The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, now very hyped and often talked about, has made its way to many music-loving, flower headband-wearing consumers from lands near and far. That being said, this is not an article about parts of the weekend you probably already know about. Pharrell and his guest performers were amazing, Disclosure killed it during their set, and Arcade Fire’s performance was beautiful. Since we already know about that part of the weekend, I’d rather take my readers to a rather more secretive and low-key part of the weekend. Here’s my Coachella story:
It was Saturday, April 12th, the sun was beaming, everyone was at our campsite drinking, and Foxygen was about to go on in 20 minutes. I was faced with a dilemma: watch Foxygen by myself and risk getting lost from my drunken friends for the entire day, or stay with them. I left and my day began as I wandered to the venue.
Sam France is absolutely engaging to watch perform live. With the hot, blazing sun shining on (and probably burning) his pale white skin, he still managed to use all of his energy to get the crowd cheering for his every move and every note he sang. Even the trio of backup singers-dancers looked like they were ready to pass out from rocking out too hard. The indie-rock duo really brought an eclectic vibe of oldies to the Outdoor Stage.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
This was the first time I’ve seen a lead singer of a band call a person’s umbrella “beautiful,” walk down to that audience member, and take the umbrella to perform an entire song with. Matt Shultz did just that in the middle of their set, which I’m sure made that girl’s entire weekend. Cage the Elephant has been around for a while, and they never disappoint. But what I really appreciated about their set was that they interacted with their audience so well on such an improvised yet personal level. During their set, I took off my shoes, danced barefoot and was still able to connect with them from the near back speakers of the Main Stage.
At first, I was skeptical about watching CHVRCHES’ set. I’ve listened to their album and concluded that all their songs sound the same and that the lead singer’s voice is too synthesized. I decided to watch anyways and, to my surprise, I ended up enjoying their set as much as I loved the previous two. Their sound is really different, which I was able to appreciate more hearing live. During their set, Lauren Mayberry describes the scene to be very “foreign” to them. Being from the UK, Coachella was their first desert performance, and their struggle to not let the sun bother them really allowed them to converse and joke with the audience more.
THE HEAD AND THE HEART
The band’s aura surprised me a little. I expected a lot more conversation and a lot more contact with the audience, yet their passiveness spoke to me. It forced the audience to really pay more attention to the detail of their music. The lyrics, instruments, their movements, and their facial expressions all told a story. Towards the end of their set, the band sang “Let’s Be Still,” which was exactly what I needed to do in the middle of the weekend. Sometimes we get caught up in the hype of the party and forget that we’re really supposed to be there for the music. I took the opportunity that Saturday to just be still. And to prove that being still was absolutely necessary in life, Jonathan Russells climbs up the side pillars of the stage, makes his way up to the top and asks the rest of the audience to be still with him.
These few hours weren’t the most exciting part of the weekend, but it goes to show you that things don’t always need to be crazy for it to be absolutely enjoyable. During the six-hour period that I broke off from my group, I got to experience the most. I got to meet new people, take naps and lay under random art structures, dance barefoot through the grass, and see the artists that I really loved and wanted to see. I was never actually alone during those hours at Coachella because there were so many intriguing people and things to constantly see and experience.