The massive music cram session that was the Coachella Music Festival 2012 is officially over and we've survived! Seeing the festival out, headliners Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre gave a phenomenal performance, despite it being identical to the one they did the weekend prior, superstar guests and all. While it's completely normal to repeat sets and even on-stage chatter for the multiple shows on a tour, there was something about the new fangled-ness of a two-weekend Coachella that had fans expecting something different the second time around. Nevertheless, watching Snoop and Dre perform their classics like "Nuthin' but a G Thang," "Gin and Juice" and "California Love," (which one would expect the Tupac hologram to appear for) was an unmatchable experience. But an unexpected disappointment occurred when the tilted glass contraption lowered and the much-awaited Tupac hologram rose up on stage. For some odd reason, the crowd seemed underwhelmed by the appearance, cheering surprisingly little considering the hype surrounding the resurrection last weekend. In fact, after hologram Tupac dissipated into the afterlife, Dre had some difficulty getting the crowd to give it up for Tupac, having to call out three times for the audience to make some noise with little success.
With countless articles and tweets about every minutiae available about the Tupac hologram, the crowd response didn't add up. Perhaps this was due to week's show being available to watch online and Tupac's identical digital performance was in a way like merely playing a video on stage. The hologram still looked incredible in person as it did online, but this writer felt like the only one cheering for Pac, like a parent cheering for Tree #4 in a school play. Dre and Snoop may have to rethink their plans for a tour with hologram Tupac, at least how to keep his performance fresh throughout the tour. Still, a lineup with Snoop, Dre, plus possibly 50 Cent, Wiz Khalifa, Kurupt, Warren G, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, with or without hologram Tupac, is a pretty unmissable show.
For those who were willing to look past the hologram Tupac hype, they were lavishly rewarded for staying 'til the end of Modeselektor's overlapping set. Certainly the most exciting appearance at the festival's second Sunday, the German electronic duo invited Radiohead's Thom Yorke to appear in the relatively small Mojave tent for their last song. Modeselektor had collaborated with Yorke for two songs last year, and as a trio they performed their deconstructed IDM track "Shipwreck" with Yorke live-tackling the song's falsetto and heavily sliced up vocals. For those who somehow have no interest in seeing the legendary pillars of rap past and present, Swedish dj/bro-god Avicii changed up the seemingly static dj box for an enormous, pretty terrifying head. There was a tinge of hope that Madonna would make an appearance during his set as she did at the Ultra Music Festival this year, but the avid businesswoman must've known it wouldn't be wise to compete with Dre and Snoop's sprawling audience turnout.
Singer/songwriter/dj/producer/Scotsman Calvin Harris (a name he reminded the audience of many times) shook the Sahara tent earlier in the night with his own tracks like "Ready for The Weekend" and others by fellow Coachella artists Swedish House Mafia and Avicii. Sadly there was no Rihanna to sing when he played their smash hit song "We Found Love" and no Katy Perry crowd surfing like during his set last weekend, but the crowd didn't seem deterred. It was also a bit disappointing that he didn't sing live, or play any of his straight pop tracks off his debut album, I Created Disco, but then again it was the "rave" tent, so he kept things appropriately glowstick-y.
In the neighboring tent, things couldn't be more different as Beirut flexed their indie horns and accordions for a set chock full of old world vibes, including a pretty authentic mariachi interlude. Rumor had it Katy Perry, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were spotted in the crowd. Before then in the same tent, Gotye had another swelling crowd, with people spilling out all sides. The Belgian vocal twin of Sting must've been scheduled for the small tent before he suddenly shot through the music stratosphere. Learning from his set last weekend when he got his hit out of the way too early, Gotye played "Somebody That I Used To Know" second to last, leaving the absent Kimbra's vocals to the crowd. It was disheartening to see the crowd dissipate again after that song, with his last song practically drowned out by the crowd chatter as they moved on.
Daytime band The Growlers lavished the audience with their secret blend of "beach goth" that combines Southern California surf rock, psych and wacky outfits. The appropriately wasted band even brought on some mariachi buddies on stage to keep things silly. Keeping things tight, the Hives blasted their Swedish garage rock with sartorial zazz, controlled chaos and charming wit. The band was as nimble as I remember them, seeing them play a tiny club almost ten years ago with fellow garage clangers the (International) Noise Conspiracy (that features Refused's Dennis Lyxzén on lead) and the Mooney Suzuki. It's good to see they've upgraded from mod suits to tuxedo tails. The equally stylish Fitz and the Tantrums gave another searingly hot retro soul set, with lead Michael Fitzpatrick and singer Noelle Scaggs having all kinds of streamy personal moments. Getting to an almost outrageously early set time of 12:05pm, Gardens & Villa somehow managed to combine 80s pre-electronica with Native American flute music and make it work. Singer Chris Lynch even had an outfit to match, combining a bright, broad-striped 80s polo with a suede fringed flute bag and beaded guitar strap.
The reunited At The Drive-In reminisced how they were technically the first band to ever play Coachella, getting a noon spot on the festival's inaugural day. The post-hardcore group sounded almost suspiciously like their records, but it's merely a testament to their unwavering, throat-destroying talent. Still-afro'd singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala made a little joke at the expense of all the acts who brought on high profile guests, saying "We will have Michael Pitt and Pitbull collaborate in stage. Discuss."
Now that Coachella's first attempt at a double weekend is over, let's review what to take away from the experience and general Coachella tips and tricks for next year:
- Never expect a high-profile surprise guest to return twice, unless the artist is one of the most awesome people in the world like Snoop Dogg.
- Flesh and blood superstar guests will always get more cheers than digital ones.
- If you've got the time and dough, going both weekends will allow you to see all the bands you want to. But it could also kill you.
- If you're going to wear high-waisted shorts with a crop top, make sure to put sunblock on your stomach and back. A high-waisted tanline is never a good look and impossible to work around.
- Ladies, don't even try to wear heels, wedges or boots. Doesn't matter how cute you must look, because you'll end up looking even less cute hobbling barefoot in a few hours. But if you're beyond insane and wear stilettos, I'll personally be obsessed with your crazy behind.
- The shuttles are an absolute godsend. Definite five-star rating.
- If a shuttle full of bros starts bro-singing/whoop-whooping your song, you might be in for a Grammy nomination. Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks" were bro-popular last year, and this year it's M83, Gotye, and fun.'s breakout tracks.
- Security will search you twice before entering the venue. They gave even Noel Gallagher a hard time, so leave the flasks and need for personal space at home.
What did you think of Coachella 2012? Any tips and quips you want to share? Leave your comments below!