The third and final day of the first weekend of the Coachella Festival was not nearly as jam-packed with must-see artists as the first two days, but it certainly boasted its fair share of break-out acts. Instead of performing in the day's earliest time slots, several of Sunday's rising artists had late-evening set times and drew sizable crowds, even against the day's big-ticket headliners including Beck and Arcade Fire.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper kicked things off with plenty of swagger and attitude in the midday sun, not to mention a surprise guest appearance by a certain tween heartthrob. The 20-year-old MC (born Chancellor Bennett) has been receiving a lot of attention lately and has collaborated with several high-profile artists including Justin Bieber, who turned up to lend his pal a hand, looking inconspicuous in a bucket hat and sunglasses. It took a minute for the crowd to register that it was Biebs himself, but as soon as they recognized him, several young girls let out high-pitched screams and ran toward the stage.
Bieber let Chance take the spotlight and only delivered a couple of verses on his track, "Confident," which features the young MC. After Bieber left the stage, Chancellor – who was backed by a four-piece band – held his own for the rest of the set. "I've seen some jumping out there but I want you off your f---ing feet!" he told the Main Stage crowd, which happily complied, jumping up and down to tunes including the lively single, "Juice."
The Naked and Famous
A little later in the day on the Main Stage, New Zealand band the Naked and Famous charmed the audience with their anthemic electro-rock. Fronted by Alisa Xayalith, who sported a pink pixie cut, the band seemed genuinely thrilled to be there. "You guys look so beautiful from up here," Xayalith told the crowd, which cheered back in response.
Their bombastic, propulsive singles seem ready-made for a festival environment; and "Hearts Like Ours" and "Young Blood" incited screams of adulation from several audience members who sang along to every word. "I'm going to take a photo to remember this forever," Xayalith said before snapping a pic with her cell phone and leaving the stage. While it will surely be a great keepsake, all bets are on that this won't be the Naked and Famous's last time gracing a Coachella stage.
Swedish synth-pop purveyors Little Dragon have been around for a while, but they're still relatively unknown Stateside, which may not be the case for much longer. Their brand of electronic rock grooves are currently en vogue, and their unique style has earned them guest spots on tracks by the Gorillaz and Outkast's Big Boi, which have exposed them to a wider audience.
Singer Yukimi Nagano wore a geometric black dress with white high-top sneakers, eschewing both fashion and vocal conventions. Understated and quietly beautiful, Nagano's voice soared and dipped over the disco beats and R&B-tinged grooves to great effect, and the band certainly won over some new fans.
London-based outfit Daughter began as the solo project of Elena Tonra and evolved into an alluring band that combines sparse instrumentation with ethereal melodies. Their haunting, downtempo songs captivated the crowd in the Mojave tent, and although it was only half full (they were playing at the same time as Beck, after all), those who stuck around were rewarded with gorgeous melodies and dreamy soundscapes that created a magical environment. When she occasionally addressed the crowd, Tonra seemed timid, but when she sang, her voice rang out clear and true, and Daughter managed to enthrall the crowd with their intimate tunes – not an easy feat, especially at a massive music festival.
Rising R&B chanteuse Jhene Aiko's late-night set was incredibly ambitious. Backed by a full band that included a string section, she and all the players were dressed in formal attire. From the very first song, it was obvious she was shooting for the moon. Childish Gambino thrilled the crowd with a surprise appearance on "Bed Peace," their nod to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She then launched into "Higher," replete with a complicated rap interlude that she handled with aplomb.
As it turned out, Childish Gambino wasn't the only surprise guest to share the stage with Aiko on Sunday night. As she sang the opening notes of "Nothing Was the Same," the crowd knew that something was afoot, and sure enough, Drake appeared to sing with her on the track. Aiko's confidence and unique style were readily apparent during her Coachella debut, and they will surely take her far beyond this magical desert festival.