Coachella 2013: Recapping The Music Festival

From Nick Cave to Wu Tang Clan to Blur, Coachella 2013 lived up to its reputation for eclectic charm

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Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Coachella

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival wrapped up on Sunday night with sets by California rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pictured), dark wavers Dead Can Dance, British electro-pop outfit Disclosure, and EDM maestro Eric Prydz, with a Wu Tang Clan reunion sandwiched in between. It was an aptly heterogeneous ending for the festival that draws thousands of music fans to the southern California desert.

Spread out over two long weekends (April 12th-14th and April 19th-21st) the festival brought some of the most compelling rock, pop, hip hop and electronic music from around the world to play for fans willing to make the music lovers’ Hajj to Indio, California. The festival was marked with surprise guest appearances, upstart acts outplaying the headliners, bewilderingly wonderful interactive art projects, and the best acts around — all happening in a gorgeous desert landscape.

Here are some of the highlights of Coachella 2013, weekend two:

Most Refreshing Stage Banter: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark frontman Andy McCluskey seemed to know that anyone in the tent for the OMD show was in it for the nostalgia. That didn’t stop the band from playing songs off their new album, English Electric. Introducing one such track, McCluskey explained, “It’s new, it’s seven and a half minutes long, and you think you’re going to hate it, but you’re going to love it.” The audience went for it.

Best Guest Appearance: During James Blake’s set, Wu Tang master The RZA showed up on stage to perform “Take A Fall For Me,” their collaboration from Blake’s recent album Overgrown. While it’s hard to complain about the chance to see RZA perform, this one was particularly endearingly odd as RZA groped himself while reading his parts off of a music stand — all while serenading a bored-looking girl who seemed as confused by her appearance on stage as the audience.


Best Live Mash-Up: During the first weekend, Phoenix brought R & B legend R. Kelly on stage for a mash up of Phoenix’s “1901” with Kellz’ “Ignition.” Not be outdone, 2 Chainz announced, during his own set, “Not only did I come to save hip-hop, I came to save rock and roll, too.” That’s when Fall Out Boy rushed onto the stage to perform their song “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” remix, which featured …  2 Chainz.

Best Teaser: Danny Brown used his time on the stage at the second weekend of Coachella to introduce brand new material. While festival fans are frequently in a “just the hits” state of mind, Brown’s fans were thrilled to hear the new song, which according to Brown is entitled “Dope Song.” The song’s pounding, infectious bass-line immediately got fans jumping around, hands in the air. It’s a good sign for Brown’s forthcoming album, Old.

Watch his performance of the track here:


Worst Teaser: On Friday, Pharrell performed “Get Lucky,” his much buzzed-about collaboration with Daft Punk, for the very first time. But he wasn’t at Coachella, he was in Brooklyn. This was disappointing for fans who were hoping the Daft Punk robots would make a stop at the festival after a commercial for Daft Punk’s highly anticipated album, Random Access Memories, was played on festival screens during the first weekend.

Watch Pharrell perform Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”:


Biggest Upset: The inclusion of Nick Cave on the festival lineup raised some eyebrows as to how, say, Red Hot Chili Pepper fans would react to Cave’s unique brand of darkly louring poetic rock. But after his performance with the Bad Seeds and with his other outfit, Grinderman, there is little doubt that Nick Cave earned many new fans among the festival crowd. During his set with the Bad Seeds, Cave took the stage and silenced all dissent through sheer force of will and wildly dark charisma, singing “Jack the Ripper” and “Stagger Lee” while standing on the stage barriers, using fans for balance. If he wasn’t celebrating his group’s 30th anniversary, he could have been the festival’s breakout star.

Best Hayao Miyazaki Reference: In the middle of her set, Grimes a.k.a. Claire Boucher – who performed accompanied by two dancers clad in fairy wings – stopped the proceedings to read a poem. She then called her brother onstage (dressed in a DIY Batman costume) where he held up a stuffed animal version of Totoro, the spirit god from Miyazaki’s anime classic of the same name, which was then kissed simultaneously by the dancers.

Best Reunion: Revered hip hop collective Jurassic 5 performed their first live show in seven years before a sea of fans eager to see the group recreate their rhythm and flow. Despite their long absence from the scene, the band showed no rust, powering through nearly an hour of their greatest hits, and filling the desert space with energy and excitement. The set was a reminder that J5 were one of the greatest alternative hip-hop groups of their time — and are more than capable of reclaiming their crown.

Most Underestimated Acts: For some reason, festival organizers wildly underestimated the draw of rapper 2Chainz, sticking him on one of the smaller stages during an early time slot. Fans spilled out of the tent and the surrounding area eager for a chance to see his hit-packed 30-minute set, including tracks “No Lie,” “Birthday Song” and “I’m Different.” This was repeated when Major Lazer took the stage and fans of the Diplo-fueled project found themselves sitting on the sidelines instead of hands up in the middle of the scrum shaking it to “Hold The Line.”

Best Sight: The Wu-Tang bat-wing sign (made by holding hands up in a “W”) held aloft by hundreds of fans as far as the eye could see. After years of in-fighting, the Wu Tang Clan marked the 20th anniversary of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by reuniting all living members — RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, GZA, and Cappadonna — on stage. Their flow was as sharp as ever, and the crowd was clearly thrilled to see the masters back in action.

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