Coachella 2014, Day 1: Ellie Goulding, Chromeo, Aloe Blacc, Zedd, & Outkast
It’s time to rage.
Day 1 of Coachella 2014 was off the chain and we were there to enjoy every minute!
From the amazing performances going on in the EDM tent a/k/a the Sahara tent to Outkast reuniting and playing songs off their twenty year catalog, Coachella is turning into an awesome place for dance, pop hip-hop music lovers to convene under the desert sun.
Leggy and wafting through a cloud of what seemed like perpetual illumination, Ellie Goulding whispered to the crowd with her ethereally sweet voice, “Hey, guys, I can see there’s some fans out there. This next song’s for you,” before playing “Starry-Eyed.”
Wearing scandalously cut leather shorts with a giant gold zipper up the front that she constantly had to adjust, Goulding’s prowess isn’t in how she woos the audience with her shy, slightly awkward onstage conversation but in how she leaps across the stage with gazelle like dance moves and magically seems to shimmy in perfect time with her three back-up singers and dancers. Their all-black attire mixed with her guitar players gorgeous white-and-gold instrument, created a dynamic aesthetic for the performer.
One that distracted from the fact that Goulding seemed a little off in energy, but not in talent. Her voice sounded amazing floating across the wide expanse of green at Coachella and she was able to hit a bunch of notes that once seemed out of Goulding’s range as a live performer. She even did it all while dancing vigorously and constantly flippy her blonde mane. Goulding apologized for not being chatty, but her crowd which included a slew of lithe young model-esque girls and sibling entertainers, Haylie and Hilary Duff, didn’t seem remotely interested in what Goulding was saying and more in her performance of hits like “Lights,” “I Need Your Love,” and “Burn.” Everyone just came to enjoy Goulding’s finest gift: her awesome songs and incredible voice.
32 minutes ago, (it’s 1:26am right now), Zedd tweeted to Rebecca Black, “It’s Friday!” Why? Because the viral video star posted her most “important” selfie ever: her dancing her face off at the Sahara tent on Friday.
The young German DJ was having the itme of his life at Coachella which is well-deserved because we heard that unlike many young artists of his age, Zedd is actually one of the most efficient, productive, and conscientious DJs ever to rock the stage at the Sahara tent. The 24-year-old electro-house DJ brought his good vibes to the stage with his amazing onstage lighting set-up and his ability to make the gigantic, pumped up audience sing “Clarity” in unison, reeling with bliss from the remnants of Vitamin D from the desert sunshine, Martin Garrix’ killer set pre-Zedd, and his awesome choice of songs to DJ like Duck Sauce.
One of the most important dance-funk bands of the last ten years, we’ve seen Chromeo rise from playing an in-store at Turntable Lab to a mainstage band with keyboards with sexy, light-up lady legs attached to them, full-on light effects, and booty-shaking George Michael moves.
That transition from amazing music nerds, with the whole of funk and soul in their pocket, to Dave 1 wearing jeans so tight the pocket looks like its about to rip, is not something that could be anticipated when the band first started out. Chromeo tried out the electro-funk disco trend years before it was every popular and thanks to people like Daft Punk and Pharrell bringing it back, these two hard-working dudes from Montreal finally have their time to shine.
Watching their set, it’s clear how many underground, blog buzzed hits they’ve brought to the dancefloor since the release 2004’s She’s In Control including “Hot Mess,” “Night by Night,” “Tenderoni,” “Bonafied Lovin,’” “Over Your Shoulder,” “Jealous,” “Fancy Footwork,” and probably the most memorable of all their songs, “Needy Girl.” They closed out their set with that song which is good homage to their career since that song was what initially put them on the map, giving needy girls everywhere (all of us) a theme song.
Despite the heat of the day, we got shivers watching Aloe Blacc. They were the sort of shivers a proud mother gets of her child while watching them win the talent show or take their mostly losing football team to the championships. Southern California’s own Aloe Blacc has been at the game since 1995 and his career took off on an internationally successful level almost twenty years after the fact.
Aloe Blacc’s struggles in the music have made him both humble, given him a ton of experiences to craft his amazing songs about, and made him a joy to watch. Looking fine in a tailored blue suit outfit with different colors of blue, Blacc was backed by his band in all black with red ties. His killer horn section held it down while he sang songs like “I Need A Dollar,” “You Make Me Smile,” and “Soldier In The City.” In a genius move, Aloe Blacc planted his collaboration with Avicci, “Wake Me Up,” in the very middle of his set. That move was smart because after he finished that song, a lot of people left, missing out on Aloe Blacc’s awesome catalog of sound that far surpasses the song that finally gave him the acclaim he deserved.
“Are y’all alive?,” asked Big Boi of the audience before Atlanta’s Outkast took the Coachella stage for their first reunion show. Outkast is about as American as the apple pie in their song “Gasoline Dreams” and they showed their patriotic pride with an American flag behind them onstage. The group’s choice to reunite was based on their love of their fans and their desire to perform, rather than create new music in the studio or try to capitalize on their reunion buzz. That love of their fans was evident in the intense Big Boi asked the audience to clap, while Andre 3000 started the set off explosively, rapid-fire rapping on “B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad).” The two were joined by two back-up singers and a mad-amazing horn section that highlighted the onstage scratching before Outkast jived into their Southern proud “ATLiens” which features one of our favorite absurd lines from a rap song “cooler than a polar bear’s toenail” and an entreaty to the audience to wave their hands in the air if they like “fish and grits.”
With the inundation of rap (both mainstream and underground) in today’s musical market, there is still no group that has come to close to Outkast with their eclectic, almost kooky lyrics, their consistent, infectious melodies, and the pair’s inexplicably amazing ability to synchronize and play off each other’s flows in songs like “Skew It On The Bar-B.” There’s some intense tongue juggling going on, or just twenty years of working knowledge in how the other person is move next linguistically, or the fact that they are both hyper-intellectual air signs (like they rapped later in “Aquemini” but either way: this is a rare talent that we’ve never seen outdone.
Outkast’s stage set-up and aesthetic was just as unique and varied as their sound over the last twenty years. The lyrical gyrohopping of Stankonia and Aquemini was balanced by the glossy production of the Speakerboxx/The Love Below-era. Andre 3000 traded in his usual funky style for a pair of what looked like acid-wash overalls, a hooded sweatshirt, and a green cap. This lack of interest in his clothing might have been a red flag to how his energy petered out towards the end of their set. Big Boi maintained his usual polished urban swag (and showed off how years of performing flow gives you consistency) with a leather jacket that had white stars and a giant gold medallion. The background props were strange, but weirdly captivating like a polar bear wearing a chain. A two-seater bike. A street scene with a street sign. Cows grazing on grass. A random old-school table and chairs.
One that we imagined the “Purple One,” Prince, sitting at while the group ran through “Spottieottiedopaliscious,” “Shutterbug,” “Prototype,” “Ms. Jackson,” or “So Fresh, So Clean.” Instead we were given Janelle Monae doing sped-up vesion of her song “Tightrope” (which was good) and Future apparently singing a new song (which was pointless). Killer Mike almost came onstage to perform with Outkast, but because the group came on late, they didn’t get to finish their set and had to close on their radio hit, “Hey Ya.” Which for all the kids in the audience waiting for the one Outkast song they knew to come on, was a very long and very educational time.” When they were done, the audience shuffled out. Back to life. Back to reality.