Coachella Festival Review 2014

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Coachella Festival Review 2014

by john / Mar 24, 2014 / 0 comments

Opening weekend at Coachella 2014 was a star-studded turning point for the renowned festival, one that seemed to set this sun-baked paradise on a new path. Yet the encore replay disspelled that notion by retaining all that has been great about this endurance test for 15 years

The first Coachella weekend played out like a private Hollywood party crashed and trashed by petulant teenagers. But weekend 2 felt like the real thing again: exciting and exhausting, blissful and beautiful, and all about the music, not the scene. Here are 5 festival highlights:

1. The Women: In 2003, you could count the number of women appearing on a Coachella stage on one hand with a missing pinky. The next year, that amount … doubled. A decade later, more than a dozen women performed out here – every day.
Female artists dominated the festival like never before, not just as occasional players in male-fronted bands but as leading stars and breakout favorites whose confidence only grew over the second weekend. Among them: Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, Laura Mvula, Kate Nash, the spitfires of Grouplove (exuberant on Friday) and MS MR, Warpaint, Dum Dum Girls (noticeably stronger this time), Solange (terrific even without a Beyoncé cameo).
See more photos from day 2, weekend 2 of Coachella 2014
Above all there was Haim, the fiercely talented darlings of Coachella 2014, who after another mangetic turn on Friday spent the next day turning up in other acts’ sets. It was a veritable Lilith Fair out here, and they’re the new queens.

2. OutKast: Less psyched out by Prince’s presence in the wings or the overall significance of their long-awaited return, the hip-hop trendsetters rebounded impressively by wisely re-strategizing. Solo spotlights for Big Boi and Andre 3000 got pared down, while one for newcomer Future was eliminated altogether. Their hurried end-run of hits was spread across the set instead, ensuring the crowd stayed engaged. Most evidently, the duo were more relaxed, resulting in the explosive performance we expected last weekend but never got. The difference was night and day, dress rehearsal to show time. Now it’s ready to wow at 40 more festivals.

3. The Replacements with Billie Joe Armstrong: “We’re the world’s greatest Replacements cover band,” Paul Westerberg quipped before kicking off a superior set from the remnants of the ramshackle ’Mats with a sublime take on “I Will Dare.” Two songs later, Green Day’s frontman emerged, bearded and shaggy and in a plaid suit to match the group’s look, and proceeded to lead or by led by one of his favorite bands for the better part of an hour. Classics (“Can’t Hardly Wait”) and obscurities (“Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out”) ensued, all while Westerberg sprawled out in cool poses on a sofa in front of the drum kit, his back ailing. It was raw and spontaneous – and inspired. The perfect encapsulation of everything that was once so great about this gang.

4. Queens of the Stone Age: Rock-solid last weekend despite watching the winds topple their amps, Josh Homme and his mighty crew returned positively ferocious this time, regardless that the hometown hero admitted from the get-go that he was wasted. As with the Replacements, this is a band for which drunkenness can be an improvement: It made them tighter yet rawer, with loosened swagger to match their spot-on playing. Bonus: a revised set list, including one epic deep-track rarity.

5. MGMT: If faceless bands are the new vogue, then this schizophrenic bunch is still the pacesetter. They first came to Coachella six years ago, hiding behind shades and generally not caring who liked them or not. They returned in 2010 willfully thumbing their nose at an enormous sprawl, avoiding hits and veering into weirder, off-putting material. Having developed on their own terms, eventually finding the happy medium between the appeal of “Kids” and its more mind-bending neo-psychedelia, they conquered the main stage with a tremendous set simply by being themselves. They also sat in with Kid Cudi on his single “Pursuit of Happiness”; he returned the favor by dancing all through MGMT’s “Electric Feel.”

Rating out of 11: 
No rating