Coachella: Heat, beats and rock and roll
Masses of sunshine and sweat-drenched people assembled at the Empire Polo Club field grounds this past weekend for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, devotedly withstanding the intense desert heat in hopes of actualizing their Coachella experience fantasies.
Coachella is most easily described as a playground for adults. The grounds boast colorful and conspicuous art pieces, some doubling as shade structures, seating, or interactive forms of entertainment, in case any of the 120 bands from the festival's lineup do not provide enough of it.
Sounds coming from any of the six stages filled the ears of the eclectic Coachella crowd, starting at noon on Friday and ending in the early hours of Monday. Lining the night skies above the 75,000 concert-goers are streaks of hundreds of balloons on a line, each individually lit by a single-colored LED light along with grand light beams coming from the perimeters of the event, creating an enclosed, tented feeling.
The celebrated event attracted celebrities such as Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna, Paris Hilton and many more.
This year's most notable headliners included famous rapper Kanye West, Grammy award-winning band Arcade Fire, the UK's Kings of Leon, and The Strokes.
Friday afternoon, Dutch music producer and DJ Afrojack made fans dance despite the heat with his pulsing beats, but more so, surprised them with a guest DJ appearance from 2009 Coachella headliner, Sir Paul McCartney.
Following Interpol, the two-man band The Black Keys soulfully rocked the main stage later in the night. Drummer of the Black Keys, Patrick Carney, returned to the stage as thousands sang "the birthday song" in celebration of his 31st birthday.
Kings of Leon managed to satisfy those familiar with both their old and new records while delivering strong, sometimes sexual, musical vibes. Intense audiovisual stimulation delighted and overwhelmed those with enough energy to enjoy the Chemical Brothers epic ending to the first night of Coachella.
Lesser-known indie bands such as The Tallest Man on Earth and Here We Go Magic delivered melodic tunes midday Sunday, as well as up-and-coming band Cage the Elephant. Before performing their latest single, "Shake Me Down," Cage the Elephant's front man, Matthew Shultz, crowd surfed amongst the eager sea of sweaty rockers mirroring his strong energetic presence.
As the hot day turned into night, a full moon shone brightly through the beams and past the brightly colored palm trees as indie-folk band Mumford and Sons took the main stage. Lead singer Marcus Mumford admitted that the band had never played in front of an audience as large as the one gathered in front of them. They began after he asked the enthralled audience, "shall we dance?" and concluded with their beloved hit singles, "Little Lion Man" and "The Cave."
The highly acclaimed Montreal-based band, Arcade Fire, met the high expectations of all their fans with an entertaining and engaging presentation of hits from their newest album, "The Suburbs," but also tenacious anthems like "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)." Towards the end of their set, lit orbs fell down onto the audience, all simultaneously changing colors bouncing off of the allured crowd.
On Sunday night, Kanye West's performance wrapped up the weekend with an elevated platform allowing him to spew raps from above, fireworks, a guest appearance by musician Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, and a bold statement, "This is the most important show I've done since my mama passed away." West's theatrical set was well received by his fans.
In comparison to last year's Coachella, higher security measures allowed for a more open environment, far less unsettling than last year's overcrowded vicinities. The festival, though a six-day record sell-out does not suggest a need for change, has evolved into a more organized event. Wristband issues, drug and alcohol related arrests, and a sometimes faulty main stage audio system were minor problems that did not interfere with the overall unforgettable experience Coachella is always able to provide its adoring fans. Surely there are thousands already counting down the days until the next time they can get together for a weekend in the makeshift musical utopia that is Coachella.