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