Best of Coachella Weekend One: Friday, April 13
Day one of The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival brought something more unusual than ironic outfits or that poor guy who couldn't get his flip flops on for the life of him: this year there was rain.
The festival held in the Southern California desert is known for scorching, sometimes three-digit heat. Rain and wind be damned, Coachella was still a blast. We put together a list of our favorite moments from Friday and offer them for you here. Tell us your best moments of the day in the comments section!
Choking up During Jimmy Cliff's Set
I choked up during Jimmy Cliff's performance. It happened, of course, during "Many Rivers to Cross" which played at my father's funeral. For most of the day, it seemed that Coachella had been upended--nothing was familiar about the festival I'd attended for the past eight years. I'd been accustomed to a music lover's paradise: 90+ degree weather, incredible bands, beautiful bodies laid out enjoying the vibe. Instead, the later part of the day was miserable. It started off well enough; at around 1 p.m. what was usually a time of oppressive heat made walking through the field bearable. Later, however, it got cold. Really cold. And it was drizzling, the skies were gray, and nothing seemed fun anymore. I wanted to watch less than half of the bands today. Girls were wearing ludicrous chain mail headpieces and wellies. The bathrooms were so far away, and I kept needing to pee. But as the first few opening notes of Cliff's song about love and loss wafted through the crowd, the festival finally jelled for me. I was at Coachella, and I was watching fantastic bands in one of the most beautiful venues in the world. The past few hours had been a chaotic mess, marked by bands I just wasn't that impressed by (Yuck); a state of denial regarding the weather (Overheard: "It doesn't mean anything if you can't feel your toes. It won't get gangrene or anything from the cold.") and the general feeling of distaste for those fucking hipsters (stupid chain mail headband-wearing girls, I'm looking at you). Jimmy Cliff, with his populist set of standards, was just the antidote to the feeling that everything was just meh. "Many Rivers to Cross" reminded me of why I was here in the first place, bad weather be damned. Sometimes all it takes is a really cushy song to get to you, and "Many Rivers to Cross" brought that connection--between my emotions and the music I loved back to the forefront of Coachella and its raison d'être. -Lilledeshan Bose
Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr.
Shadowed, beneath a fedora, sunglasses, and thick beard, Austin guitarist Gary Clark Jr. obscured himself at his performance Friday afternoon. From a distance, he could have been 70 years old. His music, too, hearkens back to another era. God knows there aren't a lot of freaking blues players who can win over a crowd of thousands of young white kids with slight attention spans. Who knows, they may have come in to escape from the rain, but they were quickly and completely won over; Clark's sound is practically a windstorm itself, possessing a swirling, driving quality, wrapping you up and kicking your ass just a bit. Exhilarating. -Ben Westhoff
Weather to Cuddle by
They say every grey cloud has a silver lining, and that was definitely the case today at Coachella. As storm clouds collected overhead, casting a foreboding shadow over the day's festivities, the crowd thinned to a manageable size making bathroom use downright luxurious (by festival standards of course). Though cool temperatures may have led to some shivers, the weather created an environment conducive to cuddling within the crowds: always a nice vacation from simply being sandwiched between sweaty-shouldered strangers. Plus, the rainy day set the mood -- complete with dimmed lighting -- inspiring concert-goers to get closer, to dance harder, and find creative ways to keep warm. This is why, in the spirit of seeing the upside to a dreary day, the unusual weather is my best for Friday. -Gabrielle Canon
Frank Ocean, Gobi Stage
If you want to be a dick about it, you could say Frank Ocean's voice isn't great. From a technical standpoint, he's not in the same ballpark as, say, R. Kelly. Nonetheless, today at the Coachella Gobi Stage, Frank Ocean impressed the shit out of me. Mostly, it was his stylishly arranged renditions from last year's Nostalgia Ultra LP, executed by a brilliant four-piece band consisting of synth, drums, sequencer and post-rock guitar texturing. Ocean gave the band space to improvise and build up tension, welcoming jams that peaked, bobbed and weaved through his compositions. Energy swelled beneath the canopy and billowed into the cold Coachella sunset. Average voice, sure. Unrivaled swagger, definitely. -Adam Lovinus
Hipsters Christen Kendrick Lamar with a Native American Headband
After his solid set last afternoon, where he played hits like ADHD, Kendrick Lamar was chilling and eating with his crew when two blonde girls came up to him bearing a gift. They quickly adorned the Westcoast rapper with a yellow and green Native American-style headband. Lamar jokingly asked them "Do I look like a rockstar?" and posed for photos while the hip duo fawned over him. He looked like a Compton version of Kanye West's style last year at the festival-- keeping it gansta in the desert. -Kai Flanders
Annually, teens and twentysomethings usher in Coachella's arrival by decorating their hybrids with celebratory statements; "Coachella 2012!", "Carpoolchella!" and even "dickchella" (which came accompanied with a retina-searing anatomically correct doodle). However, no group better displayed a culturally relevant understanding of sleepy hipster irony than a white SUV artfully decorated with the KONY 2012 logo. The Invisible Children campaign collapsed in on itself after a few embarrassingly public displays of "stress," hamstringing the non-profit's efforts to spread awareness of Joseph Kony's child army in Africa. Still, we can see why a 'chella goer would appreciate both the festival and the cause. -Neda Salamat
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