Sandstorms, possible zombie attacks (imagine if one person got infected in that crowd of people), a slew of celeb sightings, and an amazingly diverse line-up of artists (including ones that weren’t even on the line-up), made night two of Coachella one of the most historical days we’ve ever experienced.
First of all, Pharrell brought just about everyone on stage with him including Gwen Stefani. Beyonce helped her sister Solange and Jay Z went onstage with Nas in the midnight hour. Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes brought some old-school flavor and even Lorde joined them all for an insane onstage dance party.
Behind the scenes, there was an Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad sighting and a lot more celebrities like Jared Leto wandering around. Even if the sexiest look of the night was sand monster chic a/k/a covered with/eating dirt, the golden hour and beyond was one wild, primal love fest of positive musical energy and all-out debauchery.
California locals, Capital Cities, must have brought a whole crew of friends with them because the VIP was full of people in t-shirts with the words “Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!” emblazoned across the front.
They were all wearing animal masks. The band, wearing red-and-white pinstripe pants and white blazers in a kind of desert yacht chic, started their set off with that song, giving trumpeter Spencer Ludwig an immediate moment to shine and rope the audience in with epic dance tunes like their cover of “Staying Alive” or teaching the audience the Capital Cities shuffle before “Center Stage.” They also covered “Nothing Compares 2 U” by The Family right before they ended their brief ten-song set with two versions of “Safe and Sound.”
Confession: we’ve seen Foster the People so many times that we feel like we know their set by heart, but the boys mixed it up this time around. They played a lot of music from their new album, Supermodel, including “Pseudologia Fantastica” and “Coming of Age.” Their stage was covered with jutting crystals. They were joined by a new guitar player, perhaps a touring one, but he had some major skill. And Mark Foster actually looked really happy. Normally, the band is shrouded in lights that cover their faces, but on the Coachella big screen, you could see all of Foster’s facial expressions and how the songwriter has really evolved into a true performer.
He’s still an amazing pop songwriter though. While watching “Pumped Up Kicks,” we remarked to a friend how amazing it was that the somber, dark tones of Foster the People’s songs go completely over the heads of the people ecstatically dancing in the crowd, especially to hits like “Pumped Up Kicks.” Foster doesn’t even encourage that by bouncing along to the song. He sings it with somber seriousness and still people shriek and dance as if it’s the apocalypse and nothing can bring them down in their last days.
It’s hard to believe that Lorde is only 17-years-old. As we waited for the New Zealand pop sensation to come on, people in the crowd around commented about how “mature” she seems. She definitely brought a more refined crowd than some of the shows. Jared Leto was there fielding drunk female fans. A completely unglam and normal looking Alessandra Ambrosia looked more like a sexy girl covered in dirt than a Victoria’s Secret model and no one bothered her. Mostly everyone in the packed crowd was busy trying to anticipate what Lorde’s live show would be like since reviews are always so varied.
But when the teenage sensation finally took the stage with her baggy white pants and white crop top, her dark hair and purple lipstick brazen next to her pale skin, she looked like Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon ready for the hunt. Lorde is huge, but she isn’t so big that she can’t try to cast her mystical net over the audience to entangle them in her strangely-beautiful musical snare, so she twitched and gyrated like Thom Yorke and she exaggerated her lithe hands in a way that made it seem like she was casting a spell. “Biting Down,” “Tennis Court,” and “White Teeth Teens,” are great songs, but everyone was waiting for her hits. Instead she gave us one of the most beautiful speeches we’ve ever at heard at a festival, a show, or ever right before she played her song “Ribs.”
“This is a pretty big moment for us, “ said Lorde, talking about how they booked Coachella last May and at the time it was the biggest show they’d every booked. She was on the phone and said “holy shit, we’ve booked Coachella.” She remembered her own festival experiences at Laneway in New Zealand. She had the time of her life watching music as the sun was going down even if she was exhausted and her feet were bleeding. The festival gave her that “sweet happy, elated feeling” and “that sadness” that made her write the song “Ribs.” “They’re kind of the two emotions that make me write a lot of songs,” Lorde elaborated, thanking the fans for caring about what she’s doing. “You get it,” she exclaimed, “and seeing all your faces makes me think it’s okay.” Launching into the song “Ribs,” all about quickly you can grown up and how she’s afraid to get old, Lorde truly is the most amazing 17-year-old and watching her perform is almost like being privy to the clandestine emotional world of her diary.
Pharrell is probably the biggest musician on the planet right now, so it was kind of strange that Coachella didn’t put the pop star on the main stage on a different day that didn’t intrude on Queens of the Stone Ages’ desert vibes. The fanfare (and drama) backstage surrounding Pharrell was out of control.
The artist area became a slew of security guards in all black suits swarming like sharks; Gwen Stefani’s children with Gavin Rossdale were spotted, so we knew that there must be something brewing. Rumors spread that Beyonce and Jay-Z were there; Katy Perry was also spotted ushering people around with a giant palm leaf.
Anything was possible and that’s what Pharrell did, despite him having horrible laryngitis that made it impossible for him to sing well and made him rather despondent onstage. The pop performer got a little help from his friends, though, and made the night special by bringing on an all-star crew for hit after hit. He started off the set with “Lose Yourself To Dance” and then performed a few of his own songs like “Come Get It Bae” and “Frontin’” Dancers dressed in that quintessential ‘90s meets ‘60s look, go-go’d across the stage and on a platform, where a screen in the middle showed some sort of trippy spiral that could easily have been used for mind control.
Right when we’d started to feel really sorry for Pharrell, out came Nelly perfoming “Hot In Herre,” Busta Rhymes performing “Pass the Courvoisier,” Snoop Dogg who performed both “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Beautiful,” Diplo performing “Aerosol Can,” Gwen Stefani doing a pretty faithful rendition of her song “Hollaback Girl,” and Tyler, The Creator joining in on the NERD song “Lapdance.” By the end of the extensive 18 song set, Pharrell looked like he was a pass out but once the music to “Happy” started, this slew of celebs (and Lorde, too) all jumped onstage with some other people to dance around joyously to happy. Pharrell is so skilled that even when he’s miserable, he can make everyone around them have the time of their lives.