It seemed that Coachella’s two Saturdays had something in common. They were warmer.
Weekend One’s version didn’t have the rainstorms and gales that punished campers the night before. Weekend Two’s was hot. Like third-degree-when-you-try-to-put-on-your-seat-belt-hot.
The heat did little to abate the excite and rumors for the second coming of Coachella. There had been the rumors from the weekend before. Usher? Macy Gray? Kurt Cobain hologram? The cameos that did materialize on Saturday were just about as prominent: Nicki Minaj with David Guetta and Master P with A$AP Rocky were among the highlights.
If there was a theme besides the heat on Saturday, it was the strong front women presence at Coachella’s middle child. Women in heat, if you will. (Bad joke, bad joke).Grace Potter was captivating as was the capitalization-crazy “tUnE-yArDs,” and Feist brought out a full orchestra to help her rule the Outdoor Stage. The queen of Saturday, however, had to be St. Vincent, who despite the school teacher mystique, obliterated the ears of everyone at the Gobi Stage.
Read our reviews below from Weekend One and Weekend Two below…
Childish Gambino- Weekend One
For those able to roll out from their sleeping bags early enough to catch Childish Gambino‘s set, “Community” star Donald Glover was eager to please. Shedding his on-screen charm for an on-stage growl, Glover shouted out his whip-smart lyrics with a desperation that seemed only natural for his first time at Coachella — and on the main stage, no less. Highlight: he went full force for “You See Me,” which eloquently observed, “Asian girls / everywhere / UCLA / UCLA,” and the screen even showed the lyrics while they were being spoken — in case, you know, you didn’t hear it the first time. The handful of Asian girls who turned up their noses were in the minority. The rest just enjoyed being celebrated.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals- Weekend One
When Grace Potter and the Nocturnals stepped up on the Outdoor Stage Saturday afternoon, the cameraman focused in so closely on Potter’s face that those watching on the side screens could see the details of her makeup. But when you saw her in person, it was her stage presence — and, really, her long blonde hair — that captivated. Most people were waiting to hear “Paris (Ooh La La),” which they dutifully played, but Potter also shined on soul-heavy numbers like “Nothing But the Water.” They may have been a bit out of place — tUnE-yArDs, who followed, probably disapproves of the band’s straightforward approach to songwriting, but their energy was enough to win over the skeptics.
Andrew Bird- Weekend Two
You’d probably find Andrew Bird in a book for Stuff White People Like, but there is no denying that the violin virtuoso from Chicago can provide an encapsulating performance. Taking to the stage with his trademark stuffed monkey, Bird looked a bit chirpier than our past recollection of him, strutting through characteristic tongue-twisters all while whistling, looping and plucking away at his violin. Joined on stage by St. Vincent (see their amazing La Blogotheque history here), Bird flew threw his full discography with “Plasticities” to “Danse Caribe” to various cuts off newest album “Break It Yourself.” Sporting a bandana and shades to fend off the dust and mid-afternoon rays, Bird closed off with a sped-up and off-kilter version of “Fake Palindromes,” throwing off any chance of a Saturday afternoon sing-a-long.
St. Vincent- Weekend Two
Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, packs a kick. Just ask the crowd at the Gobi Stage for Weekend Two. Better yet, find one of the handful of audience members that caught a black high heel to the back or face as she crowd-surfed her away across the sweaty masses. Appearing at the next stage over after making a cameo during Andrew Bird’s performance minutes before, St. Vincent showed up ready to do battle. Despite an angelic appearance (a lighted Ferris Wheel framed a halo around Clark’s head on the video screens), Clark was anything but, manically howling as she swung her curls like Medusa’s snakes and shredded her guitar with ferocity that’s been unmatched thus far on Weekend Two. She opened with “Marrow,” climbing speakers in an all-black wardrobe with leather shorts before hitting other favorites like “Actor Out of Work.” With crazy eyes that flashed green and, St. Vincent covered The Pop Group’s “She Is Beyond Good And Evil” and closed with Record Store Day single “Krokodil,” jumping into the crowd with a water misting gun before crowd surfing off into oblivion.
The Shins- Weekend One
The Shins could have spent their 50-minute set showing off their new album, Port of Morrow, but they made the right call: figuring that most of the audience has probably listened to it by now, they chose to pick some of the best from the group — “Simple Song,” “No Way Down” — and throw in some old favorites as well, like a kickback to “Saint Simon.” Best of all, though, they tickled even more nostalgic hearts with a stunning cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe in the Air” and managed to keep the original’s long and luscious chords feeling both familiar and fresh.
Bon Iver- Weekend Two
Bon Iver‘s set was a well-crafted one, opening with the pleas of “Perth” and moving from there to “Holocene” and “Blood Bank.” In the middle, the band pared down to stomps and hand-claps for an earthy feel to “Skinny Love,” and at the end, Justin Vernon led the audience in a sing-along to the “what might have been lost” of “Wolves (Acts I and II).” Basically, Vernon pulled a lot of the same moves that rabid concert-goers would recognize from other recent shows — this past fall or even this past week at the Bill Graham Civic Center. But for those seeing him for the first time — and the girly screams around us suggested they were numerous — it was a magical hour.
SBTRKT- Weekend Two
It’s been a quick rise for SBTRKT, whose “Wildfire” spread like a blaze across the Interwebs and landed them in a prime time set on the Gobi Stage at Coachella. Aaron Jerome, the mastermind behind the non-vowel name, and on-stage partner Sampha didn’t disappoint slamming down a 50-minute set that worked heavily off their self-titled debut. With a live drum set, extra toms and keys, SBTRKT added a unique percussive texture to tracks like “Hold On” and “Never Never,” which Sampha sang spot-on. Masked as always, the pair were heavy-handed on the bass and eager to please. They mixed in Drake’s remix of “Wildfire” before unleashing their original hit on the masses and sending smoke-like water mist into the air to placate the burning audience.
A$AP Rocky- Weekend Two
With the last set of the day on Saturday, A$AP Rocky competed with the likes of Kaskade, Radiohead and beckoning beds (or sleeping bags) for the the crowd’s attention. Attracting a decent-sized crowd so late at night at the Gobi Stage, Rocky was introduced by his mob before launching into “Pretty Flacko” and diving into the crowd. With antics this late at night, we decided not to stick around and missed an apparent cameo by Master P. No worries. Other hip hop cameos beckon on Sunday night…
Treeswingers’ Top Three
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals- Paris (Ooh La La) (live) (download)
St. Vincent- Krokodil (Live at Coachella 4/14/12) (download)
SBTRKT- Hold On (download)