Weekend 1 of Coachella Music and Arts Festival April 13-15, 2012 in Indio, CA, produced by Goldenvoice brought with it an explosion of great music, artistic inspiration, gorgeous scenery, and Tupac from the dead. The hologram of the famous rapper, who “joined” Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg during the closing set on Sunday night has marked the beginnings of a new era: namely bringing back dead artists to perform live on stage again. From Rolling Stone to Vanity Fair, the coverage of Coachella was all about this trio’s performance, when actually, it’s not all that new. Famous visual kei leader Yoshiki and his band X Japan first did this years ago with their long-gone famous guitar player.
But hey, when it comes to rap, and Tupac at that, it’s a different story, apparently. As creepy as it was, it did round-out the weekend in exceptional style and of course, up-staged Eminem who popped in (along with 50 Cent) during the Dre/Dogg performance.
Coachella is the unofficial kick-off festival that marks where things are headed in music and festival fashion for the upcoming year. From here, many artists will continue on the festival journey, popping over to Glastonbury, and back for Bonnaroo, among other gigs. The festival also comes with its fair share of reunion bands, which has become trademark for the summer tour season. In this case, other than Dre and Snoop, the top reunion bands that killed-it with amazing sets included Pulp and Refused. Pulp proved that they still had it and engaged a younger audience that was dancing and singing so loudly with every word, it was slightly difficult to make out the vocals at times.
While it’s been a good 7 years since The Hives last performed, they were also in high form coming out in ties and producing a solid performance. What was a little lackluster, dare we say, was Radiohead. They’d played before too, but this set, filled with new songs which was admirable, left people leaving the field in front of the mainstage and heading back over to the Sahara tent. For newbies, the Sahara tent is where most DJ’s perform and with the surge in popularity of electronica, was absolutely packed to the gills the entire 3 days.
Refused was the band that got social media buzzing however, especially after the live stream, as this emo-punk group stoked many in the target age group of 21-30. Carrie Brownstein and Mary Timony from Wild Flag rocked the Outdoor Stage and ripped it hardcore. People were fairly blown away, especially by drummer Janet Weiss. Brownstein and Weiss, formerly from Sleater-Kinney, showed their new band has a new sound, especially with keyboardist Rebecca Cole.
From a fashion perspective (additional story posting soon), festival goers were somewhat typical with their big floppy hats and throwbacks to 70’s hippy styles. Afterall, if ever there’s a place to be all Woodstock-y, it’s at Coachella. Interestingly, while flag motifs are in, Americana in the sense of camo and over-indulgence seen at the last fashion trade shows at Project and Magic were not to be found. Yes, fringed denim cut-offs and boots are hot right now, but the extreme Americana is not. It’s still all about the bright colors, bits of neon paired with earthy and Native American accessories. Think emo meets grunge.
One reason why so many fashion magazines and bloggers appear at Coachella is because it’s the closest big festival to LA and the place is a madhouse for celebs. The VIP area is a regular Who’s Who of celebrities but even more so, wannabes. That being said however, Coachella rules in many other ways, particularly with the on-site art installations that all light-up at night and provide that extra dimension. The center Do Lab area also offers a reprieve with unique performances including the amazing dance and artistry troupe Lucent Dossier. From there, there’s recycling stations everywhere, Global Inheritance and their street art rendered garbage cans, a massive merch area including this year, vintage merch finds, and the rare on-site sponsorship booth, this time from H&M which actually was very cool and highlighted their Fight Against AIDS program (story posting soon).
It’s crazy to think that Coachella is ramping-up right now for a second weekend of mayhem, but the 3-day, 2-weekend concept apparently is working for Goldenvoice (owned by AEG) as both weekends sold-out within weeks of announcing the dates last year…all before the line-up was even announced. Haters can rip on it all they want and rag on the hipster-ness of it all, but there’s no denying that the massive ticket sales show the love.