Coachella 2013 is in the books. We went into the festival this year with a ton of questions and some doubts. The headliners didn’t floor us, and with other festivals around the nation and in California booking some pretty amazing bands, we were skeptical. But then we experienced two weekends of music in the Coachella Valley, and it all made sense yet again. Coachella is about the sun, the valley, the music and the people. If you didn’t have a good time, you did something wrong. We went into Saturday thinking it was a pretty weak lineup, and we came out with some of our favorite shows of the weekend. Here’s our list of the Best and Worst of Coachella 2013.
Got Us Rocking
Yuma Tent – The new venue added to Coachella this year was absolutely slamming. Word about the Yuma Tent spread quickly in Week 1 and by Week 2 lines started to back up outside the tent by 7 PM. Still though, it was relatively quick and easy to get into Coachella’s first “club” experience. Once you walked in the bass literally vibrated through your body. With a good lineup of talent including Pete Tong, Richie Hawtin, and Jamie Jones to name a few, the Yuma Tent made a name for itself this year. Our suggestion is to add a few more trance DJs to the Yuma lineup next year to turn it into that full EDM club experience. We would love to see the vibe and party with someone like Sebastain Ingrosso, Sander van Doorn or Deadmau5 headlining there next year.
Dog Blood – Most people at Coachella probably didn’t know that Dog Blood consisted of Skrillex and Boys Noize. If they did, then the crowd would have been much larger. For those who were in the know, they experience one of the harder sets of the weekend. With a huge banner behind the elevated DJ booth dropping as the set started, the crowd was in a frenzy from start to finish. Coachella 2013 was a much more dub-step and bass heavy lineup for EDM, and Dog Blood was possibly the heaviest of all. Easily one of the best shows of Coachella.
The Descendants – With the equivalent of one true punk rock act a day at Coachella (come on, let me just have some!) it was slim pickings for fans for the genre. Social Distortion put on a show full of hits as the sun went down on Sunday, but The Descendants were the surprise act of Saturday. A fun show that had fans singing a long and newcomers dancing to the beat. Who knew punk rock could sound so good to Coachella party kids?
Short lines on Sunday – The best part about staying for Sunday at Coachella is that there are a lot less people there! Security lines were fast and easy, beers were quick to get, and the crowds were manageable. It still sucks for those who have to work the next day, but at least the experience of getting in and having fun is more manageable. If everyday was like Sunday, Coachella would be a breeze to attend.
Franz Ferdinand – As one of the only real rock bands from this generation (sorry Grinderman and RHCP) Franz had to carry the load on their own. And they definitely did that and more! Somehow they thankfully played in the enclosed Mojave tent (whereas Phoenix was a HEADLINER on the MAIN stage) which made the acoustics even better. Franz played an electric set of dancing sing-along hits that created the rare rock and roll dance party. The crowd screamed every word to “Take Me Out”, “Do You Want You”, and “No You Girls”, before nearly exploding when they played “The Fallen” which was absent week one. This show was also part of a music festival anomaly, where two neighboring stages had elite performances. Franz at the Mojave and Mobi at the Sahara turned in dueling dance parties, which could be seen from either tent, so this was definitely the area of the polo grounds to be at.
Major Laser – One of the most interactive performances at the festival. Major Laser is the combination of Diplo and Switch, who combined their own hits like “Pon De Floor” with remixes of other DJ and reggae dance-floor hits. Coachella made two major lineup errors: 1) Who are the Stone Roses? And why are they headlining? 2) Scheduling Major Lazer at 6:25 p.m. when the sun is still up and its still face melting hot. At the very least switch them with Grizzly Bear since the crowd was three times the size for Major Lazer. But the time slot didn’t slow ML down one bit. They used every trick in the book to get the crowd dancing: twerk dancers, guest appearances by Two Chainz and a pre-recorded Snoop Lion, and a full crowd Harlem Shake. It was undoubtedly the best daytime dance party at Coachella.
Do- Lab – This non-stop dance party and cirque de weird was once again both a stunning display of visual artistry and a dancing heart in the middle of the polo grounds. Even if you were not on a trapeze or stilts, or dressed as a giraffe or circus clown, you could still enjoy the stunning display of energy and creativity. It was a beautiful and outlandish collaboration of performance artists that went on all day long, reminding everyone walking between stages that there is still a party going on at Coachella.
Grinderman – By far the loudest show at Coachella. Wow! Nick Cave the rockstar definitely made an appearance this year. With a growl and menacing look, Grinderman ripped through a set that you could hear all the way at the campgrounds. There were not a ton of hard rock acts at Coachella 2013, but Nick Cave made up for it in a 50 minute set that saw him in the crowd and swinging the mic around the audience like someone had just ripped his wristband off and he couldn’t get back into the venue. We love that stuff!
Hardwell – The EDM scene at Coachella this year was heavy. The Sahara tent was slammed all weekend with dubstep, drum and bass, and broken beat. It really wasn’t until Sunday that the House and Trance DJ’s got their chance. Hardwell put on an hour set that mixed everything from Alesso to Swedish House Mafia and DMX. Ya, it was one of those sets! With original tracks mixed in, and some amazing break downs, Hardwell’s set was very reminiscent of last’s year Sahara tent lineup that floored concert goers for three days straight. The heavy was great, but Hardwell was a welcome change on Sunday.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – The best headliner of the weekend award goes to the Chili Peppers. This year’s lineup was definitely strongest in the middle and early evening shows, but the headliners were a little lackluster. Would the Chili Peppers be able to close out the festival on a high note? Yes! The Red Hot Chili Peppers have definitely slowed things down on their two latest studio albums, but the Los Angeles icons did nothing like that at Coachella. “Higher Ground”, “Suck My Kiss”, “Me and My Friends”, “Sir Psycho Sexy”… that’s the Chili Peppers show you want to see and Coachella attendees got it.
Bummed Us Out
Show of force on Saturday – Saturday gets the biggest crowd, but that doesn’t mean that security should be dicks. We saw more than a few people get a 5 minute pat down for no other reason than they picked the wrong line at the wrong time. Don’t get us wrong, we know the drill and we want to make sure no weapons or dangerous items get into the festival. But when you are spending 5 minutes going “deep” into the private areas of a person, the questions becomes what are you really looking for? Are you trying to keep festival goers safe or scare us off? Not cool.
Art? – We like weird shit. We really do. We write a lot about art on these pages and we are always championing self expression. But who wants to get out of their mind and have a giant graffiti snail chase them around Coachella? Not me. Ya, some people loved the moving art piece, but some people ran the other way when the giant beast came at them. Or even better, when the huge moving snail blocked the stage view for everyone behind it! Move snail! Snails are lame anyways, and graffiti doesn’t make them any cooler. OK, I’m done with that snail. (Ronnie)
Headlining issues – There were some absolutely phenomenal performances at Coachella, but not many from the headliners. Red Hot Chili Peppers played an amazing final set Sunday night for those that stayed. And after the afterglow of that epic performance wore off it left us wondering again… Stone Roses and Phoenix? Those performances aren’t even in the same universe, so to claim that all three are headliners is borderline offensive. Phoenix put on a good show, but there is nothing special there. I still don’t know who the Stone Roses are, but I do know waves of people were leaving their show every minute. Other festivals like Outside Lands and Lollapalooza have legitimate rock headliners like Nine Inch Nails, Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam and Queens of the Stone Age as well as DJs like Kaskade and Calvin Harris. At Coachella RHCP was a legitimate headliner, I will give a lot of credit there, but next year the headliners need to match the hype of Coachella.