April 15, 2012


The 10 Best Moments of Coachella: Day 2

Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella
Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella

Now this is more like it. Day 1 of Coachella brought the rain and cold, the worst surprise guests in Coachella history. But let's move past that. Day 2 brought surprise guests, unlikely crowd surfing and a clean-shaven Justin Vernon. We've already dissected Radiohead's set, but here are the 10 other best moments.

1. David Guetta's Special Guest: The French DJ didn't need to bring out special guests for the overflowing crowd to go nuts during every song, but when Guetta brought out Usher for the duo's "Without You," it was game over. The R&B star jumped on top of the DJ booth to perform the track before hugging Guetta and, presumably, comparing costs of private islands and jets.

David Guetta featuring Usher, "Without You"

2. Feist Gets Joke of the Night: Proving that Coachella is all about genre-melding, the singer-songwriter joked that "Caught a Long Wind," the gorgeous track from 2011's Metals, was actually an outtake from Dr. Dre's 1992 classic The Chronic. "Did you get that?," asked Feist, referring to Dre's headlining set Sunday night. "That's an inside joke. We're all in on the same inside joke." "Mushaboom" and "My Moon My Man" were crowd favorites, but the singer, with full orchestra in tow, leaned heavy on her Metals to an enraptured crowd.

3. Noel Gallagher Digs Deep: Despite being billed as Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, the Oasis co-founder split his 12-track set evenly between both bands. "Is anybody here from England?," asked the singer to a surprisingly strong reaction (or just from people who cheer at anything the singer says). "I dedicate this song to you," before launching into Oasis's "Half the World Away." While the Birds' tracks were well received, renditions of his former band's "Little by Little" and "Don't Look Back in Anger" became full crowd sing-alongs.

4. St. Vincent Crowd Surfs to New Song: Annie Clark's live shows have always been more fierce and guitar-heavy than her albums would suggest. Tonight, she was in full shredder mode; jittery bordering on spastic. For her penultimate song "KROKODIL," a hard, punk-inspired track set for release for April 21's Record Store Day, the musician jumped into the crowd and performed the entire song while crowd-surfing. No. Words. See for yourself below. (37:45 for new song; 38:43 for beginning of crowd surfing).

5. Buzzcocks Still Causing Mosh Pits: Last time the UK punk-pop pioneers played Coachella, the group was on the main stage. This year, organizers wisely moved them to the more intimate Gobi Tent, where fans could more easily crowd surf and mosh. They did both. Frequently. The group's ear-splitting set was more punk than pop and the all-ages crowd wouldn't have it any other way.

6. This Dog

Aubree Lennon for Fuse
Aubree Lennon for Fuse

This is Buster. And he's cooler than any of us.

7. Rock Stars Are Just Like Us: Not to get all blind item Page Six-y, but the most humanizing moment of the night came from watching a member of one of the headlining bands attempt to take money out of the ATM and getting frustrated because it wouldn't accept his card. It's worth noting that this was among us "regular people" and not in any fancy artist area. We may have less zeros on the right side of our total balance, but we've all been there, man.

8. Jeff Mangum's Quiet Excellence: The narrative forming around this year's dance-heavy festival is spectacle over musicianship. Jeff Mangum, best known as the driving force behind revered 1990s indie folk group Neutral Milk Hotel, wins one for the latter. While he had some horn help on tracks like "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," Mangum mainly performed with just a guitar, imploring the crowd to "feel free to sing as loud as you can if you know the words." When one fan yelled, "Neutral Milk Hotel changed my life," Mangum made a hat tip gesture, and now another moment has changed that fan's life. The L.A. Times said it best, referring to set closer and standout Neutral Milk Hotel track "Two-Headed Boy": "The biggest sing-along of Saturday night was a spare acoustic ballad about a deformed fetus."

Jeff Mangum, "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"

9. Flying Lotus's Honest Admission of Nerves: Los Angeles-based electronic/hip hop producer Flying Lotus brought a live band to augment his DJ setup, alternating between dark, atmospheric chillout and avant-garde funk. After his set received one of the biggest ovations of the night, he said, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was s**tting myself all f**king week. I love y'all so much." It's cool to be nervous.

10. Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Creepy Visuals: Apocalyptic chamber rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor create lengthy, instrumental songs that take their time building up but crescendo into gorgeous, doom-and-gloom passages. For their visual accompaniment, the band showed distorted images of palm trees, the premier visual icon of Coachella. The desert has never felt eerier.