Big Finish For Coachella 2014
Final Day Heats Up In More Ways Than One
L. Paul Mann
In a strange confluence of events, the final day of Coachella 2014 was held on Easter Sunday, which also happened to be 4/20, the official Cannabis celebration day. Both occasions on the calendar were marked in myriad ways throughout the festival. The lingering cloud cover from the days before also dissipated during this last day of this year’s Coachella festival. Consequently, the searing desert returned to it’s spring time normal 90 plus degree temperatures. It was another good reason to catch the air conditioned shuttle into the venue. But the large crowds found many other ways to keep cool throughout the day. The Do Lab, which was moved this year into the new food and drinks field, happily hosed down dancers in front of their EDM stage all day long. Just across the lawn, more people discovered the micro brew pavilion and the dozens of different freshly brewed beers. The adjoining air conditioned Polo field bar and restaurant was also a great respite from the searing afternoon sun. The newest venue at Coachella, the Yuma tent could also be found in this area. The dark air conditioned interior, was at full capacity, attracting long lies of EDM fans throughout the day.
In years past, Sunday was traditionally a quieter day at the festival, with many music fans leaving early to beat the traffic back to the coastal cities. But with Arcade Fire headlining a strong line up for this years final day, the venue seemed just as full as the day before. For the few concert fans left in the world who haven’t been to an Arcade Fire show, chances are you will see them in your home town sooner than later. This Canadian group has toured relentlessly over the last decade, playing nearly every major music festival in the world at least twice, and venues across most of the major cities in the live music world. The accessible happy go lucky sound of the band, that sometimes resembles an old time minstrel show, has endeared the group to millions of new music fans, and the band has become the equivalent of Fleetwood Mac in popularity, to a new generation. The musical line up for the final day was another diverse mix of amazing performers. In sweltering early afternoon conditions, the main stages opened to large crowds ready to dance and party. J Roddy Walston and The Business and Trombone Shorty and Orleans avenue brought their respective styles to bear, to create an early dance party fever. Walston in true southern rock style jammed on the guitar and piano while belting out his bluesy lyrics. Trombone Shorty led his tight, smoking band of crack New Orleans musicians in classic jam band fashion. Other musical highlights for the final day included:
Fronted by singer and guitarist Omar “Bombino” Moctar, this group of North African musicians is the real deal. Legends in their home region, the band plays traditional Tuareg music in modern jam band style with modern instruments, including an unusual electric synthesizer bass guitar. The band has become well known in the last few years on the festival circuit, and always performs a high energy show sure to have the crowd dancing to their infectious groves.
The Sahara tent heated up with a sweaty crowd of euphoric dancers early on as well, with an early afternoon set by this Australian EDM duo. Their infectious disco infused electronic pop would have been enough to drive the crowd wild, but with a steady stream of talented guest singers parading on and off the stage, all throughout their set, the electronic dance vibe was taken to a new dimension.
Yet another EDM duo, this one from Los Angeles had the crowd dancing in the Mohave tent next door. The band with the cool sounding name featured a complete set of backing band members playing “daytime disco”, which just means chill party music. It was a perfect afternoon vibe.
This Portland Oregon band sports a name that the press will only relate as the stylized moniker STRFKR. It is always exciting to see new bands at the festivals, who in as little as one or two years become headliners. Case in point, the band Fun was just another opening act on the festival circuit a few years ago, but have made it into headline status with their goofy feel good happy rock. Could this Portland band be the next Fun? All the elements are there. Interesting, catchy dance friendly grooves, played by a quirky group of musicians with a goofy stage show. Cardboard covers of retro toys covered the bands microphone stands. In keeping with an Easter theme the band also rolled out a rather large troupe of day glow furry themed dancers. Their dance routine included a simulated Easter Bunny gang bang.
It was a big day for EDM fans and the big performances just kept coming at the Sahara tent. Dutch brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, brought their own high energy hard core electro house music to ecstatic fans in late afternoon. The brothers honed their skills as EDM producers for some of the biggest names in the business like, Tiesto, before branching out with heir own live performances. Their massive video show included sequences of Baldy and Cresty, the brothers’ cartoon alter egos.
It is difficult to describe this British band composed of four core members, but like Flight Facilities, the band roles out a series of guest singers each with their own unique style. The band sound like a funky soulful version of Thievery Corporation at times and more like a classic old school soul band at others.
Dev Hynes is a British singer and multi instrumentalist, as well as a songwriter and master producer, known by his new stage name Blood Orange. The charismatic entertainer led a fine band, also with additional singers revealed throughout the set. The group vacillated through heady jazz rock, funk and electronica throughout their appropriate sunset slot on the Outdoor Theater stage.
The Naked And Famous
This New Zealand transplant band has really made a name for themselves recording music that has lent itself well to television and movie soundtracks. Maybe that is why the large crowd at the MainStage for their sunset concert seemed to know much of the bands music even if they only recognized a few hit songs from mainstream radio play. The band moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and produced a great sophomore album.
British music and electronic duo’s seemed to dominate the landscape this final day of Coachella and Aluna George was yet another stellar act in this format. Aluna Francis is the voice of the group offering up sweet vocals. George Reid is a guitar and electronica master that is responsible for the bands unique sound, yet another glorious miss mash of traditional R&B and modern synth music.
As twilight set in, a massive crowd gathered in front of the main stage, in anticipation of this Scottish DJ’s prime time show. There is a reason why Harris was the highest grossing EDM act in 2013. From a string of dance hits and remixes to a massive light and stage show, complete with 300 foot blues flames and giant confetti guns, he encapsulates all that is fun in a live EDM show.
Lana Del Ray
This American song writer may have inspired the most intense crowd of day three of Coachella. A massive crowd moved towards the smaller Outdoor Theater stage just before her early evening set. Hordes of adoring fans surged forward creating a huge jam of people with no access from the adjoining bars or restroom areas. The barefoot singer wearing a short skirted psychedelic flower print dress, worked her way through a throng of press photographers and crossed into the crowd to saunter about the audience. Backed by an awesome rock band including a smoking lead guitar player, she sang her biggest hit songs, including “Summertime Sadness”. Unlike the EDM remixes of her songs dominating dance clubs across the globe, her live versions of songs tend to be more melodic and traditional, but the crowd seemed to love her set.
For music fans who had seen festival veteran Beck before and wanted to avoid the huge main stage crowd, the British blue-eyed soul singer, John Newman was a viable alternative. Newman sang his heart out for an appreciative group of about 900 relaxed fans in the Gobi tent.
Hardcore rock fans were thankful to Arcade Fire for drawing most of the festival crowd to their main stage finale. In the meantime about 1000 ecstatic fans witnessed one of histories longest running hard rock acts, Motorhead, do what they do best, play balls out straight forward hard rock.
This young American pop singer at the Gobi tent next door to Motorhead’s set had an even smaller crowd, also due to Arcade Fires draw on the MainStage. But that didn’t stop the sexy, sultry multi-ethnic tiny girl from playing an infectious set of sweet vocals mixed with forays into hip hop rap. The Los Angeles native celebrated 4/20 by accepting a joint from her “cousin” in the security pit and smoking it onstage. Her haunting lyrics were a fitting finale to a long day of music.