Well what can we say, Coachella Weekend One came and went with a mighty sonic boom, lysergic blur and warm tropical brush of palm fronds. It was, as usual, epic. However for the first time ever, it was not the final weekend Coachella had to offer. No, instead of having to wait an entire year for the musical sorcery to return you can jump in your car and head over the deserts outside of Los Angeles and actually enjoy this madness one more time. If you missed the weekend’s action, I cannot possibly recommend attending any higher. In fact, it’s our plan to give you a little heads up on what we culled from the massive musical harvest that was Weekend One with this, our personal Best Of.
So after three days of running around from tent to tent, from overcrowded beer garden to truly pampered VIP lounge, from outdoor do-lab pyramid to main stage arena rock glory, we have selected our Top 5 Musical Performances From Coachella 2012. The only caveat we’re saying is that we didn’t hit the fest until about 5 o’clock every day, opting for some fun in the sun courtesy of the “Club Called Rhonda” party at the Saguaro Hotel on Saturday and the Lacoste Mansion Party on Sunday. So if your favorite band played before 5 any day, sorry we missed them. The only other place that brought us enough joy to temporarily step out of the tents, lounges and stages was the Hyundai RE:GENERATION Lounge in the festival grounds, where we not only caught several DJ performances (including Datsik, Z Trip, Morgan Page, Porter Robinson and above all NOISIA), but also gave much needed new battery life to our dwindling iPhones.
So it is with that caveat firmly in place that we bring you our Top 5 Musical Performances From Coachella 2012. It wasn’t easy trimming it down to just five, but a Top 20 List just didn’t seem to make sense. Hope you were there and caught some of this magic…
5. The Weeknd
Been looking forward for so long to hear The Weeknd that the build up may have been too much for anyone to live up to. It doesn’t help that he does no interviews, never performs live and has already built up a looming myth about him at such a young point in his career. But Abel Tesfaye came through the crucible of the Outdoor Stage unscathed. His music was perfectly brought to life in a live setting (never a sure thing), and his voice sounds as good live as it does in studio. What a relief. In fact I’m gonna put on the Thursday Mixtape and reminisce right now…
The Weeknd taking control of the Outdoor Stage below — hit the Jump to continue reading our Top 4 Musical Performances From Coachella 2012…
4. Mazzy Star
Every year Coachella excels by bringing back bands from your way past that haven’t played together decades plus, and its always a crapshoot. Some are wins, some not so much. Probably the reunion I was most looking forward to this year was Mazzy Star, and David Roback and Hope Sandoval did not disappoint. Sandoval’s voice is so haunting and warm, it’s like a fuzzy ghostly blanket that covers your soul and let’s you know everything will be alright. Consider her the shoegazer’s Sade. And it was a fine and comforting set, until they dropped “Fade Into You”, and the entire assembled crowd sang one of the more beautiful songs of our generation in one unified chorus. Like when MGMT played “Time To Pretend” a couple years back, it was the one true spine-tingling moment of this year’s Festival.
The two Berliners killed it yet again. Arguably the best “dance” DJs on the planet, tho that is a tough proclamation to make. Sweaty, torso throbbing bass music that keeps you on your toes the entire hour-long set. Stupendous.
2. Amon Tobin
We’ve been excited about Amon Tobin’s “ISAM” 3D Live Experience since last summer, then we caught it in Los Angeles and it nearly blew our noggins. But catching the show at Coachella was another story. First off the set-up was much bigger, constructed strictly for Coachella and an upcoming European summer tour and American fall tour (so no matter where you’re reading this from, chances are he’s coming your way in the next 9 months). That means it had to be entirely re-programmed, and this particular exhibit was pure brain candy. We’re going to be posting a 3-part feature we did with Amon next week in which he delves into great detail about the amount of minute obsession that goes into crafting his sounds, and so we’ll just leave it at this: the man is, quite simply, a sonic genius. His Coachella show only cemented that stature as ten thousand people stood there stupefied watching Tobin drop one track after another, an auditory constellation of sounds and visuals taking the already head-modified crowd into celestial spaces. Does it sound like I’m exaggerating? Go see his show when it comes around and tell me differently. Or you can watch the stream, but it just won’t do the live experience justice.
1. Snoop & Dr. Dre
What can possibly be said about this show that hasn’t already been written ad nauseum? Before it even ended the interwebs and Twittersphere were aflame with talk of a holographic Tupac like they’d been bombed with digital napalm, and people were texting me about it from Berlin to London to Stockholm to Venice Beach. Yes, it was bonkers. Yes, it was otherworldly. Yes, we got to hear Tupac sing “Gangsta Party” one more glorious time. But what it achieved was more than just a high-priced technological gimmick: it put an exclamation point on a Coachella Festival that has desperately needed one for years. Not since Roger Waters played Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety on a warm Sunday evening in 2008 has Coachella ended with such a true, profound experience. It was transcendent. You were there, and there wasn’t any other place on Earth you’d rather be. That is a powerful moment to experience. And just to think — we can thank two Los Angeles gangstas for the best show in half a decade. Two guys that spent years on the wrong side of the cultural crosshairs, and who are now global icons (and thanks to Dre selling a large portion of his Beats By Dre brand, one of the 5 wealthiest rap moguls on the planet). It was epic, and when you can also bring out Fifty Cent — a guy no one’s given a damn about since Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ — and he plays his most important song to an ecstatic audience, you’re only enriching the pot. By the time Eminem came out, it felt like you were witnessing some sort of Galactic Hip-Hop Show assembled for a music festival on Pluto — and this stage was representing Earth. And yes, you’ve heard it a million times by now that this performance was unparalleled, but if anyone argues with you when you were there all you have to say is two words: Hologram Tupac. Good night.
Honorable Mentions: Black Keys, SBTRKT, Flying Lotus, Miike Snow, M83, Radiohead, Jimmy Cliff & Tim Armstrong
A gallery of our experiences from Weekend One of Coachella 2012. Already looking forward to next year…