiered on undeterred, if not a bit shivering. Here are the 10 best moments from Day 1.

Related: Black Keys Bring Blues Rock, Intimacy to Desert

1. Tyler, the Creator Joins Frank Ocean: Midway through the Odd Future crooner's first headlining set at the festival, OF frontman Tyler, the Creator hopped on stage and became the most high-profile surprise guest of the night. Tyler performed "Analog 2" before giving Ocean a high five and flying chest bump and promptly leaving the stage.

It was a "Ohhhh s**t" moment, but one of many from Ocean's set, which has upgraded from solo dude with a laptop to 6-piece band with welding masks. "Swim Good," "Thinkin' Bout You" and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Long Time Gone" all were highlights, but the line that predictably received the biggest cheers? "Met her at Coachella," from "Novacane". Naturally. 

Tyler, the Creator featuring Frank Ocean, "Analog 2" 

2. Pulp Conquer All, Give Out Candy: After catching their first U.S. show in more than a decade at Radio City Music Hall, we wanted more of the classic 1990s Britpop band. On the main stage, frontman Jarvis Cocker jumped on top of the monitors, pranced around the photo pit and threw candy and grapes into the crowd. The 10-song set was hit-heavy, with the band belting out "Mis-Shapes" and "Sorted for E's and Wizz" and ending with, what else, "Common People." Cocker even gave his own explanation for the crappy weather, referencing both Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, who played earlier in the day: "There's an ugly rumor that the reason it's so grey and miserable was because two Sheffield bands were going on." Oh, you Brits and your self-deprecation.

3. The Unintended Consequences of Weather: While the weather itself was hardly a highlight, there were numerous bizarre and funny consequences: The PA system at the main stage played Milli Vanilli's "Blame it on the Rain" and B. J. Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." Pulp asked, via their opening LCD screen, "Got your thermals on?" Groups of people huddled by hamburger stands' open grills for any modicum of warmth. And to the many girls shivering from their choice of bikini bottoms or short shorts, Weather.com is your friend, guys.

5. Swedish House Mafia Blind Me: Seriously. The trio's mesmerizing light show was a festival highlight and a Con Ed employee's wet dream, turning the entire festival (minus the punk fans at Refused's reunion show) into one big club.

Swedish House Mafia at Coachella

6. Girls Bring Sunny Pop to the Cold: San Francisco indie pop group Girls blended Beach Boys-inspired pop with Laurel Canyon folk-rock to a riveted crowd. The group adorned every instrument and mic stand with flowers and were arguably the most quintessential California band on the bill. Their set, more than anyone else, made me pine for the sun even more.

7. Main Stage Offers Interpreter for Deaf: Respect to organizers for bringing in an interpreter for the deaf for all of the main stage acts. Nice touch.

8. Atari Teenage Riot Make Our Ears Bleed: The Berlin hardcore techno trio wins for loudest group of the night, combining fan favorites with new songs "Activate" and "Black Flags." Awesome.

9. Amon Tobin's Insane Stage Show: The Brazilian electronic producer set himself up in what looked like a giant, illuminated Tetris game (really a 25-by-14-by-8-foot cube). As the structure projected fractals, optical illusions and trippy geometric patterns, Tobin dropped fractured ambient beats to an enraptured audience. Check out the show trailer below:

10. Jimmy Cliff Uplifts Coachella: Joined by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, the 64-year-old reggae legend's set was highlighted by "The Harder They Come" and a cover of Rancid's "Ruby Soho." When Cliff sang "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone" from "I Can See Clearly Now," it was more wishful sentiment than reality, but a hopeful gesture nonetheless.

What was your favorite moment of Day 1? Let us know in the comments below!