With the first weekend of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the rearview mirror, here’s a look the hits and misses of the event watched by tens of thousands at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and even more online via YouTube. Coachella returns to the desert with Radiohead, Lady Gaga and Kendrick Lamar for another sold out weekend beginning Friday, April 21.
1. Coolest stage set: Kendrick Lamar
The that included a video screen that was sort of a . As a bonus, he also had three video segments throughout that were done like an old Bruce Lee-era kung fu movie: “The Adventures of Kung Fu Kenny,” which started Lamar as Kenny a.k.a. the Black Turtle, which led to ninja dancers on stage with him at one point.
2. Most practical costume: Lady Gaga’s unitard
, but they were all over her black unitard, which allowed her to dance, play guitar and keytar and jump into the audience with ease. Also, where did she get those tights? All of that dancing and suggestive writhing and she had no runs in them at all. We see an infomercial in her future.
3. Best explanation for sound issues: Aliens
, with the music cutting out multiple times. Singer Thom Yorke blamed alien interference, but then they played “Creep” and all was forgiven.
4. Best singalong: Hans Zimmer
The award-winning that he got his own Snapchat filter Sunday. But the crowd that actually sang along to the instrumental “Pirates of the Caribbean” score. Then everyone sang along to “The Lion King.” Coachella went Disney in the most Coachella way possible. Oh, and later, Hans Zimmer brought out Pharrell, too.
5. Weirdest set props: Travis Scott
The young rapper had throngs flocking to his Outdoor Theatre set Sunday night where he started the night with multiple cardboard cutouts of himself on stage. And then there were trees and giant bird cages. By the end of the night, Scott was rapping with his permanent Auto-Tune sound atop a giant bird that had red eyes and flapped its wings.
6. Best place to feel like you’re in a cartoon: Sonora Tent
With street art covering the walls and colorful cacti sculptures, .
It was also the home to some rock acts like Guided by Voices and T.S.O.L., getting ever more rare at Coachella as the fest trends towards electronic dance music. Plus, it had couches and air conditioning.
7. Best blasts from the past: Todd Rundgren and Michael McDonald
A pair of stars who released great albums long before most of the attendees at Coachella were even born were among the true surprise guests at the fest.
On Friday, for “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” from his landmark “Something/Anything?,” ending with the icon shouting, “Twiiiiigs!” as a blessing for these young carriers of the power pop glam rock torch.
The next day, former Doobie Brother and always smooth singer for “Show You the Way” from Thundercat’s new album “Drunk” and the Doobies’ classic “What A Fool Believes.”
8. Earliest dance party: Quitapenas
The Inland Empire-based band’s name means without worries, and people let them go during the Latin and tropical flavored dance party in the Sonora tent at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon when people are generally too hung over to even bother showing up at the venue, let alone dance. Not this crowd. Quitapenas had the audience creating an impromptu limbo line followed by multiple conga lines.
9. Most likely take over the Richard Simmons torch: Francis and the Lights
Synthesized fun on Friday was led by Francis and the Lights in the Mojave tent. Call it “Sweatin’ to the Coachella Hits.” Oddly enough, it was the coolest day, temperature-wise.
10. Biggest comeback: Drake
Future’s Saturday night main stage set served as a , whose headlining show two years ago fell flat, perhaps only memorable for the untoward and unwanted soul-sucking kiss Madonna planted on Drake when she showed up as a guest. Here, his energy was far better and the expected charisma of Drake clearly on display.
11. Oddest place to hear Bon Jovi: Sahara Tent
For real, DJ and producer Marshmello was playing the New Jersey hair rockers’ classic “Livin’ on a Prayer” and everyone was singing along on Sunday night. And also, Blink-182 drummer and frequent Coachella special guest Travis Barker showed up at another point in the set.
12. Most intense: Future Islands
Singer , singing with a guttural growl, and aggressively punching the air as he runs from one side of the stage to the other.
13. Biggest head-scratcher art: “is this what bring things into focus”
Are the candy-colored animal-like creatures We have no idea, but everyone liked it on Instagram.
14. Worst fashion trend: Fishnet dresses
Often worn over bikini-style clothing, this is impractical for a place where the temperature can swing 30 degrees in a day and wind gusts are common. Plus, you’re going to have the worst tan lines ever.
15. Biggest change for 2017: The size
The , as Coachella expanded the grounds of the festival itself, moving stages to give more breathing room for more fans.
16. Best surprise: Hidden tiki bar
Deep within the Craft Beer Barn, away from the cocktail Cabin, there is a secret place called the . If you go, expect to wait a long while.
17. Most shameless plug: Lady Gaga
, “The Cure,” and ended her encore (after confetti, “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance”) with an announcement that the new song was available on iTunes.
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