Coachella Festival Review

Impact’s Barclay Bram-Shoemaker tell us what he thought of this year’s Coachella Festival.

Indio in California was born out of the need for a halfway point for the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma and Los Angeles. Other than that, and the strange fact that on average it only rains twice a year, there isn’t much else that would set Indio apart from any other small town in America.

That would be true, were it not for the fact that once a year incognito Indio is reborn into a mecca for California’s hipster elite, some of the biggest acts in music and just about every A-list celebrity; from Danny Devito and Paris Hilton, to Blake Lively and Katy Perry.

That is because once a year Indio plays host to Coachella music festival, one of the biggest and brashest festivals in the world. This year had such an unbelievable line up that it is hard to know where to start listing names, but if I was to tell you that on the final night they decided to run with two headliners, The Strokes AND Kanye West, I guess it can give you a pretty good idea. This is nothing new however: the line up at Coachella is so good year on year, that were I to just copy it out and reprint it below, that is pretty much all I would have to say to sell the festival.

For music lovers, Coachella really is a must attend event. Boasting only 7 stages, which are all fairly close to each other, it is pretty easy to end up seeing 10 or more bands a day, and all of which are likely to sell out their own headline shows in minutes. It is only at Coachella that you could see bands and DJs as diverse as The Strokes, Kanye West, Duck Sauce, Nas & Damian Marley, Chromeo, City & Colour, and Jimmy Eat World, ALL ON ONE DAY! Coachella is also the only festival where a band like Elbow, who sell out arenas and headline festivals all over Europe, would be buried at 7pm in one of the smallest tents; a unique ability to get far more intimate gigs with some huge bands that are otherwise so hard to find.

Moreover, not only are the stages accessible, they are also in many cases beautiful. Dubbed the ‘Coachella Music & Arts Festival’, it is famous for its collaborations with artists which see some of the stages transformed into giant origami birds, giant trees, and huge light sculptures. My favourite this year was the doLab, a strange fish-like structure featuring up and coming DJs. Here, not only was the music some of the best and most exciting I had heard all weekend, but there were also giant jet-hoses, spraying down the revellers below; an absolute godsend when it’s 37 degrees outside! Walking around the festival grounds is like being transported into Tim Burton’s wet dream; an ethereal fantasy world, complete with frolicking bikini-clad California girls.

To list all the music I saw this weekend would take me until next year’s festival, but it goes without saying that what was on offer was out of this world. On the DJ front, Laidback Luke absolutely ripped apart the Sahara tent, Duck Sauce brought a 30ft inflatable duck onstage, and Afrojack was accompanied by none other than Paul McCartney. For those who prefer their music less synthesised and bass heavy, Tame Impala’s psychedelic 70s inspired sound could not have been better, and Eryka Badu and Ms Lauyrn Hill both put in stunning performances. The star of the show was of course Kanye West, who not wanting to be out-done performed his first song 50ft above the crowd from a floating platform, before landing on stage to dance with at least 30 ballerinas. It’s a tough life for some. His show included three acts, a touching tribute to his mother, one of the coolest outfit changes I have ever seen, and even a guest spot from Bon Iver himself. Say what you like about the man, but the performer was out in full force at Coachella, and was undoubtedly the perfect way to end such a phenomenal weekend of music.

I really could not recommend Coachella highly enough; it IS the modern day Woodstock. I now know how my Easter breaks will be spent every year until my 35th birthday.

Top 5 random spots at Coachella

1. A 75 year old gentleman in a “never too old to love music” t-shirt.

2. Three girls wearing nothing but leaves around their mid-drifts and flowers on their nipples.

3. A 30ft inflatable duck being dragged on stage for Duck Sauce.

4. People so desperate to find shade from the 37 degree tent, they had passed out under their cars.

5. A giant roller-disco erected in the campsite for when the music had died.

Top 5 DJ sets

1. Laidback Luke

2. Duck Sauce

3. Afrojack

4. Patricio

5. Fedde Le Grand


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