Perfect weather and stacked line ups were on the menu for the last day of weekend one of Coachella 2017. With rumors swirling around Kendrick Lamar releasing a new album (that ultimately proved false) and acts such as Future Islands, Hans Zimmer, Justice and Lorde, this day would certainly be the grand finale to an already stellar weekend.
To close out weekend one at Coachella this year, King Kunta himself, Kendrick Lamar lit up the stage in spectacular fashion. With new album DAMN dropping just days ago it’s no surprise this act was the most anticipated of the night. Opening with “DNA” off his latest album DAMN the crowd was immediately captivated. The creative video footage used on a massive video wall above him added a cinematic aspect that heightened the experience tenfold. The lone rapper gripped the mic with such ferocity that you could hear it in his voice, echoing throughout the festival grounds. Many live debuts of new songs took place including “Element,” “goosebumps” (which featured Travis Scott joining him), “LUST” and “GOD.” Schoolboy Q and Future also made appearances performing “That Part” and “Mask Off,” respectively. “Untitled 7” and “Untitled 2” shook fans up and later the playback of “Kung Fu Kenny III” was accompanied by videos of kung fu artists fighting. His new hit single “Humble” closed the set proper before he came back out to play “LOVE” as his lone encore. The elated fans all got what they came for. New Kendrick, old Kendrick, unreleased Kendrick and a solid taste of his brand new material.
Lorde claimed her throne on the Coachella Stage with one of the more powerful and moving sets fans had the opportunity to see this weekend. “Homemade Dynamite” and “Melodrama” made their live debuts. “Tennis Court” opened the set which was followed by “Magnets” and later “Green Light.” Lorde engaged with the fans throughout the set which made for an even more entertaining and meaningful set. “Royals,” of course, was played as the second-to-last song with the entire crowd singing along. Surely, a humbling moment for the young and talented singer.
French house electronic music duo Justice wasted no time at all getting fans on their feet inciting screams of pleasure and excitement. “Safe and Sound” roared through the speakers with an accompanying laser light show. Their signature “cross” rose behind them and remained in the place for the duration of the set. “D.A.N.C.E.” then played with vocals eliciting chills. This was then in turn followed by “Canon,” the high octane song which boasts soaring synths and a booming bassline. For eleven songs in a row Justice once again showed the world why they have earned the legendary status that follows them. This was one of the most active, energetic and fun sets from the entire weekend.
From there also consider Kaytranada, the Haitian-Canadian producer/DJ taking the world (not so) quietly by storm. His hour and fifteen minute set in the Sahara Tent this year was comprised of his biggest hits as well as some other not-so-well-known music he has produced over the years. “All Night” started rocking the crowd after an indecipherable track was played for the opening song. His remix of Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better” was played loudly as the stage lights swirled and flickered to the bass. “Got It Good” and “Glowed Up” made the cut from his latest album 99.9% with the set ultimately coming to a climactic close with his remix of Janet Jackson’s “If.”
Future Islands played during the last of the desert sun as it descended in the distance while they played at the Outdoor Theatre Stage. The charismatic Samuel T. Herring covered every inch of the stage with his energetic dance moves during this synthpop exhibition where “Grease” was the first step and “Vireo’s Eye” closed things out. Songs such as “Balance,” “Black Rose” and “Seasons” held the middle of the set up firmly and enthusiastically. Fans reacted wildly when “Tin Man” was played. A great set with lots of punchy drum kicks and synths.
DJ Khaled turned the Sahara tent into one of the biggest hip hop dance clubs where as he put it he, “brought out the entire rap game.” Before playing any music he ordered the tens of thousands of people to chant his son’s name and soon after his own. With the crowd hyped, Khaled played through a library of number one hits and soon unleashed his roster of guest appearances. First up was A$AP Ferg who drove the tent into a roar with four of his biggest club numbers including “Shabba Ranks.” The three rappers that make up Migos once again took the stage and once again performed their single “Bad and Boujee.” It was the group’s second consecutive day performing the song as guests at Coachella but fans still ate it up. 2 Chainz was the next artist up to share the stage with Khaled. “No Problem” (originally recorded with Chance the Rapper) started the movement with hits including “Rich as Fuck” and ” Birthday Song,” causing mobs of people to breakout into smaller dance circles. French Montana also joined him performing with Swae Lee performing “The Struggle.” Wale, Ty Dolla $ign and Rick Ross also joined Khaled before it was all said and done. French Montana and Swae Lee also performed the song “The Struggle.”
Preoccupations, once known as Viet Cong, opened up their seven-song set with a racing performance of “Select Your Drone.” A very fitting selection given the state of today’s technology and the real drones that flew just above the Polo Grounds gathering photos and videos all weekend. The crowd moshed around as the band attacked the stage at the Mojave Tent. “Memory” slowed things down just a bit while “Zodiac” leveled out the set and finally “Death” brought it all home.
Sofi Tukker let loose and had fans setting dancing in a frenzy as their electric drums and ghostly singing floated through the air. They struck visceral cords with their swinging basswork and added a nature-esque feel to their setup as the stage was lined the plants and vines. Blaring horns then caused a massive dance party in the crowd on hand. The band brought out Scissor Sisters’ singer Jake Shears for a performance and singer Tucker Halpern debuted their new song “Bat Shit” which was met with great appreciation.
The Outdoor Theatre featured an early afternoon set by Devendra Banhart this year. His backing band filled the stage. Spotting flowers in the audience and he coined the phrase, “How’s your flower?” as the official Coachella greeting. Devendra led a smooth and fun set sending love in all directions, especially to his fellow players on stage. “Saturday Night” was moving and groovy which transitioned smoothly into “Für Hildegard von Bingen” as the fans began to sway back and forth.
Tove Lo shocked fans when she performed the emotionally charged “The Struggle” for the first time live. This came just about midway through her set. Her song with Flume “Say It,” went over quite well too as a slow rolling start cascaded into a free fall of synths and vocals. “WTF Is Love” lowered the tempo and made for a more intimate transition which was immediately followed by “Influence” featuring Wiz Khalifa. “Cool Girl” ended her set proper but she returned to perform her smash hit “Habits (Stay High)” which left fans in complete satisfaction.
After all was said and done, Coachella 2017 was a grand success. This was its highest attendance in the history of the festival. Multiple guest appearances and some of the finest musicians in the world all playing in one area over three days all made for an impressive spectacle. The madness continues during weekend two starting Friday April, 21st.
Photo by Sharon Alagna