Wedding proposals, onstage haircuts, bikinis and rock stars. Just another typical Coachella.
The first day of the sprawling, the three-day music fest in Indio, CA, which will be repeated next week, is currently in full-swing with dozens of bands having already performed under the blistering, near-triple digit heat.
Although still early in the day — heavyweights Blur, The Stone Rose, How to Destroy Angels, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jurassic 5 and Grinderman have yet to play — there have already been a number of highlights.
The melancholy synth-pop of Minneapolis’ Polica got off to a late start due to unspecified technical problems, but singer Channy Leaneagh and her band (including two drum sets) soldiered on and won over the crowded Gobi tent –one of six spaces for music art the fest. Their set was the scene for an unexpected romantic gesture; during their performance, a guy in the crowd proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes), much to the amusement of the surrounding attendees. Plus, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon dropped by for a tune. He played a set earlier with his new band, The Shouting Matches.
NY-by-way-of-SF rapper Aesop Rock has played the fest several times in the past, and continues to entertain both hip hop heads and rock fans alike. During his set, which included mostly recent jams but a few golden oldies such as the faster-than-light “Big Bang,” he invited a hirsute fan onstage to undergo an impromptu haircut and shave. Lucky guy.
Indie vets Stars have likewise be around for plenty of festivals, and the afternoon sun helped buoy their pleasant pop, while their fellow Canadians Metric offered up a slightly darker synth-powered sound. They concluded their main stage set with an acoustic, singalong rendition of their “Gimme Sympathy.”
Meanwhile, on the smaller second stage, indie “supergroup” Divine Fits found a sound that landed somewhere between the noise normally created by the two frontmans’ more famous other bands. Fits’ Dan Boeckner is the vocalist for Montreal’s Wolf Parade, while Britt Daniel is better known for his Austin act Spoon. Together, they give the Divine Fits a nice push-and-pull dynamic between catchy electronic textures and ragged minimalist guitar rock.
Former Smiths and The The guitarist Johnny Marr also drew a sizable crowd, as he played new songs from his first proper solo album, “The Messenger,” as well as The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Will Never Go Out.” His onetime Smiths bandmate Morrissey has played the fest several times, but the two allegedly haven’t spoken since their seminal U.K. band broke up in the late ’80s.
The beefed-up security and long lines are inevitable at a fest of this scale, but they resulted in me missing Lord Huron, Youth Lagoon and others.
Look for more updates throughout the weekend on HitFix.com.