The Best of Coachella 2014: Weekend One

Categories: Coachella

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Nate Jackson

GZA at the Heineken House

One of the best cameos we saw on Saturday wasn't on a big stage eating an intro from one of the headliners. Watching GZA from three feet away at the Hieneken House at 8:30 p.m. -- that was where you needed to be on Saturday. Most press folks got the notification he was headlining the new indoor lounge area fifteen minutes before he took the stage. Hardly anybody had a clue he'd be following LA beat scene royalty Gas Lamp Killer and Thundercat, who gave some rad performances on their own. But there he was, The Genius -- killing it Shoalin style for a 30-minute set that drew heavily from Liquid Swords. And of course, he had to go ahead and drop a few verses of "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," an obligatory ode to Ol' Dirty Bastard that felt just right --considering we all felt like dirty bastards anyway at that point of the night. -Nate Jackson

Adam Lovinus
Morning Yoga at the campground

There's a remedy for Friday night's pain and suffering, thankfully. It's hidden deep in the car camping area in the activity tent -- free yoga sessions on the hour every day between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. A North Carolina yogini named Elizabeth Cramond guided Saturday morning's vinyasa flow. After some chaturangas and spinal twists to exercise last night's demons, and serious pigeoning of the hips, 45 minutes later it was time to strut back into Coachella on a cloud of endorphins, ready to throttle another night. -Adam Lovinus

The Energy of the Toy Dolls
The Toy Dolls has always been a fun band. The 1980s English punk staple is beloved for its take on the lighter side of punk rock, but considering the sole original member, Olga, is 51, it was reasonable to be worried how this incarnation of the Toy Dolls would sound at Coachella. And you know what? These old guys had more energy than young Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Haim combined. We didn't realize until we saw them live that the band are the old punk version of ZZ Top, with their choreographed bass and guitar moves and synchronized guitar twirling. Olga even asked the crowd, "Do you think I'm too old for this?" to which we yelled back a resounding "Hell no!" - Taylor Hamby

Finding twenty bucks on the ground.
We spent it on a slice of Hot Lips Spicy Pie pizza and a cold beer. Thank you, Coachella gods. -Taylor Hamby

Chris Victorio
Calvin Harris
We're not necessarily the biggest fan of Calvin Harris' music -- though that Rihanna song is perfect -- but he was absolutely the biggest thing going on Sunday. Upgraded from the Sahara tent to the main stage this year, he launched into "Feel So Close" and made the whole polo grounds go berserk. There was an exodus from every other stage; people were literally running. It was incredibly crowded and loud. We were all the way over by the Gobi stage, and could hear Harris much better than the band actually playing on that stage, the poor Toy Dolls, who were in front of a tiny crowd. -Ben Westhoff

Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum has been playing shows again in recent years (presumably to finance his expensive ethnomusicology habit), and the last time he played Coachella was 2012 -- solo. But those who expected the same type of set this year were wrong; backed by the wild and woolly Neutral Milk Hotel players, Sunday's show at the outdoor stage was a whole different beast. Mangum came out alone for opener "Two-Headed Boy," but near the end of the song, right on cue, the brass came out. Before long there were tuba solos and a dude in a goofy blue sock hat playing the music saw. Oh, and by the way, Magnum's beard is now growing out of his cheeks and has officially reached "fuck you, society" levels. Glorious. -Ben Westhoff

Motorhead at Mojave

We make no secret of our love for Lemmy Kilmister. The Motorhead frontman is still the archetype of a rock & roll badass. But let's not forget how much guitarist Phil "Wizzo" Campbell and drummer Mikey Dee bring to the table behind Lemmy's gravelly voice and growling bass. Casual fans were definitely given a lesson last night as the band throttled hard through a setlist of brutal, classic riffs from throughout its discography. Both band members showcased their solo work at various points. Campbell's glowing green frets and snarling, classic band logo on his soloing axe guitar made his play seem almost extra terrestrial -- which fits, because the solo he delivered with it was otherworldy. And Mikey Dee's dexterously pounding drum solo was priceless. And of course, Motorhead wasn't immune from the celebrity guest star game. Slash, the ultimate cameo whore, joined the band onstage to rip through Ace of Spades. Between him and Lemmy, these guys still have the two greatest hats in rock'n'roll. -Nate Jackson

Chris Victorio
Arcade Fire's End
"They're going to pull the plug on us at exactly midnight,' announced Arcade Fire's Win Butler towards the end of the band's festival closing main stage set. The curfew (the same one that preemptively cut off Outkast on Friday) didn't stop the band from carrying on, however, as the group each grabbed an instrument (with Butler on megaphone) and weaved through the audience as the crowd sang the "ooh, ooh, oh oh oh oh" portion of the show-ending single "Wake Up." The singalong carried on until the band eventually slipped away behind the fence, and even then a sizable crowd kept on "ooh ooh-ing" as the festival shut down around them. That's the way you end a fucking show. -Katie Bain


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