Category: Coachella 2012

Coachella 2012: California dreamin' at the Saguaro and Ace hotels

Coachella 2012: Party-goers who looked to make the scene at the Ace Hotel and the new Saguaro Hotel found a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere -- so much so that many left in search of more high-wattage events
Party people arriving at Palm Springs' new Saguaro Hotel on Sunday afternoon were greeted with a mellow pool party scene that made it easy to forget that one of the country's most massive music festivals was taking place just down the road.

Eight-dollar margaritas, ample parking at the hotel, no lines to get in and no lines for the bathroom were among the perks on the sunniest day of the first Coachella weekend. And while KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad laid down the beats, tattooed revelers floated lazily around the luxurious pool.

However, it soon became apparent that the festival party glitterati -- the ones who make it their life's mission to be at the weekend's coolest throw-downs -- were confused by how easy it was to get in. They had come in their most ragged and minuscule Daisy dukes and donned their skinniest headbands and tiniest cut-off shirts, but the event staff didn't even pretend to look them up on the list they thought it essential that they RSVP to last week.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

"Come on, we're going to the Lacoste party," said a girl in the bathroom, wearing what looked to be a three-piece suit (it's hard to explain).

There she would be faced with crushing lines that would make it nearly impossible for her to meet the basic requirements of the party lifestyle -- namely get in and get a drink. But she would feel like someone when she finally did get in. (What's that line about not wanting to be a part of a club that would have you as a member? Yeah, it's kind of like that.)

A mile down the road at the Ace Hotel, which has long held the mantle of being one of the most reassuringly difficult parties to get into, the situation wasn't much better. While the L.A.-based club Do Over spun tunes, guests waltzed through the doors at will. Even the fashion-challenged went unchecked as evidenced by a man who literally skipped in wearing tie dye (?!) and a green bandanna.

Still the music was fresh and dance floor lively. But something was missing from this year's crop of hotel parties. Perhaps the 10-day, double-weekend festival sprawl had diluted the fierce must-party-now imperative of years past. 

Whatever it was, it made it possible for just about anybody to sit by the pool.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: The scene at the Saguaro Hotel on Sunday. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2012: Snoop's question finally answered

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On Sunday, Snoop Dogg finally got an answer to the question he's been asking all weekend: Who is at Coachella?

Tupac. A hologram of Tupac.

There's really nothing more to say.

But you did say more. A lot more, in fact, so we collected some of your tweets, pics, and tweet pics for posterity. Don't blame us when your children look at this someday and beg you to get out the pink bodysuit one more time.

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Coachella 2012: Rihanna hits Calvin Harris party for 'We Found Love'

Rihanna2
To paraphrase Rihanna, whose 10-minute cameo during British house producer Calvin Harris' set at the Sahara Tent was one of the worst-kept secrets of the weekend, "This stuff only happens at Coachella."

The "stuff" of which she spoke was the notion of her performing on a non-arena stage in a booming dance tent holding tens of thousands of people while DJ/collaborator Harris pushed raver-friendly love songs with 130 bpm energy and the masses screamed along.

In fact, they screamed along to Harris' set before she arrived, bouncing along to "Bounce," his track featuring Kelis (alas, no cameo, no hologram), whose recorded voice carried across the tent. The masses had gone batty for Harris' string of infectious bangers: "When the Weekend Comes," played on a Sunday, was a portent for Coachella part 2 next weekend, and "You Used to Hold Me" was a melancholy love song turned up to 11 and filled with booming bass. 

But as the set wore on and Harris' biggest hit went unplayed, the crowd waited for that melody, because most understood that with the melody would come Rihanna. And that's exactly what happened. 

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

Harris screamed an introduction, and the Barbados-born singer pranced out onstage wearing high-waisted shorts and a top with "Peace" written on it. Confetti flew, fog blew out of the machines, the huge video screens strobed, and one of the world's biggest pop stars sang her hit song "We Found Love." It was a lot of hoopla, it's true, for such a short little ditty played exactly the way it's been spun on the radio billions of time before. But her presence at Coachella, as well as her well-orchestrated stage dive near the end of her appearance, got the cameras flashing, the people talking, and the Sahara tent booming. 

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-- Randall Roberts @liledit

Photo: Singer Rihanna performs onstage at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Field on Sunday. Credit: Mark Davis/Getty Images for Coachella

Coachella 2012: Gotye's moment with 'Somebody That I Used to Know'

Gotye
Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gotye had two big concerns ahead of his debut at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday night: How hot would it be out in the desert, and how his massive hit, the understated lovelorn jam, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” would play out in front of the crowd. 

“I’ve played plenty of festivals in Australia. But none I’ve been to have been in the desert,” he laughed when he talked to The Times for a feature to run next week. “How much water do I need to drink to make sure I can sing on the Coachella stage?”

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

The 31-year-old artist born Wouter “Wally” De Backer, who performs under the often-mispronounced moniker Gotye (it's Go-tee-yay), made his Coachella debut the night after appearing for the first time on “Saturday Night Live” and the crowd in the Mojave Tent came to hear that hit, which is currently No. 2 on the U.S. pop chart.

In just the past two weeks the guitar pop jam –- a duet with New Zealand breakout Kimbra –- has been covered on “Glee” and “The Voice.” Aerosmith's Steven Tyler admitted he keeps the song on repeat on his iPod during praising of a pair of contestants who covered the song on “American Idol,” and a YouTube cover from indie band Walk Off the Earth has amassed more than 82 million views (and a record deal). The official video for the single has been watched more than 154 million times. 

Needless to say, the song is everywhere and De Backer wanted the moment to be right.

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Coachella 2012: At the Drive In leads the punk rock field

ATDI2
For all the attention paid to hip-hop and arena-sized EDM at Coachella this year, the resurgence of punk rock at the 2012 fest has received relatively little attention. Whether Goldenvoice was so successful with its three-day GV30 punk fest last December, or just needed a volatile corrective to glossed-up rave acts, punk acts were in good supply at Coachella 2012, including At the Drive In, Refused, fIREHOSE and Greg Ginn, suggesting that this furious, whip-smart rock has a past and a future.

Atop the field was a reunited At the Drive In, whose Sunday set was given an incredibly high-profile placement as the band second only to the headliner. The band broke up in 2001 after achieving moderate success at the experimental fringes of post-hardcore, most notably on its 2000 album “Relationship of Command.” Their songs had the dynamics and insistence of early emo, but played with the desperation of Texas border-town punks and with the cerebral quality of budding Latin-jazz heads.

The band's sound was visceral but wonky; powerful enough for arenas but screwy enough to subvert them. When the band split, forming the prog-metal experimental combo Mars Volta and the more straightforward rockers Sparta, the band's dynamic became clear in hindsight. So it must have been quite a leap of faith to assume they could carry the second-biggest slot of Sunday’s fest.

They didn’t disappoint, even though it was Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s second set of the day (he played bass in the always-amazing Les Butcherettes, the day's most incendiary act by far). Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice sounds better when given a bit of structure, and the band’s rhythm section had the machine-tooled precision of the best Dischord bands. While some songs seemed lost on the audience (only the slight radio hit “One Armed Scissor” got a singalong), their sheer power carried the evening for the unconverted and the long-awaiting-this alike.

The At the Drive In show built on a weekend full of worthy and interesting precedent from late-'90s peers and ‘80s progenitors. Refused’s Friday set was just as tight but maybe even more dangerous for its precision; Black Flag co-founder Greg Ginn’s sheer noise-making showed him at his most uncompromising. The reunion of Mike Watt and George Hurley’s post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE proved there was life after first-wave South Bay hardcore, and even a festival life for their alt-leaning post-punk a decade-and-a-half after the band’s heyday.

Goldenvoice, the promoter that puts on Coachella, was founded as an L.A. punk promoter; no booking firm is better equipped to expound on that legacy in a festival setting. But throughout Coachella 2012, those exposed punk roots formed a noisy edge and intriguing undercurrent to the weekend. If Goldenvoice can use its heft and money to re-introduce kids to the particular pleasures of ambitious hardcore, that could be a narrative worth watching at future festivals.

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-August Brown

Photo: Cedric Bixler-Zavala fronts At the Drive In as he performs at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio on Sunday. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2012: Dr. Dre, Snoop, Eminem, Tupac hologram end Week 1

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

It's tempting to say up front that Tupac Shakur stole the show on Sunday night when his likeness appeared alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre to cap off the first weekend of Coachella, but that would just be for a cheap laugh. Making a "cameo" as a hologram projected onto the stage and the jumbo screens above, the late Los Angeles rap icon was the least dynamic of the parade of rappers young and old who held the mike.

But in his defense, he was just a hologram. 

Already in the set, Dr. Dre, who put Los Angeles rap on the map in the late 1980s when he and his peers in N.W.A burst out of Compton to help invent gangsta rap, had stood alongside his one-time protege Snoop Dogg (nee Snoop Doggy Dogg) to offer sing-along anthem after sing-along anthem, each one a 1990s ode to Southern California living and rapped in unison by tens of thousands.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

They'd swapped hits to a crowd who grew up with them, and did so with 20 years of friendship and collaboration between them, so that when they traded lines it was like they were finishing each other's sentences. And, in a sense, they were: The 1991 classic "Deep Cover" was Dr. Dre's first post-N.W.A release and it featured Snoop's first-ever appearance on record.

It's hard sometimes to remember how strange and wily Snoop's first recorded rhymes were: they slithered through Dre's G-funk beats with a laid-back grace that was the polar opposite of the aggrieved New York style of the time as put forward by Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Brand Nubian. Snoop's flow was as immediately recognizable as Dre's beats, and it's one reason why he's remained relevant for two decades. 

Those rhythms were at the center of the night, of course, and were highlighted through cameos that illustrated the breadth of Dre's sounds. Young weed-rapper Wiz Khalifa came out to join Snoop for "Young, Wild, and Free" -- and share a joint the size of a Sharpie --  and Compton lyricist and MC Kendrick Lamar stood alongside Dre for "The Recipe," Lamar's new cut produced by Dre.

New York rapper 50 Cent arrived to do bits of his early classics -- "Wanksta," "P.I.M.P." and "In Da Club" -- and the masses were enthusiastic and welcoming to our East Coast guest. Eminem waltzed out casually, his hoodie pulled up, to salute Dre's work with some verses -- the best of which was a snippet of "Forgot About Dre," a Dre track from 2001. Snoop and Dre honored the late singer Nate Dogg, the soulful singer who provided hooks on some of G-funk's classic jams as well.

The Tupac hologram? A red herring, unnecessary and ill advised. His abs still looked great, it's true, and there was a certain spring in his step as he and (the living) Snoop rapped their collaboration "2 of Americaz Most Wanted." But when the hologram rhymed the line, "my intention's to get richer," well, we know how that ended up.

Regardless, Dre and Snoop closed Coachella 2012, Part 1 on a high note (no pun intended), and delivered the California vibe to a lot of its happy citizens and visitors. 

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-- Randall Roberts @liledit

Photos: Rappers Dr. Dre, left, and Snoop Dogg perform onstage during Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on Sunday. Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella.

Coachella 2012: The headcase R&B of The Weeknd

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Accompanied solely by an acoustic guitar, Abel Tesfaye concluded his set with a song entitled “Wicked Games.” Better known as The Weeknd, Tesfaye played mostly with a full band at Coachella, and the songs were sparse, filled with atmospheres pulled out of shadows and beats that split the difference between modern hip-hop and bedroom soul. “Wicked Games,” however, was best served bare.

Tesfaye started it by singing the blues. “I left my girl back home.” Then he cut to the tragedy: “I don’t love her no more.” What followed was about a four-minute look into the mind of a hopelessly reckless romantic. There were lies, affairs, drugs, and through it all Tesfaye was fixated on his shame. He sang the word gently. Shame. As if it might flutter away in the wind at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival if he said it soft enough.

It wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, it was all over the preceding 45 minutes, which presented modern R&B as high drama. There were moments of uplift, sure, most notably when he sang the cymbal-crashing “Crew Love,” a song found on the most recent album from his more famous collaborator, rapper Drake, but there was a reason why when cameras flashed to audience members some of them looked on the verge of tears.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

“The Morning” had a swift, easy-to-dance-to groove, but Tesfaye reached his hands outward to the audience, as if offering a reminder that what lurks beneath the beat is something a bit more sinister. “All the money is the motive,” Tesfaye crooned through gritted teeth and shut eyes as if painting a portrait of a seedy underworld. A downbeat guitar solo arrived three-fourths the way in to further sour the mood.

This post has made it this far without mentioning that Tesfaye scored a nighttime slot on the final night of Coachella by releasing only mixtapes and side-stepping the traditional music business. Coachella, when done right, is one of the more curated of music festivals around, and industry team player or not, it was clear Tesfaye has found his audience. The crowd at the second of two outdoor stages was one of the largest of the weekend, and the VIP areas were shoulder-to-shoulder.

They all bounced in time to “House of Balloons,” but if anyone thought Tesfaye wasn’t being sarcastic when he shouted “This is a happy house” – and he shouted with grace, mind you – they weren’t paying attention. When the song segued into “Glass Table Girls,” his guitarist and bassist downturned their instruments so it sounded as if Tesfaye was singing over an jet engine. For Tesfaye’s sake, here’s hoping he was riding a ticket out of his own head.

Other notes from the final day of Coachella:

Near the end of Wild Flag’s set, Carrie Brownstein unleashed a wail that could make the hair on the back of your neck stand on high alert. “I’m gonna trample yoooooouuuuuuuu,” she shouted during the finale of “Racehorse.” If anyone was intimidated, it wasn’t her band, as fellow guitarist Mary Timony stood her ground with her leg perched on her amp, and drummer Janet Weiss looked dead ahead as she provided more drum fills for Brownstein to go nuts with.

There’s a lot of hard rock at Coachella, but Wild Flag celebrate it in all its aggressive glory. Rebecca Cole’s organ exudes thick, flower-power snappiness on “Romance,” and “Glass Tambourine” captures these indie rock vets providing a mini stroll through the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Somehow, in only about six minutes, there’s bluesy diversions, guitar crests and a flighty, surf-pop keyboard. When it comes down for a breather, Timony plays her guitar as if she’s delivering a message in Morse code, one where unlocking the everlasting power of rock ‘n’ roll is the mystery at hand.

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-- Todd Martens

Photo: The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) performs during Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2012 in Indio, California. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2012: The Hives demand your love

PelleHives
From the moment he took the main stage at Coachella on Sunday night wearing a dapper tux and tails and a black top hat, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist -- lead singer of the Swedish garage-revival band the Hives -- could not stop asking for the audience's adoration.

"Do you looovvveee me, people?" Almqvist shouted, as the crowd hollered its affirmation. "I think you can do better, DO YOU LOOOOVVVVVVEEEEE ME?"

More shouting as Almqvist launched himself from atop an amp and into the crowd, singing the band's 2001 hit, "Hate To Say I Told You So."

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

The Hives played the exact same main-stage time slot -- 6 p.m. Sunday evening -- nine years ago, around the same time they were destroying American fans with devastatingly energetic sets at industry-heavy festivals including Austin's South by Southwest.

Almost a decade later, not much has changed. The band even looks the same. And Almqvist is still one of rock's most engaging frontmen -- bringing to mind a young Mick Jagger with the way he struts around the stage with his hands on his hips before suddenly leaping in the air with a scissor kick.

Almqvist is known for his ironically arrogant stage banter -- and with Sunday's set he proved he has had plenty of time to refine that routine.

"Do you love the sun?" he asked the crowd at one point. "That's good because I'm the closest cousin to the sun on planet Earth."

The women in the audience giggled as his face stared out from the Jumbotron with mock gravity, while a number of bros looked awkwardly down at the grass.

By the end of the show, Almqvist proved that he was right -- the crowd did love him. They loved him and the Hives enough to sit down when he asked them to -- creating a vast ocean of seated bodies, arms flailing like quirky sea-bottom creatures.

Then, when Almqvist demanded it, during the middle of the closing song, "Tick Tick Boom, " they leaped to their feet in unison. It was a moment that live festivals are made for.

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Singer Pelle Almqvist of the Hives performs onstage during Day 3 of the 2012 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella

Coachella 2012: A sample of araabMUSIK

EKGPatterns
Pop quiz: Who was the most technically adept musician at Coachella this year? Radiohead's guitarist-composer Johnny Greenwood? Bass savant Thundercat? St. Vincent shredder Annie Clark?

Nope. Try the young electronica producer araabMUSIK. The beatsmith and Rhode Island native is new to the hype cycle at Coachella but has already gathered an impressive production coterie, making tracks for the Dipset crew and Busta Rhymes, among others, along with remixing adventurous indie artists like The Big Pink.

But his Mojave set was a masterclass in pure skill. All he needed was three MPC samplers and two video cameras to document his hands while he played them.

COACHELLA 2012 | Full coverage

And holy mackerel, can he play. His hands hovered like sea creatures stalking prey, lunging and squirming and beating the bejeezus out of his three boards. Each hit cued a sample, be it a washed-out synth, a ravey keyboard line or a martial drum patter. His drum work alone was otherworldly -- I've never seen human hands move that quickly.

He diced bits of tracks from his breakthrough "Electronic Dream" and spread them across every genre of electronica -- machine-gun hip-hop beats, trancey hands-up anthems, dubstep breakdowns. But the crowd moved between cerebral astonishment at what was happening on the monitors and the rush they got from all that sound. Pure skill is often an overrated virtue in pop music, but sometimes virtuosity makes its own sound. AraabMUSIK has found a great one and made it incredible to watch.

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PHOTOS: Coachella 2012

PANORAMA: Coachella virtual tour

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MOBILE USERS: All you need to survive Coachella

-- August Brown

Photo: Light reflecting off chains of balloons makes EKG-like trails in the sky above the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Saturday. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Coachella 2012: Calm crowds, bad traffic, tight security on Day 3

SoloMotion
After two days of breezing through the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with ease, the final day threatened to become a test of patience. 

As the sun made an early and permanent arrival over the Indio sky, festival-goers clad in the summer garb they’d been waiting to enjoy without consequence for the past two days made their way into the Empire Polo Grounds late Sunday afternoon, but not without hurdles.

Traffic surrounding the Empire Polo Grounds came to a snarl as cars dumped out impatient passengers who ran toward the closest entrance. The lines at security were noticeably slower as staffing appeared beefier at one checkpoint than it had in the days before.

Coachella 2012 | Full coverage

Out on the festival grounds, however, the mood Sunday felt noticeably calmer. 

As Fitz and the Tantrums jammed on the main stage, I floated to the Gobi tent — where some of the weekend’s best moments have happened — to catch the low end electro-jazz-fusion of Thundercat, part of L.A.'s electronica beat crew Brainfeeder. It was a must to continue the high from Flying Lotus on Saturday night and it was nice to see a calmer crowd enjoy the music: Some clutched cold beverages, while others stretched out on the ground. This was Coachella at its most laid-back. 

Even the raucous noise of hip-hop producer AraabMuzik next door at the Mojave tent had a more cerebral effect as the crowd shifted gently. One girl cutting through the crowd sought comfort from the heat with a fan that was a cutout of the night’s co-headliner, Snoop Dogg.

A more chilled vibe proved too much for one reveler I spotted in the VIP tent who needed assistance from festival staffers. As the teen laid on the ground, pants disheveled, his friend — clad in a T-shirt featuring Snoop Dogg endorsing cannabis — helped him pull it together. It could have been the heat. But it could have been something else. 

As the kid shook himself off and walked away, a buzzed guy’s Fatboy Slim T-shirt seemed to wink at the calm.

“God bless this acid house,” it read with a slouching happy face.

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PHOTOS: Coachella 2012

PANORAMA: Virtual tour of Coachella 2012

MOBILE USERS: All you need to survive Coachella

— Gerrick D. Kennedy @gerrickkennedy

Photo: John LaBue, 18, of San Francisco texts friends while festival-goers walk to other venues at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday in Indio. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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