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Coachella 2012: Cool kickoff with R3hab, Other Lives, Kendrick Lamar

April 13, 2012 |  4:44 pm

Rain, in the desert? Yes, but just a little bit of spitting, not enough to stop the giddy first arrivers from prancing around the open Empire Polo Field for the opening hours of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival 2012.

These first arrivers are an enthusiastic lot, unconcerned with pacing themselves for the 72 hours ahead. You could already see it at 1:30 p.m. in the Sahara Tent, where R3hab, a Dutch house producer whose work has gotten headlining play by some of this weekend's most anticipated house DJs, including Afrojack and David Guetta, was pushing out complicated, rubberized rhythm. The sun was trying to push through the clouds, but in the tent it was dark and jumping; the pit was filled with raised fists bouncing with his 4/4 beat and the requisite strobes. It already felt a little bit like midnight.

Elsewhere the field was open; a small fraction of the expected 80,000 had arrived by early afternoon, and by 2 p.m. bikinied girls and washboard-abbed boys were sprinting from the gates into the music through the raindrops. One group made a beeline for the Gobi tent, where Other Lives were just beginning. The Stillwater, Okla., six-piece, led by singer and guitarist Jesse Tabish, makes plaintive, expansive guitar rock, with cellist-vocalist Jenny Hsu harmonizing along. It's certainly not party rock -- but that'll come later.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2012

Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar landed on the main Coachella stage at 2:40 and within 15 minutes was rapping about the joys of sex and tequila on the song "P & P." Sidestage, actor and rapper Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, rapped along and continued to do so as Lamar was joined by fellow Black Hippy members Ab Soul and Jay Rock.

Today already feels like it's going to fly by. Also on my list this afternoon are Gary Clark Jr., Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong, Madness, Pulp, Frank Ocean, SebAstian, Mazzy Star, the Rapture, Afrojack, the Black Keys and Amon Tobin. Maybe. Maybe it'll go another way altogether. That's the beauty of Coachella.

Note: At exactly 3:45 p.m., the sun officially came out. Only to quickly disappear.


PHOTOS: Coachella 2012

Coachella: 30 bands not to miss

Coachella's complete weekend schedule

-- Randall Roberts @liledit

Photo: Festival-goers run toward the main stage to catch the beginning of Kendrick Lamar's set during the first weekend of the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Friday, April 13, 2012, in Indio, Calif. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press