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Coachella Crowd 2017. Photo by Andrew Jorgenson. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Coachella Crowd 2017. Photo by Andrew Jorgenson. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

With the first weekend of Coachella in the bag, and after watching a bunch of artists perform before the Coachella masses, I’ve got a few thoughts. Some good, some meh, but they’re the honest and they may help guide your weekend 2 decisions in the event you’re planning on making the trek to Indio for Weekend Two. Take them with a grain of salt, or don’t take them at all. Here I go …

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Todd Rundgren w/ The Lemon Twigs @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Todd Rundgren w/ The Lemon Twigs @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

The Lemon Twigs have an early set time (2:30-3:10). Do yourself a favor. Get to the polo fields early.

Not only are The Lemons Twigs an exciting new band ushering in a new era of progressive/art rock, and are fantastic to watch live, they have some pretty cool friends … Like Todd Rundgren, who just so happened to join The Lemon Twigs on stage to perform a cover of Mr. Rundgren’s “Couldn’t I Just Tell You”. With special guests dropping in so early in the day, it may give you a pause when you’re friends are pressuring you to get another beer late at night. This surprise drop is TOTALLY worth getting to the festival early.

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SOHN @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
SOHN @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

SOHN has been making some waves the past year, and  was able to score a 3:35-4:20pm set time. I knew very little about his full repertoire, but what I’ve heard, the downtempo, emotionally charged moody recordings, was what drew me to watch his performance. When he opened with “Hard Liquor” and “Signal” he game me exactly what I was expecting and anticipating.

The problem with only knowing a handful of songs from an artist’s repertoire is that when they meander from the familiar path, it can take you for an unwanted detour. “Conrad” was a song that was new to me, but I felt the lyrics were a little weak. I dunno … “and we’re dinosaurs living in denial” just didn’t do it for me.

I know its a midday set, and perhaps he wanted to get the audience hyped a little bit, but I was also disappointed with the upbeat song he played to close his set. Personally, I think if he had closed his set with either of the two songs he opened with, it would have left a more memorable impression.

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Sampha @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Sampha @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

I’m a big fan of Sampha’s most recent album, especially his single “(No One Know Me) Like The Piano”. In fact, my iTunes play count has that song registering over 18 plays… and that’s a lot for me. That’s eighteen times I’ve directed my digital library of over twenty- thousand songs to play that one song. I’m all about “feelz” and that song just shoots an arrow into my heart.

Though my music festival selections tend to be about the over-all concert experience of the act performing, I made the exception in this instant to specifically watch Sampha perform that one song. Was it worth? Definitely, yes. I’d do it again.

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BROODS @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
BROODS @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

BROODS are a band that I think are on the come-up. This brother/sister duo are a pretty big deal in the homeland of New Zealand, and I think that this Coachella appearance (plus their slot opening for Empire of the Sun’s during their current tour) will not doubt get eyes and ear keen on them.

Their repertoire is filled with bangers, but I think what’s particularly endearing about this group is the charm of their lead singer, Georgia Nott. She’s a clearly capable singer and performer (she can wail), but in between songs, when she’s not belting hooks, she muses on normal things.

“This stage is so big … I don’t think you realize how long it takes me to get across,” she says before she demonstrates in real time the run across stage. “I’m pooped,” she smiled. Very endearing in the cutest way possible.

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Francis and the Lights @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Francis and the Lights @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

The first artist of the day that I had absolutely no idea of was Francis and the Lights. With an open mind, I watched him take the stage with a DJ to assist him with his musical backing. His first song relied heavily on a talk box, and it was a catchy little tune. When he continued his set without the vocal effect, the change in vocal tonality was obviously a bit jarring.

It took me a moment to get acclimated to his “normal” voice, but as he continued his set, it grew on me. His music, and his voice, started to give me a little Peter Gabriel vibe, and his spastic dance moves and stage movement kept the energy of his performance at a high level for him and his crowd- he even jumped off the stage to run around the crowd who came to watch him perform.

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Glass Animals @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Roger Ho. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Glass Animals @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Roger Ho. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

My friends love Glass Animals. I even have friends that have worked closely with the band on certain projects. I just don’t get it. I’m sorry, but as much as I try listening to their music- and trust me, I’ve given their music plenty of opportunities to grow on me, but I just can’t seem to get into them.

I tried watching their performance. Given the huge crowds that flocked to them to watch them perform on the main stage, they clearly deserve to be there. As they played, their fans were all grooving to the band’s psychedelic trip-hop. Me? I was just trying to understand why I couldn’t access the part of my brain that everyone else seemed to have access to. I will, however, give mad props to Dave Bayley, the band’s lead singer, for performing admirably with a broken foot.

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Banks @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Erik Voake. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Banks @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Erik Voake. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

I was able to catch one of BANKS’ performances at SXSW this year, and she was phenomenal. I saw her back in 2014 (her first appearance at Coachella- which I was highly critical of), so I decided to bring it back around full circle to see her slay Coachella this year.

Wearing a sheer red dress with thigh-high, black boots, BANKS was the venue’s dominatrix. As the sun set and the darkness of night slowly creeped into the tent, BANKS and her dancers mesmerized the crowd with the seductive sensuality that she’s been able to hone over the years. Watching her perform this year was, at least in my eyes, was a glorious redemption of her inaugural appearance on a Coachella stage. I would not be the least bit surprised if in another few years she’ll be stepping onto one of the larger stages to slay yet again.

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Mac Miller @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Mac Miller @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Greg Noire. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

I’ve seen Mac Miller perform several times already. He’s a fantastically charismatic performer and with a live band backing him, his music takes on a new, visceral kind of life. To be absolutely frank here, I was watching Mac Miller’s performance to see if he would, as virtually every other rapper does, call upon a “special guest” to join him on stage … and considering that his boo is Adriana Grande …

Nope. Didn’t happen. In fact, from what I was able to watch (I missed a little bit of the start of his set), he rocked the mic all by himself. And as long as we’re keeping it honest here, Mac Miller really doesn’t need any gimmicks to lock in the audience’s attention. But there’s always weekend two …

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Phantogram @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Chris Miller. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Phantogram @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Chris Miller. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

Phantogram is another act that I have seen on multiple occasions, so I was watching this performance mostly because I like a lot of their hit songs. I still think that Josh Carter’s live vocals are pretty suspect, but Sarah Barthel more than makes up for it.

During the performance, Sarah made some pretty rumor worthy statements. Who know whether she was being serious or not, but her proclamations that, “I tripped on acid on the ferris wheel last year,” and, “I had sex underneath the stage last year,” were, for me, a little more memorable than her announcement that the new Big Grams albums is currently in the works.

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Little Dragon @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Erik Voake. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Little Dragon @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Erik Voake. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

Having just release a new album, “Season High”, I made it a point to watch Little Dragon’s Coachella performance. I love love love Little Dragon, and I wanted to hear some of their new tracks live. They treated Coachella with three (3) cuts: “Sweet”, “Hight” and “Strobe Light”.

Even if you haven’t yet had the chance to listen to their new music, just know that they masterfully crafted their setlist to that new songs were nestled in between their veritable bangers. I know that there has been a debate about their set time being the most conflicted set time of the day (going up against Travis Scott, DJ Shadow and Empire of the Sun), I’ll guarantee you this: You Will Love Their Performance!

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Radiohead @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.
Radiohead @ Coachella 4/14/16. Photo by Charles Reagan. Courtesy of Coachella. Used with permission.

Everyone’s already written about it, so this may be too little too late, but Radiohead’s headlining gig for Coachella was marred with some pretty major audio issues. It’s one thing for the sound to completely cut out once … but twice? But I suppose the all of the tribulations only made the reward that much sweeter. “What was the reward,” you ask?

“Creep”. It’s perhaps Radiohead’s most popular song, but it also happens to be the one song that Thom Yorke has publicly expressed his live-performance disdain for … and for those Coachella attendees who weathered the massive delays, they were rewarded with the black swan of Radiohead performances. Those Coachella weekend two guest who were hoping to hear “Creep” during their stay will mostly likely have to scratch that off their list of musical possibilities as Radiohead is known for always changing up their setlist every single show … Pssst …. scroll down to the bottom … before it’s too late …

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