See Also: • Best of Coachella weekend one • Ten awkward Coachella dance moves weekend one • Ten awkward Coachella dance moves weekend two • Tupac hologram at Coachella: Here's how it was done • Complete Coachella coverage
The first weekend of Coachella was cold, damp and wet. The second weekend of Coachella was hot, sultry, and steamy. This weekend meant tributes, tributes, tributes. From Levon Helms to Biggie, everyone got a shout-out. In between all that, Jeff Mangum came to the aid of fan in distress and our West Coast operatives spied some more awkward dancing. Page down for some of the best highlights.
Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre's Awesomely Cheesy Graphics The Tupac hologram was back last night, and again it looked almost exactly like a video game character. We were wondering: couldn't Snoop and Dr. Dre have thrown in a couple little surprises for us second weekenders? Or at least switched out any other song for "I Need a Doctor"? One thing we appreciated, however, was the '80s-style computer class-designed graphics that were projected on the screen behind them as they performed, including low-riders with hydraulics and some kind of Tetris-like Rastafarian thing. It's as if the entire production budget were spent on the hologram, and somebody was like, "Well, one of the kids in Snoop's football league is pretty good with computer stuff; why not let him do them?" -- Rebecca Haithcoat
Beirut Beirut brought an old world feel to Coachella yesterday. His trumpet and accordion-driven tunes made us feel as if we were vacationing in Paris or Bratislava when in reality we were being pushed up against a railing, getting cozy with sweaty strangers while the ground smelled of wet hay. His set list included all of his whimsical hits and a peppering of his best newer songs. A truly romantic performance, fit for picnic blankets and wine or a waltz with your significant other. -- Taylor Hamby
Santigold's Party Atmospherics Taking a beating from the sun was worth it to experience Santigold's set in the (uncovered) main stage area. Not only was she accompanied by robot-like back up dancers, she invited a bunch of fans up with her onto the stage to create a sweet mid-day dance party. Though security looked utterly confused, they let it commence and seemed won over in the end. -- Gabriel Ryan
The Hives "Usually sequels aren't better than the first original," Hives singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist said yesterday, referring to their second Coachella performance. "But we're going to change that!" And lo and behold, they did. The tuxedo-clad Swedes had the crowd at their mercy, blitzing through a thunderous 45 minute set that included songs from across their catalog. Almqvist worked the crowd like Geppetto; making them scream and even directing the entire front stage area to lay down on their backs to look at the sky. "We actually played here in 2003, so this would be final chapter in the trilogy," the singer said. "But we should play every year!" No doubt. -- Daniel Kohn
Page down for Saturday and Friday's highlights and to read about Jeff Mangum coming to the aid of a fan in distress and for full reviews of Bon Iver and Azealia Banks.
The Black Lips' Biggie Smalls "Hologram" The Black Lips set the bar pretty high with their nudie show last week. So, to up the ante, they brought out a cardboard cutout of Biggie Smalls; the point was that B.I.G. not feel left out after the debut of Tupac's hologram last week. Then Ian St. Pé shotgunned a beer with their sound guy so he didn't feel left out. (Which we thought was really sweet.) And then they capped it all off with Cole Alexander smashing his guitar to bits and throwing it into the crowd. -- Molly Bergen
Master P Cameo During A$AP Rocky's Set Sorry, but drinking a beer and swaying to Radiohead was really boring us. We made a beeline for A$AP Rocky's show instead, and were surprised to see the tent only about half full. It stayed that way throughout his almost hour-long set, even though the Harlem rapper's performance was a lot more engaging than his paint-by-the-numbers set opening for Drake in L.A. recently. (Also, girls were taking off their tops.) In any case, things got awesome when A$AP brought out Master P. We felt like we were extras in the "Make 'Em Say Uhh" video, with plenty of room to throw elbows. -- Haithcoat
Grace Potter's Levon Helm Tribute Grace Potter dedicated a song she wrote for her grandmother to Levon Helm, The Band's drummer who passed away Thursday. She set down her Flying V for the song, "Big White Gate." "Eighty-four years of a sinning life and in the morning I'll be dead," she sang, and the chorus brought on the first tears of the day. They didn't stop until the song was over. "Saint Peter won't you open up the big white gate. 'Cause I heard about forgiveness and I hope it ain't too late. I ain't no holy roller but you go tell your king. That all the folks up in heaven might like to hear me sing." -- Taylor Hamby
Kasabian Most British bands know how to rock. They also know how to bring their A-games to gigantic festivals. Kasabian's performance Saturday evening at the Mojave tent inspired concertgoers to jump and thrash with reckless abandon. The funky riffs of closer "Fire" mesmerized the crowd and when the music stopped, fans were left disappointed and confused. What could top that? -- Daniel Kohn
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Page down for Friday's highlights and to read about Jeff Mangum coming to the aid of a fan in distress and for full reviews of Bon Iver and Azealia Banks.
Pulp Considering that before Coachella the Jarvis Cocker-fronted outfit Pulp hadn't played L.A. since the freaking '90s, their twilight performance yesterday was quite anticipated. Having re-formed in 2011 after a nine-year hiatus, Pulp showed no signs of rust; they were on fire throughout their 45-minute set, which featured a surprise appearance by former member Antony Genn, now the bassist for The Hours. Mark Webber's incredible guitar solo during "Sunrise" was the musical highlight of the night, leaving thousands of people gasping, believe it or not. If that wasn't enough, a badass version of "Common People" closed out the set, converting anyone who wasn't already a fan. -- Kohn
Other Lives Amidst the day's scorching heat -- when most sane people were asleep in their tents or at a fancy pool party -- a crowd settled in onto the shady, grassy grounds of the Gobi stage for Other Lives. It's a testament to the Other Lives' elegant third album,Tamer Animals, that people packed the tent to hear their opus about the dust bowl. The mini five piece band picked up any and every instrument near them and, like whirling Tasmanian devils, became their own orchestra. At the helm was the shaggy haired Jesse Tabish and his hauntingly sad vocals. The highlight was the closer "Dustbowl III" a spaghetti western-inspired epic, which fit perfectly up against the desert brutal sun and the swirling grit. -- Bergen
Page down to read about Jeff Mangum coming to the aid of a fan in distress and for full reviews of Bon Iver and Azealia Banks.
"What's going on over there?" Jeff Mangum, the reclusive singer of Neutral Milk Hotel who blew our minds last weekend, halted his performance at Coachella on Saturday night to to call attention to a distressed fan. Security at the Outdoor Stage wasn't paying attention, and this young female attendee needed help -- bad.
Believing that she had passed out, he alerted security, who then rushed over to the woman near the front of the Outdoor Stage.
"Are you okay?" Mangum asked, as she was pulled over the barrier. The cellist performing with Mangum rushed to get water for the girl, and the singer walked over to make sure she was okay; as she was carried away from the stage by two guards she was conscious, but had a wide-eyed look of terror on her face.
Coachella security told us the fan fainted from heat and dehydration. They said she was treated by their medical staff and released.
Page down for full reviews of Bon Iver and Azealia Banks.
BON IVER @ COACHELLA | 4.21.12
Flickering strands of glowing balloons swayed gently over the polo fields as the crowd drew in for Bon Iver's set on the main stage yesterday evening. Sunburnt and spent, these half-naked revelers came to be calmed by Justin Vernon's falsetto after a long hard day of dancing. It's not easy frolicking in 100 degree temperatures all day in nothing but gauzy underclothes and dusty flip flops, Fortunately, then, Bon Iver was just the ticket. A huge crowd sprawled out on the grass studded with cigarette butts, water bottles, and the occasional pile of god-knows-what under a ceiling of search lights.
In his first Coachella performance under the guise of Bon Iver (and not singing back up for Kanye West), Justin Vernon looked confident. Surrounded by a flood of mini lamp posts that glowed deep amber, and his giant band behind him, he looked perfectly at ease. As he should be; the man has earned a little swagger after winning a Grammy and touring heavily for the past three years.
The set was a mix of his first album about breakups past, For Emma, Forever Ago, and his second self-titled (and much more polished) affair. Jumping from hope to heartbreak to falling in love at a blood bank (of all places), Vernon's storytelling glistened in the balmy night air. Tattooed ladies with parasol umbrellas perched on their fingertips swayed and danced to "Skinny Love" and "Perth" while tiny children in their pastel summer shorts ran circles around their parents 'blankets.
Vernon's sweet falsetto paired beautifully with the horn section like tango partners, each one taking turns with the lead, dictating where the song would go. Occasionally during great swells of emotion, guitars would break through melody with authority, stomping everything in their way, and stealing the spotlight. So much so that we couldn't help wondering if there's a rock album in Bon Iver's future.
The evening ended not with one of his hits, as everyone had supposed. One can only assume that the reason Bon Iver didn't close with the epic, crowd-empowering "The Wolves (Act I & II)" as he did last Saturday night, was for variety. Either that or the heat really got to him today. No, instead he went with his auto-tuned bowl of mush "Woods."
Don't get us wrong, we're all for experimenting with your set list, but to use that as a closer is just crazy. He might as well have shot the crowd in the ass with a horse tranquilizer. C'mon Vernon. Dazzle us. We want to shower you with applause, but a slow number at the end isn't going to get the job done.
Personal Bias: I was exhausted from dancing all day and all I wanted to do was lie on my back and watch stars twinkle. Bon Iver is a perfect act for doing just that.
Overheard in the crowd: "Is that Cake? It sounds like Cake," wondered a pimply youngster. We successfully restrained ourselves from yelling back "It's NOT CAKE."
Page down to read a full review of Azealia Banks's set.
AZEALIA BANKS @ COACHELLA | 04.21.12
Safe bet that thousands of people shouting, "I guess that cunt getting eaten" in unison has never happened at Coachella before. Yet that's exactly what was heard yesterday during Azealia Banks' set. It was midday, and most of us weren't even drunk yet.
Last September, the Harlem rapper broke out with the video to her song "212." And it was with good reason: in cutoff jean shorts, a Mickey Mouse sweater and braided pigtails, the 20-year-old is the picture of innocence -- until she caps her first verse with the above chant. In the following months, she's pushed boundaries and, predictably, found a fan in Kanye West.
She casually mentioned she's bisexual before talking about her longtime boyfriend. She insinuated Iggy Azalea is racist and in the next breath labeled herself "pro-black girl." She called out Nicki Minaj for capitalizing on her looks although she herself did a photo shoot with Terry Richardson.
We didn't know what to expect from her set yesterday, but considering her training at LaGuardia Performing Arts High School, we had high hopes. She strode onstage in an outfit from the year she was born, 1991: shiny pleather shortalls with one strap undone a la Kriss Kross, a neon orange mesh top revealing electrical tape pasties and black combat boots. Maybe it was the outfit, her butt-brushing crimped red wig, or just her crotch-grabbing, but she had us thinking about Lil' Kim.
Of course, like most '90s babies-turned-rappers, Banks incorporates more than just hip-hop into her persona. She didn't have a hype man, but she did have two dancers vogueing -- an inspired touch, considering the dance originated in Harlem's house music community, and her sound owes much to the genre.
Her stage show does need to be tightened a little. She didn't ad lib much, and her set was only 30 minutes long. But her breath control was good, and she seemed to perform twice as many songs in half the time -- that's how fast she raps. And when she lustily belted "Valerie," we stared, stunned, at this club kid singing like she was in a gospel choir.
Banks inserted a small break to give her dancers the spotlight and herself a minute to catch her breath. Yet her show was much livelier and she was much less winded than most would've been in yesterday's heat.
Her energy never waned. Jumping up and down like a jubilant kid, she had the whole crowd pogoing as well. We dig her -- and not just because she gave us license to scream the c-word.
Personal Bias: The more strong women in rap, the better.
The Crowd: People who probably have never screamed the word "cunt" in public before.
Random Notes: The sound has been hit-or-miss for almost every show in the Gobi tent.
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