Four Cool Things Witnessed on Coachella 2013 Saturday Afternoon, Weekend 1

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance (NEW)

Southern California's desert musicfest Coachella continued apace on Saturday, bringing plenty of great early sets by buzz acts like Biffy Clyro, Vintage Trouble, Theophilus London, and the Wombats, not to mention plenty of potentially hallucination-inducing desert heat. (But that surprise R. Kelly/Phoenix duet that happened later? That was no mirage. That actually happened.)

And along the way, some random radness ensued. Here are four cool observations from the first half of day two in the desert:

1. The Make-Up made just the right number of BPMs…
There was an appallingly--appallingly, I tell you!--small number of people in attendance for the Gobi Tent set by these recently reunited post-punk demigods. ("We might not have as many BPMs as you're used to," reasoned desert-dry-witted frontman Ian Svenonius, as his band dutifully cranked up the volume to drown out the blips 'n' bleeps from the neighboring dance tent.) However, the smart and lucky punters who did show up--among them Rage Against The Machine's Brad Wilk and a very excited Jehnny Beth from British buzz band Savages--witnessed THE best show of the entire day. (If you weren't there, sorry for your life. Seriously.) The amazing Ian, also of Nation Of Ulysses fame, seemed not the least bit deterred or discouraged about the low turnout, giving the intimate audience some true entertainment as he announced: "You suffered so many indignities to see the Make-Up. You stood in line. You had to eat a piece of pizza. So now we're gonna suffer for you guys." But no one suffered during the Make-Up's galvanizing set--except maybe the people Ian stomped on as he performed a good portion of the show while standing atop of the front row. But really, the elated crowd didn't seem to mind that, or the lack of BPMs, at all.

2. Violent Femmes' blistering-in-the-sun set consisted of their entire first album…
So many "heritage acts" and reunion bands at Coachella get precious about playing too many of their classic (read: most popular) songs, deluding themselves into believing that casual festival fans will tolerate a set of new, mostly unfamiliar, frankly-not-as-good material. The result? A steady stream of disappointed punters moving away from the stage and straight to the beer and bathroom lines. But this was not the case with college-rock wiseguys Violent Femmes, on the Main Stage for their first show in almost six years, who wisely performed their entire 1983 self-titled debut album, kicking right off with "Blister in the Sun." Talk about giving the people exactly what they wanted! "Good evening, everyone. We're Violent Femmes, and we play songs," said frontman Gordon Gano, as adenoidal and attitudinal as ever at nearly age 50. Suffice to say, few spectators bolted for a bathroom break, instead sticking around to hear aging-well, angst-ridden anthems like "Gone Daddy Gone" and "Add It Up."

3. Savages ravaged the Mojave stage...
Speaking of femmes, remember those grrrrrl-powered good old days when loud ladies like PJ Harvey and Sleater-Kinney ruled the rock roost? The aforementioned London four-piece Savages certainly joltingly jogged Coachella-goers' memories, when they absolutely obliterated the Mojave Tent stage. The raw and raucous girl group blew out eardrums and blew minds with their thunderous, ferocious sound. Androgynous lead singer Jehnny Beth's ability to simultaneously channel Siouxsie Sioux and Patti Smith, and the band's ability to reference yet transcend everything awesome about '70s/'80s/'90s post-punk, made them THE breakout act of the day--and maybe of the entire weekend.

4. Natasha Kahn of Bat For Lashes was a rainbow…
Looking like a beautiful space-nymph, and kind of like the NBC peacock, this stunning British songstress hit the Mojave stage a couple hours after Savages with her own quieter, but no less intense, brand of Coachella girl power. Her pristine vocals and passionate performance skills were every bit as sparkly as her multi-colored Mylar disco cape, and when she belted out her heart-achingly gorgeous ballad "Laura," singing, "Laura, you're more than a superstar"--well, she might as well have been singing about herself. Natasha Khan is truly a magical person.

For more Coachella reportage, check out Yahoo! Music's 2013 Summer Music Guide.