Californians generally are–as Hot Chip would sing later on in the night on the Main Stage–“laid-back.” And the general theme of the day was for artists to capitalize on those laid-back Cali vibes—by calling them out and then starting an epic dance party.
The first booty-shake-a-thon of the day was courtesy of 2 Chainz. “If you represent California, say f*** yeah,” yelled 2 Chainz before breaking into one of his raps. The mainstream rapper was a uniting force with music lovers. The Mojave tent spilled over with every type of festival goer; there were even older people pouring shots and stylish children in the mix.
And while the rapper shouted-out his love of strippers, threw out a plethora of expletives, and raps over thunderous beats about making one’s “a**” clap, 2 Chainz was surprisingly tame given his ratchet reputation. Unlike many rappers of 2 Chainz’ peer group who sloppily flow while inebriated one chemical or another, 2 Chainz is an impeccable show man with killer live band behind him. “Let’s have a moment of silence,” said 2 Chainz. “RIP to this motherf***ing stage.”
Floating through the crowd, we heard subtle siren calls of music that caught us for a few songs. The voice of young Washington-based soul singer Allen Stone rang with emotive purity across a sea of rapt listeners—probably hearing his voice for the first time. Later on, the Selector blazed up the same stage with their reggae horn section, encouraging passers by to randomly skank.
Dropkick Murphys elicited the same unbridled joy with a surprisingly dense audience who were doing Irish jigs in a punk-rock rip tide while throwing their shoes rebelliously in the air. For Café Tacvba, fans carried giant Mexican flags and hundreds broke out in a popular football chant while frontman Ruben Albarran Ortega let us his infamous laugh.
Glittered gaggles of girls gyrated wildly. Fashion wise, the ‘90s were in full effect at Coachella this year. The usual waif-thin hippie-flip foxes grinded to 2 Chainz while perched on their boyfriend’s shoulders, but a fair number of babes have embraced the full ‘90s uniform. Fringe was replaced with Spice Girls double knots, booty shorts have given way to palazzo pants and crocheted bikinis, while in full-force on sweltering youngsters, had nothing on the crop top. Fashion photographers could be seen making pseudo-celebrities out of every bro wearing tie-dyed Kurt Cobain homage shirts.
Usually the trends of fashion go hand-in-hand with what’s going on in music and the Nouveau-‘90s New York raver chic and the stoner grunge vibe fit exactly with the vibe of a lot of the bands and the EDM-heavy line-up.
That’s one reason why it was pretty shocking to see how many people showed up for Violent Femmes, a band who’s music was mostly popular in the ‘80s. A lot of them left after the band, fronted by Gordon Gano played hits like “Blister In The Sun” and “Add It Up,” but it after the sparse turn-out for some of the veteran bands last night, like Grinderman, it was exciting to see an older band actually resonate with the young crowd. Speaking of Grinderman, super cute side note: At Spiritualized, Nick Cave was swaying in the night breeze with his two children, one of which was wearing a black shirt with the words “Bad Seed” emblazoned across it in white lettering.
However, Violent Femmes could not compete with the magic that was Major Lazer—who definitely went with the ‘90s theme of the festival. Set in the Mojave tent instead of in the typical Sahara tent where one would imagine the dancehall-moohmbaton-house production team fronted by Diplo, Major Lazer crossed musical boundaries with their crowd-baiting, interactive sets. When we got there, Giovanni Ribisi was wandering through the VIP viewing area with a camera crew while hardcore Diplo fans with signs that said things like “Diplo, you’re my idol” bum-rushed barricades that a techie intermittently came with an electric screwdriver device to rescrew in.
Besides their wicked, awe-inspiring beats, Major Lazer used all the tools in their arsenal—babes, bare chests, bubbles, and vuvuzelas. After throwing out the horns to the audience and prompting them to put their hands up, Diplo made it clear that he literally needed the audiences support when he got into an inflatable bubble and was thrown into the audience.
Later, he took off his shirt and waved it through the air, asking the crowd to take their shirts off as well, prompting a lot of girls to go bare-chested and his “twerk team” led the audience in the Harlem Shake (presumably better than Baauer’s earlier.)
“If you’re from California, put your hands up in the air,” yelled one of Diplo’s crew just as the sun was setting to a gorgeous golden hue.
-Nadia Nior, KROQ, Los Angeles