Yeah Yeah Yeah%uFFFDs and Karen O in her studded leather jacket performing Zero at Coachella

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini

This is the first time that we actually covered Coachella and twittered along our merry way. Interestingly, we ended up getting more traffic than we imagined mainly because not only were people reading our every movements from stage-to-stage, but we could also read what many of the artists were doing backstage too.

Overall however, despite everyone trying to score a VIP pass and backstage entrance, the best place to watch the real action was out front, in the crowds, which is also were the festival fashionistas cruised the polo fields in serious style, despite the fact that temps reached 100 degrees. For the uninitiated, Coachella is a 3-day music and arts festival from April 17-19 in Indio, CA, near Palm Springs. It’s become such a big deal, that many magazines (ranging from Vanity Fair to Anthem) rent big houses with pools and host their annual parties here, which can be so entertaining that many people don’t even bother going to Coachella. Although this thinking is a little muddled if you consider that this is probably the only place where you’d get to see an amazing range of bands from different genres in an incredibly beautiful space -a polo field with palm trees, surrounding mountains, and showstopping sunsets.

Serpent Mother installation at Coachella–lights up with fire at night and the head moves

Headliners this year ranged from Paul McCartney, to The Killers, The Cure, Morrissey, Band of Horses, TV on the Radio, Franz Ferdinand, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Joss Stone, Silversun Pickups, Leonard Cohen, Beirut, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Public Enemy, and M.I.A. That’s just on the main stages. Inside big white tents named appropriately Mojave, Gobi, and Sahara where smaller acts, and this too can be a key source for some of the best performances to take place, which this year included Devendra Banhart, The Kills, The Vivian Girls, No Age, The Horrors, X, and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Inside Sahara, which has become so popular for its raver attraction that many people now simply refer to the DJs, rave, and corresponding day-glo fashion as “it’s so Sahara,” presents an on-going set of music-mix masters, including this year the Crystal Method, Mastadon, Ting Tings, The Chemical Brothers, and MSTRKRFT. On Sunday, the line-up was among the best with Perry Farrell, Shepard Fairey, Plump DJs, Christopher Lawrence, and Groove Armada. Depending on which twitter you were on, some would claim there’s no reason to leave the Sahara tent because the rave goes from one DJ to the next and the light shows inside are mindblowing.

Christopher Lawrence gets started in the Sahara tent at Coachella

But for others, just walking the grounds of the grassy polo fields to see the art installations such as The Do Lab and Lucent Dossier’s love-inspired shows are worth the ticket price. Coachella is where huge art installations take shape including a giant Serpent Mother that is light with fire, a Bamboo Starscraper, various shrines, lights, pods, and even a lightening bolt maker called the Cauac Twins. (In case you were wondering, yes, there are many comparisons of Coachella to Burning Man, but Coachella has music.)

Fire circle of bamboo shoots–you can see where the Burning Man comparisons come from

Because this year’s line-up was so eclectic (I mean, you had Morrissey and MSTRKRFT, for godssake), it meant a mixed bag of incredibly cool festival fashion. Here in one place you could catch a glimpse of trends that are coming down the line for this summer as music tour and festival season starts. This is fashion not from the runways, but from fans of music, which is far more interesting, daring, and authentic. It is here where designers often cop ideas for next season, claiming them as their own.

Here are some highlights from Coachella. Check back later for the full-on Festival Fashion Report.

No Age performed earlier in the day. These guys are a favorite among some action sports brands and were one of the break-out bands from the downtown LA no-ages club called The Smell.

The Lucent Dossier Experience near the Do Lab was an amazing show complete with trapeze artists

Lucent Dossier love show provided ongoing misting and good vibes–they hosted 2 shows per day in brutal heat and one at night. Record attendance.

The Do Lab%uFFFDs misting area which we called Middle Earth because it looked like an oasis within the desert oasis–art installation is made of wooden pallets. It was enormous.

The Vivian Girls in the Mojave tent. Loads of hype around these 3, each who whom trade off instruments (including drums) throughout their set.

Peter, Bjorn, and John from Sweden felt awed that they were playing on the same stage that Paul McCartney had graced 2 nights before.

Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah%uFFFDs in her gold shimmer wrap caught the setting sun and set the stage on fire.

The Quad Cubatron made of 5,760 computer-controlled LED lights that only run at night. The grounds really came to life after sunset with things like this.

These really are 2 lightening bolts. It%uFFFDs a sculpture by Syd Klinge called The Cauca Twins made of the largest and most powerful twin tesla coils in the world.

Looking at a crowd of ravers as they rest on the ground before heading back into the Sahara tent. They%uFFFDre sitting in a circle but all you can see is their glo-stick accessories in headbands, bracelets, and necklaces.

DJ Shepard Fairey gave tribute to his artist/photog friend Shawn Mortensen who took his own life because he was ill and didn%uFFFDt have insurance. Messed-up world we live in.

The Kills–a bit blurry but the lighting was bad in the Gobi tent. We originally saw them at the Iceland Airwaves years ago and could not believe how big their crowd was at Coachella. They smoldered as usual.

Yellow bamboo art installation called the Bamboo Starscraper which lit-up with a top torch at night.

One of the Do Lab%uFFFDs pods for shade and chilling. At night the red bulbs burn making it very cozy like living in a tree pod.

The Yeah Yeah Yeah%uFFFDs eyeball stage. During Zero they threw out white beach balls with blue eyeballs on them making it look like the audience was popping with eyes.

MIA%uFFFDs eco-friendly go-cart was part of Global Inheritence%uFFFDs installation. Her’s was decorated with paper planes. Paul McCartney%uFFFDs had Beatles’ motifs on it.

White pods art installation–they move and down depending on how you%uFFFDre moving.

La Familia Divina-Shrine is a holy relic dedicated to people and their dreams. It%uFFFDs a family shrine made by LA artist Shrine and kids Jesse and Dylan from re-used materials, trash, and drawings and took 20 years to create.