Day two of Coachella 2017 saw a spike in just about everything one could consider festival-related after a relatively low key day one. From loads of guest appearances to a tremendous increase in attendance, Saturday of weekend one will be remembered fondly. Lady Gaga’s performance washed away any questions about the originally scheduled–and ultimately canceled–Beyonce show. Future, DJ Snake, Mura Masa, Thundercat, Nav and Gucci Mane all brought out guests of their own. With Coachella’s attendance cap inflated by an extra 26,000 this year, the number of guest appearances on day 2 seemed appropriate to accommodate the larger audience.
Lady Gaga closed out the Coachella stage with a powerful performance and in true Gaga fashion, called for strength and unity. The eighteen song set included all of her hits such as “Love Game,” “Just Dance” and “Born This Way.” The two-song encore came in hot with “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance.” A crowd that seemed to be two miles wide all danced and shouted as the confident Lady Gaga led them down the road of promise and self assurance.
One of the biggest shows of the night belonged to DJ Snake where deep bass and pyrotechnics were his primary tools of sonic onslaught. Songs such as “Get Low” and “Lean On” had the entire crowd excited but the big story was when he announced the arrival of Ms. Lauryn Hill to the stage. A performance of “Killing Me Softly” drove chills throughout the fields and just as quickly as she entered, she found her exit (she also performed “Ready or Not” and “Lost Ones”).
Duo Banks & Steelz (made up Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Interpol’s Paul Banks) brought a powerful set to the Outdoor Theatre Stage in the afternoon hours. With lots of new music to share, Banks and Wu-Tang mastermind RZA rattled off track-after-track under the desert sun. Starting with “One By One” and and ultimately sealing the deal when they premiered their new song “Anything But Words,” the middle of the set was filled with fist pumping and head banging music that empowered all in attendance. Bishop Briggs joined the party as she lended her voice for the track “Wild Season” that was originally written and recorded with Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine fame.
Schoolboy Q is no stranger to large crowds or rocking a show. Only seconds after appearing on stage a barrage of uptempo songs sent fans into a frenzy. Beginning with “Hell of A Night” and “Hands on the Wheel” and then followed up by “Collard Greens” and “By Any Means,” he powered through a ferocious solo set.
It was a quick journey from there to the Mojave Tent where Car Seat Headrest commanded the stage in every aspect. Lead singer Will Toledo came out adorned in an electric blue suit with dark sunglasses. Drummer Andrew Katz held the rhythm with ease as the guitarist played at a fast and furious pace. “Vincent” and “Fill in the Blank” blew up the beginning of the set back to back as the crowd danced and sang along. The band ended their set with a live debut of “Beast Monster Thing (Love Isn’t Love Enough)” which both shocked and delighted the lively fans.
The music continues with Royksopp and in typical fashion, the Norwegian DJ/producer duo electrified the Sahara Tent using mesmerizing visuals to accompany their dominating sound. Through hit after hit, Royksopp ripped through an eight song set which included “Monument,” “Sordid Affair,” “Remind Me” and “Do It Again.” Fans couldn’t help but dance ecstatically around the tent as a woman in all white danced above the DJ booth in an angelic fashion.
The early part of the day was filled with southern California’s own Chicano Batman who brought their culture and love to the Palm Desert. Backup singers and a small art instillation decorated the back stage as quartet stood tall in their freshly pressed suits, emanating light and positivity. Bouncing synths with accompanying keys soon fell into a melodic rhythm of “Freedom is Free” which had fans rocking while “La Manzanita” set the vibe for utter relaxation and fun. Eduardo Arenas’s voice scaled the sonic spectrum holding true to the essence of Los Angeles.
One of the more exciting and entertaining acts of the night belonged to another Los Angeles purist, Thundercat. By far the biggest crowd up to that point in the day gathered to see one of the grooviest artists in the game. With a fox head hat and tail peering over his eyes and his electric bass snugly situated in his arms, Thundercat began to take listeners on a journey of Avant-garde jazz and funky rhythm. “Tenfold” was disassembled and reconfigured in such a way that people believed he had just written a new song on the fly. Emerging from backstage was none other than the legendary Michael McDonald who is featured on Thundercat’s latest album Drunk. The two played “Show You The Way” reuniting on stage and playing just as old friends would. The recorded version of the song also features Kenny Loggins, however, he was not present for this performance. McDonald also played “What a Fool Believes” and “Them Changes.”
With a set spanning years of their musical history, Two Door Cinema Club took hold of the crowd at the Coachella stage. “Cigarettes in the Theater” started things off strong right away. There wasn’t much exposed grass to be seen as fans packed in tight to experience the 2010 song, the drums rolling and cymbals clashing with the high-pitched precision of the guitars. After a small chat with the crowd, the familiar muddy bass drum vibrated throughout the stage as a cool synth found a perch atop the rhythm and soon “Changing of the Seasons” was in full effect. Fans climbed on each other’s shoulders, danced wildly with faces of joy and wonder that seemed to sprout flowered crowns around their heads. “Next Year” and “Something Good Can Work” were both played in the middle of the set which kept the fans engaged and active. “What You Know” was the icing on the cake, as one of the band’s most successful records swept across the polo grounds lifting people up in an act of weightless excitement.
Tycho then took over the Outdoor Theatre stage with what looked like a reflection of the setting sun plastered across the three giant screens. The perfect soundtrack for the twilight hours of the day and the perfect transition to what the night would ultimately hold for the fans in attendance. With their dreamy synths, powerful drums and light guitar licks, Tycho provided a retreat and soothing atmosphere–a sanctuary of sorts–from the outside hustle and bustle of the festival.
One of the more anticipated sets of the night came from Dreamcar, the LA based rock supergroup fronted by AFI lead singer Davey Havok and backed by No Doubt band members Tony Kanal, Adrian Young, and Tom Dumont. Wasting no time at all the group splashed into “After I Confess” with slick guitar solos and huge stage presence. From there, they continued into “The Assailant” and “Born To Lie.” Davey Havok’s rocking vocals were backed by three backup singers. A saxophone player also joined them and accompanied the band’s sound marvelously. “Do Nothing” and “All of the Dead Girls” excited the crowd before the closing of the set was sealed with their title track off their new album “Kill For Candy.”
The late night SURVIVE set drew a sizable crowd, contrary to where expectations were set. As they played through their library of eerie synths and modulations, the group responsible for the Stranger Things soundtrack proved that there is a growing space for the nostalgic ’80s sound they product, as the fans wandered in and out of the tent, sitting, stand and dancing the remainder of the night away.
Photo credit Raymond Flotat